Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Master Dressage The Basics by Peter Dove & Mary Wanless a Review

I have a love/hate thing going on with author Mary Wanless.  For me, her various books and articles have opened up all sorts of different ways of looking at dressage riding, biomechanics, and horse training.  That said, I have found a lot of her concepts almost too dense, too wordy, and impossible to replicate completely on my own.  All classical trainers are reaching for the same goal of a balanced, light, and happy dressage horse, but using her system has always led me down a path of some progress but also a lot of frustration because I felt that I just didn't "get" a lot of what she was trying to say.  Great ideas and images that just didn't translate into movements that worked 100% correctly.  I have actually seen her teach in person and she seems like a very good instructor, patient and very present, but some of her ideas are just hard to understand and I think even harder to achieve working on your own.

That said, after just reading the recently published Master Dressage The Basics by Peter Dove & Mary Wanless, there is a lot to like about this book.  It is a very short book at around 60 pages, and covers ten basic concepts of dressage, biomechanics, and horse training.  Each section is succinct in a way that is easy to understand but covers the gist of what you really need to know as a dressage rider.  I found the writing clear, easy to understand, and even after having read several of Mary's books I learned a couple of new things.  I really found this book to be the opposite of every other Mary Wanless book I have ever read in that it is very easy to understand.  The 10 chapters are about very basic things like staying with the horse's movement, transitions, turns and etc. but almost all dressage riders struggle with something in one of the chapters.  It really is very "basic" but in a very good way.

Honestly, I wish this book had been available when I started my dressage journey.  Because it is so simple, there is a lot less verbiage to wade through than the average Mary Wanless book but it covers some of the essentials that it has taken me years to figure out from other sources.  I wouldn't recommend this book as the one and only dressage book to take on your desert island(see my review of When 2 Spines Align by Beth Baumert) but if I had to make a list of my top ten recommended dressage books Master Dressage The Basics would probably be included.  For the price it is a great deal and I think most dressage riders would find something to learn in this slim book.


  1. Thank you so much for your review of my book and I am glad to hear you found it easy to read.


    Peter Dove

    1. I really enjoyed the book Peter, and think that between the books, Facebook, and your website you are really adding to the body of easy to understand riding biomechanics.