From Miguel Tavora's Prologue to
Dressage Principles and Techniques: A blueprint for the serious rider
"I have read all the eEquestrian books I have had access to, but there is not one with which I was in complete agreement. I have learned something from each of them. All have helped me in my riding, in the training of many horses, and in my teaching of so many students. I wrote this book to try to help other riders and trainers by sharing my experience with them.
"Equitation is a very technical sport, and to some degree, a science. But when horse and rider, through correct training, form one being, then riding can also be practiced as an art. Many books have been written about equitation, and all say things in a different way. They are the result of the experience of the rider that wrote them, and we can always learn from this experience.
"It seems to me that the sport of riding is more popular than ever before. So many people of all ages, situations, and professions ride for simple pleasure. Many others ride with the objective of competing with horses being bred with a quality people of my age never dreamed possible. The result is sometimes a mixed blessing. Because of the high quality of horses, the quality of riding has, in many cases, also improved immensely. But unfortunately, because of the enormous popularity of equestrian sport and the lack of knowledge and understanding about the classical or academic equestrian principles and techniques, we also frequently see very bad riding.
"In 1929, tThe Fédération Equestre Internationale (F.E.I.) instituted an iInternational dDressage eEvent in 1929, in order to ‘preserve the equestrian art from the abuses to which it had been exposed’. The aim of the F. E. I.event was to preserve it in the purity of its principles, and to hand them down to generations of riders to come. (F.E.I,. Rules for Dressage Events, Article 416 - Chapter II, Article 416 Object of International Dressage Events.).
"In the dressage events, the judge’s’ responsibility should be to preserve the directives in Article 416.; However, very few of them do it. We see too few very good riders with horses trained according to the correct principles. The great majority of F. E. I. competition horses don’t show correct training and they are not penalized by the marks they are given.
"Currently, since the sponsors are so important to organizing international competitions and since the spectator must be pleased, if a horse shows expression, even if it is not correct, but only spectacular, that horse will receive very good marks. It seems the great majority of judges are more interested in pleasing the spectator, the sponsor, and the organisation that will invite them again next time, instead of following the rules.
"In this book,, I will first explain the principles, which are the definition of the objectives of equitation by definition. Correct principles are ruled by nature and logic, and proven by practice. Correct techniques are those which use the aids and gymnastic exercises to achieve those principles. The oObjectivity, the simplicity, and the clarity of all explanations are is always my first priority.
"Only by following the correct principles can we train a horse correctly, and develop him physically and mentally. We achieve this by using correct techniques: gradual, progressive, logical and systematic gymnastic work.
"To better explain the principles, I will follow the German dressage scale to some extent, which will be explained in Chapter 3: The Training Scale. This scale is so important and yet, so often misinterpreted.
"I will explain all phases of the training, from familiarization and the first phase of training, through to the development of collection by the lateral work, to and the training of the movements of for the Grand Prix test.
"All explanations of the exercises from the first phase to Grand Prix will be accompanied by photographs, schemes and diagrams to make them easier to understand.
"My philosophy is that, by his physical and mental development, obtained by a gradual, progressive, logical and systematic, gymnastic work, it will become easy for the horse to do all work he is asked of him because he feels comfortable. He will look as if he is acting on his own accord, and enjoying it.