Beudant has been one of my personal heroes since I first read his book, Horse Training, Outdoor and High School. Since I was (and am) highly opinionated about how to school, I decided that I should prove to myself that I could school a horse from the absolute beginning when I was still in my teens. The horse I chose was a colt straight off the range from the Romero-McKinley herd of Spanish Colonial horses running just north of the White Sands Missile Range in central New Mexico.
What I thought I wanted was a horse that was a pleasant and versatile companion outdoors. What I got was a 15th century Baroque warhorse with tremendous endurance, natural impulsion and a flair for airs above the ground. He turned out to be the horse taught me most about how to ride and train, and Beudant gave me the key to communicating with him instead of fighting with him.
Beudant is one of the very few horsemen who successfully and consistently schooled his horses to work both out-of-doors and to perform all the ‘airs of fantasy’. And he wrote that:
- ‘There are two ways of appealing
- To the moral nature
- Of the horse:
- One, by terrifying him;
- The other,
- By speaking logically
- Through the medium of the aids
- To his intelligence.’
Etienne Beudant is known as “L’Ecuyer Mirobolant” (“the Fantastic Trainer”) by those who ride and train in lightness. His trademark was the complete apparent freedom in which his horses moved without ever losing the correct position or total lightness of their contact. He is one of the greatest riders of the 20th century.
Here he is riding Mabrouk, a reject from the French remount in Algeria in a gait that he called “Brilliant Piaffe”. He took General L’Hotte’s advice a rider should be able to play with their horse’s gaits as though they were an accordion, varying the length, height, duration and expression of their stride in any combination desired.
Beudant at the extended trot with Robersart II, a horse he raced, rode in point to points and jumped as well as displayed remarkable ‘airs of fantasy’ on demand.
Here is Beudant at the passage with Vallerine. He was able to ride like this when he was crippled by pain and had spent months in a body cast.
Beudant was an extraordinary man who overcame both his own and his horses’ physical limitations with breathtakingly beautiful results . He insisted that work out-of-doors across country was the essence of the horse and high school training was only a means of allowing that to ability to blossom under saddle. Truly worthy of emulation, he is an unsung hero of the horse.
(click here for more on schooling horses)