Subtitle: Riding Through the Levels on the Peculiar, Opinionated, Complicated Mounts We All Love
Here in North America, many of us pursue the sport of dressage to some degree, usually on a budget and with the horse we already have - most often, the one we can afford. So we face the challenge of mastering one of the world's most esteemed equestrian disciplines on horses that may not be bred specifically for the task, or even if they have been, may not be top prospects for any number of reasons.
International dressage judge, clinician, and riding coach Janet Foy has ridden many different horses-different sizes, shapes, colors, and breeds-to the highest levels of dressage competition, and now she has compiled her best tips for training and showing in one highly enjoyable book. Her expertise, good stories and good humor are destined to bring out the best in dressage riders and their “not-so-perfect” horses everywhere.
Early on, with her explanation of the German Training Scale, it's clear that this is a book “for the rest of us.” Foy links the levels of the Scale/Pyramid together as the image of interlocking jigsaw puzzle pieces. Then she describes each level in terms of the biomechanics of the horse: for Suppleness, energy is initiated in the hind legs, and must transfer smoothly over the croup, to the loin (a bridge and source of the horse's elasticity), forward to the neck, and down both sides of the neck to the contact with the mouth. As riders, we need to picture this energy moving unobstructed down this pathway, and work to clear any obstacles that might impede the energy.
With each level of the Scale addressed and their interrelatedness demonstrated, Foy shows how we should use this knowledge on our particular horse - be he hot, lazy, high-necked, spooky, and so on. It's all so down to earth! If we never attain even Third of Fourth Level skills with our horses (she carries on training through Grand Prix), Foy has presented her training advice so simply that even those of us not so perfect riders can set our goals a bit higher.