I’m a bit annoyed by the “OMG, it’s classical” crowd. I’m all for using whatever training works best for you and your horse, but when the label means more than the actual application then I start to question the driving force behind it. It starts to sound a bit more like “My handbag is Prada”, then an actual understanding of the training itself.
I know Jane goes to all the classical trainer clinics in the area. She only goes to classical dressage trainers. Jane is excited about going to a certain classical trainer’s clinic this year. Jane explains how great this guy is because he’s, ahem, classical. I look up the trainer to find that he trained with a certain trainer who I took clinics from previously (lets call her Lisa). Lisa trained with Nuno Oliveria. You really can’t get more classical than that. However Jane refused to clinic with Lisa because Lisa did not advertise herself as “Classical”. Jane’s newest classical trainer does label himself classical. Ergo, he’s classical while the lady that trained with the father of classical dressage is not classical.
Then another lady went on and on about how a certain classical trainer trained with Carl Hester. OMG. Carl Hester… I was impressed. But then I found out this meant the Classical Trainer rode in two clinics with Carl Hester. I didn’t know we counted clinics as “trained with”? Is that what we do now? Can I list every clinician I’ve ever ridden under for 45 minutes as “I trained with..”? Did my 45 minutes of riding actually imbue so much direct knowledge that I am suddenly a master of what that trainer had to teach? Somehow I doubt that.
Side Note: This also makes me question all the other “trained with” claims that were made by riders or trainers. Did you really train weekly/monthly with that person, or are you saying you rode for less than an hour with that person once or twice in your lifetime? It’s not really the same, is it?
Anyway, there was a post about classical dressage on a facebook group I’m in. I asked which theories of classical dressage differed significantly from competitive dressage. Most of the replies were poorly spelled insults that didn’t make much sense. I did get one good response, but in essence it said that if you rode well then you were a classical rider and if you rode poorly then you were a competitive rider. It’s nice to know that every rider that claims he/she is classical is a thousand times the rider a competitive rider is. However, since classical riders don’t compete, and never share video of their riding, then all claims of superb horsemanship by them must be taken at face value. Which makes us competitive riders idiots.
You know why I love CenterlineScores.com? Because trainers can’t claim to be expert FEI level trainers without proof anymore. It’s our one defense against the Nick Peronace‘s of the world. But with many classical riders/trainers they’ve hidden their riding so completely that it is impossible to verify or refute their claim that they are excellent riders/trainers.
There are just as many bad apples under the umbrella of Classical Dressage as there are in Competitive Dressage, but at least in competitive dressage they shine a big bright light on that crap for all to see.
I think from now on I’ll give the die hard classical dressage folks a wide berth. They seem to be treading the path of the Parellisits.