"Feines Reiten in der französischen Tradition der Légèreté"
(Riding in Finesse. The tradition of Légèreté in French Riding)

    Upon its first publication in French, «L'Equitation de légèreté» (Lausanne 1991) by Jean-Claude Racinet was hailed as "Baucher, Third Manner", as a seminal further development of that "system", Baucherism, which must be considered the 19th century's most innovative contribution to French (and, in a wider sense, to all) equestrianism.

    But the book is much more than a discussion of the French Master who is, in certain milieux, so controversial: Racinet enquires into the fundamental essentials of all riding and all horse education, identifies concepts common to both La Guérinière and Baucher, shows how these are central to all French riding, and delves into a critique of that doctrine, the "German school", which has always invoked its "guériniériste classicism" and which  has become the de facto foundation of the FEI canon.

    Pegasus Pferdemagazin qualified the book as a "veritable chest of treasures" and "a must for the serious rider". Racinet applies the results of modern scientific research to an analysis of the conceptual fundamentals of riding à la française and derives a detailed set of procedural rules of practical and technical nature. How to give the aids, how to structure each session of instruction of the horse, and how to organize an over-all strategy of training the animal, is carefully explained and described. Racinet, in short, shows the way to Fine Riding, to riding in Légèreté.

    Originally written for an audience of French riders, the text had to be complemented with an extensive section of Annotations and References, so as to render the complex and deep-rooted cultural and historical background implications, as well as certain theoretical or practical particuliarities, accessible for the German reader. Altogether, Racinet's treatise must be considered the most comprehensive and the most radical, i.e. going-to-the-roots, portayal of French équitation and at the same time the most innovative reconceptualization of its tradition.

    Published in the renowned series documenta hippologica (Olms), this book by Racinet is a masterly and highly instructive treatise. It will be of particular interest to those German-speaking or "German" riders who have recently started to critically assess certain deformations of the so-called "classical" doctrine and who have begun to open themselves to alternative forms of equestrianism. This text, by a teacher of incommensurable practical experience and deep analytical understanding of the theoretical issues, impresses by the sheer authority of the message. Most importantly, though, the strength of its message is not a function of doctrinal discourse but of the clarity and acuity of argumentation, the persuasiveness of facts, and the coherence of proof. Pegasus Reitmagazin calls the work "the jewel among instructional texts on equitation".

    Riders delving into this text in a concentrated manner will find that reaching a nuanced understanding of the material and, most importantly, applying it consistently in their practical equestrian work, raises issues which far surpass the level of technicalities. Indeed, it rapidly becomes evident that the practice, let alone the mastery, of riding in Légèreté calls upon deep-rooted cultural, aesthetic and ethical issues.

    Riders/readers who require theoretical clarification or who seek practical instruction are encouraged to contact me. 
    Readers of English will be aware of other texts by Jean-Claude Racinet. "Another Horsemanship. A Manual of Riding in the French Classical Tradition" and "Racinet explains Baucher", for instance, are short versions of certain aspects of the materials contained in "Feines Reiten in der französischen Tradition der Légèreté". This  German translation of Racinet's magnum opus contains an extensive Annex of notes and references for riders/readers of non-French background and anybody with a fair mastery of German will find that it is, to date, the most complete and most far-reaching handbook for the student of riding according to the French Masters' tradition.


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