Classical equitation as reflective practice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Although classical equitation has a long and rich tradition of both literature and practice, there have been relatively few attempts to inspect this tradition from an academic perspective. One such academic treatment, which investigated classical dressage from a ‘systems’ perspective, highlighted the apparent interest of the classical ‘masters’ in linking theory and practice as being a characteristic of classical dressage. The purpose of this paper is to explore this theory/practice link in more detail through the application of Checkland’s FMA model.

The FMA model was developed originally as a means of helping researchers to consider the various components of their research. ‘A’ represents the Area of Application in which the research is being carried out, ‘M’ the Methodology, or means by which we carry out the intervention, and ‘F’ represents the Framework of Ideas, or underlying theoretical basis on which our intervention is based. The model emphasises not only the relationship between these three areas but also the importance of learning about each area as a basis of reflective practice.

Applying the FMA model to classical equitation helps us to ask questions about the three main areas: the training of the horse and rider (A), the means by which we implement the training (M), and the theoretical foundations that underpin the classical tradition (F). The resulting analysis from the application of the model suggests that the interest in the link between theory and practice can be seen as indicative of a view of the classical rider as a reflective practitioner who understands the importance of the personal journey and the never-ending learning cycle. Discussion of the application of the model also raises consideration of issues and concerns that may go some way to explain the potential areas of conflict between classical principles and practice and the sport of competitive dressage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2016
EventEquine Cultures in Transition: Human-Horse Relationships in Theory and Practice: Changing Concepts of Interaction and Ethics - The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry , Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 27 Oct 201629 Oct 2016


ConferenceEquine Cultures in Transition
Internet address


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