On 21 November 2009, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Philippe Karl held a joint presentation in Verden (Germany), which attracted 3100 spectators and was honoured with a “standing ovation” at the end.

After the event, Philippe Karl and his wife Bea Borelle asked Mr. Heuschmann for some feed-back. In late November, he sent them in a very critical email.

As Mr. Heuschmann did not hesitate to use his personal communication for an article in the magazine “Pegasus – Freizeit im Sattel” (March 2010), Philippe Karl in return decided to post his reply on this website. You can find it here.

On 9 February 2010, 20 FEI experts declared the Rollkur controversy resolved. Their conclusion: Rollkur/hyperflexion ist unacceptable, "Low, Deep and Round" (as stated in the first version of the FEI press release) or "Long, Deep and Round" (second version of the FEI press release) however is acceptable. The only question is: how do you know the difference?

Philippe Karl's comment on the FEI statement: "The FEI has bravely decided to make no decision at all. Rollkur isn't officially permitted, but the same posture persists under another name (LDR). The rules haven't changed and everything will go on as before, in the most perfect hypocrisy. But we're not giving up yet; rather, we will continue to fight against this catastrophe."

Many thanks to everyone who raised their voice against Rollkur by signing one of the many petitions such as www.no-rollkur.com!

Die Niedersachsenhalle war ausverkauft – 3100 Zuschauer besuchten am 21. November 2009 das gemeinsame Seminar von Dr. Gerd Heuschmann und Philippe Karl. Unter dem Motto „Das Pferd – der beste Richter!“ erläuterten Heuschmann und Karl die Grundsätze pferdegerechten Reitens in Theorie und Praxis – aus Sicht des Tierarztes und des Reitmeisters. Die Zuschauer dankten den beiden zum Abschluss mit Standing Ovations.

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann eröffnete die Veranstaltung mit einem Vortrag zur funktionellen Biomechanik des Pferdes, mit Ausschnitten aus seinem Film „Stimmen der Pferde“ sowie vielen Fallbeispielen aus internationalen Dressurturnieren, die deutlich machen, wie Pferde verspannt und zusammengezurrt, weit entfernt von jeder klassischen Ausbildung, geritten werden. Anschließend erklärte Philippe Karl in seinem Vortrag „Wie stelle ich mein Pferd an den Zügel?“, welche grundlegende Bedeutung der naturgemäßen Schulung des Pferdes auf die Handeinwirkung des Reiters in der Ausbildung zukommt.

Der Praxisteil am Nachmittag wurde eingeleitet durch eine Vorführung des Western- und Freizeitpferdeausbilders Peter Kreinberg im Rahmen des Programms „Hannoveraner erleben“. Er zeigte, wie ein junges Pferd durch Bodenarbeit nach dem von ihm entwickelten „The Gentle Touch®“ optimal auf seinen späteren Einsatz als Freizeit- oder Turnierpartner vorbereitet werden kann.

Anschließend folgten praktische Vorführungen von Reiterinnen und Reitern der Schule der Légèreté von Philippe Karl, die Dr. Gerd Heuschmann entsprechend kommentierte. Zunächst demonstrierten vier Reiterinnen und Reiter, wie die Pferde durch den Einsatz von Abkau- und Biegeübungen vom Boden aus, in der Arbeit an der Hand und unter dem Sattel die Bedeutung der Reiterhilfen – die „Sprache der Hilfen“ – kennen und verstehen lernen.

Anschließend zeigten zwei S-Dressurreiterinnen, wie sie seit knapp einem Jahr ihre Pferde von der „turnierüblichen“ Reiterei im Rahmen von Philippe Karls Ausbilderlehrgang auf die Reitweise der Légèreté umgestellt haben.

Als nächster Programmpunkt analysierte Philippe Karl die Vorstellung eines 7-jährigen Fremdpferdes unter seiner gewohnten jungen Reiterin, schlug einen Lösungsweg vor und demonstrierte diesen selbst vom Sattel aus sowie in einer kurzen Unterrichtseinheit mit der Reiterin.
Wie sie am nächsten Tag mitteilte, hat der Reiterin die Vorführung gut gefallen. Ihr Pferd sei am folgenden Tag gut gegangen und insgesamt sehr locker gewesen. Auch die fliegenden Galoppwechsel, ihr Hauptproblempunkt, sei er stressfrei gesprungen. Gerne will sie sich "mal wieder" zur Verfügung stellen.

