Reading





                              

    Everything in the field of horsemanship and concerning the horse and riding must be learned. Better to sit in the saddle and search, to listen to one's teacher and enquire, or to read and reflect, than to rest on the laurels of one's "talent" or to count on competence and understanding "coming with time"! Real learning is an arduous individual process and has its qualitative and quantitative limits: The amount of know-how and skill and the quality of understanding which can be reached depend on the extent and variety of concrete experience, on the depth of learning, and on the fullness of teaching available to the learner. Only on the condition that these are very rich can one ever hope to go beyond the limits of sheer empiricism, dilettantism, or nebulous theorizing.

    Only those merit the title "Teacher" whose experience, knowledge, and understanding, reached by virtue of their own study and work, so far surpass those of their pupils that through their instruction and guidance the students be enabled to transcend the limits of their own experience horizon and as a consequence (!) refine their skills. A good teacher is not s/he from whom we learn something "new", but s/he without whom we could never have learned what we learned. To reach this goal, teachers must be able to formulate their knowledge and know-how in a higher-order manner: They must "open a new world", i.e. convey a per se abstract material (things unimagined, inconceivable, unknown to us) in such a manner as to make it  a novel form of our concrete practice. Under the guidance of such teachers, the process of learning is transformed: For the student, it turns from the search for improved competence or from a self-centred quest for a personal path into an introduction to, an initiation into, the collective realm of the civilizational accomplishments of equestrianism.  Becoming a "better" rider does not guarantee becoming a Rider; properly and competently taught, one becomes a Rider and thereby a better rider.

    To study in this manner demands that those sources be found which represent the richest stores of accumulated knowledge about horses and riding. The "Old Masters" are those whose knowledge has proven so solidly grounded that the greatest number of students of their works have found it to be verifiably true - i.e. over the longest period of historical time and under the most varied epochal circumstances. This solidity of knowledge on the part of the Masters is borne out by the fact that from among their students ever new generations of true teachers arose (a few of whom in turn became great masters). The Old Masters are the Great Teachers.

    Many of the works of the Old Masters, however, reach us from distant epochs, belong to equestrian cultures often quite unknown to us, or are written in foreign languages. Many an interested rider/reader is therefore barred from accessing these rich stores of information, insight, and counsel. To convey the Old Masters' knowledge is a pedagogical demand which instructors often cannot or do not fulfill and that is the reason why the private study of the Masters is of such great importance.

    The Old Masters may, at first sight, seem far removed from our equestrian situation and the accomplishments and the progress of Modernity may make us think that we have made so much headway that their contribution can be ignored. In fact, though, to deprive ourselves, or to be deprived, of their knowledge and wisdom is an impoverishment of our individual and collective equestrian culture. Everything must therefore be done  to make their experiences and their insights accessible.

    My translations of essential works and my texts, already published or soon to be published, are my attempt to contribute to this situation.



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