Monday, January 25, 2016

Enlightened Equitation by Heather Moffett Revised Edition a Review

Enlightened Equitation, revised edition with over 400 extra photos, by Heather Moffett is truly an eye opener.  I read the original Enlightened Equitation many years ago and liked the simplicity, format, and step by step instructions.  The philosophy of EE is definitely classical, with an emphasis on lightness and harmony, using more of a French Classical approach.  When it came to implementing some of said instructions the last time around I ran into some difficulties and abandoned EE for a foray(again) into Mary Wanless.  I came back to revisit EE recently, after realizing I wasn't following enough with my seat, which was leading to all sorts of issues.  I remembered that one of the cornerstones of EE is following with the seat/hips/back, so I decided to purchase and read the revised version on Kindle.

The revised book is mostly the original edition with 400 extra photos and some additional new content.  I would definitely advise buying the revised version if you have the choice, as the photos add another layer of explanation/demonstration.  The format of the book follows a logical progression in 11 chapters: 
                The Enlightened Approach
                Position and Balance
                Interacting with the Horse's Movements
                Learning Feel
                The Aids-an Explanation 
                The Application of the Aids
                Understanding Schooling Terms
                Turns and Circles
                Transitions and Half Halts
                Rhythm and Expression
                Lateral Work

This time around when it came to implementing the step by step instructions I found everything easy.  So why, this time, when I came back to this system of learning dressage did it work so well and clear up several things that I have struggled with including turning and bend?  I think it is because in the intervening years I have figured out the importance of waist to hands/pushing into my vertical powerline/using my core from my seat to my collarbones.  With that in place everything else in the EE approach worked really well for me.  Heather includes a short section on the importance of having a strong frontline/core but she doesn't go into a lot of detail and I never got that I was missing that piece of the puzzle when I tried EE years ago.  All of the photos and videos of riders trained by her show riders with superb posture, so I think it is a matter of if you ride with her or one of her instructors they do emphasize pushing into the frontline, but if you just read the book and didn't have knowledge of using your frontline you can easily get stuck.  When I came back to EE after having read When 2 Spines Align(vertical powerline)and The Classical Rider(ride the crest of the wave) my core/frontline use was good and everything and I mean everything in the EE approach worked really well.

So, I personally would like a little more emphasis on use of the core/frontline in the written EE approach since it would have saved me years of wandering in the wilderness BUT pretty much everything else in this book is spot on.  It has cleared up many aids and movements that were close but just not quite right.  The progression of exercises works really well for a non-Warmblood type of horse as well.  The explanations are clear and easy to understand.  Supplementing with free Heather Moffett videos from YouTube also adds another layer of understanding.  I have found this book super helpful at this stage of my riding career and I would highly recommend giving it a read.

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