Jean Luc Cornille M.A.(M.Phil) has gained worldwide recognition by applying practical science to the training of the equine athlete.
Influenced by his background as a gymnast, Jean Luc deeply understands how equine training can be enhanced by contemporary scientific research.
A unique combination of riding skill, training experience and extensive knowledge of the equine physiology enables Jean Luc to “translate” scientific insights into a language comprehensible to both horse and rider. This approach has been the trademark of his training.
Jean Luc’s competitive career is as distinguished as it is diversified. Competing at national and international levels in dressage, steeplechase, stadium jumping and three-day events, he has won extensively in all specialties collecting several gold, silver and bronze medals. Notably, Jean Luc won the individual and team gold medal at the eventing world championship of Fontainebleau in 1975. In 1971, he won silver at the world championship of Punchestown. The following year, he was member of the winning team at Boekelo. However, Jean Luc feels that his greatest success lies in his ability to intuit the physical and mental condition of each horse the day after their victories.
A 1968 graduate of the Equestrian Military School, Le Cadre Noir de Saumur, Jean Luc received intensive training from Joseph Neckerman, Willy Schulteis and Hans Gunter Winkler. In 1972 and 1976, respectively, he worked closely with Michel Cochenet to prepare two Olympic teams for the national three-day event. Margit Otto Crepin, the French and Olympic Champion, is one of Jean Luc’s most prominent dressage students.
Moving to the US as dressage trainer for the 1984 Los Angeles Olumpic jumping team gold medalist, Melanie Smith at Windrush Farm, Jean Luc subsequently founded E. A. 21 in Orange, Virginia, from which he began an extensive program of clinics and seminars throughout the US and Canada. His work has concentrated on applying the latest biomechanical research to redefine traditional approaches to equine training. It was here that Jean Luc also discovered a strong connection to the rehabilitation of lame horses. He has successfully rehabilitated such severe disabilities as navicular syndrome, contracted tendons, degenerative joint disease, and upward fixation of the patella, as well as cases of obscure and idiopathic lameness.
Jean Luc began his publishing career in 1982 with a series of articles in the French equestrian magazine L’Eperon. His writing credits also include the US magazines Dressage and CT and The Chronicle of the Horse. He continues to share his research and knowledge through clinics and lectures, and as founder of Science Of Motion. He is currently working on a series of text books and educational videos, that will discuss and explore his findings to date. To that end, he has published a series of articles on biomechanics, a video exploring the subject of appling recent scientific discoveries to equine athletes’ education.
The computer age allows a more advanced understanding of the horse’s gaits and performance than previously known. Computers also have made the knowledge available to everyone. After decades of research and successful application of scientific discoveries, Jean Luc feels that time has come to take advantage of this modern technology by letting everyone have access to be able to apply these discoveries. Thereby, horses can be efficiently prepared for the effort; gait abnormalities can be discerned before they became injuries; and, performance difficulties can be analyzed down to their source. There is a way to educate horses which rises from one’s heart and intelligence. There is undoubtedly a more subtle, more ethical, effective and better way. It is a prime opportunity that will lead Olympic caliber riders to the upper echelon of the podium. It will offer other riders an even greater victory, Beyond and between the shows is the quality of the daily life with the horses, the faculty of preparing them efficiently and keeping them mentally and physically sound until their golden age.
“When I was thirteen or fourteen years old, I had difficulties as young gymnast with the landing of the third summersault. The two first were executed in a collected posture and the third one was performed with the body in extension. Almost inevitably, I had to correct a compromised balance adding a small sidestep to the right. The fault coast 0/10 of a point which is often the difference between winning and loosing. My trainer reacted like a horse trainer. He changed the tack selecting more elastic underwear and lighter snickers. He focused on the footing by purchasing thicker rubber matts. He tried reward and punishment, and then finally decided that I had an attitude problem, that I was lazy and that I was adding a step to annoy him.
“Then I had the luck to be selected for an international competition. I worked with a higher level trainer who identified the source of my difficulties. I had developed an imbalance between the right and left side of my back muscles. I was not fully straight turning the sommersault in the air and the landing was off balance. With the appropriated gymnastics, the trainer and the physical therapist corrected my muscular’ imbalance and I was able to execute square landings.
