Thursday, 28 March 2013

[] Horse Ballet School


It's Britain's one and only horse ballet school brought back to life after 300 years

  • Haute ecole not been seen in Britain since the reign of Charles II and discipline became popular in France and Spain
  • Spanish Andalusian horses thought to be the only breed with physical strength and intelligence to master it
By Nigel Blundell

With perfect grace, two magnificent horses take dressage to a different level. Almonzor and Ocle, Spanish Andalusians, are being put through their paces in haute ecole — an equestrian discipline not seen in this country for 300 years. Haute ecole (high school) is equine ballet. A horse undertakes an extraordinary series of choreographed leaps, kicks and canters known as 'airs above the ground'.
Fun & Info @
After more than 300 years the art of historic classical horse dressage 'Haute Ecole' is performed at Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire previously owned by Lord Cavendish

The levade move was first taught at the beginning of the 20th century, asking the horse to hold a position approximately 30-35 degrees from the ground
In a spectacle as breathtaking as it is beautiful, these magnificent horses perform the complex dance-like steps in an equine equivalent of ballet.
The white 'pillar' in the centre of the riding school is used to encourage the animals to move in ever-decreasing circles. The horses in these photographs – Almonzor and Ocle – are Spanish Andalusians, one of the few breeds with the physical strength and intelligence to master the discipline.

Fun & Info @
Rider Ben Atkinson, 19, with Almonzor' a 14-year-old Spanish Andalusian horse performing in the castle's original riding room

Fun & Info @
Advanced dressage training techniques were introduced to England in the 17th century by William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle, once riding master to King Charles II
They are pictured performing at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, once the seat of Cavendish, and now the only British venue for 'haute ecole'.

Rider Ben Atkinson,19, instructs six-year-old Ocle to perform moves such as a 'Capriole', where all four of the horses legs are off the ground at once.

The discipline was once said to have originated on the battlefields of the seventeenth century when cavalrymen needed to carefully manoeuvre their mounts among foot soldiers but historians now believe it is more likely that it developed from exercises used to strengthen horses for combat. Three hundred years ago the British were world leaders at the sport. 'Haute ecole' was introduced to this country by William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle and riding master to Charles II.
However, after the art was perfected it died out in Britain, with the Spanish and French now reigning supreme.
Fun & Info @
Giddy up: Six-year-old Ocle obeys rider Ben Atkinson, 19, in a haut ecole sequence at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire

No hands!: 19-year-old Ben Atkinson practises the routine with fourteen-year-old Spanish Andalusian horse Almonzor in the Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire
Cavendish is still considered the father of modern dressage though, and echoes of British prowess at 'haute ecole' can be seen in the Olympic champions of our modern dressage team.
The sport of dressage proved a big hit at the London 2012 Olympics where Team GB won a total of five medals. Charlotte Dujardin mesmerised the nation with her performances of routines on her horse Valegro, winning gold in the team dressage and individual dressage events. Her sequence featuring Land of Hope and Glory, The Great Escape and the chimes of Big Ben proved a big hit with the judges and raised the profile of dressage as a sport among the British people. Last year was the first time Britain had ever won a medal in an Olympics dressage event.

Equine ballerina: The capriole (left) where all four hooves are off the ground and the pessade (right) where the horse stands on hind legs, are important parts of the dance
Fun & Info @
A post is placed in the middle of the room and the horse is led in ever-decreasing circles as part of their training in equine ballet known as haute ecole
Fun & Info @
Pretty pony: The horses taking part in haute ecole must look the part as well as being trained to perform complex choreography
Fun & Info @
Seventeenth century sport: This illustration of a horse performing a capriole, where all four legs are off the ground dates back to 1650 with Bolsover castle in the background
Fun & Info @
The original riding room at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire (shown in this illustration) is once again being used for haute ecole 300 years on

Recent Activity:
KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...
To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to



No comments:

Post a Comment