Nichole Walters


Cadbury Farm



28205 NE Tolt Hill Rd
Carnation, WA 98014


Visitors welcome

by appointment. 

Cadbury Farm is proud to be a King County Conservation Farm of Merit selected for our focus on green practices. To book a tour, please contact Nichole Walters.


Légèreté (pron: leh-geh-ret-ay)

The French term, Légèreté means ‘Lightness’. This tells only a fraction of the story about this new form of classical riding. School Founder Philippe Karl says first and foremost it is a way of riding based on complete respect for the horse.


What, exactly does he mean? In-depth 21st century knowledge of the horse’s anatomy, physiology, locomotion, balance, psychology and ethology (animal behavioral science) all went into inspiring Mr. Karl to re-establish the classics. So you'll find that Légèreté is still grounded in the work of past masters: Xenophon, Fiaschi, Pluvinel, Hünersdorf, Baucher, and Oliveira, to name just a few. And like these greats, he has returned the horse to the center of his teachings. All training must come from what's right and natural for the horse. Unleashed to move and think.


Indeed, no artificial aids are ever employed beyond the whip and spur (both used for gentle clarity of understanding). There's simply no need for any extraneous gear, like flashes, cranks, draw reins, side reins, and other contraptions.

Philippe Karl rides extended trot. Photo © Alain Laurioux

From this, he has masterfully crafted a classical alternative where all aspects of training, from the basics on up to the highest levels, supports the horse. Under no circumstance does Légèreté compromise the horse's well being. The result is relaxed horses, achieving elegance and harmony, with pleasure for both horse and rider.

Furthermore, Légèreté is progressive, meaning there are specific training steps to be taken in an order that makes sense for the horse. The first step naturally progresses to the next so the horse understands the aides like learning a language. This unifies the brain/body engagement between the rider and the horse, and produces a sensitive connection—an ability to work with the lightest of aids and incredible ease!
Philippe Karl rides half pass. Photo © Alain Laurioux

Philippe Karl and the Invention of Légèreté

At the turn of the millennium, France's most brilliant horseman, Philippe Karl, turned his attention to teaching courses to riding instructors in France and Germany. The concept of Légèreté was born. His path to launching the School of Légèreté in 2004 was incubated over the course of his equestrian career.


As a young man, he switched from studying medicine to horse breeding. He became a licensed instructor, ran his own barn, and competed in show jumping and eventing. 


Then in 1985, General Pierre Durand appointed him to the French national riding school in Saumur and, subsequently, he became an écuyer (‘master’) of the Cadre Noir, France’s most prestigious riding school. Over 13 years there, he honed his skill to become one of the most respected horsemen in the world. He upheld and practiced the principles of classical riding going back to equitation taught by François Robichon de La Guérinière, the French riding master to King Louis XV.

Philippe Karl on High Noon Photo © Alain Laurioux

A 21st Century Classical Alternative

Over the years, Mr. Karl noticed there were many natural riders but very few effective riding instructors. This observation and his great interest in the history and evolution of riding, impassioned him. 


He has since devoted himself to the training of riding instructors through a philosophy and method he calls Légèreté. The School of Légèreté has since expanded to sites around the globe.


As one of the most important visionaries in the horse world today, Mr. Karl sees a vital need to provide professional education that demonstrates why everything we ask of a horse is right for the horse. 


He is known for being an outspoken critic of the modern dressage world. He is disturbed by its aim purely to ascend in competition while dismissing the importance of taking complete care of the horse above all else. He sees the corruption of classical style as self-serving. In his estimation, the industry has compromised its integrity by distorting  classical movement for commercial interests.


With in-depth knowledge, he explains why current methods are on a destructive course for the horse in his book Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage (first published in 2010) and offers a classical alternative he calls Légèreté or Lightness. His concept incorporates the brilliant time-tested work of earlier classical masters with 21st century science on the bio-mechanics, behavior, and best practices for the horse.


His personal views, riding and training experience are covered in many books and instructional videos (see Educational Materials).


Today there are more than 50 certified Légèreté instructors and hundreds of professional trainers and amateur riders studying his teachings. Americans, too, are now taking up the challenge to learn how to ride and train with lightness, ease, and respect for the horse. Come join us!


To learn more about Philippe Karl, go here

Philippe Karl giving an educational presentation. Photo © Alain Laurioux
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