Kon Polski, ¹5-2010.
Nevzorov Haute Ecole
Since the Renaissance "haute école" (fr. high school) determined the most advanced level of dressage, both figures a terra = the ground (piaffe, passage and pirouette), or in alto = above ground (for instance: levada, capriola, ballotada etc.). The origins of this style of riding is associated with a Federico Grisonie. He and Giovanni Battista Pignatellim famous riding school founded in Naples in 1532. They practiced brutal and cruel ways of working with horses. The most famous student of the school was Antoine de Pluvinel (1552-1620), founder of the Paris Academie d'Equitation (1594), the trainer of Louis XIII. He started a revolution in horse training - as opposed to his Italian teacher he recommended treating horses with gentle methods and using very subtle support. He emphasized that the horse should feel joy of work, and than it would be more impressive. Cazaux de Nestier (1684-1754), teacher of Louis XV., thought the same. He was famous for his kindness in relation to horses. Also, in the Renaissance, famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna was founded (1572). Terms, that are sometimes used interchangeably: "Neapolitan", "Spanish", "Vienna" refer to the same or similar techniques of driving and working with the horse. The epithets: "Neapolitan" and "Vienna" indicate the location of schools, and "Spanish" – race horses (most of them were Lipician and Andalusian horses).
In High School of Dressage the foundation is: to achieve perfect collection which allow to make a difficult figures. Ideal is to obtain full harmony with the horse, respecting its nature, as Xenophon wrote in "The Art of Riding" and "Commander of riding". Both, Renaissance riders and their contemporaries continuators achieved it using bits and side reins, during working at the ground and riding. However, it appears that these aids are not necessary to perform the most difficult elements of haute école. Russian, Alexander Nevzorow can convince us abou it. He is a founder of Nevzorov Haute Ecole school. Nevzorov`s horses perform the most difficult figures of Haute Ecole (a terra and in alto), while they are at liberty, without any bits, bridles and side reins (or even halter), remain in perfect natural collection.
Therefore, it is worth to bring this character closer, as well because the methods of working with horses, put the health and welfare of the horse on the first place.
Alexander Nevzorov was born in 1958 in Leningrad. His life is full of extraordinary events. He was a member of Russian parliament (Duma), had been an editor-in-chief on Leningrad (and later Saint-Petersburg) television for 10 years, he used to be a novice in a monastery and a bass chorister. He participated in wars in Ugoslavia, Transdniestria, Iraq and Chechnya. He was wounded twice and contused once. Three times he became a volunteer hostage of terrorists in exchange for release of other people. Alexander also worked as a journalist, screenwriter, stunt horse.
He started looking for gently, humanitarian methods of working with horses (without violence) after he realized that many people are extremely cruel for horses. More over, his life experience – during his life he watched the violence used by men, and he experienced it himself. To the question "How does this relate to working with horses?" he replies: " ou can hate violence towards the horse only if you hate violence towards men. Some eight or ten years ago I said definitely to myself that I would never treat horses as I was taught to anymore”.
Aleksander Nevzorov developed his own method - its principal feature is the art of communicating with horses, without coercion and violence. The ultimate goal of NHE is the optimum physical and mental health, spiritual happiness, liberated thought and complete emancipation of the horse. Nevzorov is against inflicting pain horse in any way and forced him to anything, that`s he abandoned using the bits. He works at liberty using cordeo (superior rope by his neck), both from the ground and from the saddle. “Whenever there is pain or discomfort for the horse - however slight, there cannot be total trust. Without trust, there cannot be a place for learning and understanding” – he stressed. That's why he recommend cordeo to work: this is so subtle support that you cant force a horse to do anything. However, when you have agreement with him, cordeo fully sufficient to transmit signals.
It is worth mentioning that one of the fundamental principles of the school NHE is the health care of the horse. Almost all other rules stem from the assumption that the most important issue is the health of the horse, training methods are directed to rehabilitation, maintenance and strengthening of the horse’s health. So therefore, Nevzorov requires that the horse was in the paddock all the time or almost all the time, to relax and have constant possibility of movement and contact with other horses, that he should be fed properly and have a spacious box, where he can take refuge when he need it. His horses are barefoot because shoes make that the hoof does not work properly (buffer functions are impaired and the blood supply), hooves are corrected (chipped) every few weeks in such a way that they correspond to the shape of the shape of hooves, which are horses in nature, moving in a variety of terrain (specialists from NHE are making research about this).
He does not use bits as the first, treats it as a tool of coercion by asking the horse pain and, secondly, it damages horse's mouth, causing tightness and tension. Selection of exercises is justified since the age of the horse and it is ready for a particular job (ossification of the skeleton, muscles, emotional maturity). Lunging is allowed only starting from 4 years old, riding with a cordeo – from 5-6 years old. Simple airs above the ground (courbette) - from 8 years old, difficult airs (capriole) – from 10-13 years. A school horse reaches the full maturity at 12-13 years old. Exercise performance is kept at the high level during the whole life. Developmental games and stretching are allowed at an early age and during the whole life.
