- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: J.A.Allen & Co Ltd (31 Jan. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0851318355
- ISBN-13: 978-0851318356
- Package Dimensions: 26.2 x 25.6 x 2.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 907,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Dressage for the 21st Century Hardcover – 31 Jan 2002
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About the Author
Paul Belasik is a graduate of Cornell University and has written many articles on horses and horsemanship. He is the author of Riding Towards the Light, Exploring Dressage Technique and The Songs of Horses, the trilogy which gained him a large and appreciative audience. Paul Belasik gives clinics, lectures and demonstrations internationally, and trains a large cross-section of clients at his Pennsylvania Riding Academy at Moonlight Park where, in particular, his celebrated short courses concentrating on the rider's seat and position have brought him both acclaim and students from all over the world.
Top customer reviews
I say 'as it could be', because, as Belasik makes clear in the Introduction, there is a considerable gulf between dressage as art and dressage as competition, with the latter often falling far short of what could and should be achieved. We are given an overview of the history of dressage (a subject with which far too few dressage riders are familiar) and the development of modern dressage competition. Readers with little interest in history should not skip this part - it gives an insight into just what is wrong with so much of the dressage we see today. Writing about recent developments in biomechanical analysis of dressage movements, Belasik says, 'The difficulty here is that analysis of bad models may not explain anything about a desirable model.' - a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree
The book follows a logical sequence of training, starting with breaking the young horse. It defines the physical objectives of training, as well as discussing the practical purpose of the school movements. In each case, Belasik describes not only what to do and how to do it, but why (as well as what not to do and why!): the reasoning behind each step is explained logically and with clarity. Belasik covers a number of subjects generally ignored or touched on only briefly in most dressage manuals. For example, he gives an excellent description of the bit's role in helping to balance the horse. He discusses in great detail some of the most basic principles of dressage, frequently glossed over elsewhere: riding the horse straight and forward, definitions of contact and impulsion, and the principles of lateral balance and inside bend (as opposed to simply telling readers what they should be doing). He also covers in-hand work and long-reining, two subjects much neglected in English language dressage literature.
Belasik courageously tackles the thorny problem of defining correct 'deep' work - a subject which troubles many dressage enthusiasts who are unhappy with much of what we see described as 'deep' work. This book should help to clarify their thoughts on the matter. He also departs from the norm of dressage literature in describing in detail the 'airs above the ground' - a subject which no true dressage enthusiast should remain ignorant of, yet which is usually relegated to the realm of 'historical curiosities'.
For me, once of the best chapters is that devoted to the rider's seat - a comprehensive analysis of the correct seat, together with detailed descriptions of what goes wrong, and why, when riders deviate from the classical seat.
Those readers who are not philosophically inclined may find Belasik's excursions into the realms of martial arts and Zen teachings irritating; I find them illuminating. In spite of his criticisms of some (not all) modern dressage, Belasik's overall tone is positive. He emphasises what can and should be achieved, if correct principles are followed. Above all he bids us remember that horses don't care about what we say, only about what we do. 'Horses don't care about your words: they care about and respond to your actions.'
This is a book which no true dressage enthusiast can afford to be without. It might benefit riders from other disciplines, too!
Belasik covers the field with chapters on walk, trot, canter, the campaign school and airs above the ground. At each point he stresses the layered nature of classical riding, and the need to correctly build on the fundamentals of training at every stage. Yes, an independent seat and light hands are important, and the role of straightness at all levels is explored. Each chapter considers practical problems in the movements, and gives advice that I have already found useful.
Along the way he pokes digs at the riding establishment, with comments about the lack of true collection shown in competitive dressage, and an interesting analysis of the role of overtracking in collection and extension. I greatly appreciated his obligatory dig at trainers who consider half-pass to be travers executed on a diagonal, as well as his explanation of why this has to be considered incorrect.
One of the best features of this book is the excellent collection of photographs, taken in ways that subtly emphasise his points. The sequence of shots showing absolute straightness in tempi flying changes is breathtaking, and the build up to flying change showing the exact moment when the leading foreleg alone is on the ground must have taken an age to shoot.
This book isn't for those new to riding, but for riders who have advanced some way down the path, and realise how much more there is to learn. It also isn't for those looking for quick fixes to their problems. I commend it highly.
The photographs which lavishly illustrate the book are exemplary in every way- Belasik's seat is impeccable and the horses look at ease in their work- real harmony between horse and rider.
Paul Belasik's vast knowledge of Classical Equitation, is woven effortlessly with his own conclusions, arrived at through the odyssey of research that he undertook, and chronicled in his book 'Riding Towards the Light'.
This book is a must for anyone who sees dressage first and foremost as an Art and only secondarily as a sport.
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