Craig Stevens

Instructor, Trainer, Clinician: Master of the Classical Form

Craig Stevens

Craig Stevens- Trainer

Craig Stevens- Clinician

Craig Stevens- instructor

“Craig Stevens is the first really good riding teacher to teach dressage in Sweden since the nineteen-fifties.” Dag Natterqvist

Famous teacher and Swedish Olympic showjumping legend

I had a feeling that I was going to be pretty close to what Craig might teach in the lecture, the clinic, and privately here at home. And I was- soooo close, I just didn’t know how close, and that the smallest adjustment would allow it to become clear and become something I could practice with confidence. The “big” paradigm shift had happened a while ago, but this “tiny” adjustment has turned out to be huge, and allowed the grounding to happen and the tree to bud.  I just didn’t know how close or how simple it could be. I still have a lot to work on, but I know what it is now and I am curious and happy and so much more confident about how I will spend my time with the horses and away from them….

I could go on and on, but I just wanted to be in touch, and thank you for all your support and friendship. And to let you know that this Craig visit was truly a “dream come true” and transformational in a way that a sighed “yes” to one’s existence is.

Karen Sahulka

Student of classical riding

Who is Craig Stevens?

The head of our school and the inspiration for the work done here, Mr. Stevens has been studying horses, horsemanship, training and teaching for more than 50 years. Relentless in his enquiry, Craig has developed as a horseman over half a century and continues to grow, study and change every year. The principles stay the same, and yet his riding  becomes more and more beautiful, his teaching more and more accessible every year.

A life long learner Craig took lessons early in his career from several 20th century classical trainers. As a young man he studied with members of the Cadre Noir in the US and traveled to France and Portugal to take courses from famous classical masters there. Who did he work with? Craig says “It’s been decades since I worked directly under a living teacher. The men and women who started my classical inclinations were all doing French military riding, and from the study of the older material and the work with so many horses over the years I no longer ride the way they taught. So you can’t blame my early teachers for the way I work today.” If knowing their names will help, contact Mary Anne at NSAE’s office and she’ll fill you in.

Craig learned to read French in order to read the old masters in their own language and in their own words. From his reading, he developed a passion for understanding the context of the writing. Who was this author speaking to? What did this term, or that one, mean to horsemen in the 17th century? Craig tested his understanding through his work as an active trainer interacting with horses of all breeds and abilities, and also as an instructor working with as broad a range of students. Both students and horses confirm that what he’s teaching works in the modern world as simply and beautifully as it did hundreds of years ago.

Craig continues to study daily.

As a trainer Craig Stevens has trained many horses from start to haute ecole.  It speaks well of any trainer that he or she has personally brought a horse to the high school level, but most trainers in this class only work with premium horses. Craig has trained not only top quality horses bred to the work, but he has also trained many from breeds most modern trainers consider “unsuitable for dressage”, such as Appaloosas and Arabians. These “hotter” more mentally active breeds produce beautiful high school work when they are trained in the older, non oppositional manner. And many horses that will never produce upper level work for exhibition nonetheless become more and more elegant within their own potential.

Craig loves horses, and he will work with equal attention and care with any horse that a rider presents.  That sense of appreciation for all horses is part of what draws many riders to Craig’s work.

As an instructor Craig is committed to helping his students learn to ride and train at the highest levels for themselves. A Finnhorse or a Percheron might never be an Andalusian, but can become as elegant and light and joyful as he can be in his own right. Teaching each rider to illuminate the best in his or her own horse is where Craig shines. When you as a rider learn to work with your own horse with deep skill and appreciation, that makes every riding day a joy.

As a writer Craig has contributed to many magazines and journals, and in 2015 published his first book, Quotes and Commentary, in tandem with his wife, co-author and co-school-director, Mary Anne Campbell.


Craig Stevens at home