California Riding Magazine • March, 2012

Book Reviews
Dressage 101;
Dressage Training Customized

Dressage 101 - The Ultimate Source of Dressage Basics in Language You Can Understand
Written by Jane Savoie
Reviewed by Jeffi Wood

Author Jane Savoie is a well-known dressage clinician, coach and rider. She has coached at the Olympic level. This book demonstrates why she is considered one of the best at what she does.  

The long title of this book is a great explanation of just what is inside. The book is well organized with good illustrations of concepts discussed. The book is intended to be useful across disciplines. It explains just why the different concepts benefit all riding styles. The photographs are mainly of dressage riders, but there are a few pictures of other disciplines and it definitely addresses other disciplines in the text. Savoie does an excellent job of explaining the benefits of each exercise in the book and just what you are looking for in the exercise. She provides a bullet point chart at the end of each chapter with the most salient points in the chapter. The explanations are clear enough that many riders would be able to do them without a trainer, although the rider longeing exercises would require at least two people. The book is not intended for upper level instruction, but targets basic balance and harmony with the horse.

Overall this is an excellent book and a great book for any horse owner's library. It has inspired me to try many of the exercises and I found I was able to do them by following her clear directions. I own other dressage books, but this one is moving to the forefront of my library.  

Reviewed by Jeffi Wood, a rider who has ridden long enough to have dabbled in many riding styles.

Dressage Training Customized
Written by Britta Schoffmann
Reviewed by Kathy Miester

Dressage Training Customized is well written and kept my interest. I am just at novice level and don't even plan on showing but thought I would get some good tips from the book for personal use. I was right. Britta describes character types and I can name a few horses I've ridden that fit some of the characters she describes and looking back can really think of some things I could have done to improve my ride! The book gave me tips on how to improve my own riding and communication with my horse by riding correctly according to her personality for starters. She also gives visual examples of proper and improper techniques on several instances, which helped a bit to see exactly what she describes.

It's good to know that not everyone is perfect, even at international dressage levels. Again, she gives visual examples of horses living up to their personality traits she describes. Ultimately the horse keeps us honest and humble as good communication and keeping his/her personality in mind is the key! 

I got my horse 5 years ago and just started to learn to ride (after a lifelong dream presented itself). I got pregnant after just 3 months of getting her with some major complications during pregnancy. I started again after my little one was born and 3 months later (again) I got in an accident with a semi-truck who pulled across all lanes right in front of me. I couldn't ride for 2 years (not for lack or trying). So truly, my riding time doesn't reflect how long I've owned my horse and there is always much to learn. This book helped me to understand my horse better and different exercises I can try to help improve my riding and her enjoyment of our endeavors together!  I still use a trainer; I know my limits. My riding is improving as I was able to focus so much more on my last few rides just by keeping in mind some of what I read in the book.

One thing that I especially liked about this book is that Schoffmann presents Haflingers in the book, mentioning that while they are a great breed to ride, its unlikely that they'll be shown in top dressage levels. She goes on to mention that despite this, basic training in dressage will improve health and athleticism. That's what I want for my horse. I like that Schoffmann doesn't assume that the reader is going for top level dressage and is just the average reader trying to improve communication and rideability with their horse!

Great book, even for the novice, but I'm sure it would appeal to all levels.  

Kathy Miester is a paint horse owner who is always trying to improve riding.