Education for horses
Christine Honoré Wehling offers training for horses and ponies at any level starting
at 3 years old. French precepts are followed: calm, forward and straight, giving
polite, respectful, happy horses. Most training is best done on a daily basis for
at least a few months, but a little “tune up” could sometimes be done over one month
only. It is also possible to have Christine overview the progression of your horse,
working with it twice/week only, giving you the possibility to do some of the work
and ride in lessons.
Training horses of all ages, breeds and at any level always has its set of challenges
and rewards. Each horse wants to be taken through some of the progression with a
different approach, and challenges its trainer to create new exercises, or try some
out of the extensive old master’s literature available. A great asset to any trainer
is having the flexibility to adapt to the horse, rather than trying to adapt the
horse to a training regimen. This is a delicate balancing act, as too much flexibility
will confuse the horse and might allow the team rider/horse to lose track of the
general direction of where their goal stands. Not enough flexibility will create
a cranky horse who might take forever to go through a tiny step in the training and
always retain some anxiety when the exercise is repeated.
So one cannot use one single method to train horses, especially when dealing with
as many different breeds as there are in this region.
Taking time for ground work is a pre-requisite in order to establish a code with
the horses, at any level. When they are given an opportunity to figure out their
balance on their own while learning a new set of cues, balancing the rider while
still “hearing” the cues becomes a lot easier, and less of a source of anxiety. And
when the anxiety is kept to a minimum right from the beginning, horses can develop
a confident demeanor while at work, full of energy, expression and happiness, not
to mention a more sustainable way of using their bodies. And very importantly: training
horses cannot be completed by worrying exclusively about training the horses’ minds,
with little regards to their physical fitness. Without a good body, the mind cannot
be at ease.
Backing a young horse should take about 3 months, give or take one depending on temperament.
You can look up the specifics about working with young horses one page down from
A tune up could be done with daily work for however long we want depending on how
far you’d like your horse to go, or we might decide on only two sessions per week
if the goal is for you to keep riding and maybe take lessons at the same time. A
complete makeover will definitely require daily work. The specifics can be found
on the Tune Up page of this website.
A good reliable and safe pony can only happen with training; the same than the big
guys. See why ponies are made to contribute to their naughty reputation and how to
deal with it in the ponies page.
Some of the books found in Christine’s library
In France, a book that you might re-read or consult often is called a “bed-side table
book”. My bed-side table book is the complete work from Nuno Oliveira: “L’art equestre”.
Only one of his short written contributions is available in English, but this French
compilation, published when I was an art student in Paris has 5 books written by
the Portuguese Master in the same volume, added to another one made of notes taken
by one of his students during lessons. I was so excited when it came out that I went
to get my copy at the Paris Horse Expo despite a debilitating cold. To this day,
I still get excited when I open the pages of my now wrinkled copy, and find inspiration
in the enlightening words of the great master.
Here is a short list of some other books. I try to add a few volumes to my library
every year, and might consult one or the other when wondering about the different
approaches I could take for a specific work with a horse or a rider. The authors
that inspire me the most though are Oliveira and L’Hotte. I hope that some of their
great wisdom transpires in my work.
Général L’Hotte: “Questions équestres”, “Un officier de cavalerie”,
François Baucher: “Methode d’équitation”,
Etienne Beudant: “Extérieur et haute école”, “Vallerine”,
James Fillis: “Journal de dressage”, “Breaking and Riding”.
Plus so many more: la Guerinière, Xenophon, Newcastle, de Saunier, d’Aure, Decarpentry,
de Kerbrech, Franconi, de Bragance, Podhajsky. And some modern as well: Henriquet,
Karl, de Kunffy, Loch, Belasik, etc.