racinetfallacies         racinetfuss
                    RACINET (english)                 RACINET (german)

"Falling for Fallacies. Misleading Commonplace Notions of Dressage Riding" 

(Concurrently published in the German translation: "Auf dem falschen Fuß. Kritische Betrachtungen der modernen  Dressur")

N.B. The following introductory remarks were written before the sad untimely demise of Jean-Claude Racinet (please use the link to the Eulogy in the right column). I have decided not to change the present-tense expressions in the hope that the sense of how present Racinet is - even if regrettably only through his texts, now - will be clearly felt. 

    The work of Jean-Claude Racinet is well-known to riders and readers. The importance of his life-long contribution to the articulation of what, in his perspective, constitutes the true essence of French riding, on the one hand, and of his ardent clarification of the differences, particularities, and respective fortes of Latin and "German" riding, on the other, has recently culminated in the prestigous Prix du Cadre noir being awarded to him. This, his recognition "at home", his teaching in Europe (and specifically in Germany), and his renown in the Anglo-saxon world of riding,  all bear witness to his eminent status both as a theoretician and as a Master of the practice of horsemanship.

    Racinet has never ceased to "push the frontier", his research has not relented and this, his latest text shows how his thinking and questioning, based on themes already presented in previous works, evolves and which orientation he presently considers to be the most promising and urgent: A scientific approach, he suggests, is necessary for the verification of numerous "ideas", many of them misconceptions, prevalent in riding and training, in particular the use of knowledge from the fields of anatomy and biomechanics, together with the tools of empirical methods, i.e. replicable measurement. He focusses specifically, for example, on the (for some riders problematic) issues of neck position(ing), centre of gravity, and "flexion of the lower jaw", as proned by the Baucherist school. With these fundamentals, hitherto unparallelled in  their precision (including the English or German discussions informed by these fields of knoweldge), Racinet proceeds to add to his well-known discussion, now grounded by the said data, of the prevalent and in his opinion "misleading" canons of riding and training and argues that the approach of the French school, the riding in Légèreté, has every reason to gain its place, given that denial of its validity can hardly be sustained, unless for purely dogmatic reasons, in the face of the scientifically proven facts he presents.

    This latest work by Jean-Claude Racinet must be counted as a seminal contribution to the "school discussion" in which he has been one of the major voices for so many years. There were times when he was a "lone caller in the desert", and now again, when the topic is finally "in", when many try to add their grain of wisdom and much is said and written which disguises a lack of solid content behind a barrage of popular words, Racinet points the way. And he does so with the calm of his knowledge and experience and age, yet with unbridled enthusiasm and verve and conviction.

    It is difficult to imagine who in the community of riders - of whatever "school" affiliation or specializing in whichever discipline etc. - would not profit from this masterly work. Racinet was, for the later 20th century, one of the prime "movers" furthering knowledge in the field of equestrianism; with this book he now, at the beginning of the 21st century, once again details what a valid future of riding and for the riding horse ought to be.



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