Philippe Karl's reply to the criticism of Dr. Gerd Heuschmann

On 21 November 2009, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Philippe Karl held a joint presentation in Verden (Germany), which attracted 3100 spectators and was greeted 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.

This reply of Philippe Karl to Gerd Heuschmann is reproduced here.
(Many thanks to Derek Clark for the translation!)

10 February 2010

Dear Gerd,

I am answering your letter only now because I needed a little time to reflect and because of other priorities.
Before commenting on your letter of 26.11.2009 about the day in Verden, allow me to make a quick review of our relations. It is extremely informative:

• March 2008

In the magazine “Dressur-Studien”: In reply to an interview, you said:
“As far as I can judge at the moment, ”Schwung” plays an important role in Philippe Karl's work, in contrast to certain other instructors.”
“Mr. Karl is an excellent horseman. Without question, the majority of the horses I saw him riding in his videos move by using the back correctly, with a lot of “Schwung” and active hind legs. The older horses, more advanced in their dressage, at all times. I cannot judge his method in a final manner, because I am not yet personally acquainted with it.”

• September 2008

After visiting my clinic in Fintel (June 2008), this is what you wrote in “Piaffe” magazine:
“… what I had the honour to see corresponds to my ideal for the training of horses. A supple poll, the finest contact, horses always ready to stretch, gaits full of “Schwung” with at the same time the finest relationship between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. At the deepest level, Mr. Karl’s work corresponds exactly to the philosophies of good riding of the last century.
I absolutely don’t understand why Mr. Karl is not held in correspondingly high regard, especially in top-level sport. My visit to his clinic has demonstrated once again just what a cul-de-sac competition riding has entered. There really is much about which to despair and to resign one’s self. But since it is the horses who are tortured every day, we do not have the right to hide in our shells.
We must think forward and try to get the culture of dressage in every regard into peoples’ consciousness once again. For some days now I have been convinced that Mr. Karl has a decisive role to play in this context."

• February 2009

An event was organized in Fintel under the title “Gerd Heuschmann meets the School of Légèreté” which I did not attend. You expressly praised the work of my students in front of 250 people. 

• June 2009

During a clinic held in Norderstedt, you described your visit to my stables in November 2008, in these terms:
“I checked the backs and necks of Philippe Karl’s horses and those of his students. They were all remarkably supple.”
There were several witnesses to these events.

• July 2009

In the Australian publication “The Horse Magazine”, you said this:
“I was lucky, the top four or five trainers of his system were there, riding, and I didn’t trust my eyes, this was dressage, unbelievable – the whole day long. They can’t show me a fake for the whole day. They came in long rein, piaffe, but a real piaffe on the hindlegs, this was perfect dressage.
He is very special, he is the guy with these high hands but I went there for two days to study him, he has some very interesting ideas, if you could use some of his ideas then you could stop people from pulling. There is no need to pull – his way the horse starts chewing and is relaxed and the back is up.
Since I visited Mr. Karl and understood his philosophy about the poll and the chewing – the biomechanics – it all fell into place.”

• 23 September 2009

In Frickingen (Bodensee) two of my instructors, Claudia Steiert and Sylvia Stoessel, organized a clinic with you. They presented their horses and you publicly congratulated them on the quality of their riding.
• October 2009

In Warendorf, you met the authorities of the German FN equestrian federation (those who in April wanted to dispense with your services). The November edition of the federation’s official magazine “PM Forum”, carried a report under the title: “Gerd Heuschmann welcomed by FN – Consensus in the matter”
As the saying goes: “While he gnaws at his rope, the dog learns to eat leather.” (W. Traveling, Encyclopedia of German sayings, 1880) 

• Early November 2009

On the telephone, you said to me:
“In all the countries where I go, we two are considered to be the only reliable opposition to the German equestrian federation. We have a great political opportunity! Before Verden, we should speak about it to see how we can use it...”
I answered thus: “I am well aware of this political power, but one thing is certain: I don’t want to enter into political games. I know them too well. I would like to be useful but I also want to remain independent... ”

• 21 November 2009 in Verden

To my (only partial) surprise, because it was easy to see why, your attitude drastically changed.

