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Nuno Oliveira’s Contribution to the Iberian Breed Volume 59 Horses For LIFE

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Nuno Oliveira


Part 3

Conversations with a Master

By Stephanie Grant Millham

Horses For LIFE

Conversations with a Master, Part III: Nuno Oliveira, Lightness, and a Love Affair with the Iberian Horse

By Stephanie Grant Millham

“Horse breeding owes a great debt of gratitude to Nuno Oliveira, of which few are aware,” writes Filipe Graciosa in his marvelous book, “Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre.” “Oliveira was, without a shadow of a doubt, the Portuguese horseman with the greatest international projection.” This high praise from the director of The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art is founded on a rich history. In our last instalment we discussed Mr. Oliveira’s philosophy and his early background which led him


Conversations with A Master - Part3

to espouse the precepts of lightness that would become his hallmark in the 20th century. With his breathtaking Portuguese stallions, Nuno Oliveira burst upon the international scene like a shooting star in the 1960s, seemingly from out of nowhere, and his light has never been eclipsed. “By teaching and exhibiting a number of Alter Real stallions (Farsista, Curioso, Corsario, Ansioso, Farsola, Soante, etc.) at home and abroad,” observes Filipe Graciosa, “Nuno Oliveira demonstrated that the Alter Real horse still had untapped potential for development and, of course, for improvement.” We have already discussed his “discovery” in the 1950s by a small number of French writers and trainers who quickly realized his unique worth and began to spread the word beyond Portugal’s borders. In 1958, a French businessman, August Baumeister, purchasedfrom the Andrade stud from the Andrade stud a Lusitano that was in training with Mr. Oliveira. A few years later he shipped the grey Lusitano, along with a Lipizzaner who had also been in training, to Switzerland. The Lusitano was named Euclides, and in 1962 an international star was born when Nuno

Horses For LIFE


A Piece of Equestrian History “Excellent...”


“I’ve been watching it again and again!”


“What a treasure!” 18

“It is... a dream come true to observe Oliveira at work”


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A New/Old Term


with Gustav Steinbrect


Steinbrecht: Chevaler Nuno Oliveira: The horse “can also carry out movements to the side, crossing his legs and walking on two tracks which the masters of the French Old School called chevaler.” It was through literature, through books, that Nuno read about the masters: “All books are of use to the very advanced rider who has had great practice in riding, so that he can pick out the good advice, using it profitably, while knowing which parts to discard.” Nuno was someone who believed in reading and studying the masters, looking to them for solutions and ideas to help him with his own horses. Nuno studied Steinbrecht as fervently as he studied other masters, which is not surprising since Nuno’s genius was the synthesis of many masters and many different training concepts, finding value and similarities between what some consider diverse teachings.

Horses For LIFE


with Gustav Steinbrect Books are the obvious choice, as they give us access to those who were the best of their age, the masters that we try to learn from in our own time. Two-track work, or ‘chevaler’ as Nuno tells us that it refers to, refers to all work that we do involving bending of the horse’s body. This work begins on the circle and progresses to the shoulder-in, half-pass, travers, renvers, in the past also full-pass and other movements. But no matter the discipline, the basic principles of how to help the horse find two-track work with ease is the same, and everyone and their horses can find help what was found to be true through


experience with thousands of horses down through the ages. Nuno: “The bend of a horse is something natural. We can bend the horse very well as well as very badly and this has been so since the beginning. What you must do is to use it well and usefully.� From An Old Master Trainer to Young Trainers While both masters acknowledged that bend is something inherent in the horse, both saw a value in the training of flexibility for the ridden horse, that through the process of training, the gifted trainer could help the horse become more gifted, more magnificent, healthier and harmonious. Horses For LIFE


with Gustav Steinbrect “Dressage training seeks to give a horse which is not gifted with a magnificent back, the vertical and the horizontal flexibility necessary to the harmony of the gaits and movement, so that there may be suppleness and the minimum of effort.” Nuno Oliveira. While Steinbrecht reflects: “If the ridden horse has the advantage, among many others, over the unridden horse, that he is able to move easily and with regularity in a small space in the gaits nature gave it, this is because of the flexibility of its entire body that dressage training has given it.”


