Library digitizes 16 mm films to preserve riding history

| October 19, 2015

Sweet Briar’s Cochran Library recently partnered with the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg to digitally preserve 16 mm films made by one of the central figures in the development of Sweet Briar’s storied riding program, Capt. Vladimir Littauer.

Vladimir Littauer demonstrates his craft in this undated photo.

Littauer, a former Russian army cavalry officer, became an influential equestrian and instructor in the United States in the mid-20th century. From 1930 to 1973, he wrote more than a dozen books, some with companion films, advocating the forward seat riding system — today often referred to as “hunt seat.”

His instructional films were given to Sweet Briar’s library when Littauer died in 1989. They have been digitized and will be made available on the library’s film archive YouTube channel, says librarian Liz Kent León. Littauer shot, spliced and intertitled the films to create a library that he loaned to riding programs across the United States by mail. One of the unusual films in his collection shows the U.S. Equestrian Team training for the 1948 Olympics. Others depict various horse shows and dressage, according to a post on the NSLM’s blog, Drawing Covert.

To mark the completion of the archive project, Sweet Briar’s fall Friends of Library meeting on Friday, Oct. 23, will include a presentation on Littauer with special guest Wayne Stokes Goodall ’48 at 3 p.m. in the Haskell Learning Studio. Goodall “starred” in Littauer’s “How to Teach Position,” which he shot entirely at Sweet Briar with student riders in 1948 and 1949.

Sweet Briar riding program founder Harriet Howell Rogers studied riding with Littauer, and he was a frequent guest lecturer at the College. His methods are still taught at Sweet Briar and throughout the world.

After the program, a reception for members of the Sweet Briar community, hosted by the Friends of Art board, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Pannell Gallery. For more information, please contact León at [email protected] or (434) 381-6315.

Jennifer McManamay

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