In early 2008 Jo told me about the style of “Légèreté” which is a method of classical French dressage taught of Philippe Karl. She was working at a new rehab/training barn and the owner had spent some time in France with Philippe and his wife, Bea Borelle. They were having great success with their horses, and I thought it was completely fascinating. I devoured every piece of information I could get a hold of.
It is a very interesting style in that it first of all can explain the hows and whys of every piece of tack and every technique it uses ad nauseam, in a way which makes sense and is in line with all that I know about equine bio-mechanics and behaviour.
What also makes it interesting is that the core concepts are so very simple to understand. And they required me to totally rethink the way I rode and how I was using my aids. Changing would be a huge ordeal, as I would have to basically relearn everything I thought I knew from scratch.
If you take a minute to process that… Here I am having started a business with fairly decent success, and now there I was seriously considering scrapping several years worth of knowledge about the way to go about training horses in favour of a system that I had no prior experience with, had never heard of until just a few months before. It was quite a leap of faith.
Around this time my current project horse was going through his third bout of lameness in 2 years, and I was beginning to dispare of ever having him sound enough to work. In frustration I turned to Chi, a horse who never, in the 7 years I’d owned him, had exhibited any sign of lameness or breathing problems or hoof problems. He was, in a word, sturdy. And at that point ‘sturdy’ really appealed.
We got to work.