Nuno and Steinbrecht were both always concerned about the whole horse, about connections and how to maintain those connections. Steinbrecht: “The horse is a harmonious whole in which the individual parts mutually support one another.” Nuno Oliveira: “The spinal column of a horse insures the liaison between his forehand and hindquarters.” “ Working in the pursuit of lightness does not mean to work each part of the horse in an isolated manner, but rather all the legs, all the joints and all the muscles will function perfectly as a whole.” Nuno Oliveira.

Horses For LIFE

HOW to Acce Truth in the B


ess the Body

ανακάλυψη discovery

Horses For LIFE


How To Access The Truth Within The Body ‘What is truth, is truth unchanging law, we all have truths, are mine the same as yours? Is it true that we are seeking a way to ride that does not hurt or confuse the body of the horse? The conflict and resistance that many training approaches create in the body and mind of the horse are subjects currently discussed and debated by an increasingly aware population of humans. As a species, we seem to be fascinated by discussions about the impact that our behaviour has on our horses. The debate about which method is the kindest goes round and round like a horse on a twenty metre circle; it is painful and often pointless. The judgements we bestow on each other as kind or cruel do little to support the growth of new consciousness. As we journey towards more enlightened experiences with our horses, and experience paradigm shifts in consciousness, it could be argued that these experiences are not random events. They seem to represent the presence of a life force that underlies our daily existence and to which we are all connected. This deep resonance that we all share with the spirit of the horse draws us toward the powerful magnetism of horses by a deep need to connect to this spiritual life force. It is so powerful, that many people, especially women, will sacrifice the greater part of their lives to have access to this resource. Honestly acknowledging the impact that our actions have on the horse, based on the evidence of our own experiences, will highHorses For LIFE

ανακάλυψη discovery

light deficiencies in our training methods. Hopefully, this process will help to illuminate the need for change should change be something we seek. As individuals, we can empower ourselves by acknowledging our own inner resistance to new ideas and experiences. We can share the gifts bestowed upon us by our horses in the spirit that they are bestowed upon us. It is in the sharing of these experiences with each other that we connect as human beings and feel inspired with the courage to discover unchartered territory. The word ‘inspired’ means ‘in spirit’. It is through the generous spirit of the horse that I seek to connect with you now. So deep is our yearning for a connection to something other than the external world that our love for our horses often overshadows the practical solutions for our lives as we search for a deeper meaning and relationship. The very nature of this yearning facilitates shifts in our thinking as we allow ourselves to acknowledge the discomfort created by force and dominance. Our experiences teach us that the depth of relationship we seek with our horses is enhanced


Anakalypsi: How to Access the

Truth in the Body

when we open our hearts and minds to the true nature of the horse. In doing so we get close enough to hear the heartbeat of our horses and also hear our own more clearly. An innate wisdom and desire for freedom is triggered deep inside us when we resonate deeply with the true power of the horse. We suddenly feel in touch with the heartbeat of the universe, this primordial wisdom whispers in our ears, trying to get us to listen and to reconnect with the rhythm of life. For thousands of years we have felt entitled to help ourselves to generous servings of humility from our silent partners. As they have carried us through the insanity and destruction of our own species, their faith remains unshakable. We have used their power and silent presence as a voiceless witness to the growth of our egos. In spite of unspeakable atrocities, they remain connected to a realm of great wisdom and vibrant life. This powerful life force is available to us when we reconnect with being, and disconnect from compulsive thinking. By withdrawing consciousness from our minds and allowing it to return to our

Horses For LIFE

The Sense Method Mary Debono

Feldenkrais Method速 for Riders Enhance Your Awareness to Improve Your Riding


Horses For LIFE

Mary Debono - Enhance Awareness Improve Your Riding

Feldenkrais Method® for Riders Enhance Your Awareness to Improve Your Riding By Mary Debono “I feel perfectly even”, Joan* said, even although, as I could plainly see, that she was putting more weight onto her left seatbone. Sitting on a flat chair, Joan’s right ribs were held more closely together than her left ones, causing her to side bend a bit to the right. The right side of her pelvis was held higher than her left, giving her the appearance of a “collapsed hip”. In Joan’s case, this asymmetrical sitting caused her to throw more of her weight onto her left seatseatbone. No wonder her horse’s back was tight and she had difficulty turning to the right! But it all felt perfectly normal to Joan, who had probably been sitting like that for several years. So I asked her to slide her hands under her seatbones. “Ouch!” she exclaimed, as she pulled her hands free. “My left hand was really getting squished!” Then the light bulb went offon. “Oh, I get it now”, Joan continued. “That must be what Zara* feels when I’m riding her. No wonder her back is sore and tight! I feel terrible. I never realized how unbalanced I was”.


