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Nuno Oliveira

From: Sandy

Dear Jessica, since you are a classical dressage expert I am hoping you can answer this for me. I am a HUGE admirer of Nuno Oliveira, I own all of his books that are in English, and just now I am involved in a huge argument with another dressage enthusiast friend of mine. You know how heated these arguments can get, I am sure. My friend is a devoted follower of Baucher and believes that Nuno Oliveira was also a Baucherist. I believe that he was not, but I am having a hard time finding precise information to back up this belief, except that from everything I have read, Nuno Oliveira believed in suppling and balancing his horses in motion, which would mean that he was NOT a Baucherist. Can you give me a definite answer on this? And can you tell me where he himself was trained, was it at the Spanish Riding School?

Thank you so much! Sandy

Hi Sandy! I never studied with Nuno Oliveira, so my knowledge of his work comes from his writing, from some videos I have been lucky enough to be able to see, and from the work of some of his students. Oliveira was indeed one of the great riding masters of our time. He spent most of his life teaching at his school near Lisbon, Portugal. His own training was not received at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. He studied with Miranda, at the equestrian estate of the Marquis of Marialva, and worked in the tradition of the Portuguese school of dressage.

Your other question is much more difficult to answer. Would you accept "yes and no"? ;-)

I don't think that anyone could deny that some of Nuno Oliveira's work was influenced by the work and writings of Francois Baucher. But as to whether he was a Baucheriste pure and simple - NO, certainly not. We know this from his own words. I refer you to a book you already own, since you have all of Oliveira's books: "Reflections on Equestrian Art". I quote that book here:

"Activating and bending the hindquarters in gymnastic excercises will stabilize the neck and give elevation to the forehand. The correct lowering of the haunches will provoke the elevation of the forehand, never the contrary."

Since two of the most basic tenets of Baucher's beliefs were that (a) work at a standstill, through the use of flexions, would lift the horse's forehand, and that (b) this lifting of the forehand would cause the lowering of the haunches, you can safely assert that Oliveira was not a Baucherist AS SUCH. I know that there are those who feel that Oliveira was strongly influenced by Baucher, but I tend to think that he took the best and most useful ideas from Baucher's work and incorporated them into his own work, just as he took the best and most useful ideas from other trainers, past and present, and incorporated those into his own work. Every truly good trainer is a synthesizer, and every truly good trainer works with each individual horse according to that horse's needs of the day - Oliveira was one of the very best.


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