• In my theory talk I demonstrated in one and a half hours with the help of scientific facts that any concept of dressage based on the horse’s biological needs leads one directly to the – properly understood – concept of LÉGÈRETÉ… and rejects out of hand the “global system”, the opposition of the aids with its low hands, tight nosebands and all manner of auxiliary reins… and that this way enables the rider to train any horse optimally without the application of force.  
This talk was frequently applauded. However you did not listen to it for a single instant. It was so obvious that no-one could miss it. You did not cease chattering with Mrs. Sonntag, the well-known equestrian expert.
This is a pity, because you would have learnt a lot.

• Also during the practical demonstrations you did not stop running from one federal official to the other one (unofficially present, agreed). You were not “receiving”, you were standing guard for the FN! Probably to find out what to think.

• And what can I say about your comments after every presentation? You recited your lesson to us, served up all the dogmas of the official textbook with the self-assurance and insincerity of the perfect accomplice.
But we shall come back to those in detail a little later.

• After Verden

Since this event, you have not ceased repeating everywhere:  “I was mistaken on the subject of Philippe Karl’s equitation.”
But it did not prevent you from making the proposal to Christiane Horstmann (one of my instructors who was present at Verden on horseback), on 22 December on the way to a meeting of the Xenophon association: “I will give you one of my personal horses to train and you can come and present it in one of my clinics.”
Naturally, Mrs. Horstmann politely declined the offer. There are still some people who stand by their convictions.

Now to your own work.

As much as your explanations of biomechanics are respected, the same cannot be said for your riding. It is judged as superficial and raises a smile, because you often stumble over simple problems. Several times in your clinics in late 2008 and early 2009 you asked for contributions from some of my pupils to help you out of one equestrian dead end or another. That was friendly and augured well. As a result, unfortunately, you have since applied those procedures like simple “tricks” in inappropriate situations and without really having understood the background to them. And then of course, as they did not work well, you concluded that the “system” is questionable.
The classic mistake of the over-inflated ego...

You are certainly an excellent veterinarian but you make a serious mistake in thinking yourself to be a rider of equal measure.
The moral of this tale

Dear doctor, in the final analysis, when are you sincere? And when can one believe you?
In all your about-turns, how much is down to incompetence and how much to duplicity?
Either way, I must say that your behaviour has been impolite and disloyal at the very least.
Thus, evidently there are people who never finish a battle in the camp in which they have begun it. And, in addition, they have the cheek to complain about their allies. This is not my style.
I have never asked for any backing from you, because I do not believe it necessary.

Let’s come now to the technical aspects of your letter.  I quote a few points selected from the riding lesson that you were kind enough to address to me:

      •  Disappointment

“The last presentation with the eight horses in Verden disappointed me. I did not expect you to show great dressage horses, but the ones presented just did a “little dance”. I had hoped a bit that these horses were going to shine. To me they lacked RHYTHM, dynamism and suppleness (which even a normal little horse should be able to show after some years of dressage). ... since Verden, my impression that something is not right with your system was confirmed.”

In fact, as stated in my theory talk and as announced in the preamble, we presented a variety of horses, ordinary and in some cases even quite mediocre, in conformation as well as gaits: a FRIESIAN stallion, two IBERIAN stallions, a QUARTER HORSE, an ARAB mare, a HAFLINGER cross and two WARMBLOODS (one that had been ruined in show jumping, the other in dressage).

As the pictures filmed on site prove, we have shown in this teaching presentation the suppling work, the complete range of lateral work in all three gaits, flying changes and Spanish walk with some horses as well as piaffe and passage with all (at different stages of progress). The whole thing was punctuated over and over again by neck extensions and rest periods at the halt with the reins dropped onto the neck.

But apparently you didn’t see any of that. In your entire letter there is not a positive word about the four hours of presentations that we undertook.
• You didn’t see that among these horses were those whom you had so much admired in Fintel in June 2008.
• You didn’t see the relaxed mouths on half-tense reins!
• You didn’t see the calmness and confidence in horses who are not at all used to such public performances!
• You didn’t see the absence of the use of force and the general good humour!
There are none so blind as those who WILL not see.

Our goal was not to show perfection. Rather we wanted to stimulate those riders who think they know everything because they have the privilege of riding very good horses to reflect… and we wanted to present a rational and horse-friendly alternative to the crowd of those whom “official” riding has led into a discouraging dead end.

Finally, if one also takes into account that (as announced at the beginning) these horses were trained by these very students, with the support of only twelve days of lessons per year, here is a “little dance” with which many people would like to content themselves and which is more than sufficient to show the superiority of this equestrian philosophy.