It was not surprising that Joan didn’t feel her own crookedness, since the nervous system often adjusts to a feeling that is habitual, even if it is an asymmetrical one. The imbalance feels normal. Sitting heavier on one side, like Joan was doing, is a common problem. It often goes unnoticed by the rider, but not by her horse, who is forced to compensate for the unbalanced load. Last month, I wrote about Joan’s Arabian mare who became aggressive whenever she was touched. The hands-on techniques of the SENSE Method helped the horse release tight muscles and reduce her anxiety. Even more importantly, the mare discovered that she could relate to humans in a new, pleasurable way. (See “The SENSE Method - Rocking Your Horse”, Issue 58.) In addition to the aggression issue, Joan had complained that the mare had difficulty bending, especially to the right.

Horses For LIFE

Mary Debono - Enhance Awareness Improve Your Riding

Recognizing that the rider’s body affects her horse, I had asked Joan to sit on a chair so that I could assess how she might be contributing to her mare’s difficulty. Now that Joan knew she was sitting crooked, she immediately tried to straighten herself out. She thought that stretching out her right side might help, but it did not change her long-standing habit. It merely caused tension and imbalances in other parts of her body. Instead, Joan needed to find new, healthier ways to sit so that she would no longer be contributing to her horse’s difficulties. A balanced, flexible position would also keep Joan’s spine supple and pain-free. And that is where the Feldenkrais Method® can be a great help. How can the Feldenkrais Method help riders improve their skills and achieve feel? Simply put, the Feldenkrais Method teaches riders how to stop interfering with themselves, taking the struggle out of riding. Years of sitting behind a desk, driving a car, dealing with stress and nursing old injuries often leads to the development of unhealthy and restrictive movement patterns which overuse parts of the body and lead to pain and stiffness. These habitual patterns become so ingrained that


they are lost from our awareness. The restrictions feel familiar and thus seem “normal.” We no longer realize that we have the potential to be flexible, coordinated and graceful. The freedom of movement we had as children seems a distant memory. Feldenkrais can help you recover it. What is so extraordinary about the Feldenkrais Method is that it does not attempt to correct or manipulate. Rather, it is an educational approach that is relaxing, pleasurable and supportive. Using noninvasive touch and movement, a Feldenkrais practitioner clarifies for the client what he is really doing and helps him explore more effective movement options. This sensory learning approach is in contrast to attempting to make postural changes through force of will. The familiar refrains of “Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, sit evenly,” etc. often fall short of their goal as they can create even more tension in the rider.

Horses For LIFE

VIDEO Page VIDEO Page 38

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Is it time? to Re-evaluate

The Concept of Stall Rest 40


Dr. Brie Hamblin DVM

Horses For LIFE

Is it time to re-evaluate the concept of stall rest? The most recent scientific information To Mobilize or Immobilize? by Dr. Brie Hamblin DVM All excerpts taken with permission from the article cited. A recent review of human literature has revealed that perhaps we should be incorporating some of the protocols for dealing with injuries to tendons, ligaments and muscles in our equine patients (1). In human medicine, research has demonstrated


Dr. Brie Hamblin DVM Stall Rest

that early mobilization of muscle, tendon and ligamentous injuries can improve the quality of healing. Passive range of motion exercises and range of motion exercises are recommended in many rehabilitation programs (1). Severe injuries to muscle tendons and ligaments still require immobilization however (1). Aside: Passive range of motion is when you take a joint through comfortable flexion and extension without activating the muscles involved with the joint. This range may be reduced if an injury is present. Range of motion exercises involve putting the joint through its normal range of flexion and extension .

