Baucher would have been 227 years old, but “The Method” hasn’t aged a day

 

The colloquium organised on 14 March 2023 to mark the 150th anniversary of François Baucher’s death by the Comité Régional d’Equitation d’Ile-de-France (CREIF), chaired by Emmanuel Feltesse, in the mess hall of the Célestins barracks (Garde Républicaine) in Paris, thanks to the support of Colonel Gabriel Cortès, gave all those privileged enough to attend a very good time that went beyond the shared passion for the equestrian and his method.

The programme, concocted for the most part by Didier Bigot, Chairman of the CRE’s Culture Commission, and led by the same enthusiast for equestrian culture, was opened by Serge Lecomte, President of the FFE, which testifies to the Federation’s growing interest in culture and in passing on equestrian knowledge to the next generation of riders.

Juan Diego Garcia Trevijano was one of the many fascinating speakers.

The title of the day could have been “Baucher, his life, his work” or even “Baucher, the discourse of method”… Yes, the horseman, the writer, left a real mark, still alive and much claimed today. No, he did not leave anyone indifferent.

It didn’t matter whether you were well-informed about François Baucher’s career, his work, the development of his technique and the writings that resulted from it, or whether you were totally uninformed, which is fortunate on this type of occasion, because the joy of learning is intact. The variety of the talks, as shown in the programme published below, were documented and technical (Patrice Franchet d’Espérey, Alain Francqueville), contextual (Guillaume Henry, Bertrand-Pierre Galley), factual (Caroline Hodak, André Viau) (Caroline Hodak, André Viau), embodied (Jean-Pierre Tuloup), intimate (Florence Donard), spontaneous (Lucien Gruss) meant that the day, although busy, flew by like a racehorse escaping from its grasp, which was enough to make Baucher turn over in his grave!

This variety of genres and presentations, as well as the personalities who led or attended this day, which could have seemed a little long, or even disjointed at times, actually made it enjoyable, as it facilitated exchanges and encounters during the down times.

Juan Diego Garcia Trevijano’s talk, the last of the day, was, in the literal sense of the word, the high point, as it ended to the music of Partisan, the famous mount of the Versailles-born horseman.

Trevijano was the only foreign speaker at the conference. We could say ‘international’, because although he lives both in Spain and Portugal, he also teaches in France, Germany, Italy and even the Philippines.

“Riding School”

As a teacher and a Bauchériste if ever there was one, it was also an opportunity for us, on a more personal level, to meet up in Paris with the sportsman and rider who, at the age of 23, took part in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul as part of the Spanish show jumping team (8th). A rider who has also competed in international dressage events, which to say the least testifies to his eclecticism, open-mindedness and proven equestrian talent.

Trevijano opened his speech with a few videos of “horse shows and school riding presentations, some with the same horse”. You read that right: he talks about “riding school” and then says straight away: “I use this term deliberately to make the distinction with contemporary dressage competitions, which unfortunately, with rare exceptions, are no longer a reflection of this riding skills; academic riding, whose boundaries were largely pushed back by the innovative Baucher. […] There is no longer a serious horseman today who would intend to teach without having a thorough knowledge of the Baucher method: “he would appear to be like an astronomer who refused to take account of Newton’s discoveries, and would stick to the system of Ptolomeus and Copernicus.Baron de Curnieu.”

He goes on to comment on the videos scrolling across the screen: “In my school work we saw high school and fantasy tunes, as Faverot described them. Especially the airs based on ‘jambettes’ are spectacular, like this Spanish step, or the trot or canter on three legs.”

The fifty-year-old professor insisted: “The relationship between horse and rider has become very intimate and the rider can afford the luxury of improvising new airs as his imagination dictates. When the horse reaches this degree of training, it is no longer a question of orders but of requests that are barely expressed, and to which the animal hastens to respond as if it were proud to have a friend on its back who gives it sufficient freedom to carry it with grace and majesty. This is only possible with absolute lightness. – Don Diogo de Bragance, in L’Équitation de Tradition Française.”

 

Xavier Libbrecht

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