Classical Riding: Keeping Tradition Alive

As practitioners of mounted combat, it is often useful for us to look to the classical riding instructors of the 16th and 17th centuries such as Antoine de Pluvinel, François Robichon de Guérinière, and William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle.

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle

Fortunately these men all wrote books to which we can refer, and even more fortunately the art has been kept alive in schools like the Cadre Noir, the Spanish Riding School, and the Portuguese School, and with modern masters such as Nuno Oliveiro and Phillipe Karl.

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Nuno Oliveira
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Phillipe Karl

Modern or Classical?

Modern dressage riders are often taught to ride from the leg to the hand — that is, to think of the legs pushing the horse into contact with the bit.  Classical riding treats the hand, not the leg, as the primary aid, with the aim of encouraging lightness by allowing the horse to seek the bit himself and carry it with his tongue.  Neither of these methods is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but are two opposite tracks to the same goal, which is harmony and brilliance.

However, for the purpose of mounted combat, the classical approach is often more useful.  When you have only one hand on the reins — because the other is holding a sword — it is very difficult to maintain the constant leg-to-bit connection needed for modern dressage.  Instead, if you have a classically trained horse that responds to very light and subtle cues off an otherwise loose rein, your job of moving the horse in combat is much easier.

Local Connections

We are lucky enough to have here in Langley Sherry Leväaho of  Leväaho Academic Horsemanship.  Sherry teaches the French tradition of Classical Riding, with a focus on légèreté, or ‘lightness’, using the works of the 17th century François Robichon de la Guérinière up through today’s Phillipe Karl.  Educate your hands and seat and work to create a lighter more rideable connection with your horse. This workshop consists of a lecture on Saturday evening, followed by a full day clinic on Sunday.  Riders will each have a private lesson as well as a group session, and are encouraged to audit other sessions.  Audit passes are available and include the Saturday lecture plus full access to all riding sessions.

Classical Riding Clinic

Saturday 17 November 7:30 – 8:30pm
Sunday 18 November 9am – 6pm
cost: $225 includes horse use and/or haul-in fee
audit pass: $50

Register here


Also This Month

Mounted Combat Mastery

Mastery classes happen this month on the 11th and 25th of November.  Each three hour class consists of swordplay from the ground, riding, and mounted combat.  Students who have their Green Spur are welcome to participate from both the ground and from horseback; students with a green cord or higher may participate from the ground.  The focus of for this month is on sword and shield, as well as mounted vs unmounted combat.

Sundays 11 & 25 November, noon – 3pm
cost: 3 tuition credits per class
drop-in: $50 + $25 for use of horse

Horseback Archery Practice with Steph Laversin

Those who have taken Horseback Archery with Academie Duello or Fraser Valley Mounted Combat, and who have a minimum of Riding Level 1 or the equivalent are invited to come out for supervised practice with Steph Laversin of SL Equine.  Come

for Mounted Combat and make a day of it!

Sunday 11 November, 3pm – 5pm
cost: $20 for Mounted Combat Members; $40 for non-members
Includes horse use and/or haul-in fee

Practice Rides for Members

Just a reminder that Practice Rides are still available through your Mounted Combat membership.  You get up to two rides per month.  Don’t miss out on this great chance to practise your riding on our school horses. Available times are:

Mondays 7-9 pm
Tuesdays 7-9 pm
Thursdays 7-9 pm
Saturdays 10am – noon

Private Lessons

We have four instructors here at Cornwall Ridge, and private riding lessons are available just about any day of the week.  The cost is $75 per hour on our school horses, or $55 on your own or a lease horse.  Contact jennifer (at) to arrange.

Horse Leases

If you want more horse time but aren’t quite ready to step into ownership, a lease might be for you.  You can lease our school horses for one or two days per week.  Lease prices include one lesson per month.

1 day per week: $150/month
2 days per week: $250/month

Contact Jen (email address above) for more details.

Apprenticeship Program

Have time but not money?  We are looking for one or two apprentices to help out at the barn in exchange for class credits, riding lessons, or horse lease hours. Duties may include class assistance, facility and tack maintenance, grooming and horse care, etc.  If you have at least an hour a week to spare you can convert your effort into saddle time.  Contact Jen to apply.

Coming up in December

We are having a celebration and Open House at the stables on Sunday December 2nd.  Christmas Carosella will be a free event, featuring demonstrations, displays, and seasonal cheer.  There will also be taster lesson that you can sign up for now, including the Knight Adventure, Archer Adventure, and Taste of Swordplay.  Join us for an exciting festive event in the Valley!

Christmas Carosella Open House
Sunday 2 December, 10am – 6pm

The Knight Adventure
10am – noon
$200 + gst

Taste of Swordplay
1:30 – 3:00pm
$40 + gst

The Archer Adventure
3:30 – 5:00pm
$40 + gst

See you at Cornwall Ridge soon!

Jennifer Landels Jennifer Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. She started the program as an excuse to combine those passions.
Read more from Jennifer Landels.