Horses For LIFE

Defining Self-Carriage


Horses For LIFE


Defining Self-Carriage

Confusing -- the only word that can begin to describe the dilemma faced by many riders today in trying to ascertain the qualities of different instructors and different instruction methods. For example, we know that self-carriage is good. But when observing a horseman at work, we can often see what is obviously bad self-carriage, and we can also recognise good self-carriage. As I said, confusing. How can self-carriage, which is supposed to be good, have examples of good and bad self-carriage? Isn’t all self-carriage good? Not necessarily so. Self-carriage assumes that the horse will maintain its posture, if you will, when there is no pressure on the reins. There is also an assumption that all self-carriage is good, that the horse is in optimum balance and carriage for the work that he is doing, and so the assumption is that the horse is not on his forehand but also working well off his hind end. For some, this kind of self-carriage can only be shown when there is a release of the rein aids. And so they look for slack reins. This is not necessarily true. While self-carriage can absolutely be shown with slack reins, there is no reason to suppose that selfcarriage cannot also be seen with a released on-contact rein, i.e. with a rein with no pressure, that appears as a straight line from bit to hand with no perceivable slackness in the reins. Horses For LIFE


“..the horse working off even his first or second level of balance should be able to keep going if we release the reins, maintaining the same frame.�

Horses For LIFE


Friends of the

Horses For LIFE

Become A Friend

“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” ~Rod McKuen We would love for you to become our new friend! A new friend is always exciting! Especially when you get to make friends with others that care about the same things that you do. We love horses and we know that you do too. Friends of the Horse are a group of people that love horses and want to be a friend to the horse. Horses are incredible gentle, sweet, noble creatures. They put up with our inept fumbling as we first learn to ride. They accept everything we do to them and ask really nothing in return. They prove themselves again and again as they patiently cart around young children, as they help disabled children learn balance, and as they challenge the rest of us. They have been by mankind’s side as we have built our civilization – all for a bit of hay.


“Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization we will find the hoofprint of the horse beside it.” ~John Moore Unfortunately the horse has no voice. He doesn’t bark or mew, or yelp or whine. His language is one that we are often guessing at as to what he is thinking and sometimes what he might be feeling. But if anyone deserves a voice, deserves our protection after all he has done for us for centuries, it is definitely the horse. As Charlie Brown said to Snoopy “Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don’t worry…I’m here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you.” They have been taking care of us for a very long time. It is time for us to take care of them. For the joy, the beauty, the love, the strength that they so freely share with all of us. Join us and become ‘A Friend of the Horse’ Together let’s promise the horse that “I will always be here to take care of you.”

Horses For LIFE


Dr. Brie Hamblin DVM Confinement

Horses For LIFE

How NOT to Sell a Horse 56

Horses For LIFE

How NOT to sell a Horse

Number 1 rule of “how NOT to sell your horse” is first of all, do not, absolutely do not list your horse on the internet. After all, why would you want the eyeballs of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of qualified buyers to be looking at your horse? Some people seem to think that only more valuable, expensive horses sell on the internet. After all, who would want to ship a $1,000 horse across the country? It just wouldn’t make sense. Better to just post a flyer in the local barn or tack store. But look at it this way, perhaps your horse provides just the right mix of qualities that some buyer is looking for? Age, breed, height, colour, training and sex. Considering the endless varieties that can come out of that combination, finding the perfect horse can sometimes seem like an endless non-rewarding search, especially today when we are often as not looking not for several, but only one horse to share our lives for the next ten or twenty years. So we search diligently for that special, perfect one horse.


How NOT to Sell A Horse

So, don’t think that the right buyer won’t be willing to pay for transportation even across the country, especially if your horse is priced well. One rider I know is looking for a horse right now. She is looking for something preferably over 15.2 and somewhere between 3 and 6 years old, and she would prefer a mare or a stallion, unbacked is fine or little training is actually preferred, but if the horse has been trained to go behind the vertical she’s not interested. She is looking at all breeds. If it’s absolutely stellar she will look at younger ones and wait until it grows up to back it, but she would prefer a horse in the 4 and up range so she can start backing it now. And at this rate, it’s not likely that she is going to find what she wants!

