I was already riding for a number of years when I discovered historical dressage in 2016. From that moment on, I keep getting inspired by the unity of horse and rider, that can be achieved in the most difficult of exercises. This is also what I strive to achieve in my riding, to be able to ride historical exercises with the highest degree of collection and minimal riding aids.
© Amanda Melchior
In 2016/2017 I predominantly went to clinics, among which those of Christofer Dahlgren. I was however still in search of a horse. In December 2017 I met Caloroso for the first time. He is a Lusitano gelding, born in 2007. I instantly felt a connection with him due to his kind nature and eagerness to work together with the rider. During that period, we have received lessons from Jossy Reynvoet, I have also been a working student there.
Since 2018 I regularly attend clinics from Arne Koets. I have also been a working student with him. During those years I have advanced my knowledge of the history and fundamentals of dressage, as well as developed my skills in medieval riding and sword fighting on horseback. I still frequently attend his lessons to develop myself further as a rider and as an instructor.
My riding style
Together with Caloroso I train many of the historical exercises (e.g. renvers pirouettes, piaffe, terre-a-terre, mezair, canter pirouettes), but I don't limit myself solely to dressage. I also enjoy applying the exercises in a practical manner, such as riding with a garrocha (i.e. a wooden pole) or sword fighting on horseback. My goal is not to accurately replicate historical dressage. Rather, I want to combine the good aspects with modern insights into the welfare of horse and rider.
In other words, I want that the horse understands what is being asked of them. In this process I utilize the knowledge of learning processes and stress that I have gathered during my studies psychology and neuroscience, and my PhD that is nearly done. I also find it particularly important the horse is physically able to comply. Namely, we as riders are sometimes unconsciously blocking our horse. This is because we are sitting with our saddle on the very muscles that the horse uses to move. By using our seat, we can give space to the back muscles in the right moment, and help our horse to use their body as optimally as possible.
© Amanda Melchior
Since 2019 I work on a database and list of historical literature with books and scans that I have collected. My goal is to gather all literature on dressage and the training of horses, from the Middle Ages until 1800, in an accessible and public list. The database can be found on this page, which includes links to free digital versions of the books. By working on this list and frequently reading texts, I have learned much about the exercises and riding style of historical equestrians.