School of Horsemanship

Ecole de Cavalerie was published in four parts in 1729-31, and in a single volume in its best-known edition in 1733. The theories in this book provide the basis for all modern equitation, and it is probably the most important work on the subject ever written. But only now has it been translated into English in its entirety. When producing this work, Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere sought to drawn together the equestrian knowledge passed down from masters of the sixteenth-century Italian school such as Giovanni Pignatelli, and subsequently refined by men such as Saloman de la Broue, Antoine de Pluvinel and William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle. While he certainly achieved his aim of distilling the knowledge of past generations into a more concise, logical form, it is the addition of his own ideas which makes School of Horsemanship such an exceptional work. Perhaps, the best known of these is the shoulder-in, the exercise he invented by adapting ideas expounded by the Duke of Newcastle. This however, is just one example of his capacity for innovation; in an age when for safety in battle a horse had to obey its rider, he understood that education is a more potent force than coercion; that attention to correctly fitting tack would prevent more resistances than harsh punishment would cure; and that horses' aptitudes varied according to conformation and temperament, so that better results would be achieved by treating them as individuals. Although the section on training is the best known, and the only part to have been translated previously, the first section is a fascinating and detailed treatise on the nature and conformation of horses, and also gives details of eighteenth-century tack, shoeing, and general horse care which are still illuminating. The section on veterinary medicine, written in an age when the dismissal of any link between astrology and medicine enlightened thinking, is more historical interest, but even here - amongst the bizarre and even the barbaric - are to be found remedies which modern veterinary practitioners will recognise. Whatever their discipline, whatever their interest, all horseman should read this book, and will find in its pages a depth of knowledge and clarity of thought which are vital to the progress of modern horsemanship.