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We Are Flying Solo

January 16, 2013

It's So Easy, Even Klimke Kan Do It

So what's your excuse?  Oh, you're not Reiner Klimke?  Psssshhh, look, all he did was make an adjustment in one second and his horse was perfect.  I can totally not do that! 

But in all seriousness, this video elegantly and simply illustrates incorrect and correct.  We are all guilty of it at some point I think.  I absolutely admit to losing my focus and wanting "pretty archy neck."  But we cannot fall into that trap which leads to a dead end.  Bonus points if you speak German.  Because it's "Dr. Reiner Klimke war der erfolgreichste Dressurreiter der Welt. In dieser Lehrfilmreihe widmet er sich detailliert den t├Ąglichen Problemen des Trainings auf dem Weg zur Klasse L."  Which means "Dr. Reiner Klimke was the greatest dressage rider in the world.  With diesel film, he tackles the sick details of lichen-based training problems auf dem Weg on Klasse L."  Um, obviously!  

Ok, all you have to do is watch the horse.  Watch his back behind the saddle and his hind legs.  On the surface, he "looks pretty," with nice suspension and rhythm.  But with his neck overflexed and his head behind the vertical, his lower back is stiff and hind legs aren't really active, moving up beneath him.  Let go of his face and ride him forward with magical Klimke power...

Now his lower back is loose, lifting and swinging behind the saddle.  His hindquarters and hind legs have changed subtly and are now actively moving forward under his body and pushing up into the bridle.  He is happy to stretch down and even then, his back remains soft and his hind end is engaged.

Voila!  It's that simple.  Ha.  Go ahead and watch it 20 times.  I did.  But we do all need to remember to forget about the stupid head, to erase the word frame from our vocabulary, and ride our horses FORWARD, for lichen's sake!


  1. Amen! Thank you for this post.

    Precisely why I am still working at the walk and trot with my horse. I haven't got the body control or the focus to maintain my end of the bargain for more than a few minutes at a time. (it would be helpful if I had knowledgeable eyes on the ground ever again)

    Here is my favorite inspirational video of Dr. Klimke and Ahlerich. The one handed one tempis all the way around the arena are well worth waiting for.

    A harmonious, graceful partnership where the horse is a willing and obviously enthusiastic participant. Love it!

  2. The message of this entry is really good, but your delivery was AMAZING :D had me in stitches in my cubicle :P

  3. Lichen, eh? Somehow listening to this made me think of the Muppets Swedish Chef! Which of course made me laugh even more than your commentary.

    Klimke was amazing. I really wish he were still around to show the world that rollkur isn't necessary to be the best. Watching videos like these are a fantastic reminder of how NOT to do it. Thanks!

  4. Ja, ja, das icht BEAUTIFUL.

    (And I don't speak German - are you suitably impressed? ;-)

    I think there should be a little symposium held where all the proponents of Rolkur (attention, numerous Olympians!) should be made to show up, tied to chairs for an entire day, slapped awake if they doze off and forced to watch videos of Dr. Klimke explaining WHY ROLKUR IS BAD and doesn't work. GEEZ.

    And while they're tied in the chairs, every so often we'll strap their chins to their chests for say, 10 minutes at a time, since that's ONLY how long some of them say they actively use Rolkur while training. Right.

    (Can you tell I really hate Rolkur?)

  5. I'm working with an instructor who is enrolled in Philippe Karl's apprenticeship school, and she does not let me ask my Lusitano mare to get into a "frame". Carol, my instructor, says that Athene, the mare, will give me the proper head position when she's able to do so, not before., so don't even try. I see glimpses of Athene with that nice round neck now and then without even asking, so I know she will do it on her own time. Until then, we do our exercises with the head that she needs.

  6. " forget about the stupid head, to erase the word frame from our vocabulary, and ride our horses FORWARD, for lichen's sake!"


  7. I am a huge fan of lichen, by the way.

    I still like to look at the neck. The upper park of the neck looks totally different in the correct clips. The horse's neck also looks like it is growing out of his shoulders instead of arching in a rainbow, which also creates breakage behind the poll in the upper neck. Of course, the correct neck is a product of the correct hindend and back.

  8. Lichen is likable, you should like it! And you are correct, looking at the neck IS useful, but many people don't know how to look at it correctly.

    CFS, that's my favourite vid of Ahlerich too, it's wonderful!

    L Williams, rofl, thank you.

    jenj, great, now i can only think BORK BORK BORK!

  9. For Lichens sake! haha.

    love the vid, shanks :D

  10. I have a few of his books...hes amazing. His basic principles can not be beat. I have watched this video several times before!

    When all is right, the horse will create its own proper frame, coming from the shoulders and rounding the back.

  11. I will be posting a video of Encore and I doing this next week. And by that I mean I will not.

  12. Drool. I just love watching him ride. I used do clinics with Herwig Radnetter from the spanish riding school and his seat was unbelievable. I loved it when he got on a student's horse.

  13. SP, I had a similar German clinician when I was a kid -- I wish I had been old enough to really know what I was doing/seeing!