“with regard to Federico Caprilli....”

The mind/body balance of the horse-man partnership  


The method that the “Holistic Horses” group divulges, founds its basis on three factors, or rather, on three aspects of horse riding: the environment where the search for the “partnership” is carried out and the components of the partnership itself (man and horse).


The method, that we propose to owners of young horses to be “tamed”- for want of a better word, is very simple and finds its principle in being able to understand how much the environment, in which the young horse is working, is influential in accentuating the natural characteristics of the subject animal, in identifying these characteristics and in establishing a sound relationship with the horse. This gives rise to the opportunity to start to manage all the potentials and the strengths that the horse has at his disposal by instinct.


In doing this, it is advisable that one takes into account that one needs to know how to analyse horses, even if it is impossible to understand their nature completely, unless we “rationalise” reality, as they are accustomed to do.


The preceding affirmation is confirmed by the method that we propose to those who come to see us at our centre, it is indispensable in fact, that the rider follows the progress of the horse and analyses the various steps according to the dictates of Col. Federico Caprilli, that we may summarise “ in respect for the natural equilibrium of the horse” and in the consideration that man cannot give to the horse an artificial equilibrium, but only unbalance or not unbalance him.


In the preparation of the young horse it is necessary to think not only of the physical equilibrium/balance, but above all, of the psychological equilibrium/balance. In the first place it is advisable to follow that which we may define as “depersonalisation” of the preparer/trainer, which consists in making the horse concentrate on the man (or woman) whilst seeking to react to the movements of the horse itself, responding always in the same way to the same movements.


The communication between man and horse is difficult because of the nature itself of the two ‘personalities’: man behaves/acts as a protagonist, the horse as a follower or group member.


Faced with a horse our “instinct” induces us to take in hand the situation and to seek to run the events, or to control the situation. On the contrary, the horses “instinct” induces it to follow, collude or integrate with the herd (which in this case is the preparer/trainer).


Our principal “instinct” allows us to impose our will on the horse and has permitted human kind to use him for centuries. Before the advent of the motor, in fact, horses were a constant presence in the every day life of men, so much so as to allow anybody to recognise the main modes and mannerisms of equine behaviour.


Horses today being relegated mainly to the role of animal of affection (or of meat, especially in some overseas countries) people who don’t have the opportunity to have a constant relationship with them, interpret in an instinctive way the horses normal attitudes and movements, as they are not nowadays able to recognise these movements as normal, for a horse.


The modern inability to know the causes that drive the horse to a particular type of behaviour, our first “instinct” is that of survival, provoking a defensive attitude/movement in man, which is then interpreted by the horse as hostility.


In order that our impulse to dominate doesn’t appear as violence in the horse’s eyes, it is necessary to stimulate the horses’ gregarious nature, predisposing the animal to obedience towards man, as represented by the preparer/trainer.


The techniques elaborated by man for predisposing the horse to the above-mentioned function may be classified in three groups:


Contains the idea of the horse as a simple “work machine” or rather like a slave without any dignity.



In this case, on the contrary, the physical dignity of the horse is held in great consideration, in consequence one seeks to obtain his collaboration by conditioning his behaviour with repetitive exercises until the point where he executes the movement in an automatic way.



In this category the techniques (not codifiable because of the necessity of adapting one’s own experience to every horse) for exploiting the natural psychological aptitudes of the animal are adopted, contrary to the previous grouping in which the psychological aptitude is confused with morphological constriction. In fact, in order that a horse jumps higher or runs faster, it is not sufficient that he is “constructed/built” to do so, he must also want to - otherwise one may be forced to utilise the technique of compulsion.

To predispose the horse to obedience to man we must at first be able to understand the personality of the “animal colleague”, we must subsequently give instructions for managing its’ strengths and potentials.


To an outsider, observing the “partnership in communication”, appears the picture of a strange dance in which one cannot understand the roles, but, still using the metaphor of a dance, the two love exchanging parts/roles, in turn reassuring and being reassured, in a sort of pact of reciprocal protection. The rules of this dance are few and simple and they are written in the intimate depths of both the participants. A problem is posed by the “conditioned rationality” of man, who for mental laziness interprets the intentions and desires of the horse as if he were interacting with another man, certainly one a little stupid or at least ingenuous; a bit like an adult behaves towards an unfamiliar child.


We must never forget that before us we have a living being who in his environment and amongst his own kind is a complete individual, who therefore possesses a specific dignity and thus we cannot afford to lack him respect, as it is only in reciprocal respect that man and horse may interact within the ‘reality’ that surrounds them.

                                               Bruno Giongo


Translated by Georgina Templeton

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