This new educational series produced by R. Scot Evans and Shelby French teaches “the way forward,” a process that helps riders produce quality in their work with their horse. The series of DVD’s and accompanying workbooks provide models and teach techniques that promote greater understanding and connection between horse and rider.
The American National Riding Commission has provided rider testing and awarded rider ratings using a multi-level system for half a century, but in the past riders had to test at an ANRC rating center, national equitation championship, or equitrial in order earn a rating.
That has changed with the publication of the “American System of Forward Riding: Life Lessons Learned with Horses.” This new educational series allows riders to use the DVD’s and workbooks to progress through a series of exercises and tasks with their horse, then apply for an ANRC riding level by videotaping their performance and submitting it to an ANRC Instructor for evaluation.
The American system of forward riding is used by many top hunter-jumper, eventing, and even dressage riders today. “I use the American system of forward riding in teaching my students and training my Grand Prix horses. I used the system in preparing for the Olympic Games in Sydney,” states veteran international show jumper Laura Kraut.
The forward riding system is easy for the horse to understand and helps him to enjoy his work. “I think it is the purest way of riding,” says Olympic gold medalist Joe Fargis. “This is a wonderful way to teach an average rider how not to interfere with the horse and to help the horse….. As long as we are going to ride it, I think it ought to have a good day.”
This system is useful to riders at every ability level. The “American System of Forward Riding” series makes the system accessible to riders who may not have a trainer or instructor by breaking down riding theory and skills into fun and useful exercises. “The DVD series and workbooks are meant to be used at all levels of riding, whether one is interested in creating solid flatwork, developing a solid foundation of aids, or targeting a specific competition or goal. This is the ‘way forward,’ where everything begins in riding horses,” says co-producer and USEF “R” judge R. Scot Evans.
This system of teaching, training and riding has a great deal to offer today’s horsemen and horsewomen. “First of all, this is a system which focuses on partnership between horse and rider,” Evans states. “Second of all, these tools are used in all formal training whether one is looking to create quality in performance for competition or developing a stabilized horse for everyday riding. The levels are simply a guideline in taking the step by step format and making it your own.”
The ANRC awards five riding levels. Volume I provides tools for the Introductory Level and Level One. These DVD’s focus on stabilization of the horse and why it is effective as a tool for both horse and rider, as well as development of the rider’s position that is necessary to create a stabilized horse. Volume II instructs the rider in Levels Two and Three and focuses on developing stabilization, putting the horse in front of the rider’s leg, and riding towards contact. Additional volumes will teach exercises and skills at Levels Four and Five.
“We’re trying to give all riders a process that will produce quality in their work with every horse,” explains executive producer Shelby French, USEF “R” hunter judge and director of riding at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. “If you don’t have access to an instructor, you can work with these educational materials at home. They give you a visual picture of what you’re trying to accomplish and exercises to accomplish it. We include a list of what you need to submit in a video to apply for a riding level. You can send videos of yourself performing the tasks to an ANRC instructor and receive written feedback and possibly earn a riding level.”
This system of training is based on the concept that one takes small steps which lead to the goal: partnership and better communication between horse and rider. The “American System of Forward Riding” series will be useful to any student of the horse, whether a professional, amateur or pleasure rider. The series also has applications in the riding academy and college equestrian program, as it provides the framework for courses in riding, training and schooling the American hunter.
Each volume sells for $50, which includes tax and shipping fees. Both volumes are available at www.anrc.org.