Touch…

Horse riding, training, feeling ... Notes on the teaching of Nuno Oliveira, one of the greatest Masters of Equitation of all time.


  • #dressag
  • #work in flat
  • #training

The drama of riding is that, despite all the knowledge of riders, horses have reflexes that are faster than those of man.
A horse should always be observed.
Horse riding is not an exact science. You need to feel and not just have a system in your head.
There are no tricks in horse riding. There are simply certain riders who have more equestrian skill than others.
There are two important aspects in horse riding: technique and soul.
Horse riding is made up of many small details that need to be respected.
Horse riding is not the pursuit of success in public and self-complacency after a round of applause, it is not pleasing at all costs a competition jury, it is the mental dialogue with the horse, it is the pursuit of understanding and perfection.
In riding there can be no method that constitutes the truth, because each horse is individual.
Training does not mean difficult tasks but instead involves making the horse more docile, flexible and giving it better balance. Training is the pursuit of roundness. Training is the perfecting of the three natural gaits of the horse. Equestrian art is its poetry.
A trained horse is a relaxed horse, a pleasure to ride and one that is happy; it is not a horse that makes strange gestures.
Technique can bring it to a certain level but beyond this, the cooperation of the horse is necessary.
Equestrian art consists of a multitude of small details and of the feeling of the rider.
Equestrian art begins with the perfection of simple things.
Equestrian art is the skill of the rider to remain calm and to keep their horse straight.
At times, overlook technique and ride with your heart.
​You need to feel and touch emotion.

Equestrian feeling is not only the delicacy of our tools but also the meaning of the choice of tools to be used. And it is the gentleness of the action of unity.
Make sure that the horse willingly participates in the exercise and not under duress.
Look for the purity of the three gaits. The rest will come easily.
We must never allow the horse to control and we need to avoid battle and resistance at all costs. As such, make the effort to avoid any conflict.
Make a habit of stroking the horse after it has cooperated.
If a horse gets nervous when requesting that it performs a new exercise, you will need to calm it down during the activity otherwise it will become unsettled whenever you request something more or new from it.
If the horse gets nervous, do not get angry. Caress it with your voice.
When a horse is inclined to get excited, you need to start the exercises with such a degree of diplomacy that it doesn't realise that you are preparing to have it perform these activities.
Do not demand that the horse always performs to its utmost best. Know how to wait until it is able and ready.
If a young horse performs a simple job well, know how to appreciate its willingness, and the same goes for an old horse that overcomes its rigidity to satisfy you.
Foot work can greatly benefit the work but it must be undertaken by experienced riders and with great tact.
One of the principles to be observed in the work of the young horse: never oppose forward movement.
Never block a young horse: it must be psychologically relaxed.
​If you are only chasing points, if this is your only criterion of satisfaction or disappointment, then my style of riding won't interest you.

Nuno Oliveira is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest equestrian ecuyers of this century. His teachings of classical equestrian art have inspired riders and technicians from around the world. His training principles are fundamental and never before so modern and current. Nuno Oliveira was born in Lisbon on 23rd June 1925. He received his first lessons in horsemanship from Joaquim Goncalves de Miranda from the riding school in Versailles. His equestrian culture was immense, also inspired by the great masters François Robichon de La Guérinière, Gustav Steinbrecht and François Baucher. He died in a hotel in Australia on 2nd February 1989. It is said that he was found in his bed with Verdi's music playing, the same music that he usually played and sang along to when he rode his horses...