What is "The Academic Art of Riding"?

The Academic Art of Riding blends the wisdom and experience of the historical riding masters with the modern knowledge of Bio mechanics to bring balance to the horse and teach feel to the rider. Together magic is possible.  Riding becomes art.

A horse that searches lightly towards the giving hand and strides evenly towards the point of weight with both hind legs is following the red thread of "The Academic Art of Riding"

Any breed can practice the academic art of riding.  Any style of riding can benefit from this type of training. All riding disciplines will benefit from being balanced and learning self carriage. Any type of rider will benefit from learning to feel what the horse is doing. The purpose of this style of riding is to strengthen the horse and help it reach it's full potential.  Dressage is being used to help the horse not the horse being used for the dressage competition.  Horses that have had injuries or have less than perfect conformation will become stronger and more supple using these riding techniques.  It has been called physiotherapy for horses.  When you learn "The Academic Art of Riding" you become a physiotherapist to your horse. The training is done in a calm and relaxed manner. Teaching the horse to bend in the haunches and use its back muscles properly to carry the rider. This type of riding builds muscles to help it move without tension and stay healthy for many years.

With consideration for each horses abilities, which includes both mind and body, thoughtful gymnastic exercises will create and maintain a healthy horse that has the potential to live a long life. Even after an injury, it is often possible to teach the horse to use its body to recuperate and become sound again. Good basic training is the foundation for every style of riding.  With it we can enjoy a relaxing trail ride or learn very advanced and beautiful  movements. It always comes back to knowing and using the basics extremely well.... anything is possible with time and commitment. Both the rider and horse become partners that learn to work together in harmony.

Rider and horse develop their abilities with this training to a level that suits them both.

The academic riders see riding as an art form, an art of movement – like ballet. The foundation for this kind of riding is good basic training,

We give credit to Bent Branderup of Denmark the "Grand Master" and creator of "The Academic Art of Riding".  This name comes from the great riding academies that existed between the 16th and 18th century. This is not a new style of riding or training it actually follows the old traditions when the horse was a matter of survival.  Great horsemanship meant the difference between winning a war and losing a war. The first writings regarding schooling horses was written about 400 years b.c. by Xenophon a Greek cavalry colonel. He was interested in teaching others to school horses through positive techniques rather than violence and force. Xenophon writes:  The majesty of men themselves is best discovered in the graceful handling of such animals.

Bent has spent a good deal of time traveling and learning from the masters that were still then alive and now spends a great deal of his time learning from the historical masters.  He has a depth of understanding from these historical masters that we are so thankful for. He is able to understand the old writings from the masters in a way that no one else is able to today. Through studying the knowledge of the great riding masters such as Xenophon, Guérinière, Pluvinel, Steinbrecht , and others he is bringing the Historical Art of Riding from the past back to life again.

In his youth Bent spent 2 years in Spain as a student of Don Francisco Javier Garcia Romero at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. He was also a student of Nuno Oliveira in Portugal and Egon von Neindorff in Germany, along with other great teachers and riders. He spent a year riding in Iceland and actually rode across Iceland. His horses are very dear to him and he wants to use training methods that keep them healthy and eager to work for him.

Bent says, "The essence of the academic art of riding is collection. A horse can only show a correct collection if it is able to carry itself while moving in total relaxation, without any form of tension.The basic principle of the collection is to ride the horse long and low in order to to teach the horse to search a forward-down contact on the bit. By teaching the horse to follow the rider’s gentle hand and relax, we will achieve the positive effect of the horse beginning to lift its back where the rider is sitting.At first the horse is ridden in bending on a circle, both on the left and the right hand to assure that both sides are equally exercised.  As soon as the horse starts to understand the rider and to think in the right way, it is time to start focusing on the hind quarter to carry. This starts with the shoulder-in."

Bent is pictured here with his wonderful old stallion Hugin. Bent used the Academic Art of Riding to help Hugin recover from a terrible accident where he had broken bones in three legs and he later also lost his eyesight completely. Through Hugin Bent learned that the horse is not made for the art of riding, the art of riding is made for the horse.

To learn more about Bent Branderup and The Academic Art of Riding take a look at these interesting websites:



He has some excellent books, videos and tack available.

Written by Merel van Duyn

I can be contacted in Canada at 250-485-2087 and [email protected]

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