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Classical Dressage in the French style is characterized by lightness
  • The horse is in self-carriage and has self-impulsion
  • The reins have a light contact or even a slight loop
  • The rider sits with a deep and supple seat, legs hanging long and quiet
  • The whole picture is of quiet elegance  

Does this sound impossible for you and your horse?
It is not.  
Using this method any rider can become quiet and deep in the saddle, any horse of any breed, as
long as he is sound, can learn at least some of the movements of grand prix.

Jean Claude Racinet
June 2, 1929 – April 25, 2009

Jean Claude Racinet was a great proponent of riding in lightness through a method of mobilizing and relaxing the horse’s jaw
as first practiced by Francois Baucher (1796-1873)

Jean Claude made an important contribution to L’equitation de Legerete (riding in lightness) by translating and preserving
the teachings of Francois Baucher’s second manner, for which he was honored by the School of Horsemanship in Saumur
France with their Lifetime Achievement Award.  His lifetime of work was also recognized in Germany when they awarded him
the title of Trainer of the Year in 2008.

Jean Claude recognized the genius of Francois Baucher at a time when Baucher was largely ignored or reviled.  For most of
his equestrian career Jean Claude, like Baucher before him, was ridiculed for his belief that the jaw was the seat of all
resistance in the horse.  According to Baucher’s method one must therefore release the resistance of the jaw with flexions
done with the bit.  Then it would be possible to make each part of the horse supple and then bring all the parts together in a
posture of collection thus creating self carriage and making possible the movements of Grand Prix.  In Baucher’s method this
posture was to be achieved before riding the horse forward.  This was diametrically opposed to the more popular method of
dressage in which the horse is ridden forward first and only changed to a more collected posture over years of training.

Modern veterinarian science has born out Baucher’s theory showing that the jaw, especially the tongue, because of its
leguminous connections to the poll of the horse at the top of his head and down into the horse’s shoulder and chest does
indeed affect the whole front end of the horse.  By releasing the jaw (i.e. the tongue) into a soft chewing motion one can
transform most horses very quickly into the classical posture (i.e. poll high, withers raised, hindquarters carrying a greater
percentage of the weight).  Jean Claude, like Baucher, was able to demonstrate dramatic changes in most horses in a very
short time without force or artificial devices.

Jean Claude traveled world wide giving clinic and has left behind many devoted students, however his greatest
accomplishment in preserving Francois Baucher’s work might be in the books he wrote: Another Horsemanship, Racinet
Explains Baucher and Total Horsemanship published in the United States.  They have also been translated into French and
German.  He contributed articles to “L’Information Hippique,” “Dressage and CT,” “Riding in Lightness” and “Horses for Life”
magazines.  Mainly through Jean Claude’s efforts Baucher’s teaching has been made available in the United States.

Among his earlier equestrian accomplishments Jean Claude completed the Superior Equitation Course in the Cavalry School
of Saumur (1953-54), became a member of the Jumping Team of the Military School in Paris (1953) and won the title of
Champion of Tunisia in open jumping (1956).

Besides being a clinician and author Jean Claude was a decorated war hero.  He was wounded two times in Korea while
fighting with the UN forces (1952-53).  He also served as an officer in the French army in Tunisia and Algeria (1954-61),
where he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for heroism in battle.
How does French Classical training differ from FEI or German dressage?         
One of the greatest differences is that the rider does not drive the horse onto the bit
with seat or legs.
By following the principles below we create horses who are willing partners, understanding and
enjoying their work, giving generously of their energy and talents.

The Four Main Tenets of French Classical Dressage:
1.  Hand without legs, legs without hands.  We don't use the legs and the hands at the same   time, or
even both reins at the same moment.
2.  Release of the aids. The instant the horse responds the aid ceases thus keeping the horse willing
and attentive.
3.  Moderation of the aids.  Leg aids are limited as to strength (very light) and rein aids are limited as
to duration (very quick).
4.  Optimization of orders.  (Optimal timing of the aids)  The horse is prepared for the movement and
then the movement is allowed to happen at the optimum moment for the horse to respond.

Who developed this system of horsemanship?
Francois Baucher who lived from 1796 to 1873 revolutionized the horsemanship of his day with his
careful scientific study of horses.  He reached the conclusion that the seat of all resistance is in the
horse’s jaw.  He developed ways to address the jaw directly in order to free the horse’s entire body so
that the balance for the movements of High School dressage can be attained.  Baucher was the first
to perform the flying change of lead at every stride on many different horses.  His methods of training
horse and rider were adopted by the French Cavalry where they proved successful with all types of
horses and riders.

Who teaches it today?
Until his death in 2009 Jean-Claude Racinet international clinician, rider, author of Another
Horsemanship, Racinet Explains Baucher, and Total Horsemanship
, as well as several books in
French and German was its main proponent.  
Lisa Maxwell, a student of JeanClaude Racinet offers daily lessons and introductory courses in this
light method of dressage.

What is offered?
  •  Residential programs of varying lengths                    
  • An intensive two-day introductory course                     
  • Courses up to five days or longer.                               
  • Bring your own horse or work with our school horses.  
Housing is available in a charming rustic farmhouse on the premises.

Where is Sugar Creek Farm ?
Located in the Western tip of North Carolina we are surrounded by the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Why try this type of Dressage?
It’s tons of fun!
The horses love it!
Sugar Creek Farm
206 Sugar Creek Rd.
Weaverville, NC 28787

approx 15 miles
north of Asheville
French classical dressage picture
Sereia 2005
Sugar Creek Farm dressage training
Sereia 2009
Jean Claude Racinet
Jean Claude Racinet
French Classical Dressage picture
French Classical Dressage definition