Henry de Bussigny was a first-rate horseman of the French classical style. The difference between Henry de Bussigny’s system of training the horse and the systems of François Baucher and James Fillis is that the former has carried his study to further the science, as distinguished from the art. In addition, while Baucher and Fillis trained their horses for the sake of executing the movements of the high school, Bussigny employed the airs of the high school, not as an end in themselves, but as a means for developing the physical and mental qualities of the horse itself. By way of his system of gymnastics, he sought to improve and develop a horse of any origin or conformation.
The purposes of this manual are to explain the mechanical reason for every effect which the rider exerts on the horse, and to set forth the practical successive steps by which an ordinary horse is to be trained and developed. Underlying principles and theories are thoroughly explained with the greatest possible clearness. The methods are set forth and should prove perfectly easy both to understand and to apply.
Henri Lucien de Bussigny came to the United States in 1872. He was both famous and socially important. He taught at riding schools in New York City and Boston until about 1922. He was a former French cavalry officer who had trained at the École Spéciale Militaire deSaint-Cyr, the foremost nineteenth-century French military academy. Napoleon Bonaparte founded the academy in Fontainebleau in 1802 and it is often referred to simply as Saint-Cyr. De Bussigny also attended the military Cavalry School at Saumur with its elaborate exhibitions of dressage.
From the author’s Preface:
“The two greatest masters of the art are François Baucher and James Fillis [Principles of Dressage and Equitation]. With them, in the light of their principles, riding has become truly an art, because these masters have been satisfied to set forth their practices, without giving the reason, the wherefore, of the acts which they dictate. For example, the two effects of the rider’s hand upon the lower jaw of the horse impel the animal to the right or to the left. The pressure of the rider’s legs upon the horse’s flanks gives two more sensations. Here, then, are four signs, by means of which the rider communicates with his mount and thereby controls its entire mechanism. These sensations, caused in a living animal, certainly have for it a meaning: they oblige certain parts to act. The rider closes his leg upon the horse’s right flank, and the horse turns to the right. But what is the mechanical reason?
When each and every movement of the horse in response to its rider’s signals is explained on mechanical principles, then equitation is no longer an art. It has become a science, and therefore invariable. The difference between my system of training the horse and the systems of Baucher and Fillis is, in part, that I have carried further the science as distinguished from the art. But besides this, while Baucher and Fillis trained their horses for the sake of executing the movements of the high school, I employ these airs of the high school, not as an end in themselves, but as a means for developing the physical and mental qualities of the horse itself. These masters specially chose the animals that they were to train. I, by means of my system of gymnastics, seek to improve and develop an animal of any original conformation that may be given me.
The purposes of this manual are, therefore, to explain the mechanical reason for every effect which the rider exerts on the horse, and to set forth the successive steps by which, practically, an actual animal is to be trained and developed. Underlying principles and theories are everywhere explained with the greatest possible clearness. In spite of a good deal of inevitable condensation, the methods here set forth should prove perfectly easy both to understand and to apply.
For seventy-six years, as cavalier, as student, as instructor, I have ridden, under every sort of conditions, horses of every type, every conformation, and every breeding. My first experiment, at the age of five, was with a donkey, young and entirely unbroken. At the beginning, I was more often on the ground than on the donkey’s back; but after six months of perseverance, all its gambols failed to unseat me. At eight years, I had a pony, thirteen and a half hands high; and I received instruction from the Comte d’Aure, Esquire-in-Chief of the cavalry school.”