Horses For LIFE

Lessons From Our Mas 60

ster: Don Baxter Horses For LIFE

Lessons From Our Master: Don Pedro I am compelled to share with you an introduction to, and my lessons from, a unique Australian Master of Classical Dressage. Refined by the master himself, Nuno Oliveira, and highly accomplished in the Art of Classical Dressage, Mr. Don Baxter, ‘Our Master’ to my son Perry, myself and many equestrians, has spent more than 30 years refining the Art of Classical Dressage. Under the banner of his own Omaru Stud, our Master has bred and trained some of the most exquisite Andalusian and Lipizzaner horses in Australia. With a unique skill in connecting perfectly the personality and temperament of horse and rider, Don has for many years successfully trained many of his own horses and students, as horse and rider partnerships, in the Art of Classical Dressage to the highest levels. In 2010, whilst undergoing tuition as a late bloomer in this magnificent art with our Master, having also been introduced 62

Lessons from our Master Don Baxter

to some of the philosophies of Nuno Oliveira to support my development, I fell in love with a remarkable Andalusian filly. ‘The choice of a horse must first be a love affair’ Nuno. She was 3 years old, unbroken and the most beautiful filly I had ever seen. Her name is Omaru Esperanza (Ellie). I felt so drawn to her as she watched Perry and me come and go each week for our lessons, with her beautiful kind eyes, curious nature and remarkable presence. After some months of admiring Esperanza and feeling more and more drawn to her, I boldly informed Don that I loved that little filly and one day I hoped she would be mine. He smiled and said she would be a lovely filly for me. A few months later, I found myself in the round yard at Omaru Stud with my beautiful Omaru Esperanza who had only the night before returned from the breaker (Ron Howland). I was excited, anxious and so very thrilled that she was to be with me now for her lifetime.

Horses For LIFE

Anakalypsi: Training or Friendship? As I stood in the round yard at 6.30am waiting patiently for our Master to arrive, I realised I had no significant plan of where to start. I just knew I loved her so much and felt we were meant to be together. In our first lesson, 1 July 2010, our Master patiently reminded me to relax ‘first relax the mind….then a relaxed horse’ Nuno, and showed us how to work together on the lunge. He shared with me the importance of ground work for the development of the young horse and to ‘observe the whole of the horse’s movement’ Nuno. He worked with me patiently to understand how the horse learns through consistency, kindness, clarity of aids, reward and repetition. We did a little work at walk, trot and canter under saddle in the round yard with Don carefully watching and supporting. We finished on a positive note, something our Master instils in all of his students from the first lesson. ‘It is important to finish every lesson on a positive note’ Don. Ensure ‘the horse is in the right frame of mind for the next day’s lessons’ Nuno.


In the following weeks, we continued to build our relationship working on the ground and under saddle with the close supervision and support of our Master. Each morning, I arrived at Omaru nervous, exhilarated and filled with joy to see my Beautiful Omaru Esperanza. Everything was so very new to us. There were so many important lessons, including the significance of my being the leader, how to ‘be hard to be soft’ Don, to be aware of consistent movements and cues when working on the ground and under saddle and importantly not to keep saying “good girl” to Esperanza. I gained a greater understanding of ‘Push, Take and Give’ Nuno, realising the subtlety of these aids and was reminded often to keep a deep seat with my ‘shoulders back and tummy forward’ Don. To support our balance, I learned the importance of still relaxed hands, ‘relax your hands and allow the horse to move under you’ Nuno. I learned quickly that ‘a little work done correctly is more valuable to the young horse, or any horse, than a lot of work done

ανακάλυψη discovery

Horses For LIFE

ανακάλυψη discovery Anakalypsi: Training or Friendship? “Friendship is the sweet moment of finding, touching and connecting with another spark of life, that is just you multiplied. The essence that is us in the universe.” Nadja King Imagine for a moment that you are out in an infinite pasture with the grasses blending together as they are bent over in the heat of the summer wind, the clouds overhead seeming to stretch out in every direction as if there is no end. Far in the distance you see the herd - stallion, mares and foals, quietly grazing in the sun-drenched warmth, tails flicking slowly at the few lazy flies who half-heartedly buzz through the heat. They see you, but trust you enough to let you slowly approach, trust you enough to still be themselves, to accept you so completely as one of them, that the foals lie down in the blanket of grass to enjoy an afternoon siesta. And you sit in the grass a few yards away to become part of it all. The sun beats down, making you as drowsy as the foals laid out just a few yards away, while the mares graze on, slowly drifting farther and farther away, the stallion