Den Abschluss der Veranstaltung bildete eine kommentierte Vorführung von acht Reiterinnen und Reitern der Schule der Légèreté von Philippe Karl. Hier wurde gezeigt, dass auch ganz unterschiedliche, selbst mittelmäßig begabte Pferde Lektionen der hohen Schule – Seitengänge in allen Gangarten, fliegende Wechsel, spanischer Schritt, Piaffe und Passage – erlernen können, wenn bei ihrer Ausbildung Losgelassenheit, Gleichgewicht und Respekt gegenüber dem Pferd an oberster Stelle stehen.

Ein ganz großer Dank geht an dieser Stelle an alle Beteiligten, insbesondere den Hannoveraner Verband e.V., den Wu Wei Verlag, Frau Sibylle Wiemer mit ihren zahlreichen Helfern und natürlich die mitwirkenden Reiterinnen und Reiter:
 
Walter Freitag mit dem Hannoveranerwallach Benni (12)
Nancy Heiber mit dem Holsteinerwallach Cascadeur (14)
Christiane Horstmann mit dem Lusitanohengst Uriel (9)
Kristina Janssen mit dem Friesenhengst Wiebe (10)
Melanie Kleemann mit dem Quarter-Horse-Wallach Leroy Dear Heart (10)
Wibke Kühl mit dem Haflinger-Holsteiner-Mix Moses (16)
Katja Lauer mit dem Rheinländerwallach Aspen (10)
Susanne Lohas mit der Shagya-Araber-Stute Dara (12)
Annika Schnittke mit dem PRE-Wallach Saltiro (13)
Fredeke Trute mit dem Hannoveranerwallach Competent (9)

sowie der Gastreiterin Tabea Rauhut mit ihrem Hannoveranerwallach Conquest (7).

In a letter he sent to the German Equestrian Federation (FN) at the end of March 2009, Philippe Karl proposed a number of changes of the FN rules.

Read the full story and if you wish, add your name to the petition in support of these reforms here. Thank you!

Philippe Karl attended this year's Equitana horse fair in Essen, Germany, from 14 to 17 March 2009. In his presentations, he demonstrated his philosophy of Légèreté with unknown horse–rider couples. He analysed their work, rode the horses himself and pointed out solutions to their problems.

In addition, the fair provided the opportunity to establish new contacts and intensify existing ones, for instance with the former trainer of the German national dressage team, Klaus Balkenhol, and the veterinarian Gerd Heuschmann.

We would like to thank Mrs. Waltraud Böhmke from Belum, the stud Kempke Hof in Plaaz near Güstrow, the stud Rahmannshof in Essen and Mrs. Katja Schulte from Winterberg for kindly providing the horses for the demonstrations.

At the end of June, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Philippe Karl met for the first time for a long-awaited exchange. Gerd Heuschmann, a veterinarian from Warendorf, Germany, came to one of the advanced training courses for the riding instructors of the School of Légèreté founded by French riding master Philippe Karl. During a private dinner and the following day of the clinic, the two prominent critics of modern riding methods had the opportunity to explain their respective views and fathom out their similarities. With great success:

“Gerd Heuschmann is a sympathetic, open-minded and above all very courageous man, whose fight for the welfare of horses I admire very much. As a vet, he is unprejudiced and honestly interested in other riding philosophies. He is the first from the circle of the German FN to make an effort to get acquainted with the philosophy of the School of Légèreté and its practical realization, instead of judging it from a distance. I sincerely hope that we will be able to further intensify our exchange,” Philippe Karl concluded after the meeting.

Gerd Heuschmann also expressed his enthusiasm at this first exchange. Shortly before he left, he declared in front of the riders and listeners of the clinic: “In Philippe Karl, I met one of the few classical riding masters of our time. Here, I have seen horses which are truly schooled according to classical principles and ridden in a way that respects their nature. The way in which you, the students of the ‘School of Légèreté’, put this riding philosophy into practice and carry it out into the world also deserves the highest praise. I wish you every conceivable success. For we must propagate the classical riding principles again – we owe it to the horses!”

Gerd Heuschmann and Philippe Karl hope to be able to explain and demonstrate the principles of classical riding in theory and practice – from the point of view of the veterinarian and the riding master – to a larger public within a joint seminar some time in the future.

