The “Reitlehre” (HDV12 German Cavalry Manual)


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“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 for the horse.” (HDV 12, 1937 edition)

The “Reitlehre” — Foundation of German Horsemanship

Origin of the ‘Training Scale’ and the Rules We Ride By

Today’s equestrians often struggle with the question “What is right?” There seems to be a multitude of training philosophies and approaches, making it hard for anyone to discern right from wrong.

The greatest ‘wrong’ of modern equestrian ambition seems to be ‘rushing to the top’. Trainers egg on students to train their horse ‘a level a year’ without a solid foundation. Broken horses, disappointed riders, frustration and broken dreams are often the result. 

Broken equestrian dreams are preventable: We return to the undiluted original riding philosophy (“Reitlehre”) that is the basis for the ‘rules we ride by’ today.

Back to Classic Brings Success

The basics, however, are fundamentally important and a solid foundation for success in your equestrian endeavors.

But who says what this basic education should look like?

The classic approach has the answers: The German Cavalry Guidelines for Training Horse & Rider (HDV12/37) are the origin of the Training Scale and provide an easy-to-follow 2-year Training Plan.

Based on that, you can maximize your horse’s potential on a solid foundation.


Why Care About the German Cavalry Guidelines (HDV12)?

Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions?

  • Do you ride dressage, eventing, show jumping or distance?
  • 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 HDV12.

What is the HDV12 German Cavalry Manual?

In a nutshell:

  • HDV12 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” (1937 edition)
  • Provides a detailed 2-year plan for the education of young horses
  • Provides a detailed 2-year plan for the education of riders

“The HDV12/37 is the original source of the Training Scale.”

hdv12 german cavalry manual training scale

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What’s Inside?

A systematic approach paired with compassion

Contrary to its modest appearance, this book 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 equine partner. 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.

82 years after its first publication as an Army Regulation, the HDV12 is still a bestseller in Germany, especially the newly-published annotated version (with comments by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Kurd Albrecht von Ziegner). Now English-speaking riders can benefit as well. This compilation of cavalry knowledge and experience is now–for the first time–available as an English translation.

“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

German cavalry manual training scale kindle

How Can you Learn More?

If you are curious to learn more, there are different options:

Be well and enjoy your horse!

Stefanie Reinhold