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“Légèretéis beautiful when the head, the heart and the hand work together” Philippe Karl

About Philippe Karl

“Philippe Karl’s first priorities are respect and love for the horse. In his Ecole de Légèreté (School of Lightness), any use of force or coercive means is strictly unacceptable. This includes training aids such as draw reins and side reins, as well as tight nosebands.

Philippe Karl’s philosophy delivers a coherent and comprehensive training programme through which horses of all types and breeds can be schooled in all equestrian disciplines. He offers clear principles and efficient methods where all actions and procedures fully respect the nature of each individual horse. In short, he opens the door to high school equitation for any seriously motivated rider – even for those with “quite an ordinary horse”.

Philippe Karl was born in 1947. In 1968, he dropped out of medical school to dedicate himself to working with horses. From 1968 to 1971, he studied breeding, first at the Zootechnical Studies Centre (Centre d’EnseignementZootechnique) in Rambouillet and later at the French national stud, Haras National du Pin. He obtained his national riding instructor’s certificate in 1971.

From 1972 to 1979, he was head of the riding department at the Centre d’EnseignementZootechnique in Rambouillet, where he was in charge of various branches of professional training. From 1980 to 1985, he ran his own stables. During all these years, he competed regularly in eventing and show jumping.

In 1985, General Pierre Durand appointed him as a member of the French national riding school, the Ecole Nationaled’Equitation, in Saumur where he became an Ecuyer of the prestigious Cadre Noir. Being especially dedicated to the shows of the Cadre Noir, Philippe Karl created two historical shows – presentations on long reins in jumping and of high school dressage – and participated in the shows of the Ecuyers. He took part in all the gala shows of the Cadre Noir in France and all over Europe during the next 13 years.

In 1998, he left the Ecole Nationaled’Equitation to devote himself to the clinics he was giving in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. Since 2004, he has been especially dedicated to the training of riding teachers within his Ecole de Légèreté.”

About the School of Légèreté

“Philippe Karl founded the Ecole de Légèreté (School of Lightness) in 2004 in order to pass on his philosophy and methods to committed and qualified riding teachers. The School runs training courses around the world through which already experienced riding teachers may gain the highly respected licence authorising them to teach the way of Légèreté in the name of Philippe Karl.

As this training concept is legally protected by patent against plagiarism, distortions or arbitrary, unauthorised use, no one may refer to the Ecole de Légèreté or the teaching of Philippe Karl without having received the corresponding licence.

The founding principle of the Ecole de Légèreté is the absolute respect of the horse. In this concept, Légèreté (lightness) is not a declaration of intent of a poetic or esoteric nature, but a philosophy bringing together clear, effective and measurable equestrian concepts.

The philosophy of Légèreté excludes any use of force or coercive artificial aids (including side reins, draw reins, tightly closed nosebands etc.), but includes all types of horse and takes an interest in all equestrian disciplines. It provides an understandable and reliable training plan with clear principles, efficient methods and procedures that fully respect the nature of the horse. It thus allows any seriously motivated rider access to high school equitation, even with a perfectly ordinary horse.

The Ecole de Légèreté takes its inspiration from the masters who have contributed to this equestrian philosophy: Xenophon, Fiaschi, La Broue, Pluvinel, La Guérinière, Dupaty de Clam, Hünersdorf, Freiherr von Sind, Baucher, Raabe, L’Hotte, Faverot de Kerbrech, Beudant, Oliveira etc. It is based on in-depth knowledge of the horse and is ready to re-analyse and improve itself with all types of progress in this respect (anatomy, physiology, locomotion, balance, psychology, ethology).

Lastly, it has the aim of getting the best from any horse and fulfilling the rider through the constant search for efficiency via the minimum use of means.”

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“The aim of the School of Légèreté is to have a versatile horse, which is anytime listening to light aids” Philippe Karl

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“The aim of art is not only to ride a well conformed animal, but to get the very best out of those that have been less gifted” Philippe Karl

The Philosophy of the School of Légèreté

“Philippe Karl, former Ecuyer of the famous Cadre Noir de Saumur in France, is today one of the leading figures in the Art of Classical Riding. An outspoken critic of coercive training methods, he offers any motivated rider a classical alternative based on understanding, competence and respect for the horse.

After leaving Saumur, Philippe Karl founded the Ecole de Légèreté (School of Lightness) in 2004 to share his philosophy and more than 40 years’ experience with people who want to know how to school horses of all breeds with kindness and respect, even to the highest levels.

The Ecole de Légèreté is growing rapidly and now offers training courses in 10 countries around the world. Riding teachers can become licensed to teach the philosophy of Légèreté in Philippe Karl’s name only after several years of training and passing a set of stringent practical and theoretical exams.”


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