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Christian Carde: “People no longer know what is correct or not.”

Observation by Laetitia Bataille.

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A former Ecuyer en Chef (Head Rider) of the Cadre Noir (1991-1999), selected for the 1980 French Olympic dressage team, a National French Dressage Champion and French Olympic coach (1985-1989), Colonel Christian Carde is a distinguished figure of the French School. A fierce advocate for Légèreté (Lightness), he is the co-founder and honorary chairman of the Allège-Idéal Association. In this exclusive in-depth interview for Horse Aware magazine, Christian Carde takes a frank look at the current state of dressage.

Must we really introduce Col. Christian Carde? A man with a brilliant military and competitive riding career, a successful coach whose students won medals for France, Christian Carde’s passion is teaching. He gives clinics in several countries, from Australia to Sweden, for enthusiastic students seeking a different way to do dressage. One of France’s most experienced technical advisers, Col. Carde is a frequent contributor to Horse Aware where his articulate and lucid observations shed light on the developments impacting modern day dressage competition. In his late seventies, he continues to ride and train diligently.

Christian Carde
Christian Carde
Christian Carde, at the Cadre Noir with Quavalcadour (AQPS): Above, walk with extension of the forelegs, performed in hand; below, in the piaffe. © Coll. Christian Carde

We catch him in Saumur, between flights. With sparkling blue eyes and impeccably shiny boots, Col. Carde prepares his horse in the Ecole de Cavalerie’s stables. He is filled with energy, brimming with projects. Throughout lunch and an entire afternoon of conversation, with humor and certainty, he covers a vast number of topics. He shares his convictions and hopes for better horsemanship firmly and with humor and without any ambiguity or partisanship.

“Anglos and Selle-Francais are as good as other horses but French breeders are most likely demoralized because they meet with limited success in dressage competition” - Christian Carde.
Christian Carde
Christian Carde prepares Junker, who takes the opportunity to play with the lunge whip. Christian lets him do so because he wishes to encourage as playful an atmosphere in work as he can. © L.Bataille

I begin our interview with an almost “ritual” question:

Horse Aware: Horseback riding, when and why?

Christian Carde: When? From childhood on as we always had horses at home. My father put me on horseback, then I rode at the Centre Hippique Girondin in Mérignac, Bordeaux —I am originally from that region. This club has produced riders such as Michel Pelissier, Dominique Bentejac, and Xavier Delalande. My instructor, Mr. Cortambert, also taught Jean Teulère. My father was a reserve cavalry officer and a...

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Published 05-06-2015

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