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François Robichon de La Guérinière

François Robichon de La Guérinière (1688-1751) was a French riding master who had a profound effect on accepted method for correct training of the horse, and is one of the most influential riders on the art of dressage.


Born 1688 in Essay (France) (near Alençon), La Guérinière spent most of his early years in Normandy. Although his brother Pierre des Brosses de La Guérinière directed the Académie d'équitation in Caen (originally established by another French master, Antoine de Pluvinel, in 1594), Gueriniere's most influential instructor was M. de Vendeuil.

In 1715, La Guérinière received his diploma as a écuyer du roi, and he began as a director of an equestrian academy in Paris, a position which he held for 15 years and which earned him an excellent reputation as an instructor and rider. This led to an appointment by the Grand écuyer de France, Prince Charles de Lorraine, as Directeur du Manège des Tuileries in 1730. He held this position of Equerry to Louis XIV until his death in 1751.

Riding Theories

La Guérinière is credited for the invention of the shoulder-in, which he called the "alpha and omega of all exercises," having been the first to describe it. His famous book "Ecole de Cavalerie," meaning School of Horsemanship, which was published in 1733, and is one of the most important books on the training of the horse ever written, detailing equitation, veterinary treatment, and general horsemanship. This book has become the most important text of the famed Spanish Riding School, and much of their everyday training is based upon it.

Most of his exercises were to increase the horse's suppleness and balance, and he had a progressive schooling system to reach an overall goal: a light, obedient, calm horse that was a pleasure to ride. La Guérinière is also credited for the invention of the flying change and the counter-canter.

In his book, Ecole de Cavalerie (France, 1733), La Guérinière stresses using few aids and punishments while riding. He also comments greatly on the use of the shoulder-in at all gaits, including the gallop. La Guérinière states the rider must also have a good seat in order to have a soft, light hand, and makes several references to William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle.


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