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When I showed my mother the design of this website, her first reply was a puzzled: ‘But why would you want to forge old etchings?’ Interesting question. Why had I been fascinated by the old Haute Ecole etchings for all these years, and why was I now using them for the site?

The original books by masters like De Pluvinel and Eisenberg on classical dressage are fascinating to read, but the etchings are the things that really bring them to life. They don’t just show what horses and horsemanship looked like back in those days (in fact maybe not at all!), but what they do show is what horsemanship should look like according to the masters. The invisible leg cues, the quiet seat that remains relaxed even in the most explosive jumps, the reins that are hanging through and the horse collecting himself within the space that the rider grants him.
As a horse-mad little girl I was already fascinated by the fact the classical dressage trains a horse in such ways that he himself benefits most from it. When I started training that same dressage at liberty though, I started to wonder what it would have looked like if the old masters had trained like this all those centuries ago as well.
As the old etchings just look like they do with bits and bridles, I thought I would never know. Then my boyfriend reintroduced me to the magical world of Photoshop, explained that confusing cloning tool and suddenly it was possible to do the impossible! I sought for the scan of the etching of De la Gueriniere, carefully placed my digital rubber on the lines and slowly, pixel after pixel, removed the bridle from the world famous horse. The following days I restored the face of the animal that had inspired me for all these years, and then finally placed the cordeo in the hands of the rider. And the funny thing was, that it actually didn’t look weird or bizar at all. It looked as if it had always been like this. Dressage at liberty suddenly seemed very logical.

On this page you’ll find the masters who have inspired me to take the next step in classical dressage. On the left you’ll see the originals, on the right the versions with cordeo. Click on them and you’ll see a bigger version. If you’re not just interested in the original etchings but also in the books that were made for, then you can read and download those books for free at the wonderful Library of the Veterinary University of Lyon.

Gueriniere met cordeo
Antoine de Pluvinel

Pluvinel hands over the whip to the young king. You can see the serious expression with which Pluvinel raises the tool, and the promise to be careful with it on the face of the young rider.

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

Taking the horse by hand for a walk around the castle.

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

An unique etching in which Cavendish shows that the Haute Ecole jumps are all natural for horses - and can be done at liberty!

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

A fascinating picture in which the carriage of the Duke is drawn by centaurs and is surrounded by kneeling horses. Talk about ego...

Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere

Gueriniere teaches his pupil to collect the horse in shoulder in along the wall.

Many thanks to Dr. Nancy L. Nicholson for sending me the scan of this original etching.

Johannes Elias Ridinger

The best horse artist ever in my opinion, who left the world three stunning, but almost forgotten albums with wonderful pictures of the classical dressage. In this picture the horse is going in renvers along the wall.

Johannes Elias Ridinger

The balotade by Ridinger. The jump looks a lot like what we would nowadays call the courbette, but that exercise wasn't seen as a seperate movement in those days yet.

Read, write and ask more about Natural Dressage at the Art of Natural Dressage forum.
For info (in Dutch) on clickertraining and the book Vrijheidsdressuur: www.vrijheidsdressuur.info
© of this site, pictures and texts: Miriam Nieuwe Weme