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Influential Equestrians You Should Know
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Dec 2017   •   1,640 views   •   0 comments
Influential Equestrians You Should Know

Many trainers have influenced how we train and treat horses over the ages. There have been many philosophies about how horses should be handled. Here is a look at a few of the most influential equestrians over the centuries.

Xenophon
Xenophon lived in the time of ancient Greece, about 400 BC. He was a soldier and a student of philosophy. In addition to his records of Greek life at the time, he wrote a book on horses and horse training called ‘On Horsemanship’ or ‘The Art of Horsemanship’. On Horsemanship covers every aspect of horse ownership, from buying a horse to advice about training. Much of what Xenophon wrote is still applicable today and continues to influence modern equestrianism. The book is still in print, although it is also available for free from many online sources.

Antoine de Pluvinel
Horse training went through some ‘dark ages’ when many trainers used harsh methods. Elaborate curb bits, whips, and other contraptions were used to conquer the horse and bend it to the rider’s will. Antoine de Pluvinel was the first recognized French riding master and he developed gentler ways to train horses. He favored simple curb bits, positive reinforcement, and clear, gentle aids. He left two books which are still in print. He is known for the quote: “You can never rely on a horse that is educated by fear. There will always be something that he fears more than you. But, when he trusts you, he will ask you what to do when he is afraid.”

James Fillis
Born in England, Fillis became a French riding master. He trained horses for the cavalry and later the Ciniselli Circus at St. Petersburg, Russia. After being noticed by the czar, he was offered the position of Ecuyer en chef at the Russian Cavalry School. His books have been translated into English. They can be purchased, or there are versions online.

John Rarey
John Rarey was said to have broke his first horse at the age of twelve. Eventually, he would display his horsemanship skills to the Queen of England, Victoria. He is known as the original horse whisperer. His methods were gentler than the common harsh methods used to break horses at that time. He commonly rehabilitated difficult and dangerous horses, although, like many horse whispers, his methods may have been questionable. He wrote a book, The Complete Horse Tamer, published in 1862 which is still available through Project Gutenberg and other sources.

Matthew Horace Hayes
Matthew Horace Hayes was not only known as a horse trainer but as a veterinarian. He wrote several books on horsemanship, and his veterinary treatise, Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners is still in print, updated with new information, and is a popular reference for many horse owner's bookshelf.

Alois Podhajsky
Alois Podhajsky is famous for saving the horses of the Spanish Riding School during World War II. He became head of the Spanish Riding School in 1937. To this day, his methods influence the way most of us ride, especially if we ride dressage. His books have been a guideline for horse owners, instructors, and trainers. He was an international level judge and Olympic competitor. His books, written after he retired from the Spanish Riding School in the late 40s are still in print today.

Henry Wynmalen
Following somewhat in the footsteps of Alois Podhajsky, Wynmalen was a trainer and instructor of classical dressage. He wrote several books which are often found on the shelves of riders today.

Reiner Klimke
The German equestrian Reiner Klimke has had a major influence on modern riding methods. He is a multiple Olympic medalist, and won several international competitions. He competed in dressage, eventing and show jumping. His many books are regarded as recipe books for developing the dressage and riding horse.

Ray Hunt
Ray Hunt is known for his promotion of ‘natural horsemanship’. His methods have been regarded as an alternative to the rough and tumble methods used in the American west to break horses. He has written several books and gave clinics where his followers learned to use his methods. He was greatly influenced by another horse trainer, Tom Dorrance, who along with his brother bill, are regarded as pioneers of natural horse training methods.

Has any particular trainer, past or present influenced you?
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