During the advanced training course at the end of June, the audience saw both licensed riding teachers of the School of Légèreté with very different horses they had schooled themselves, and three guest riders who took lessons with Philippe Karl for the first time. This combination offered an interesting insight into the philosophy of the School of Légèreté – from the very first steps within this system up to horses on a high level performing not only all lateral movements, flying changes, piaffe, Spanish walk and sometimes passage, but of course also correct neck extension. On top of this, the School of Légèreté is open for all kinds of horses: that weekend, the audience witnessed the training of two Holsteiners, two Lipizzans, two Friesians, an Arabian and one horse described as “the first of his race”.

Philippe Karl was a member of the Cadre Noir, the French elite riding school in Saumur, for 13 years. As an passionate riding teacher, he passes on his philosophy of Légèreté in clinics all over Europe. Since 2004, he has been especially dedicated to the training of riding instructors within his School of Légèreté. Philippe Karl is the author of several books and videos. In his latest book “Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage”, he severely criticises today’s dressage methods and suggests an alternative. Further information on Philippe Karl, including the dates and contacts for the advanced training courses that are open for the general public can be found on this website.

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is a veterinarian specialized in horses and very much in demand as a lecturer. In his seminars, he vividly and intelligibly explains the biomechanical background on which the classical riding principles are based. In his book “Tug of War,” Gerd Heuschmann identifies wrong developments in today’s riding sport and explains how incorrect training methods can affect a horse’s health and well-being. Further information on Gerd Heuschmann, his work as a veterinarian and lecturer can be found at www.gerdheuschmann.com.

The English versions of the books of Gerd Heuschmann and Philippe Karl can be ordered via www.pferdia.com.

From 17 to 20 April 2008, Philippe Karl and six of his riders presented the School of Légèreté at the HansePferd fair in Hamburg. The programme included a total of four half-hour presentations: two commented shows with two riders each in the small training ring (flexions, work in hand and under the saddle), a lecture on questions selected from the audience and a commented show featuring all six riders in the big show arena. The riders were:

Birgit Beck-Broichsitter with her Holsteiner mare Evita,
Walter Freitag with his Hannoveran gelding Benni,
Nancy Heiber with the Holsteiner gelding Cascadeur,
Kristina Janssen with her Friesian stallion Wiebe,
Wibke Kühl with her Haflinger-Holsteiner gelding Moses and
Annika Schnittke with her gelding Romeo (the first of his race).

These six very different horses were all schooled or re-schooled by the riders themselves. It was the first time that they took part in a show in such a big arena in front of a large audience. All six horses demonstrated the complete programme of lateral movements in walk, trot and canter, as well as extensions, flying changes, piaffe, passage and Spanish walk according to their various training levels. Of course, the programme also included correct neck extension and a very important exercise, especially in such exciting surroundings in front of 5000 people: the quiet halt on long reins as a break and means to praise the horse between two series of exercises.

In summer 2007, Sibylle Wiemer and Claudia Sanders of the magazine “Dressur-Studien” organized a meeting between Christoph Hess, head of the instruction department of the German Equestrian Federation (FN), and Philippe Karl. They discussed their respective viewpoints openly and without mincing matters, in an animated debate followed by practical demonstrations on different horses and riders in the arena. Thanks to the coverage of the event in the magazine “Dressur-Studien” and the DVD produced by Pferdia TV, everybody gets the chance to form his/her own opinion about: what is really classical?

The magazine (in German) and the DVD (in German and English) can be ordered at www.dressur-studien.de or www.pferdia.com.

In early 2007, the first riding teachers of the School of Légèreté (2004 to 2007) took their final examination. The presented performances were judged with goodwill, but without compromises. In total, 33 riders took the exam, with 23 of them passing it successfully.

The success rate was thus around 69%. The majority of those who failed the exam decided to go on with their training in order to repeat the exam at a later date.

After this first series of examinations to become riding teacher of the School of Légèreté, all the participants agreed on the necessity of further training. These advanced training courses will last three years, comprising three three-day clinics per year. At any moment, the riding teachers will be allowed to present the exam again if they wish to reach a higher qualification level. After these three years, the teachers of the School will have to present their horses and students again once a year on a further training course.

(Addition to the regulations of the teachers' course of the School of Légèreté)

Philippe Karl

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