Classical Dressage Principles

Classical Dressage Principles

There is a lot of in-depth information on Classical Dressage available, so Equestrian Harmony are not trying to re-write its history.

In a nutshell, “Dressage” is a French term that basically means “training”. The term “Classical” is used as its origins go back to Xenophon in Ancient Greece nearly 2,500 years ago. The pivotal centres of Classical training nowadays are the Spanish Riding School in Vienna (Austria), the Cadre Noir in Saumur (France) as well as Jerez (Andalusia) and Lisbon (Portugal).

Some famous Classical trainers across the centuries range from Pluvinel, the Duke of Newcastle, de la Guérinière to Alois Podhajsky, Egon von Neindorff, Nuno Oliviera, Charles de Kunffy etc. There are, of course, many more excellent bygone and current Classical trainers!

Equestrian Harmony believes that Classical Dressage principles are so vital as the basis for the horse and rider training:

  • You get a full understanding of the physiological and psychological development required of both your horse and yourself in the journey through your training.
  • The physical and mental wellbeing of your horse is at the centre of Classical training. It promotes soundness, balance, suppleness and a deep connection between horse and rider.
  • Classical training goes beyond the technical “how to”. It teaches us to move as one with our horse in body and mind, and requires a desire to listen, learn and be open-minded.
  • It is practical and applicable to everyday riding!


De la Guérinière in the 17th/18th century noted that the purpose of the training is to have “a light, obedient and calm horse that is a pleasure to ride” … which is what we are still looking for today!