When I joined CRC I was asked to write down what ‘classical’ meant to me. I wrote a few stilted words, which led me to think more deeply about the word. I reflected on the word ‘Classical’ and what it meant with regard to horses. There doesn’t seem to be a simple dictionary definition. The children at school speak about an exceptional goal as ‘classical’ or ‘classy’ and something exceptionally clever, correct or precise as being ‘Cool’. I wonder if that derived from Classical – Classicool – Cool? However, I thought about various activities and movements that Tetuã and myself had experienced that have left me saying to myself ‘Classical’!

The other day, I was riding my Lusitano Tetuã out over the New Forest and was checking up on a herd of cattle at the same time as doing some flat work schooling. Three cows were lying down, so we circled one of them at 20 metres at walk, spiralling down to 10 metres so that she didn’t get up. Transition from walk to canter at 15 metres diameter, oops too close. She got up and made a run for it. The second one stayed lying down as we cantered 20 metres, 15 metres, down to 10 and then as close as we could without treading on her tail. She got up and stood still and we spiralled out, changed the rein and spiralled in again. The cow by this time was bemused at our antics and did 360º turns on the spot keeping an eye on us as we kept a tight circle round her. I think she was becoming giddy as she started tossing her head and telling us it was time to leave. The third cow we just did a couple of tidy circles at canter and left her peacefully chewing the cudd. ‘Classical’, I thought to myself as we walked home on a long rein chuckling to ourselves as we thought about what we had been up to.


Up on the Forest there is a large 30 foot high mound of earth and gravel that was heaped up during the war for target practice. It affords an excellent view of the surrounding country and even the Isle of Wight. It is enormous fun to canter up towards it and accelerate to full speed up the side of the mound. A few strides and you are on top. Tetuã knows exactly where the far edge is and slides to a stop on a light rein with neck arched and a snort. One can imagine oneself as a Commanding Officer surveying the battle scene that lies in front or a Native American Indian on look-out. ‘Classical’ I say to myself, ‘Classical’.


Other moments that inspire the word ‘Classical’ are the fluency and balance of his transitions; for instance when we canter across the turf to halt at the edge of the road, walk quietly across to pick up canter again on the verge. Not to be done with oncoming traffic for fear of frightening drivers!


The cattle do often provide ‘entertainment’, which isn’t quite the right word to use but they do need to be checked over and made sure they are sound even if they do belong to the neighbouring farmer. One cheeky young bullock in the Spring was sizing us up. We moved in closer maintaining eye contact. Half-pass this way, half-pass that way, he wasn’t going to give way. OK cheeky wotsit, I thought. Pirouetting away and appearing behind another gorse bush in canter we circled the bullock and enjoyed a few moment’s sparring before he thought better of it and disappeared in amongst the gorse to join the others. That was fun, I chuffed to Tetuã. ‘Classical’!



His jumping and cross country leaves me feeling elated and I know he enjoys it too. We have also been up on the gallops with the racehorses. Very good for him and with the wind in his mane I could hear that word ‘classical’ blowing from my lips once more.


To have a horse who is so utterly ‘with you’, is an indescribable joy. To have him effortlessly carry out one’s thoughts and to work with you, is poetry. A horse who is alive, playful, fun yet steady and responsible is a pleasure. This must be yet another meaning of ‘Classical’ aside from the more traditional definitions of classical equitation, classical music and classical anything else. I find the best ‘Classical’ moments occur when we are alone together when there’s no-one else about. Cherished moments also occur during time spent with him in the day, riding only representing a small portion. Moments such as bringing Tetuã in from the field as we race each other across the grass. Tetuã cantering free alongside me as I run as fast as I can. These horses all have their funny ways and make us laugh. Tetuã loves standing with his front feet up on his barrel at any given opportunity, especially if we have visitors to amuse. There’s that low whicker of welcome one hears as he greets you. Riding him out bareback to the field sitting astride his warm back – to me – feels ‘classical’ too. The list continues. Tetuã also plays football with me on top of him. I’m not quite sure whether that can be classed as ‘classical’, that is until we score that exceptional goal but it is enormous fun!

Patrick Kempe 2007


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