By the way, a lady riding instructor of the FN and Hanoverian breeder with long-standing competition experience in dressage as well as in jumping judged the presentation with the words: “I have never seen such poor horses ridden so well”.
But to have such appreciation it is necessary to have deep practical experience in overcoming the problems of training… and also a little common sense and a certain objectivity. The judgments which you deliver about my students and their work are so unjust as to be quite suspicious. They are tinted with contempt. They smack of ill will and spitefulness. Is it possible that a hint of political servility shines through here?... Or even envy?

That is your choice. I would rather be in my shoes than in yours.

      •  Politics

“I think that from the political point of view, we did not attain our goal in Verden (too many people left in the afternoon and have, like me, not understood what they saw).”

It is true that some of the audience left before the end. But why do you forget to say that we exceeded the envisaged timetable by about two hours?
You prefer to suggest that it would be because these people would not have understood what they saw. This is the one-sided interpretation of somebody who takes his wishes for reality. And even if some people did not understand, you must admit that you did your best to help them remain in the dark.

You do seem to have very selective senses. You saw nothing good in the riding presentations but you saw perfectly any departures before the end! And your hearing: why do you not mention at all the lengthy “standing ovation” which the presentation received at the end? Did this perhaps chafe the ears of your ego and upset your maneuvers?

If I consider the significant amount of positive feedback which we have received, I have – whether you like it or not – achieved my goal. Your “political” concerns are of no interest to me. I am only interested in the principles of riding and training. I cannot advise you enough to study them and to practice extensively, before speaking out in public.

      •  Rhythm

“The rider must give his horse the chance to find HIS individual rhythm... I believe this is too often simply ignored, horses are chased forward in too quick a tempo and only run. Also, in your philosophy, I see horses who run in an arrhythmic manner, which to my mind makes it impossible to achieve the elixir of life; rhythm.”

The advocates of equestrian orthodoxy are always ready with criticism. What a pleasure for those who themselves present “trot machines” at “dressage shows” to be able to criticize horses that they would not even dream of riding. Of course, if they were to accept what we have explained to them and shown them they would have to question themselves. It is very nice to wax lyrical on the topic of rhythm. But in concrete terms, on what does it depend exactly?

The horse’s natural aptitude

• Ruthless breeding has succeeded in producing horses with spectacular naturally springy gaits, an impressive suspension phase and which, as Gustav Rau demanded, “show all the qualities of the fully trained horse from the moment they are born”. The flip side of the medal: even when roughly ridden, they remain as steady as a metronome and win right up until the day (often quite early) when their bodies give out (not to mention their morale). In this case, RHYTHM is above all an investment, often used to promote a form of equitation that is exhibitionist and disastrous. Making it an absolute judging criteria has contributed in no small way to the modern day twisting of dressage.

• And what about other horses? One can also achieve a slow and steady rhythm with a horse that has poor basic gaits – by allowing him to drag his feet in the sand and fall asleep on his four legs! Many riders – many so-called baroque riders among them – do just that. But what about impulsion, the desire to go forward from the slightest hint of the leg? Must one renounce all forwardness in the name of this sacrosanct rhythm?
When training a horse with mediocre gaits, RHYTHM results from the best compromise between balance (the horse’s posture), speed (activity), and relaxation (decontraction)... a razor’s edge that requires continual delicate management from the rider. Occasional impairments of rhythm are more or less inevitable.

If one really wants to be able to train ANY horse, one cannot be satisfied with such simplistic and dogmatic views. RHYTHM is very important, but it is neither the first nor the only criteria of a good education. A little realism is required.
A pampered child may imagine himself to be Schumacher if he drives his Ferrari at 125 mph (50% of its potential)… and readily despises another who gets 100 mph out of some old banger. But where is the real skill here?

The size of the horse

Simple mechanics shows quite clearly in the case of a pendulum or metronome: the shorter the pendulum, the more rapid the tempo of the pendulum movement – and vice versa. So one can get as worked up as one likes about the fact that a JACK RUSSEL doesn’t have the rhythm of a GREYHOUND and sometimes rushes a little – but this is pointless and can only stem from ignorance or ill will. 

Have you ever seen small horses being placed ahead of the big ones in competition dressage? You noted yourself, however, that the majority of the horses we presented were “small” or even “very small”! Unfortunately, the need to criticise what one would not do oneself coupled with the need to honour the official way of thinking anaesthetises all clear reflection.

