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Per L'Equitatzione Di Campagna (For Riding in the Field)
By Federico Caprilli
From the January-February 1901 issue of Revista di Cavalleria.

A New Translation (Second Edition) from the original Italian
by Dan Gilmore

Federico Caprilli's article Per L'Equitazione Di Campagna (For Riding in the field) which appeared in the January/February 1901 issue of the Italian cavalry journal Revista di Cavalleria marks the birth of modern forward riding. Ask most people about who Federico Caprilli was and the invariable answer is "he is the father of modern forward riding". Ask them if they have ever read anything he wrote and the number of respondents in the affirmative rapidly diminishes. Unfortunately, this article (which is much referred to by riding instructors world-wide) is largely inaccessible to most students of riding for a number of reasons. (read more)

The American Military Seat, Circa 1850-1920:
The State of American Military Equitation before the "Fort Riley Seat"

By Dan Gilmore
Revised, November 23, 2012

(Author's note: This article was revised for clarity and relevance in terms of historical and technical clarity.)

Those seriously pursuing cavalry re-enacting strive to achieve a great amount of detail aimed at accuracy in terms of uniforms, tack, equipment and various other accouterments. The accuracy achieved by the best of re-enactors (mostly of the Civil War genre)is often astounding. Some reenactors go to the extent of reproducing the actual method or system of riding used by various cavalry organizations they portray. The obsolete (and I cannot over-stress "obsolete") version of the “Military Seat” to be discussed in this article is part of a an extinct system of riding that was specifically created for the purpose of mounted combat using a specific type of saddle (the McClellan).

It should be noted at this point that this method of riding is obsolete when it comes to jumping obstacles. In fact, it would be a dangerous affair in a modern jumping saddle designed for the forward seat.

By the mid-1920's this obsolete version of the "Military Seat" (circa 1850-1920) was replaced with a variant of Federico Caprilli's infinitely more efficient "Forward Seat" later to become commonly known as the "Ft. Riley Seat" (part of a system largely based upon Caprilli's "Natural System" of forward equitation. Caprilli's "Natural System" will be described in detail in a series of future articles.) (read more)

Riding "One Handed" - How to ride with the reins in one hand
By Dan Gilmore
July 6, 2012

One of the skills often ignored by modern riders in the forward system of riding is riding using only one hand on the reins. The original practical application of this particular technique is obviously military in origin with the goal of allowing a soldier to have one hand free to wield a weapon. The relevance of this technique to modern riders is the development of balance and control for the rider and lightness and self-carriage for the horse.
Nolan’s technique is not to be confused with ‘neck reining’, per se, but can be used as a step to teaching a horse ‘neck reining’. This is accomplished by gradually lightening contact with the horse’s mouth and eventual lengthening of the reins (and with proper leg and seat applied in coordination with the hands). (read more)

How to Properly Fit a McClellan Saddle
By Dan Gilmore
January 15, 2016


"For a while now I have gotten a number of requests to write an article on the proper fitting of the McClellan Saddle. The best and most detailed description of the proper fitting of this saddle can be found in the “FM 25-5 Basic Field Manual, Animal Transport, Prepared under direction of the Chief of Cavalry, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1939"

A second fitting manual worth is for the M1912 “Experimental” saddle tested during the Punitive Expedition in Mexico, 1916-1917. The following section comes from paragraph 310; Cavalry Service Regulations, United States Army (Experimental) 1914; War Department: Chief of staff; Government Printing Office, Washinton, DC, 1914."  (read more)


A Bit About Bits - The Basic Mechanics of Bits and How They Work
By Dan Gilmore
November 4, 2011

Understanding who bits work isn’t that difficult, once you know how each type of bit works and how each bit mechanically operates. That said, a given bit is not meant to be a correction for how the horse obtains the proper frame for any given discipline. Using a ‘stronger’ bit as a solution is not a solution to ‘holes’ in a horse’s training. In fact, sometimes using ‘less’ bit is the solution in that instance. (read more)


October 9, 2011 - Fox Trotters: Understanding the Fox Trot, Gaits and Gaited Horses
By Dan Gilmore
October 12, 2011

Exactly how many gates there are is a subject that is open to much debate. I suppose the best way to start is to define the various gates and how they relate to each other. The “hard gaits” of modern Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, etc., consist of the walk, trot and canter. In the late 19th century and earlier, a trot with suspension (to which most riders post) was considered to be an undesirable defect in a saddle horse. What was desirable to cowboys, cavalrymen and anyone who rode a horse for general transportation was a flat, ambling gait, not dissimilar to the fox trot. Horses that had a ‘hard’ trot were rarely found in use as a saddle horse in Colonial America. This is mainly because sitting to a hard trot or even posting to it can get fairly tiring over long distances. Consider that prior to modern mechanized transportation, it was not uncommon for riders to cover fifty or more miles in the course of a day’s ride. Hence, horses with ambling, smooth, efficient gaits were the norm... (read more)


September 24, 2011 - We have now added a blog to the Gilmore Horsemanship site - The Gilmore Horsemanship Blog.

Federico Caprilli, The Natural System and Forward Riding
The Importance of remembering its military origins

By Dan Gilmore
September 25, 2011

"It is my increasing opinion for reasons easy to understand that the purpose of military equitation is to train men and horses in the shortest amount of time possible, to obtain from them maximum effectiveness and maximum speed in a way that promotes the temperament and physique of both and to do so with less waste of resources.

Horses above all else must be trained to military purposes as it is the intent that cavalry is to be used in actions of war: both horse and rider must be familiar with rugged terrain and varying conditions so they both can be calm in the face of difficulties. It is therefore appropriate that training exercises are rational and continuous to promote the required boldness in both the horse and rider.

So, the purpose of military riding lies in good performance in the field."

------- Federico Caprilli - from "Per L'Equitazione Di Campagna" (Gilmore Translation) (read more)

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