21st Anniversary Event
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It's hard to believe The Classical Riding Club is 21 years old. That's just under a third of my life and sometimes it certainly feels like a lifetime! But - at last - I feel the chickens are coming home to roost. People are talking about good and correct riding like never before. That means more and more people are against forceful riding, cranked nosebands and draw reins and, if we stick to our guns, there will come a time when they are banned forever. Improvement as a rider can, and will only come through education. That is why I chose to use the word 'classical' when I founded our Club. It implies that the work is proper, solid, based on sound principles of Nature, as well as being humane. This was the legacy left by the Greeks as the Classical Age grew and spread around them. And people have responded to this. People like to aspire.
The good thing is those who care about the welfare of the riding horse now feel empowered. They know they are not alone! Suddenly, there is a great groundswell of support from people all over the world coming together for the common good of every horse. No longer just the proverbial 'bunny-huggers', but serious and knowledgeable riders who love their horses. They too are fed up with seeing horses abused in order to sell on more quickly, win more competitions, or create flashier movement. By expressing their concerns and supporting Clubs or movements such as CRC, they are showing they want these unhealthy and abhorrent practices to stop. Abuse is insidious and it takes many forms. It's not just the gadgets, contraptions, tying up of legs, electric shock treatment and Rolkur that presents a problem. It's about not taking the time a horse deserves, or passing on a horse to an uncertain future. It's about the ignorance that leads to thoughtless riding practices, like putting a very overweight person on a very underweight horse, or bad saddle fitting and other poor husbandry in general, due to a lack of knowledge.
Now, on the positive side, by concentrating on the very best, making literature and training more accessible to others through our website, and by spreading the word through Facebook and raising awareness worldwide, all things are possible. For example we never forget there are some very talented teachers and trainers out there who are not famous, but who make a difference - however limited their resources. These people are important and they count, particularly in the CRC family, where they can now be sought out and recognised.
Last year we launched a brand new website. This had always been the dream of our hardworking and brilliant Administrators over the years, Melanie Wilkes, Angela Hinnigan and now Abigail Burns. It was not cheap, but our designer Matt Lovejoy gave us a special price and lots of free support, as did my lovely daughter Allegra with her eye for design. She, Black Tent Publishers and Nathalie Todd Photography all contributed with some amazing pictures. But we couldn't have done it at all without you. By appealing to Members we made up the shortfall of what was required, and we are pretty proud of our on-line status. It says who we are and why we founded the Club.
Had it not been for our loyal Members, several of whom have been here since the very beginning, none of this would have been possible and we would not have made it to this point. The CRC would never have taken off if it had not been for some very special people. The silent majority in many cases ... with some no longer so silent! The Club has always been non-profit making and at the beginning we had to dig deep to keep it going. Subs were kept to a minimum but with a fantastic donation from one of our Members, Dominic Shorthouse, and many years of loyal sponsorship from Albion Saddles, we not only made it into the 21st Century but we've been going at it for 21 years in total.
Then there are our Ambassadors - special people who recognise that we're in this to help horses and their riders and we're here to stay. We are very grateful to them indeed for giving us a vote of confidence - a real seal of approval. To read more about them click here.
To sum up: our 21st Anniversary Demo was my way of now saying thank you to all of YOU - Members, Friends, Sponsors and Ambassadors alike.
Colonel Christian Carde today looks back on over 60 years of experience in riding and training horses. He spent more than 20 years at France's prestigious school of academic riding, the famous Cadre Noir at Saumur and rose to the exalted position of Chief Rider between 1991 and 1999. During his equestrian career, Col. Carde first competed in three-day-eventing up to the highest levels, before turning to dressage. Between 1976 and 1982 he belonged to the French National Dressage team and took part in both World and European Championships as well as the Olympic Festival 1980. He became French Dressage Champion in 1979. After his active career as an international rider, Carde coached the French National Dressage team between 1985 and 1989, the period in which Margit Otto-Crépin won 4 medals for France. Col. Carde trained with renowned French trainers like Col. Ladoucette and Col. de Saint-André as well as with German Olympic trainer, Willi Schultheis as well as the legendary Portuguese riding master Nuno Oliveira.
Christian is a firm believer in the principle that the sport of dressage should act as the preserver of the horse's mind, health, well being and correct locomotion. For this reason he supported the formation of a Society known as Allege-Ideal, the brainchild of Jean Orgeix. In 2002, and together with the late Maitre Michel Henriquet, Christian took on the role of developing Allege-Ideal. Its main aim was to promote and inspire an educated knowledge of equitation which not only adhered to the FEI principles of lightness and ease for both horse and rider but also made it more accessible to all.
Colonel Carde gives Clinics all over the world, but this will be his first Lecture Demonstration in the UK. Sylvia first met Christian when she came to Saumur to give a clinic in 2009 and because of his commitment to Allege-Ideal and hers to The Classical Riding Club, they both felt they had lot in common concerning their aspirations and passion for the future of Dressage worldwide.
Nuno Cavaco is a highly experienced classical rider and teacher who has served and ridden with the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art for 25 years. He trained under Dr Guilherme Borba, Founder of the School and is a kind, sensitive man who has trained a number of horses to High School level. As well as their beautiful quadrilles, the Portuguese School specialises in work in hand and the higher airs and always with an emphasis on lightness. Nuno brings these qualities to his teaching and has a great deal to offer in helping advance his students' riding skills and developing a greater partnership with the horse. During his time at the School, Nuno travelled extensively throughout Europe giving shows and displays. He has gained huge experience in riding many different horses. An added bonus is that Nuno’s equine knowledge extends to the veterinary side of horse welfare and during the shows he was responsible, alongside the main vet for the health care and well being of each horse. Of course this extra knowledge really adds value to his training methods and awareness when working with horses of every age and at every stage of their training.