“Later in life the horses took over my passion for gymnastics, I expected for the horses, the same level of physical evaluation as I has as an athlete in training. Rather, it was as though performance analysis did not exist. When the horse’s neck was rigid, I was advised lateral bending of the neck, if the horse lacked forward motion I was told to use larger spurs, etc. I decided that the primitive level into which equine athletic training was maintain was due to the fact that I was competing at relatively low levels and that training techniques would become more sophisticated if I had the luck to reach higher levels. With the help of few great horses I did. I was surprised that even at the Olympic level, better horses and skilled riders were still submitted to primitive training techniques. It was more sophisticated in terms of medical support but the horses’ difficulties were managed either by the riders’ talent or the veterinarian’s skill. Problems were not scientifically analyzed and therefore never really resolved. The discrepancy between scientific knowledge and training techniques was the norm not only in France but all over the world. Astoundingly, the discrepancy remains today’s norm.
“I became a member of the prestigious “Cadre Noir de Saumur” and thanks to the support of the school and the talent of many wonderful horses I became “successful” in three day eventing which was at this time my first love. I also had individual success in stadium jumping, dressage and steeple chase. I won repeatedly in the greatest International competitions in Europe, collecting several individual and team gold, silver and bronze medals. Some of the greatest performances were the World championship at Punchestown in Ireland, Burghley in England, Fontainebleau in France, Bokelo in Deutchland, etc. However, I have always felt that my horses as well as the horses I was in competition with were performing due to their talent but below their real potential. I began to realize that a high concentration of talented horses and riders have been poorly supported by a superficial education. This remains the case today.
“I decided to look into the scientific research to see if the problem was due to a lack of systematic investigations. The first surprise was that with a little curiosity, scientific studies were available. The second surprise was that scientific discoveries were pertinent and willing to enhance equine athletes’ performances and their propensity to remain sound. The question was why, in a sport where horses are so expensive to buy, train, and maintain in competitive shape, scientific discoveries that would further the quality of the athletic achievements, the horses’ ability to perform at their fullest potential, and hence, to perform better, longer, while remaining sound, new scientific findings are not applied?
“There is no rational answer, but there is an opportunity that I would love to share with everyone who dreams about winning in partnership with a horse athletically ready for the effort. Albert Einstein wrote: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” No one would really believe that the great scientist was not superiorly talented. Likewise Margitt Otto Crepin who won the silver medal at the 1998 Seoul Dressage Olmpics is a greatly talented rider who has the curiosity to consider that a more scientific approach would further Corlandus’ talent. Margitt succeed with Corlandus because she was able to adjust traditional thoughts to the horse’s peculiar morphology. I had the pleasure to train her prior to the time she purchased Corlandus. I am particularly happy with her outstanding achievements and proud to have introduced her to this new level of thinking.
“Having had the great opportunity to train with superb riders such as Joseph Neckerman and Willy Schulteis in dressage, Hans Gunther Winkler in jumping, Michel Cochenet in eventing, I have observed that the great riders have all opened the door of a new world. Their talent allows them to reach a level of sophistication in their riding that explains their successes but that they cannot explain why they master “the zone,” more frequently and for a longer period of time than average riders.
“Everyone has experienced these instants of divine harmony where the horse and the rider perform effortlessly and at their utmost level. The “zone” is capricious, and addictive. One horseman observes that he was wearing a red shirt last time he was in the zone and hope that wearing a red shirt will recreate the divine harmony. Another rider could attribute the “zone” to the bit, the diet, the supplement, but never has there been a way to really control the “zone.” The “zone” occurs when circumstances create in the horse and the rider’s physique, muscle tone, elasticity, and coordination most eminently adapted for the effort. Hence, the zone can be created if the education evolves from its actual views to a scientific study of the equine physique and how the rider’s body effectively influences the forces acting on the horse’s physique. The “zone” is scientific, not mystic. The “zone” can be and should be the quality of the daily life with the horse. Such quality cannot be achieved integrating new and pertinent scientific discoveries with old training habits and beliefs. Rather success in the quality of the daily life of the horse as well as performance in the show ring, rest on one’s ability to question conventional wisdom in the light of advanced scientific discoveries. It is a wonderful journey. Welcome.”