Encouraging results of the final day of the training:
- Gallop pirouette – done!
- Gallop-passage-piaffe-passage-gallop transitions – done!
- 3-Tempi and 2-Tempi changes on the diagonal on Ricado (finally!!!) – done!
- Airs above the ground (would you believe?) – tried!
Not unlike others for years I strongly believed that all these astonishing airs were created and practiced to be used on the battle field. To be honest I kind of had some doubts. Why? Imagine people who spent 5 to 6 years teaching horses all these amazing tricks, just to take them to the battle where they can be killed on the very first day. Yes, protecting their owners by doing courbette or capriole, but it still looks like a lot of effort that could be wasted in a blink of an eye. It’s like saving every penny for 5-6 years to buy a Ferrari for the single purpose of checking if it is as safe in a crash test as the company advertise.
So I was actually relieved to learn that these spectacular airs were obtained and performed rather as an entertainment, and as a proof of reaching the highest level of equestrian art. So it’s more of a circus performance than an equestrian martial art. Sorry for busting the romantic myth. :-)
On my final day in the school I had an opportunity to briefly touch the very surface of the amazing airs above the ground art.
One of the school teachers gave me the lead rope attached to Mercurio, the giant chestnut stallion, in the left hand, and a long schooling whip in the right hand, and gestured (as my Spanish had not much improved since arrival :-)) where exactly I had to slightly touch Mercurio with the whip so he would do levade.
It would never cease to amaze me how these 600 kilos of muscles and a whole horse power submits to these subtle signs from a person, who he’s seeing for the first time in his life.
The next horse was Illusio (immediately renamed to Hallucinatio by my husband… Darling, many thanks for the pictures, by the way)… After a few levades, the instructor corrected the way I was holding the rope and whip and said something I couldn’t understand. But these tiny changes were enough for Illusio to change from doing a levade to a jump in the air, showing off the way he does courbette. It was quite unexpected, I have to admit, but I’m now the proud owner of a picture with a levitating horse.
Looking back, I thought that if my own horse would do something like this, I would have probably been scared to death. But these school masters make you feel so confident and relaxed that I didn’t mind their hooves flying a few inches above my head, like they were air balloons in the shape of the horse.
My marvelous visit to Real Escuela finished at the same place it started – in the piece-of-art, climate-controlled tack room, where I was invited by my instructors. I got my certificate and souvenirs (the DVD with the recording of the show and a bull leather belt crafted in the local saddlery workshop). And, as I told Joaquín and José Maria, I’m more than confident that I’ll be back, as I’m absolutely impressed by the results of the training and the atmosphere in this ultimate equestrian university. Just have to learn Spanish for my next visit. Starting right now: