Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Dressage Books for the Not so Talented Rider

Dressage books fall into two general categories for me.  One category is the "what" to do with the horse such as the training scale, progression of exercises, and trouble shooting of said exercises.  The other category is the "how" to do the exercises.  For example, how the rider uses her body and timing to get the desired result.  Both are important, but if you are not a talented rider with a lot of natural feel and timing, focusing on the "what" can be pretty frustrating because the "how" is not in place.  You'll go through the exercises in the correct progression but will eventually get stuck somewhere because your position and biomechanics are not correct, making the chosen exercise very difficult for your horse.

Here's the list of my top five dressage books to help become a more biomechanically effective rider, therefore have a happier horse and progress through the training scale more smoothly.  As I said in my previous post, it was only when I started to combine and overlay concepts from all of these sources(and many more) that my biomechanics really came together.  For example, one author really explains the turning aids better, but another describes half halts more effectively.  There is a ton of overlapp of desired biomechanics and outcome in all of these books but all described in different ways for those of us who have trouble learning on the first try.

1) Centered Riding by Sally Swift
An easy to read, mind opening book about how thoughts, energy, and especially the use of the "center" are so important in riding.  I remember reading this book twenty years ago, trying some of the concepts and being blown away because they worked so well on the first try.  It really started my journey in using books to improve my riding.  Not as detailed for more advanced dressage, but a great eye opener for basic, correct, and balanced riding.

2) The Good Rider by Mary Wanless
A not easy to read, much more detailed explanation of the biomechanics of dressage riding, how people learn skills, and dressage in general.  I have to confess, I have a love/hate relationship with Mary Wanless.  I think she has a ton to offer and a huge amount of knowledge, but it can be hard to pick out in her super dense and detailed writings.  However, many of her concepts work if you can wade through the details.  Game changer for me about several riding habits.

3) When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamic by Beth Baumert
Of the five books listed, this is the one that puts it all together.  This book not only covers how the rider uses her biomechanics but also how the horse uses his biomechanics in an understandable way.  I can honestly say, I never truly understood how a dressage horse really balanced and moved or why straightness is so important until I read this book last year.  The rider explanations are just as good, and this book more than any other, put the big picture together for me.  Clearly written, easy to read, many pictures, and exercises to check your understanding at the end of every chapter.  If I could recommend only one book on dressage, this would be it.

4) The Balanced Horse by Sylvia Locke
Sylvia tends to be wordy but this particular book is a concise explanation of the classical aids and their effects on the horse.  Wonderful pictures to illustrate the concepts and quotes from the Masters at the end of every chapter.  Probably not the first choice if you are just starting out on your riding journey, but when you are starting to really put things together an excellent book to get you thinking and refining your aids.

5) 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider by Jec Aristotle Ballou
This book falls squarely in the "what" to do category.  It focuses on progressive dressage exercises for the horse, though there is a short section specifically for the rider.  The horse exercises are great and really lead from one thing to the next thing very effectively.  They seem to emphasize developing balance rather than rushing the horse forward all the time.  I find myself coming back to this simple book time and time again.

There are of course many other great dressage books out there and also many other online resources but these are my personal must haves.  What are your favorite dressage books and why? 

No comments:

Post a Comment