Dressage 101: The Ultimate Source of Dressage Basics in a Language You Can Understand
Written by Jane Savoie
Reviewed by Dianne Chapman McCleery
Jane Savoie has combined two of her previous books, Cross-Train Your Horse and More Cross-Training, into one, Dressage 101: The Ultimate Source of Dressage Basics in a Language You Can Understand. Savoie says that this book is for all of you who "want to do dressage to help you clearly communicate with your horse and develop his body and movement so that over time he becomes more beautiful and athletic."
Dressage 101 is a big book, 434 pages plus a glossary and index. Key points are listed at the end of each chapter. It is lavishly illustrated with both drawings and photographs.
The first part of the book is titled "Setting the Stage for Dressage Training." Savoie starts off by saying that horses aren't designed to be ridden and dressage can "give back to the horse that is being ridden the beauty of movement he has when he's at liberty." Then she explains her three "golden rules:" clarity, consistency and kindness. The next chapters explain longeing and the development of the rider both physically and mentally.
Savoie then breaks up the book into four stages for horse and rider. Stages one and two are for all riders and every horse. Stage one covers forward and straight; paces, gaits and rhythm; and contact. Stage two covers straightforward work, lateral work, suppling, sample schooling sessions and trouble shooting. Frankly, there's an overwhelming amount of information in just these two sections that will keep most riders occupied for months if not years.
Stage three is "The Professional's Secret," the half-halt. Savoie says, "…if I were told that I could only teach you one concept to help you train your horse successfully, I would choose the information you're about to learn in this stage." If you have ever wondered what a half-halt was and how to use it, wonder no more. Savoie's explanation and directions are very clear and doable.
Stage four emphasizes self-carriage and dressage exercises for level three dressage tests. Covered are collected, medium and extended gaits, lateral movements, flying lead changes and more problem solving. This stage ends with organizing a daily work schedule, sample schooling sessions, and riding accurate school figures.
Savoie is an excellent and lucid writer. I appreciate and found helpful that, after explaining how to do a movement, she then goes into how to fix what can go wrong. Her examples of visualization are extremely useful. I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone who rides in any discipline who wants a balanced, attentive and athletic horse.
Dianne Chapman McCleery is a writer and editor who rides with a natural horsemanship trainer in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse and Handler
Written by Cherry Hill
Reviewed by Lucy Bobeck
The author, Cherry Hill may sound familiar as her best-selling book, How to Think Like a Horse, gave us an insight into why horses act and react the way they do. Ms. Hill is still in top form with 101 Ground Training Exercises. The title is a little misleading as the author gives the reader so much more than ground training. No assumptions are made as to the level of horsemanship knowledge of the reader, being guided through choosing halters, lunging up to jump level, sensory training, trailering, obstacle courses and in between we learn all about ground exercises.
The book uses illustrations to adeptly describe instructions and photographs to actively show the use of techniques. Various methods to accomplish your horsemanship goals are described. In each case, the handler is being educated as much as the horse and Cherry Hill emphasizes the bearing of the handler influencing the horse. Quotes of wisdom are dotted throughout the book such as "lose your temper and you lose the horse." Cherry is a devotee of ground work and I certainly found my own horse responding more readily once I had an understanding of ground work. If you are working with a young or "spooky" horse, this book will guide you through a myriad of techniques to prepare your four-legged friend for a world of plastic bags, clippers and farriers.
The flip book format can be hung in the barn or on a fence post. The hilighted key points and common problems in a separated column can be referred to rapidly as you are working with your equine friend. Cherry Hill breathes respect for horses into each and every "how to." All equestrians have a lot to learn from her, not in a didactic fashion, but in a way that makes us enjoy horses as friends with extra sensory perception.
Lucy Bobek adopted her first (rescued) Quarter Horse two years ago.