      •  Balance

“Everything that you say about the mouth and its relaxation is undoubtedly absolutely right, and is mostly missing in the manner of thinking of German riders... Nevertheless, I am convinced that the concept of balance throughout the horse’s body plays the most important role. I think that the supple body (and there, irrefutably, the back is in the middle) is the most important thing for us riders. We are sitting down on the back, and without a supple back, no living being can move in a balanced and unflustered manner. The rider with a poor seat, as well as the rider who takes away or exercises a negative influence on his horse’s balancing arm, the head and the neck, has a negative influence on the back.”

“The back is in the middle”, “we sit on the back” and the rider with a poor seat has “a negative influence on the back”… I have a secret to share with you: YES, I KNOW!
But let’s be serious. In mixing everything together one can only be sure of one thing: that one can’t analyse anything in depth. This is one of the damaging consequences (intellectual, in this case) of “global thinking”.

RHYTHM, BALANCE and SUPPLENESS are fundamental, yes of course. But that doesn’t teach us anything more than saying it’s better to be healthy and rich than sick and poor.

BALANCE is fundamental, then. Agreed, but balance of what? And how?
A well-conformed horse weighing 450 kg ridden by a rider of 75 kg and standing in a natural posture carries approximately 1/7 more of the total mass (75 kg out of a combined total of 525 kg) on his forelegs. Correct extension of the neck further increases this surcharge by around 20 to 25 kg (making a difference of around 100 kg between the forelegs and hindlegs). This causes many horses to rush forward. What do you say about rhythm now?

A question: going around for mile after mile, day after day with the nose on the floor (under the pretext of stretching the back), is this the way to bring a horse into BALANCE? Many horses end up compensating for this imbalance by leaning on the hand and CONTRACTING their backs. I think you have to agree, a muscle can contract concentrically, isometrically or eccentrically. It’s simple physiology.

So, should all conformations be subjected to the same treatment? Beware of so-called panaceas: they often have side effects.
But that’s enough hot air: only elevation of the base of the neck can improve the balance (20 to 25 kg less instead of more on the forehand – a difference of 50 kg back towards the balance of a horse without the rider). This balance correction improves the contact… and often also even the RHYTHM of the gait.

• In what way could better balance (less on the shoulders) harm relaxation, suppleness and consequently RHYTHM?
• Why do all the gifted horses have necks that are attached high?
• Why do professional dressage riders take care to avoid horses with a naturally horizontal neck (English Thoroughbreds, for example)? Surely the former “Rollkur” club (which recently mutated into the “Long, Deep and Round” club) should love to have horses just like these.

You imply that a rider who asks his horse to elevate his neck exercises a “negative influence” on his balancing arm, while keeping it constantly low is always beneficial. This is just another of these reductionist ideas that poison the art of riding! 
A BALANCING ARM is a MOVEABLE element that enables CHANGES of BALANCE. Just ask a tightrope walker. We must learn to use it appropriately.

An important clarification, however: the hand does not raise the neck, it ASKS the horse to raise it. The horse who UNDERSTANDS this request, changes his posture with HIS OWN elevator muscles.

Finally, if “what I say about the mouth and about its suppleness is absolutely right”, consider therefore the consequences. Tell me, how could horses who give their mouths at any time from neck extension all the way up to piaffe and passage be working incorrectly?

      •  The seat, the seat, the seat…

These constant references to the seat are an excellent means of avoiding or eclipsing everything else.

A good seat is all that is required? Most definitely NOT! It is important and necessary but not sufficient. Modern day dressage provides the overwhelming proof.  

Even Gustav Steinbrecht, although a pathological anti-Baucherist, admitted that a good hand is more important than a good seat: “The rider who has a really good hand is a master of equitation, even if by his position and his behaviour on horseback he would appear to the layman to be inadequate, while another with a really poor hand will never make a horseman in the true sense of word however attractive the solidity of his seat, his cut and elegance may be, given that his defect can come only from a lack of sensitivity and understanding of the horse.”
Reread your classics, they are instructive because they are less black and white than is often believed.

Regarding the seat. One must also say it is used as an aid as the rider rationally shifts the division of his weight in the saddle. For instance: the basic principles of BALANCE and LOCOMOTION show that the rider must sit to the outside for the shoulder-in and for the canter depart (as explained in my book “Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage”) contrary to what your doctrine pretends.

To have a GOOD SEAT, one must not only be able to sit well, but use his weight intelligently and appropriately as an aid. In this regard also your considerations are absolutely insufficient.

      •  The “global system”

“I think that a horse (and I know that here we see things fundamentally differently) must always find his balance and relax while moving forward.”

