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  • Writer's pictureJane Frizzell

Rule #1: Horsemen’s Horsemanship First Principle "Navigare necesse est"

Updated: Apr 21

Major Anders Lindgren's rule #1, the cornerstone of cavalry and classical riding (which is the only actual horsemanship) is summed in Latin: "Navigare necesse est," which translates to "It is necessary to navigate." This brief yet profound statement not only sets the stage but establishes the literal line in the arena dirt for maintaining the most essential yet mostly overlooked principle in riding: the critical concept of line-of-travel.

The Major says in his instructions: “One of the first sentences I learned in Latin.  The translation is: It is necessary to navigate.  For jumpers and eventers this is very obvious. They must look for the next fence.  For dressage riders this is not so obvious.  Riders must steer and control the course.”  And to do this we must choose focal points.

He says, “If the rider early and in advance decides where to go, the horse will then go there.” This is the case.

This extends beyond mere direction; it influences every physical and neurological feature of our riding.

So during training, the Major did use Latin when he was teaching me during the times that I was especially dense.  And I always wondered if he had hoped whether the roots of the words would solve the roots of my riding problems.

If you determine and commit to lines-of-travel right up front, you’ll literally solve 90%...actually you’ll prevent 90% of riding problems, more than that probably.  I cannot harp enough on how important it is to decide ‘early and in advance’ the line of travel……       

So he didn’t say this to me in Latin all the time instead he would say, “My dear, you must scout for your line.”

And he would also say “Tee-tah” when I needed to look or when the horses needed to look -- this is Swedish for ‘look’ --  because at the end of the day, it’s when the horses start to see the line that we see, and then we have something we can really use.  That’s when the security and the reliable steady state becomes possible.

This line of travel:  everything is predicated on it.

Your forward is predicated on it because for a horse to be forward he has to have a desire to advance the load upon the line. His position on the line, his straightness is determined by the line because his hindfeet must track the front feet which all must track the line, and the spine must cover the line.So without a line-of-travel we’ve already failed the 2 golden rules of riding, and if we do that, we’re in ruin.

I really do! I really want to make you scared to not prioritize line-of-travel.  Every single line. You must always be able to know where you are.  Not only direction, also the positions upon the lines, lateral work- shoulder-in, travers…then self-carriage:  all riding positions are predicated upon the line. 

“If you decide early and in advance where to go; the horse will then go there.”  (Major Anders Lindgren)

It’s so much easier to have this installed up front.  And if you don’t establish the line of travel, you’re lost; you’re not riding.  This is why this is rule #1.



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