What ist the Academic Art of Riding?

There is a lot to write and read about Bent Branderup and the Academic Art of Riding. His Art of Riding is based on the knowledge and study of old riding masters like Xenophon, Pluvinel, Guérinière or Steinbrecht. However, it’s not a self-contained method, but in constant development, learning from the horses, from the students as well as from scientific investigations in biomechanics.

Bent Branderup with Swan

Also, do not think you are the one who has to teach the horse. […] Those who want to practice the Academic Art of Riding must train themselves and learn from their horses
— Bent Branderup

For me, the Academic Art of Riding is about using systematic gymnastic exercises to promote the riding-horse's physical and mental wellbeing. It's not a ready-made method with step by step instructions. Every horse is different and demands an individual approach.

Also the Academic Art of Riding is not reserved for the best or most beautiful horses. On the contrary, especially horses with difficult bodies or health problems benefit from it. Among the horses of academic riders you will find PRE's and Lusitanos as well as Shetlandponies and Shire-horses.

In the Academic Art of Riding there are no shortcuts. It’s a very exact and reflected work, considering every single detail. This requires persistent effort and the readiness to work on oneself. In return one gets harmony with the horse, lightness and mutual understanding – a little bit of magic.

Why do groundwork?

Groundwork and work in hand are key elements of the Academic Art of Riding. Groundwork helps to improve your connection with your horse and keep it healthy. This can happen if we respect its nature and its biomechanics.

Horse riding is communication. The common language can be learnt by horse with the human on the ground. Groundwork facilitates a horse’s development towards becoming a riding horse – both physically (muscles, tendons etc.) and mentally (mutual respect, motivation etc.).

Some horses learn with groundwork most difficult exercises like canter-pirouette or piaffe. Nevertheless, important is not the exercise itself, but to learn, which exercises can build up each individual horse.