|"Lasting success can only be achieved if the hearts and souls of all instructors and riders are filled with the joy of riding and the love of the horse." (HDV 12, 1937 edition)
What is it the HDV 12?
HDV 12 - it’s neither a bird, nor plane but it does have “super powers” of some sort. This abbreviation that sounds like a new strand of bird flu stands for “Heeres Dienst Vorschrift 12”, which translates into “Army Regulation No. 12”, and is the German Cavalry Manual for Training Horse & Rider.
Christoph Hess, FEI 4 judge and Director of the FEI Education Program for Riders & Instructors, calls it “the bible of classcial equestrian sports”. Veterinarian and sport horse welfare activist Dr. Gerd Heuschmann quotes the HDV 12 frequently in his work. Other authors, from Walter Zettl, Ingrid and Reiner Klimke, Eckart Meyners and just about every author on the USDF Reading List (including the cumbersome but essential read “Riding Logic” by HDV 12 contemporary W. Müseler) refer to it as THE “Reitlehre”, the essential “Riding Theory” or how in the English translation of Müseler’s book, “Riding Logic”.
How is the HDV 12 relevant today?
The HDV 12 comprises the essence of German cavalry experience and training methodology, based largely of the teachings conveyed in Steinbrecht’s famous “The Gymnasium of the Horse”.
It’s original version of 1912 was updated twice, once in 1926 and once in 1937. The last update includes what has become known as “The Training Scale”, which is internationally used to teach and train according to a system that strengthens the horse and takes it’s biomechanics into consideration. So the HDV 12/1937 is the original, pure source of said Training Scale.
In addition, it served as the basis for today’s “Principles of Riding”, issued and published by the German Equestrian Federation (FN), which is the authoritative guideline for international equestrian sports, be it dressage, jumping or eventing.
Why you care...
Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions?
- Do you ride dressage, eventing or show jumping?
- Have you heard of or apply the “Training Scale”?
- Do you make the connection between riding / training and your horse’s soundness?
If you have only 1 check mark, then you do care about and can directly benefit from the pure and unadulterated content of the HDV 12.
In a nutshell:
- Army Regulation for Training Horse and Rider, first published in 1912, last updated edition 1937.
- Evolved from Steinbrecht’s classic “Gymnasium of the Horse”
- Foundation for today’s “Principles of Riding” (German Equestrian Federation)
- Original source of the renowned “Training Scale”
About the book
The original version–here my tattered copy used as the basis for the English translation–is an unassuming little grey book with what now seems antiquated font and very 1930’s illustrations.
Contrary to its modest and outdated appearance, it contains the entire German Riding Theory & Philosophy, complete with practical instructions, illustrations, and a 2-year training plan for horses and riders.
In the introduction, we learn that the cavalry had a strong interest in treating horses with kindness and that the utmost goal was to create an able, willing, and reliable partner for warfare. Absolute first precondition for this goal is a sound horse! The whole system is targeted towards creating an equine athlete, who will stand up to the challenging physical and mental demands of service for years to come.
This compilation of cavalry knowledge and experience is now–for the first time–available as an English translation to meet the demand of the English speaking riders to have this unaltered, pure version of this pivotal work available for reading and riding enjoyment.
“The HDV 12 is.... the foundation needed by every rider interested in systematic schooling for himself and for his horse. I am absolutely certain that the reader will find the HDV 12 to be a great inexhaustible treasure!” Christoph Hess, FEI official
“ In this book, [riders] can learn sensible experiences that document that one must see the horse more from the viewpoint of the horse in order to do the horse’s nature justice, instead of understanding riding primarily as a mechanical process.” Eckart Meyners, author, clinician, FN Physical Education Trainer
After reading this article, I am convinced that you now agree with me: You care!
I wish you much enjoyment with your personal copy of the HDV 12.
In 2015, I will be available to give lively HDV12 presentations with many historical images at your barn or riding club about the content and history of the HDV 12. Please contact me to schedule.
Enjoy your horse!
*) Please note: Equine massage and bodywork is a non-invasive, gentle wellness modality aimed at enhancing performance in the healthy horse and never replaces proper veterinary care. If in doubt regarding the physical health of your horse please consult your veterinarian.