During my vacation I was browsing the internet and some how ended up watching an interview by Rick Lamb from The Horse Show with Charles de Kunffy. (The Horse Show, Episode 530).
For those who do not know anything about Charles de Kunffy. Charles was born and raised in Hungary as a member of the Austro-Hungarian nobility and has collected so many equestrian credentials that it is too much to list them all.
If you want to find out more, you can find out more under Charles de Kunffy – bio.
I even added the link to the interview on YouTube.
I listened to it over and over again and found Mr. de Kunffy’s answer just perfect!
Rick asked: When did you get interested in jumping? Your book (A Rider’s Survival from Tyranny) is filled with pictures of you jumping. I always thought of you as a dressage (rider), I thought that was your thing.
Charles de Kunffy smiles and answers:
Yes, it is, because, we didn’t separate anything. There were two kinds of riding. Good and bad, and the good riders did everything. Jumping is an extension of dressage and flat work. You control the horse to the fence and after the fence and in flight you are only following, not controlling. So, it is a dressage movement, you can do a piaffe or passage or you can jump a hurdle.
Rick Lamb asks the follow up question:
Does it bother you that today those are very distinct disciplines?
Charles de Kunffy:
Yes, it bothers me a lot, because some jumpers jump, the horses are very good and they do the jump but they are not in correct balance and of course, content defines form. Correct content is what is called a beautiful form. Very few jumpers have beautiful form because they don’t have beautiful content, they are out of balance over the fence, but it doesn’t bother a horse that is bred…, it’s the triumph of contemporary breeding. It’s no the triumph of horsemanship, it’s the triumph of the breeders that give you a horse that can do it, in spite of…..
In my opinion this is not only valid for dressage or jumping, but for all other disciplines within the equestrian world as well. I feel more and more reluctant to say that I am a western rider. I would rather like to say that I am a very well balanced rider, sitting (most of the time) in a western saddle. 🙂
That would be something that I could be really proud of. The be able to say, that I am a balanced rider, who is not a burden to my horse and is not pulling on the reins for balance, would be the most wonderful thing.
Fortunately I know that I am far away from being able to say this as a true statement, but every day I am in pursuit of this goal.
I know, however, that I have become better. On Monday I was delighted when my trainer said:
Now look at that…. you actually start to ride your horse, and look what happened to him, he is a completely new horse!
This comment slingshot me to the moon and back, not only because it was a very nice comment, but because I felt it. You should have seen him, he was chewing on the bit and licking, with his tongue stretched out full length, and his back elevated me in the saddle a couple of inches. I know that Barley is not one of those fancy dressage or jump horses, he is a western horse that is not bred to do piaffes or passages or jump high fences, but I am very proud of what we have achieved together. We learn basic riding, where I learn how to relax my body in the right places and to find balance, and he learns my aids and builds the strength to carry himself with me on his back.
Well, this is maybe a bit wrong, I have come to understand that he actually knows what aids are needed to do specific things, it’s just that I need to do them correctly and when I ask things of him that he finds difficult, it might just take a few minutes for him to accept and actually do what I ask of him. For this I need the help of my trainer in order to know what is what.
The goal is still for us to grow together, develop further and to strive after perfection. I believe in our versatile training, there is to be learned so much from other “disciplines”, if you now want to call it that.
Most important for me is that we both have fun doing it, Barley is still yawning when I put on the saddle and bridle and his muscles are like jelly when we are done with our rides/workouts and this, I find, is a very good sign. My biggest goal, in everything we do, is still that he enjoys it and it is in benefit of him becoming a healthy, strong horse with a relaxed and stable mind who is looking forward to our working together instead of being uncooperative and reluctant due to pain or discomfort.
Here another beautiful quote from Charles de Kunffy:
For horses can educate through first hand, subjective, personal experiences, unlike human tutors, teachers, and professors can ever do. Horses can build character, not merely urge one to improve on it. Horses forge the mind, the character, the emotions and inner lives of humans. People can talk to one another about all these things and remain distanced and lonesome . In partnership with a horse, one is seldom lacking for thought, emotion and inspiration. One is always attended by a great companion.
~Charles de Kunffy