Nuno is based in Portugal and provides residential clinics at Quinta do Rol where students can ride trained Lusitano schoolmasters. Willing to travel all over Europe, his lessons are both in hand and ridden and he enjoys the challenge of working with every type of horse and rider. His clinics are always full and he is always invited back. His main clinic base in England is at Bacon House, Greatworth, Oxfordshire OX17 2DX, where Veronica Ward can be contacted re future events. See also the CRC website and Facebook.
Sylvia Loch is the only British person to be accredited as an Honorary Instructor by the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art but she started very modestly. As Sylvia Cameron, she acquired ponies that no one else wanted and by her mid-teens had progressed to running her own stables at Kaimes, Midlothian - often with those same, once difficult, animals. As an avid reader and Pony Clubber, she followed traditional methods to run her own summer camps for children 'to own a pony for a week' while she hunted and competed X Country in between.
A severe allergy to horses led to pneumonia and several hospital stays so finally she gave up her passion and worked first in London, and then at sea for a year. Lisbon was their first port of call and she fell in love with Portugal. It was here she met Henry, Major the Lord Loch, an ex-pat cavalry instructor, almost 30 years her senior and they married in l974. Henry and his school of Lusitanos brought her again to horses. This was a time when few foreigners had even heard of the breed and they determined to bring them back to England. In l979 they opened the Lusitano Stud & Equitation Centre in Suffolk, where with 16 schoolmasters working up to Advanced levels, they could offer students their first feel of a collected, correctly trained, balanced horse.
After the birth of their daughter followed by Henry's sudden death in l982, Sylvia founded The Lusitano Breed Society of Great Britain and began her life's work of writing and teaching the principles of riding in lightness as taught to her by Henry. She is passionate about the rider's position and the application of correct aids to make life easier for the horse.
Throughout the decades, Sylvia has studied, taught, lectured and judged all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Brazil and Europe. Her work on The Classical Seat (1988) was considered revolutionary at the time and she was presented to the Queen after the publication of The Royal Horse of Europe. In l995 she founded The Classical Riding Club as a protest against the prolific use of draw-reins and other gadgets in dressage. Sneered at to start, she has gradually seen the tide of public opinion turning in her direction. She is incredibly grateful to all those riders and students who supported her with the Club and helped inspire a more empathetic and educated approach to horses worldwide. She is still teaching today.
Patrick Print OBE FBHS was born in Warwickshire and having ridden as a youngster, went on to work originally with the late Janet Sturrock FBHS. Later he trained with Pat Manning FBHS who became his main influence. Pat instilled in him the importance of correct classical riding and to improve the horse through the improvement of the rider's seat and a light application of the aids. Patrick was former National Instructor for Scotland in the 1980's, has served on a number of BHS committees and was Chairman of Training and Education before becoming Chairman of the Society itself from 2004 to 2010 on which he had a great influence.
Patrick was also a former member of the British Equestrian Federation Council and was awarded an OBE for services to Equestrianism in the 2011 New Years Honours List. He has also been a BHS Chief Assessor for over 30 years and mentors and trains young riding teachers up to Fellowship level. Now based in Linlithgow, he is a Director of HorseScotland and combines this with teaching clinics all over the UK and abroad while still finding time to ride and train his own 7 yr old Lusitano Embucado.
Patrick was the driving force behind the British Horse Society's opening up to other ideas, both from abroad or from individuals who had not necessarily trained under the BHS system. In this vein, it was he who was so instrumental in inviting Sylvia and The Classical Riding Club to become the first Independent Partner of the BHS in 2008. He provided a refreshing and more welcoming approach on all fronts and his last book The BHS Complete Manual of Equitation is a masterpiece of tact and down to earth classical technique
Uwe Spenlen who lives near Cologne in Germany is a patient, kind and experienced trainer. He is particularly popular in Australia where his performance at Equitana brought him a host of new dedicated students who loved his calm manner, the fact he doesn't shout and the way everyone leaves the school, both horse and rider, with a smile on their faces. His system is very much about working the 'engine' of the horse, so whether in shoulder-in, quarters in, quarters out, half-halts and transitions, those tools gained from his “toolbox” brings a massive improvement after each lesson. He detests and doesn’t tolerate the aggressive way of training generally known as LDR when the horse is shortened through the neck and the nose brought towards the chest. He calls it cruelty to horses, simply dishonest and abuse of the horse’s nature.
Uwe Spenlen used to be an experienced FEI****Dressage Judge who has judged for almost twenty years CDI’s and CDI-W regularly all around the planet. Since 2012 he has retired from judging internationally. In Germany, he has judged at many major top events such as the famous Aachen Show CDIO, German Dressage Derby and European Championships for Juniors and Young Riders. For many years he was Event Director for the “Parkfestival Dressage Grand Prix,” Bad Honnef, and the “European Youngster Classics”, Bonn. Uwe was educated by the renowned and famous horseman and riding instructor, Paul Stecken of Münster. He holds an International Trainers Licence and served as a long time board member of the Dressage Committee of the German Judges Association (DRV). Since almost one decade he is chair of the German Amateur Trainers Assc. (DRFV). He is well-known for the clarity he brought to judging and training dressage, his emphasis on the International Training Scale as well as his focus on correctness and elegance of dressage and the well-being of the horses.
Uwe speaks fluently in three languages, German, English and Spanish and his connection to Sylvia and the Classical Riding Club came through his writing. Friends can read his published articles on line in the CRC section of Tracking Up Magazine and they have been very popular.