Classic is Modern

Chazot's Thoughts 35

He and I had exactly the same thought. Is not it interesting that Plato looked into the future for better education and modern riders look in the past?Jean Luc Cornille 2014 The wisdom of centuries should definitively be the canvas of modern equitation, but purified from its errors and updated to actual knowledge. Class is the essence of classic and class is achieved when a solid technique supports our talent. Intuitively, some of your ancestors further understood our biological mechanism and they tried to explain their finding through paraphrases and examples. The classical inspiration is not about repeating their words but instead, the classical inspiration is clarifying and furthering their thoughts with the insights of new knowledge. Classic is modern.

Younger and older riders are taught falsehood because the equestrian education is about gestures and we are dealing with forces. Internal forces are the forces that our hind and front limbs induce on our vertebral column and external forces are attraction of gravity, inertia forces and riders’ movements. These forces are resisted, diffused and controlled by our vertebral column muscles. Showing the wears and tears on the articular facets of our caudal thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, where our main muscles are attached, Dr Betsy Uhl DVM, PhD, explained in the IHTC5 functional anatomy document, how oblique forces induced on our thoracolumbar spine by the hind legs are resisted by the muscles situated on the other side of the spine. Without this compensatory work of our back muscles, the thrust generated by our hind legs would simply bend our lumbar vertebrae laterally and push our croup side way. You are taught that our vertebral column swings and that by increasing its range of motion you may increase the amplitude of our strides. This is a falsehood.  The main function of our back muscles is at the contrary resisting movements which amplitude would exceed our possible range of motion. Teachers who tell you to follow our vertebral column movements relaxing your own lumbar vertebrae are teachers who do not know how our vertebral column effectively functions. The truth is that large movements of your vertebral column are nuisances that hamper our ability to achieve balance control and sound performances.

The equestrian education does not intentionally deceive you and consequently us. The problem is that pedagogical tools are applied as finalities. Forces interactions are directed by laws of physics and these complex phenomena of physics are explained through language and literature. Your so-called “aids” are metaphors trying to describe the gesture than a specific coordination and tone of your body muscles produces. The purpose of describing the gesture is teaching the feeling of the muscular work creating the gesture. We don’t need your gestures; we are sensitive to your muscles’ adjustments. We are comfortable with your nuances in muscle tone. They are a language that we can understand. Instead, we are disturbed by your gestures. Teachers who tell you otherwise do not understand the wonders of our vertebral column mechanism.

Our muscles are composed of cells which create energy and connective tissues who convey the force to the next cells. These connective tissues acts like tendons and therefore our muscles can store and reuse elastic strain energy even in the absence of tendons. The tendinous components of our muscles vibrate in response to your movements creating chaos in our muscular system. Instead of creating forces related to the gait or performance that we are working on, our muscles cells have to manage or even counteract the chaotic reactions of our connective tissues. The more you move, the more we have to resist.

Instead of repeating your ancestors’ words, you need to focus on the meaning of the words and this is where scientific knowledge is a must. Literature is a vehicle for thoughts. It is not a rule to be applied at the letter. Most of your great ancestors were visionary but their words were limited by the knowledge available at their time. Their intuitive mind was a sacred gift and in order to benefit from their gift, you need to update your understanding of our vertebral column mechanism to actual knowledge. When a teacher tells you that you can enhance the amplitude of our gaits and movement relaxing and stretching our back muscles, your teacher is thirty five years behind actual knowledge, when Hans Carlson wrote, “Electromyographic studies and movements data presented above strongly suggest that the primary function of the back muscles during walking is to control the stiffening of the back rather that to create movement.”  (Hans Carlson, Halbertsma J. and Zomlefer, M. !979, Control of the trunk during walking in the cat. Acta physiol. Scand. 105, 251-253).  

We are not only disturbed by the amplitude of your body movements but also by their brusqueness. The concept of frequency is intricate part of our body function. He often talks about respect of our natural cadence, about tuning your body movements to our frequency. This is based on advanced understanding of our muscular system. “In a sense, because the muscle is composed of both muscle fibers and tendinous materials, all of these structures must be collectively ‘tuned’ to the spring properties for the muscle-tendon system to store and recover elastic strain energy during locomotion.” (Paul C. LaStayo, PT, PhD. John M. Woolf, PT, MS, ATC. Michael D. Lewek, PT. Lynn Snyde-Mackler, PT, ScD. Trugo Relch, BS. Stan L. Lindstedt, PhD. Eccentric Muscle Contractions: Their contribution to injury, prevention, rehabilitation, and sport. Journal of Orthopaedic & sports physical therapy. 557-571. Volume 33, NUMBER 10, October 2003)

Elementary equitation hints the subject with the concept of timing. This concept is not necessary wrong but very rudimentary. Your leg can be acting in synchronization with the engagement of our hind leg, but the rapidness of your touch can be quicker than our natural frequency triggering protective reflex contraction of our stimulated muscles. Frequency is like dance, all the body is involved but also the gradualism of any pressure and muscle adjustment. Intensity of your muscle tone adjustments as well as the frequency of your adjustments cannot be taught away from us. You will never tune your body to our frequency focusing on your body only. In fact, he often see problem with these body awareness approaches were riders expect that we will tune our body to their frequency instead of tuning their body to our frequency.

We are constructed from systems within systems within systems and they all have to be tuned properly. This is not simply true at macroscopic level. At the trot for instance, our upper neck muscles resist attraction of gravity that pulls our head and neck down at impact of each front leg. Our two main upper neck muscles, the splenius and the semispinalis capitis have to tune their reflex contraction in order to do not disturb our neck movement and therefore our front limbs movements. The one who teach you bending our neck for suppleness or other utopia are not aware of our biological mechanism and they don’t want to be aware because they would have to reconsider their theories. But you are now and you have to protect us.

He let me talk all the way through this conversation because he knows that all these new and pertinent discoveries are easier to assimilate coming from a horse. He does not believe that riders choice deliberately to cripple their horse but they do so because they are misinformed. Members of our online course regularly collide with the ones who refuse to evolve, but members of our online course, the IHTC,  also regularly welcome new members. La Gueriniere wrote, “ There are few people who do not like horses.” Abuses are most of the time triggered by misinformation. The answer is knowledge. Often people say, ”If only horses could talk”. Well, I do.


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