Oh now, please! This is as clear as day!

• When one wants to teach a toddler to stand on two legs one first has to show him how to run…
• And later, the same child should learn to use the handlebars, brakes and pedals of a bicycle by being pushed down a steep hill.
The excellence of the principle isn’t proven by the mere existence of a few survivors.

This is the sacrosanct dogma of “global dressage” and its authoritarianism: the horse “MUST ALWAYS” submit to your convictions. With neither explanation, nor justification. The Grand Inquisitor tells you: “The sun always turns around an earth which MUST be flat.”

NO, NO, NO! It is WE who MUST ALWAYS be guided by the scientific facts to make our concepts of dressage correspond to the biological needs of the horse. On this subject, I refer you to the letter of a spectator in Verden, Eva Wiemers: “This “GLOBAL TECHNIQUE” (if one believes behavioural science) is completely absurd, not only for the training of the horse but also for the education of the rider. Is it not embarrassing how little the discoveries of behavioural science of the last fifty years have been able to penetrate the world of horse riding? The debates around Mr. Karl show that his method of establishing unequivocal aids is hardly taken into consideration and even less understood. In this respect, I have the impression that no form of animal training is as closed to innovations as the world of horse riding.”

Contrary to what you claim, there were people who understood very well in Verden. Be under no illusion, they are becoming more and more numerous. Stick to your archaic ideas if your heart tells you to, but expect to be more and more marginalized. Movement has begun and it is inexorable.

      •  Engagement of the hind legs and elevation of the neck

“In my view, the sustained elevation of the neck should always be the result of collection. It should never be the result of the hands, I believe that lowering of the haunches, the shortening of the base of support, arises very well with increasing collection. A horse who raises his front end without lowering behind is forced in the short or medium term to close his back and lose the regularity of his gaits (bridle lameness) or become as stiff as a board.”

Still ALWAYS and NEVER. Another definitive affirmation without any rational foundation. Another untruth. You have spared us none of them.

Animal locomotion is an interesting science, studied by serious people, which equitation cannot allow itself to ignore. Analyse the thousands of photographs of horses ridden at the trot:
• Whether they are in a lengthened trot, working trot, collected or school trot, the diagonal pair of legs supporting the mass always remain strictly PARALLEL. 
And better still: in the most collected trot, the PASSAGE, the legs in support never converge. In fact, the base of support is very often LENGTHENED toward the REAR.
• Collection here is therefore accompanied by NO shortening of the base of support! The strides shorten, not the base of support.

• During forward movement (the forward movement that is so dear to your famous “global method”), the elevation of the neck cannot UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES result from collection caused by shortening of the base of support, for the simple reason that the latter is pure wishful thinking!
• On the contrary, it is the elevation of the neck (change of balance) that, in combination with activity, leads to collection in forward movement.
• It is only when moving in place or almost in place (in the piaffe or extremely collected canter) that the horse can and must shorten his base of support.

When seriously analysed, collection is a complex and multiform phenomenon. It can in no way be reduced merely to the engagement of the hind legs under the mass.

Just like the system that indoctrinated you (even though you are a scientist), you have a simplistic and tragically reductionist understanding of dressage in general and of collection in particular.
The horse is the MASTER and he makes a mockery of your pre-fabricated ideas. Unfortunately, he alone must suffer the consequences.

All of this is clearly DEMONSTRATED in my book. But, perhaps you did not read it, which would be unfortunate, or perhaps you took nothing from it and that is, frankly, worrying.

      •  Down with the hands, long live the seat!

“For me, it is more and more clear that the seat plays the most important role of all and the hands become a problem for many riders precisely because the human brain–hand axis is so strong.”

On this point you are at the same time wrong and right.

• WRONG: When a rider is in difficulties and reacts by pulling on the reins it is a reflex action. Have you forgotten that in this case the nervous impulse goes only to and from the spinal cord? And is therefore not processed through the brain?

• RIGHT: You are really right! The brain–hand connection becomes a serious problem when the brain has been “washed”! When a fundamentalist equestrian doctrine has removed all common sense from the rider and replaced it with dogmas that run counter to nature such as: everything is in the seat, never use the hand without active legs, always have fixed and low hands… In the final analysis, the rider also has FIXED and low IDEAS.

In logical terms, this “mindless” doctrine forgets that the horse also has a brain, and treats any ideas of communication with it with disdain. That produces the physical, authoritarian and coarse riding of a bodybuilder and the ravages that follow from it.

