A Search for Collection: Science and Art in Riding Hardcover – 31 Jan 2009
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"'[Dressage for the 21st Century] has to be the most complete book on Equitation to the highest levels, ever to be written. It is quite simply, a masterpiece - highly readable, yet totally scholarly, as would be expected from an author such as Paul Belasik, whose previous books have gained him a worldwide and well deserved following' - Heather Moffatt, author of Enlightened Equitation"
At the core of this book is a series of 'state of the art' experiments in which the author participated, designed to establish whether certain classical ideas about true collection could be scientifically proved. Discussion of the results leads into an exploration of how working towards collection informs the progression of training and the way in which the exercises are implemented. Furthermore, Belasik points out, this pursuit of collection is likely to take a purer form if it is motivated by artistic values rather than by the rider's ego. In this regard, the author urges readers to focus on their own individuality, rather than being motivated or misled by external pressures; to 'collect' or 'centre' themselves, as they work towards a similar state with their horses. It is a fascinating and thoughtful read.See all Product description
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Paul has worked with dr. Hilary Clayton, one of the worlds leading equine scientists and offers his findings in an intersesting and easily understandable manner.
It was a relatively short, concise book with many interesting points to confirm the advantage of training horses using the classical principles and not rushing the horse or compromising on it's training for the sake of competitive pursuits.
In my opininon I think that anybody with a basic understanding of dressage would certainly benefit from this book (as would their horses) and for more advanced riders there is lots of sound advice based on experience and proved by science which will help to further their training and deepen their understanding of collection and dressage in general.
I was particularly interested to read that horses do not actually step any furthur under the trunk the more that they collect, what actually happens is that there is less retraction of the hind legs.
In conclusion I would say that science definitely has a place in dressage and Paul Belasik keeps getting better and better. This book is a must for any dressage rider.
He is incredibly well read - he references everything from the obvious Xenophon through Baucher, Pluvinel, Duke of Newcastle etc., etc. - it is a pretty exhaustive cross referencing and he is obviously a very driven man. Unlike many zealots, however, he seems open minded, and doggedly pursues evidence for his thoughts without "cherry picking". Some of the experiments and hi-tech observations reveal fascinating insights which underpin or refute some conventional wisdom - surprisingly, it turns out collected horses do not necessarily carry more weight behind, for example.
He weaves biomechanics, technique, psychology and evidence seamlessly throughout, explaining how, for exaple, to ride shoulder in, why we do it, who 'invented it', what the benefits are to the horse, pitfalls of innacurate riding and the midset to school mindfully. Ditto for all the classical school movements...
Cannot recommend this book enough - an absolute gem, and one to re-read many times.