Nevzorov stresses that it is very important to work in the natural colllecting. Natural collection which is true collection is achieved through communication with horse and rider by means of mutual respect, horse isn`t forced to keep this position. A horse moving in natural collection is beauty and grace beyond definition, and most important the horse is enjoying the experience without pain or suffering or being forced. A man can only encourage him to it by appropriate exercises, based on the art of communication and mutual respect. Ride, which lasted several minutes, may only be done on a collected horse. It is worth to stress that Nevzorov decided not to ride any horses anymore, because of health in the horse. He stressed, that the horse's back is not designed to carry the weight (rider) in the form of vertical pressure from above. As studies show, the pressure the rider of average weight have, even on "good" fit saddle blocks, blocks the blood flow to tissues. When saddle was badly chosen, the damage is still larger (permanent tissue damage, bruises, ulcers, back pain). That`s why people who want to be students of NHE, have to stop riding their horses to recover their backs. It is worth to say that Lidia Nevzorov, Alexander's wife, is the author of excellent articles on the principles of matching saddle horse, where she presents studies and reseraches of thermographic camera.
Alexander Nevzorov totally rejects the possibility of use of any horse in the sports and commercial events, or even trials. He believes that the horse does not exist to provide this kind of pleasure for man, the very notion of "using" his horse as a living creature is, in his opinion, unethical. He is opposed to all kinds of sports equestrian events, because they overwhelm the horse (joints, skeletal and muscular system), horse is required to be perfect in every figures, and when he is unable to do so, people punish him.
Equestrian "sport" is parasitizing on the abilities of horses. This "sport" has nothing to do with a testing of power and ability of a human sportsmen.One of the proofs is that only equestrianism allows men and women participate on equal terms.
Equestrian "sport" can not exist because it is NOT sport at all. A sport discipline tests power and endurance of men, who act VOLUNTARILY, while in equestrian "sport" the one who acts like a sportsman is a horse, which is totally absurd and conflicts with the rules of Olympic Games and de Coubertin's behest. Parasitizing on other being's abilities and prize winning through violent and public coercion of a horse discredits sport and devalues services of real sportsmen who test the limits of their abilities and facilities.
He notes that most sport horses lead a miserable life, closed the whole day in the small box, and they are picked up only for training. Besides, horses, unlike humans, they have no sporting ambitions, so why do they be trained only to satisfy human ambitions? It is worth to stress that the school is totally opposed to rollkur (hiperflexion) as a method of training horses that is particularly destructive to the physical and emotional health of the horse, based on pain and compulsion. Students NHE may also take off in any competitions or train horses in any competitions. Their task is to deepen the knowledge of horse anatomy, biomechanics and its behaviorism - all in order to better understand the horse and realize how to work his mind and body.
All elements of the movement (preparation exercises and elements of haute ecole) are practiced only on the ground. However, in addition to the same "job" training is also to play a man with a horse, horse-like fun in the herd, and therefore mutual ments in running, jumping - on the basis of improvisation. The aim is to achieve a perfect confidence and perfect communication, and save horse's natural ability to develop, including his mind, and soul. Alexander Nevzorov stresses that the horse is extremely intelligent animal, but very delicate. He is encouraged and entitled to have free thought and will. Cooperation based on mutual trust and understanding, should lead to the emancipation of the mind the horse, his personality and physical ability; with the understanding “the horse is always right” It means that for every mistake, discrepancy, misunderstanding, or kink in the work with a horse is always a man’s fault; he is the one who should be punished. NHE wants to restore the horse's basic right to life without pain, life and slavery.
NHE school expressly dissociates itself from Natural Horsmanship, especially Parelli Natural Hormanship school. Nevzorov believes that the goal of natural horsemanship is the humans (not horses) comfort, safety, health and happiness. He doesn’t use giving comfort and discomfort as a tool of coercion. He thinks that these methods makes horse dull, deadened, predictable and ultimately “useful” to the human. He stressed that NH is multi-billion dollar industry which is ego driven and career orientated and one which takes from the horse and gives to the human, and, more over, they give people very rudiment knowledge.
NHE is free and accessible to all who wish to learn - only a commitment, understanding and adherence to the Principles is required. The one thing he expects is comply with its rules, which can be summarized in five points: no bits, no horseshoes, no competition, no punishment, no force. NHE online forum consists of 3 levels: first, for those people who started to interest this way o working with horses - if they are active on the forums, document their progress and demonstrate their willingness to expand their knowledge, they are transferred by the administrator to "school" where they can find practical tips and exercises; for people who are the most advanced there are another, separate forum. But even in the "Forum for Beginners" you can find many interesting information or links to articles discussing the various aspects of horse health, anatomy and psychology of his or various training methods.
Are your methods accessible to everybody? Aleksander responds: “Not for everybody, but only for people who are ready to reject any cruel exploitation of the horse for their own entertaining needs. You must refuse competitions, racing and other similar humiliating activities and change your attitude towards the horse. You must understand that the horse is not an thing and sport machine in human hands”.
Alexander Nevzorov does not have any foreign clinic. But sometimes he leads the seminars in St. Petersburg. Currently, the one form of education is, therefore, the use of materials published on the forum. Nevzorov is also the author of the film "The Horse Crucified and Risen (Horse Encyclopaedia), which can be downloaded from the website. He wrote the book with the same title, which is not a repeat of the movie (but includes, inter alia, secrets of education of a horse without any violence, without any bits and punishment. Moreover, this book includes unlimited hard analysis such a phenomenons as equestrian sport, history of cavalry, history of means of enforcement). It is worth to stressed that this book will be soon published in Poland, titled as “Koń ukrzyżowany i zmartwychwstały”.