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LISA SCAGLIONE Classical Dressage


I was given my first horse at age 11, an old Quarter Horse gelding who had worked on a ranch. As a youth, I trained and competed him as a Hunter, and after him two off the track Thoroughbreds. I was able to continue riding while at university, where I obtained a BA in Russian Language and Literature and an MA in Russian and East European Studies. I then lived and worked in the Soviet Union for 18 months during the years when Mikhail Gorbachev was head of state, leaving just one month before the coup that led to the fall of Soviet power. One of the highlights of my time there was a horse trekking trip in the Caucasus mountains with my mount "Chief", a homely, but intelligent and sure-footed native horse who became my mount due to his refusal to cross a river with his previous rider (a story for another time).

Upon return, I married my husband Paul, and we adopted our daughter, Maria. I worked for a time as a researcher of fine art for an auction company, and as a paraprofessional in a public school system, where I implemented a program to assist foreign students and their families with educational as well as practical needs.  Together with my family, I relocated to Sauvie Island, located 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland, Oregon, where we own and manage an equestrian facility and my husband's photography studio. I currently own a Lusitano stallion, a Hanoverian mare, and a Dutch Warmblood mare, all of whom are blessed with sensitive natures.

I became interested in the classical tradition of Dressage in a desire to train in a manner that is sympathetic to the horse’s nature and compatible with the biomechanics of the horse. I've found these methods produce a horse who is happy and proud in his job, and one who is gymnastically prepared for the progression of training. At its heart, riding is a 2-way communication between horse and rider involving ever deepening levels of both communicating to the horse and of listening to the horse, resulting in ever quieter aids from the rider, until it appears as if they can read each others minds. This is what we recognize as 'harmony', and this is what the Classical masters call "lightness". This goal is at the heart of all my equestrian efforts.

I also have an interest in holistic methods of equine management, as I believe a horse is only truly happy if he is free of physical and mental stress and if allowed to live a life compatible with his nature. I've completed coursework in saddle fit with the British Society of Master Saddlers and am educated in the use of alternative health remedies. I use these skills to complement my other efforts so my horses may remain in top condition and health. 

I've been privileged to participate as a rider in clinics with such internationally known personages as: Olympian, Debbie McDonald; Olympian and coach, Lendon Gray; Olympian,  FEI ‘O’Judge, former USDF team coach, and Chef d’Equipe of the USET, Anne Gribbons;  FEI ‘I’ Judge and founding member of the USDF Instructor Certification Program, Lilo Fore; Chair of the USDF Instructor Certification Committee, Gerhard Politz; 17 year student of Nuno Oliveira, Bettina Drummond; Portuguese Olympian and former rider for the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, Miguel Ralao
; and I was chosen by the USDF to be a demo rider for Olympian Jane Savoie.  I've made numerous trips to Portugal, where I've trained with Don Francisco di Braganca, on his Lusitano stallions.  I've completed two intensive courses in Scotland with internationally known expert on classical equitation, Sylvia Loch. It is her instruction and mentorship which serve as the foundation for all my riding and training methods and goals. I was honored to be invited by Sylvia to read the introductory comments at her Dressage in Lightness Symposium in the Borders, Scotland in May 2012.

Sylvia continues to mentor me, and has accepted me into her Classical Dressage Instructor Certification program, which she is conducting one on one with me, as I am the only North American student. After viewing my video, she commented, "I am frankly thrilled by the quality of your work. It is quiet, empathetic and correct. A pleasure to watch...I'll be glad to back you through CRC and the Diploma course I have in mind for you." Coursework certification requirements include: lessons on Sylvia's schoolmasters and lessons on more 'normal' horses (as she put it), video evaluation of me schooling my own horses, and study of dressage theory and the history of dressage, including examinations and teaching tutorials. I am very excited to be accepted into a program designed to systematically train and educate instructors according to the traditions of the classical masters, and am equally pleased to be able to offer this tradition to riders in the Northwest.


At its best, riding is an art. It has become cliché to say that we desire to ride as partners with our horses, when in fact, horses often become the means to achieve the goals of our egos. Horses can only be our dancing partners if their natures are respected - both psychologically and physically. We can aspire to art only if we have the humility to learn - both from our equine partners, and from the masters who have gone before us. Horses communicate much, but their communication is subtle and silent. Most equestrians take up riding because of the deep connection they feel with their silent companions. Striving to be an artist means patience with the creative process and joy in the journey of learning.

Each horse is different and each person's relationship with their horse is unique and requires nurturing and respect. It is my goal to be a facilitator to this process of self discovery and learning, by imparting the practical skills and knowledge riders need, as well as assissting them in the exploration of their own goals. Correct aiding and a proper rider seat are based on the biomechanics of both horse and rider. Empathetic schooling results in a horse proud in his work and increases the horse's physical and psychological well-being, deepening the bond of trust and love between horse and rider.  For the horse owner, this relationship also has transformational qualities that go well beyond the noticeable growth in their riding abilities.

Horses have a natural desire to please, but can easily lose confidence in themselves and trust in us if they are pushed beyond their ability to perform or understand our requests, or if they are inadvertently given contradictory aids. In the first century BC, Xenophon said, "Anything that is forced or misunderstood can never be beautiful". This is as true today, as it was 2000 years ago. By facilitating understanding between horse and rider through sharing the classical art of dressage, I hope I can help others to experience more full
y the beauty and nobility that first attracted them to their equine partners.

Classical Riding Club (CRC):    http://www.classicalriding.co.uk/
Sylvia Loch:   http://www.sylvialoch.com/

LISA SCAGLIONE Classical Dressage      lascaglione@gmail.com