California Riding Magazine • June, 2012

Book Reviews
Dressage 101;
Dressage Training Customized

Better Than Bombproof - New Ways to Make Your Horse a Solid Citizen and Keep You Safe
Written by Sgt. Rick Pelicano
Reviewed by Liza Rogers

This book was written as a companion to his first training manual titled Bombproof Your Horse, which this reviewer has not read…yet!

In Sgt. Pelicano's introduction he clearly establishes for the reader that he has the knowledge and experience to know what it means to have a Bombproof Horse, and the training required to reach this level for both equine and rider, as well as all the benefits you will enjoy from having a well trained equine.

I appreciate all the examples/photos and illustrations throughout the book where everyday items can be used to create interesting "safe" obstacles to practice with and the only thing limiting you is your own imagination, not your pocketbook. It does not take a lot of money to create a training practice course that can easily be set up and stored, without taking over your property and barn. When doing this type of training you cannot over emphasize the safety factor and this is addressed several times. Sgt. Pelicano suggests that some of these exercises should be done with a partner or assistant who is more experienced than yourself or even ask your trainer.

Clearly, this is advanced training from his original training manual and should be respected as such. It is very well thought out with regard to the natural progression when someone is considering a desensitizing program and/or training. Regardless how many obstacle competitions you may have attended, parades you have ridden in or backyard "sacking out" sessions ... no amount of exposure will make up for the lack of basic foundation ground training required to execute some of the advance work covered in this book.

However, this book will give you tools to take your training to that next level if you and your horse are ready. You will enjoy many of the tools that are provided for you to advance your equine's abilities. Many of the exercises described will assist someone who is truthful about where their horses' starting training level is, and the riders' independent ability to move forward in executing what Sgt. Pelicano refers to as the "required" movements, which in common language is known as dressage. This is where this reviewer believes that working in concert with another will help the majority of the people who would be interested in this type of how to manual. With the increased popularity of obstacle type competitions, and everyone trying to create greater levels of difficulty in obstacle type competitions, the green/novice competitor might mistake their ability to ride down a trail without their equine spooking as a green light to jump right into purchasing this book and I believe this would be a mistake. I'm not suggesting that only trainers should purchase this book. Who this book is designed to help is the mid to upper level intermediate rider looking for instruction to move their and their equine's ability to the next level and this book will meet that challenge.

I worked on the exercises provided to improve my communication with my horse(s). The leg-yields improved as did the turn on the forehand. The bonus chapters about Parades, Drill Team and Defensive Tactics on Trail are the real bonus to the book.

Liza Rogers owns FirstTime Events, an equestrian marketing company, and Rancho Santiago Obstacle Course. Liza lives in Norco.

A Marvelous Mustang: Tales from the life of a Spanish Horse
as told to Janice M. Ladendorf
Reviewed by Jeffi Wood

Janice has been working with horses for a long time. She published Practical Dressage for Amateur Trainers in 1974, when there was less published about dressage in the United States. She has also published many articles on many topics in horse publications. In this new book she writes from the point of view of the horse. The horse is her Spanish Mustang, which she bought from a ranch in North Dakota. He is a very cute horse and she demonstrates patience and knowledge in her training style. She believes in a humane training approach. She seems to use the best ideas of many trainer styles. The end result appears to be a very nice well-trained horse.

If you take the training information from the book it is worth the read. I had problems with the horse talking part of this book. I have enjoyed other books in which the animal talks. Spencer Quinn's books with Chet as the narrator are among my favorites. I think my problem with this book is the voice of the horse was not believable to me. I don't feel my horse spends that much time thinking about what they learned and me. I guess my view of horses is that they spend the majority of their time thinking about food and their herd and maybe a few minutes chewing on what they are learning during riding and other lessons.

Skan, the Mustang narrator of the book, is very analytical and very anthropomorphizing. His voice is always "marvelous me" and what he can figure out and then how the humans are going to react to what he has done.

There are a lot of nice photographs, but they don't really illustrate training points. This would be a useful book for people who adopt young wild horses and others training young horses.

Reviewed by Jeffi Wood who has been riding long enough to have dabbled in many riding styles and sports.