The Kladruby School Year 1

On this page I will present my life experiances during the first year at the Kladruby school, and the educational subjects and manners in which it was run in my days there.

 

The Kladruby School Year 1

 

 

As mentioned in the previous article, the school at that time was totally different from the school today, and not only in the housing of the students, and in the manner in which the school was run, but mainly that it was all-boys school.

Therefore, the way the students related to one another was obviously very different from today, when it is primarily all-girls school. That year was also the first year they accepted 4 girls into the school, but they were housed outside the school in some private residence, and then transported to, and from, the school as needed.

The attitude among the students, as well as the fashion in which the school was run, resembled more or less a military style. In other words, anyone who entered military in those days, not talking about today, knows well what I am talking about, especially when it comes to the reception of the new students.

And so, as newcomers we were of course at the bottom of the totem pole, exposed to constant humiliation by the older students, as well as by most of the professionals working at the farm. Instead of us being help to the farm employees we were more or less a hindrance, in which case they were more all less providing the service of babysitters, figuratively speaking, and of course they did not like it too much. Once we got older things started to improve, as we became more and more of help, rather than a nuisance to the employees of the stud farm.

I did not have much problems adjusting to the "collective" life, since I have spent, during my early childhood days, the first and fourth grades, in the so-called children homes", that were designed either for orphans or children whose parents could not take care of them for one reason or another. Since my mother was often ill, I was sent to these children homes till she got well.

Providing my memory serves me well, the days and functions in the school, and on the stud farm, were run and organized in the following manner. At my days the newcomers were assigned to two classes, A and B, and I was assigned to the B class. (See year 1961 to 1963 B class). There was only one class room, and so the classes were taking turns in using it. When one class used the classroom, the other class was working in the field.

We had several teachers for the classroom, as well as different subjects, which were not all related to horses, but most of them were. Since this was a state vocational school, replacing the high school, it still included language, math and such. The professional orientation included subjects on riding, breeding of horses, feeding, horse care and such. The riding class did not serve to educate the students in some riding theories, but rather served to explain what we did, or learned in the field, or we were about to learn.

The breeding of horses class included 3 subjects, the veterinary aspects of reproduction, the anatomy of the horse, as well as learning about the most recognized breeds in the world, and about their origins, which also included parts of history. The so-called "feeding science", or "feeding technique", presented the feeding of horses not only from the scientific concept, but mainly from the practical perspective relevant to the particular environments, the breeds and use of horses, and so forth and such. The three major subjects were obviously the breeding, feeding and riding, but one had to pass them all in order to graduate.

There were two subjects or classes if you will, of the so-called "practicals", or as one could call, "the learning in the field". The riding class, in which case we would be assigned to the riding stable, depending on the year, as the newcomers rode only the trained horses, as opposed to the second year, where they were assigned to the "remounts", military term for green horses that were not yet ridden or trained in anyway.

The riding class also included the work with carriage horses, as the riding was done in the morning, and the carriage work in the afternoon. The riding was much simpler, from the educational perspective at that time, than the carriage education. The riding was done mostly in the open terrain, and then we had an outside arena, (not the court as it is today), that was huge, and we called it "Mexico", because it was an natural sandy terrain, and was somewhat dusty and very hot during the summer.

We rode in the indoor mostly in the winter, if we could not go out. In the first year we did everything since we rode trained horses, including the riding basics in the arena, and jumping and riding in the open terrain. As most vocational schools, we too also had the "physical fitness" education, or the "gym" if you will, which included both, the gym as well as the vaulting exercise on a living horse, the latter being part of the riding education.

The second class, or subject, we called "the economics", which in essence meant being assigned to any part of the stud farm to any work. This included the work at the stallion stable, assisting in care and breeding, the broodmares stable, assisting in care and breeding, the delivery stable assisting in deliveries, as well as care and breeding, and finally the racing stable learning about race horses.

Furthermore the class included the work at the weanlings' stable, at the blacksmith shop learning about farriery, the tack shop learning saddlery, and finally the serf like duty with the carriage master. All this education in the field consisted of two separate parts, the professional execution, as well as safety, the latter having equal importance as the former, implemented through strict discipline, hence I do not recall any serious injuries during the two years I've spent there, nor I was ever injured there.

Besides these classes, or subjects if you will, there was also the assignment to a "duty" position, which usually meant to get up at around 3:30 am, when assigned to the morning duty, which meant, that one was assigned to a duty at the particular riding stable. This morning duty consisted mainly of making sure that all stalls are cleaned, horses watered off, (individually by hand, no buckets in the stalls), and the stable swept by 7 am. These were the scariest duties of all, as if one did not manage to get his work done by 7 am it delayed all the work at the stable, and so the professional young riders got very angry, loud and profane.

The yelling and name calling in the remount stables, especially at the students, was daily music, as one got used to it in time, and when I have also adopted, and added to my name, many other names like stupid, and others I prefer not to mention. Never the less, the stress of failing was there, as it included a lot of manual labor, especially when I was only 15 years old and two of us had to clean after some 40 horses, and in the second year, alone after some 20 remounts.

The stud farm was huge, consisting from the main court and surrounding stables, and then farm sections some as far as 3km from the main complex, all part of the stud farm, which may give you some idea how big it was. I cannot recall the total head count on the farm, but I believe it was not less than 200, and not more than 400 at that time. At that time the stud farm was also breeding riding horses, mainly the lighter warm-bloods like Hanoverians, as well as some English half-bloods, as opposed today were they are breeding only the Kladruber carriage horses, which they of course also use for riding presentations for the tourists, though these horses were not originally bred for riding, hence fairly unsuitable for such use.


This is one for the most popular marching song, in the school and the military alike, dating back to the Napoleonic era. (From the Czech children TV program "Zpivanky".)
Once the classes were over, we used to have all sorts of outdoor activities, usually after the afternoon "tea", or brake if you will, playing soccer, volleyball and such, which also included marching and singing, usually to and from the play field. Just like in the military, we would get once per months a 3 days leave, to go home and visit parents, and of course it was tied into as a reward for good behavior, hence it was a privilege rather than right.

The same as in military, if we wanted to leave the farm, which was customary on Sunday, we would have to ask for the leave, which too was the subject to one's behavior, as well as doing well in the classes. This of course forced the student to do better, so he could get out on Sunday for a few hours, which we've spent in most cases in the nearby guesthouse drinking beer.

 Many of us came back fairly wasted, but the school did not make a big deal out of it, as long we did not cause disturbances when returning from our leave.

The second year was drastically different, mainly in the riding education, but it also felt more free and responsible, which I will describe in the next article.

In conclusion of this article, I would like to point out, that the Kladruby Stud farm had financial problems since the Russian invasion in 1968, and has them till this day, were it exists primarily from donated money, and from the tourists, while hardly making any by selling horses, as it was in my younger days.

Now the school is three year school, mainly all girls, and most of the students, as well as teachers are also women. In short, it is a girly operation today, as opposed to my days, when it was not only run by men, but also worked and served by the same. In short, the former is like living in a circus, as opposed to the latter, that was more like a life in the military, harsh discipline and precise order of things, with education rich in humiliation, that taught the student primarily humility, a very important virtue when entering the professional life with horses, much missed in the horse world today, especially in the competitive riding disciplines, English or Western alike.


Written by Ludvik K. Stanek

 

 

 

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