From 20 to 22 April, the Ecole de Légèreté (School of Lightness) of the French riding master Philippe Karl showed a strong presence at the HansePferd 2018 horse fair in Hamburg, Germany. The school’s presentations included lectures, demonstrations by the licensed riding teachers, exemplary lessons and the booth of the sponsors’ association APPEL, which supported the fair presentations both actively and financially.
In the horse competence forum, Philippe Karl held a daily lecture on “How to put my horse in hand”, presenting his view of a respectful and friendly approach to a controversial topic. With vehemence – but as expected – he argued against overflexing the horse’s neck (hyperflexion), against tight nosebands and other means of coercion. “Most people are reluctant to speak about the use of the hand, instead emphasising the influence of the seat and the legs. But the fact that the horses are then ridden with flash nosebands, side reins and draw reins clearly shows that there is a problem,” said Karl about current training methods. Applause greeted his statement that tying the horse’s mouth shut is a means to cover up the problems. He explained the meaning and purpose of his philosophy in detail, including the mobilisation of the lower jaw, the flexibility of the neck (which affects the mobility of the horse’s whole body) and the action of the reins only on the corner of the lips. A look at the natural locomotion of the horse running free is enough to see that forward movement takes place only with an open poll. For Karl, the flexion of the poll comes only at the end of a good, solid preparation. “I’m waiting for the day when nosebands will be banned in dressage,” he said, “so this nightmare will finally come to an end.”
In the training ring, the three licensed teachers Lisa-Tana