content that you will watch over his young charges as he heads off for a welcome sip from the waters a distance away. Imagine for a moment that you enter a corral and without blinking, without thinking you bend over to pick up something from the ground and that you glance up, realizing that you just broke a cardinal rule of equestrian safety and you went behind a horse without thinking for a moment that you needed to watch closely for flying hooves. After all, we all know that even the most reliable of horses can spook. And you suddenly realize that for the first time, after working for decades with horses, you sub-consciously realized that with this horse you have a very different relationship, one where you can trust him completely, because being with you his entire life has taught him that you will never raise a hand against him in any way, form or manner, and somewhere along the way, a new kind of relationship was forged. One that you had never before experienced with a horse. Where there was complete bonded trust on both sides. The kind of relationship you will see one horse give another, when they become fast friends. They will run together, they will warn each other of danger, but they never see the other as danger. Ever. There never is a need to react against the one that is your best friend. Horses For LIFE


VIDEO Page 68

Horses For LIFE



"This experience involves an awareness of the unity of all things -- of interconnectedness, of oneness." Sherry Ackerman PhD

Horses For LIFE

Sign and Share the Petition that asks the FEI: Uphold the Rules!

We ask that the FEI returns to strictly upholding its Standards, the FEI Rules for Dressage Events, Article 401: Object and Principles of Dressage and Article 419. Article 401 Object and General Principles of Dressage 5.” …the head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck…” p.11 A supple poll as the highest point of the neck according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, represents the optimal anatomical, physiological and biomechanical way to develop the dressage horse according to the FEI Rules. Without a supple 72

poll at the highest point, the Object of Dressage to develop a calm, keen, attentive, confident horse that is supple, loose and flexible cannot be met.

Article 419 Object of International Dressage Events “The FEI instituted an International Dressage Event in 1929 in order to preserve the Equestrian Art from the abuses to which it can be exposed and to preserve it in the purity of its principles, so that it could be handed on intact to generations of athletes to come.” p.28 Thus as articulated in Article 419, the paramount duty of FEI Officials is to protect and uphold the existing rules for future generations. It should not be within the moral or ethical jurisdiction of any particular group or at any time to take decisions or pass rules that contradict completely the spirit and letter of the existing Rules and of Article 401 in particular.

Among the Signators to Date Colonel Carde FEI “I” Judge Selected for the Moscow Olympic Games Former National Dressage Coach for France Former Head Rider of the French National School of Riding and of the Cadre Noir in Saumur Claudia Saunders, Publisher and editor in chief, Dressur Studien Laetitia Bataille, Rédacteur en chef, Cheval Savoir Linda Tellington-Jones Creator of the Tellington Method and Tellington TTouch Training, founding member of the California Dressage Society, Worked and cliniced with Dr. Reiner Klimke, Ingrid Klimke, Klaus Balkenhol. Christine Stuckelburger, Kyra Kurkland, Anne-Katrin Linsenhof, Elena Petushkova & Trainers from the Spanish Riding School. Dr. Gerd Heuschmann: veterinarian, bereiter, founding member of Xenophon, author of “Tug of War” and “If Horses Could Speak”

The Fair Play Standard

Dr. Robert Cook

No result can be meaningful or valid if it has not been achieved “on a level playing field.” There is no level playing field when some riders adhere to the letter of the law and others break it. It is unjust for an organization that has strayed from its mission to penalize riders who embrace and abide by the rules as written, and rewards riders who disregard them with no concern for consequences.

Dr. Brie Hamblin Walter Zettl Dominique Barbier Pat Parelli Linda Parelli Horses For LIFE



Horses For LIFE

The Great European Schools of CLASSICAL DRESSAGE by Alain Laurioux and Guillaume Henry Reprinted with kind permission from CADMOS and Trafalgar Square 76


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Conversations with a Master, Nuno Oliveira, Steinbrecht and Chevaler, How NOT to sell your horse and more!

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