By what miracle could the BACK–BACKSIDE axis produce a more intelligent and more sensitive form of riding than the BRAIN–HAND axis? It is absurd! Still, everyone has his favourite tools.

      •  SEUNIG to the rescue!

“When Seunig says: “In the end, there is nothing more than the seat and the hind legs”, this sentence represents my perception exactly.”

This quote from Waldemar Seunig is one of those nice sounding expressions that don’t actually say anything and represent above all a means of shooting oneself in the foot.
• The end is certainly interesting, but the education of a horse lies precisely in all that precedes it because “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”.
• In the end, there is no hand? A nice story! So did Seunig present his horses with his hands in his pockets? Read another way, this expression only confirms that BEFORE the end there are indeed hands (and even auxiliary reins!). So the rider had better study their role seriously… with his BRAIN.
• The quotation from Etienne Beudant says infinitely more: “A good hand is sufficient for everything”. Reflect on that!

Dressage is not only a matter of the backside, the back and the hind legs. It is a complex art that brings into play a broad range of understanding: psychology, ethology, anatomy, physiology, balance, locomotion, biomechanics… And add to that a solid grasp of equestrian culture, aesthetics and ethics.

To disclaim all that borders on obscurantism.
Already in 1776, the famous Écuyer of the Age of Enlightenment, Dupaty de Clam, wrote: “It is wiser to be guided by known sciences than to indulge one’s whims.”

As for your personal “perception” of equitation… we shall take it into consideration once you have fully trained a dozen horses of every sort and kind. In the meantime it would be polite to show a little modesty.

IN SUMMARY… your comments are very discouraging and typical of official thinking:

• You demonstrate nothing, neither in practice, nor in theory… Instead you confront us only with convictions. Convictions are very practical; they exempt one from any justification by rational explanation. The result is this rhetoric of propaganda: verbose, specious, and stuffed with false reasoning. From the mouth of a sworn instructor it would be understandable. From someone with scientific training it is consternating.

• While you courageously reported the disastrous effects of modern day dressage in veterinary terms, you have not analysed the deeper equestrian causes at all. Given that they are obvious in the principles of the SYSTEM which you defend, you have absolutely no solution to offer.
In consequence, you find it necessary to ignore my arguments, to distort my statements, to judge my students unfairly and resort to disinformation and manipulation.

• Finally, it is too convenient, and a little improper, to take shelter behind the favourable status of a veterinary surgeon while censuring others in domains in which you have no expertise at all.

Your letter ends like this: you tell me that you consider me “one of the greatest HIPPOLOGUES of our time”. In your opinion I “stand for the protection of horses in equestrian sports”.

If you say so! But since I have already learned what your superlative-laden outbreaks of enthusiasm are worth, allow me to make a correction: I am first of all an Écuyer (a word without translation). Common definition: the Écuyer is one who, by reason of long experience of all aspects of horse riding, a deep understanding of equestrian culture and extensive knowledge of the horse (which is where hippology fits) trains horses and produces riders of quality.
I had the honour of being awarded this title 25 years ago, after 20 years of practice. I believe it deserves a little respect.

You also write that you don’t want to lose me under any circumstances “as a debating partner, hippologue, and perhaps as friend???!!”…! (this last exclamation mark is mine).

• On the abundant final punctuation, we agree…
• That aside, the “debating partner” needs that debate to be on a different level to the one in which you currently take pleasure…
• ... and the Écuyer no longer wishes to be the plaything, the guarantor or the hostage of sales representatives who don’t even bear any samples.
• Finally, like LÉGÈRETÉ, BALANCE, or COLLECTION, FRIENDSHIP is a word that should not be used cheaply. They all have a deep meaning and their value lies only in actions.

Your last word:
“I can imagine that you are perhaps weary of always giving explanations.”

Indeed I am tired of pandering to interlocutors who counter demonstrations with simple convictions, obvious facts with ill will and serious cultural concerns with political contortions.

Since you did not hesitate to use a personal letter for an article in the magazine “Pegasus” – an exceedingly elegant approach – I shall in return post this comment on my website.
It will undoubtedly inform those who really want to understand riding and who want to know with whom they can do it.

With all sincerity,

Philippe Karl

PS: Don’t worry about the future of the SCHOOL OF LÉGÈRETÉ. The training of instructors is going very well in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Austria. Others teachers’ courses will start very soon in France, Australia, England, Canada and South Africa.