My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part V

So far, in my practice since the April session, I can use one word to describe my rides and play sessions: wonderful. Progress is not always uniform, of course, but Caspar becomes more and more like butter, yet his energy becomes more and more available to me. This is very inspiring for me, and I would like very much to be able to share it with others.

May 2012
Delta, BC, Canada

Dozens of people met with great anticipation for the fourth session of the Instructor’s Course of Philippe Karl’s L’École de Légèreté. The Adderson Family again proved to be able hosts at their equestrian centre, “ForTheHorse”, in Chase, BC. Both riders and auditors were eager to see the progress made over the winter, to reconnect with colleagues, and to see what Philippe Karl’s responses would be to what was shown. The Instructor Candidates that had brought substitute mounts to the October session returned this April with their original horses, which added extra interest.

The format for this session was similar to that of the previous sessions. The first lessons progressed much more quickly than in previous sessions, as M. Karl was by now familiar with the horses and riders. Halfway through my first lesson, M. Karl decided that it would be profitable to teach me and Caspar the “Effet d’Ensemble”, which generated intense interest among the auditors. M. Karl then mounted Caspar (after briefly introducing himself with in-hand work) so that he could first introduce this concept to him, before instructing me the next day. After dismounting, M. Karl told me to attend the next lesson, wearing spurs. M. Karl remarked that he would have introduced the effet d’ensemble much earlier, but that Caspar and I needed to be confirmed in the prerequisite of proper contact.
The next lesson began with instruction in the technique necessary for the effet d’ensemble which I then used, to great effect, throughout all of the following work. The positive effect of this technique on all aspects of Caspar’s work and attitude was astounding and apparent to all.

M. Karl also taught the effet d’ensemble to another horse-rider pair. He explained that most horses will never need to be introduced to it, but that occasionally a trainer will encounter a horse which cannot be trained without it. These are horses which may be perfectly schooled at home, but behave as though they are completely unschooled when away from home. The trainer needs a non-violent method to completely overcome these horses’ defences when in any situation.

Another lesson which generated much interest was the introduction of another candidate’s horse to working in a double bridle. M. Karl demonstrated and instructed the flexions in hand necessary to introduce the new bit and explain the proper responses to the horse, and then the correct way to use the reins while mounted.

In the group lesson, Caspar and I were practicing our in-hand work, and then practicing while mounted.
The jumping lesson was fun and exciting- we were grouped according to how much jumping the horses and riders were used to. M. Karl clearly enjoys, and has great expertise in, jumping, and had a diverse group of horses successfully negotiating gymnastic series of jumps. The final jumps were exhilarating for me, with Caspar enthusiastically jumping an ascending oxer of approximately 3’6”. M. Karl remarked that Caspar showed a very good jumping style, and an aptitude for problem-solving.

The two lectures were fascinating and entertaining, as always, and packed with information. The theme for this session’s lectures was collection: the different types of collection, how they are achieved, and their effect on the development of rhythm and cadence (especially for ordinary, not especially talented, horses).

A very important pair of concepts were emphasised by M. Karl throughout the lessons, which are frequently confused but essential to master: the sets, TAKE – GIVE and ACT – YIELD. One feature which distinguishes these concepts, essential for development of rider tact, is that “to give” is initiated by the rider; “to yield” is initiated by the horse.

As always, I left this session of École de Légèreté with homework to study. My main task will be to practice the effet d’ensemble in a very disciplined fashion, in all gaits, transitions and exercises, while making my actions more and more discreet. As always, I should employ a variety of positions while training, and give frequent breaks. When the effet d’ensemble is very consistent, I should begin riding with the double bridle, to take advantage of the different effect combinations available. I may also begin preparation for flying changes. When practicing jumping, I must be a bit bolder in my approach to fences, and allow Caspar to gallop more.

So far, in my practice since the April session, I can use one word to describe my rides and play sessions: wonderful. Progress is not always uniform, of course, but Caspar becomes more and more like butter, yet his energy becomes more and more available to me. This is very inspiring for me, and I would like very much to be able to share it with others.

Submitted by Sherry Leväaho

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