Dressage Today OnDemand: Charles de Kunffy Collection

Sharing my experience as I explore Dressage Today OnDemand!

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Over the summer, JJ Tate gave worldwide access to a Charles de Kunffy clinic she was hosting by live-streaming the multi-day event. You could audit in person or purchase tickets for the live stream. I have never audited one of Charles’s clinics, but I had heard a lot about him. I didn’t plan to drive multiple states to watch the clinic in person, so purchasing tickets was a great opportunity to see what he was all about! Though I think with the right group of friends, it could have been a fabulous road trip!

I contacted a few friends that would actually be interested in watching dressage lessons for 8 hours and scheduled it on my calendar. I was excited to spend time with like-minded horsey friends, eat good food, and learn from a well-respected horseman. It was a great day!


I was so excited when I received an email from Dressage Today inviting me to view a collection of Charles de Kunffy videos! I then became even more excited when I realized this was from the same clinic I live-streamed! There was so much more from the clinic that I hadn’t seen as I had only purchased 1 day. Score!

Description from Dressage Today OnDemand
In this new series, we bring you the teachings of Charles de Kunffy, a master rider, USEF “S” Dressage Judge and author of six published books. Throughout the next few weeks, you will hear in depth explanations of classical riding theory from de Kunffy and watch him teach several riders, including JJ Tate, who hosted de Kunffy at her farm in South Carolina. His work is appreciated for its scholastic depth, academic expertise and the clarity of its delivery.
Charles de Kunffy, a member of the Austro-Hungarian nobility, was born and raised in Hungary. His parents were eminent horse breeders with derby winning racehorses. Charles started riding as a child, always under expert supervision and instruction. His riding masters were educated during the golden age of equitation between 1900-1945. His teachers were the products of the finest riding institutions of the “inter bellum.” These included Vienna and Wienerneustadt in Austria, Hannover and Berlin in Germany, Pinerolo and Tordiquinto in Italy, and Hungary’s Orkeny. Pal Kemery, Jeno Kosa-Reznek, Imre Bodo and Geza Hazslinsky-Krull attended these institutions, competed with great successes and mentored Charles for years in an institutional setting.
Cross-country riding, jumping and dressage were melded into one comprehensive system of training, adhering to the classical tradition of riding theory and methodology. Diversification of activities, riding skills and the ability to improve any horse were emphasized in the academic training program. Charles de Kunffy was schooled with the strictest adherence to classical training traditions based on scholarship and a profound respect for the horse. He represents the unbroken heritage of classical horsemanship handed down from generation to generation without compromise.

Videos OnDemand

The collection is comprised of 23 videos. I began at the top, watching the first two videos, Classical Horsemanship Lecture 1 and 2. If you’ve never heard Charles speak, get ready for a treat. He has a meditative-like voice with a dry sense of humor. You never know when the jokes are coming, but it keeps things entertaining!

What I loved about listening to both lectures was the passion and simplicity he spoke with. The horse was to be treated only with kindness and in return, we were given access to change their bodies in a way that promoted longevity and created beauty. All training should be knowledgeable, systematic, and appropriate.

The second lecture was more captivating in that he made riding sound like a healing remedy for the soul. JJ commented during the intro to this clip, that this lecture would make her cry. I couldn’t summarize what he said as I would never do it justice, so here are my notes. I highly encourage anyone who loves horses to listen to this lecture, not just dressage riders.

Notes

Xenophon (Greek Tradition) – work with gentleness and rewards, horses should never be forced or mistreated because they are precious and are willing to do our bidding

learn for the sake of the horse – begins with the right soul

the horse is best understood and enjoyed if it is enriching the rider’s soul

primary virtue is gratitude

riding is all about human wisdom and character / knowledge is not enough, you need to understand

ride in meditative state – soul and mind understand the important things in life

Aristotle – memories are the scribes of our soul

based on 3000 years of trial and error – it is an art / classical because it’s enduring / the bits and pieces that worked / we do not reinvent it / humane, kind, loving methods / horses thrive on reward

herd animal that includes you, the alpha / horse submits willingly

move better with less effort – whole mentality of horse is dependent on instinct that is given over to the rider / rider knows how to make things pain free and comfortable

based on the horse’s trust to the rider’s spirit

art in motion – horse improves your spirit

we are what we do most of the time, therefore excellence is a habit – Aristotle

If you are interested in hearing any of the lectures, please click on either photo of Charles to take you to the collection! Not a Dressage Today subscriber? There are free trials! Watch the clinic, explore other videos, and decide if it’s right for you!


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Happy riding!

Sara

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