A dressage philosophy that emphasises lightness. What do Philippe Karl and his students do differently? A visit to a School of Légèreté course reveals how it differs from – and also is similar to – conventional riding methods. The bay mare pulls hard against the rein during a leg yield. The course instructor says "No, don’t do that to yourself!” She walks to the middle of the arena, has the pair come to a halt. “Demonstrate poll flexion to her again, whilst standing still”, she tells the rider, who then lowers her outside hand and lifts her inside hand. The horse responds by tilting its nose sideways. It knows this sign. “Exactly!”, says the instructor, “Disconnecting action and movement!”
What exactly is the school of Légèreté? Most people have two answers: a man named Philippe Karl, and then they add, “Those are the ones that ride with high hands!” Not entirely wrong, but not the whole story either. Philippe Karl and his “Ecole de Légèreté” stands for a philosophy of learning. It is a school that promotes lightness which horse and rider can use in attaining the highest dressage abilities, but which also works in learning the fundamentals. Philippe Karl – who, incidentally, is married to Bea Borelle – founded this school of riding on the knowledge of the old masters. The rider should apply the lightest of aids. The horse should respond to leg and hand aids with lightness. That commands attention! Don’t all riders want to ride with such fineness?