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Unusual: Grand Masters of the Cadre Noir

The equestrian traditions taught in the Cadre Noir have been nurtured by great masters who all sought to improve the art of dressage. This heritage is at the heart of the school’s teaching and is safe in the hands of the head equerry, known as the “Great God”. ​ 

A major figure in the very early stages of equestrian training was Antoine de Pluvinel, who brought to France techniques used in Italy in the late 16th century. He also developed his own thoughts on horse psychology. His legacy was later added to by François Robichon de La Guérinière, who was in charge of the former royal arena of Les Tuileries and to whom a rather poetic quotation is attributed: “a good hand is three things: light, gentle and firm”. Alongside these three key elements, the first equerries at the Cadre Noir, then directed by Jean-Baptiste Cordier, received teachings from the Grand Equerry to the king. The Count of Aure, who became head equerry at Saumur in 1847, introduced new techniques and advocated natural and instinctive outdoor riding. But dressage master François Baucher, whose precepts were based on a relentless quest for lightness, fully opposed the Count’s methods. His teachings were also a major contribution to the art of dressage taught at Saumur. General Alexis L’Hotte possessed the temperance lacking in both great masters, and he successfully reconciled them through a common doctrine which is still referred to today by equerries at the Cadre Noir. It is also to L’Hotte that the Cadre Noir owes its motto: “Forward, calm, straight”.
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