I’m not going to lie, dressage always intimidated me a bit. Trained as a Western rider, I never understood terms like ‘piaffe’ or how a top hat belongs in an arena with horses. But then I was recently reminded by my friends (who ride English) that my bedazzled old show outfits and leather chaps (here in the West i’’s pronounced with a ‘sh’) aren’t exactly logical either.
However after watching the dressage competition from London this summer, I realize that there are a lot of the same skills used in the dressage ring as there are in the Western show pen. We all look for collection (the ability to control the shoulders and hips independently and together) and of course we enjoyed watching my mom’s favorite move, the flying lead change. All of these skills originated from dressage…so I decided that maybe it’s time that I look into it.
And boy did I find the book to be my introduction to the world of piaffes, and pirouettes and half-passes! Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101.
Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101 (available at HorseBooksEtc on sale for $29.70) is the perfect how-to book for beginning dressage enthusiasts—even if you’re not planning to set foot in a competitive dressage arena. Dressage training helps you clearly communicate with your horse and develop his body and movement, so even for us Western riders it’s good to explore.
Interested in learning more? Check out this review from our friends at Horse Journal magazine:
When you get right down to it, we all “ride dressage,” at least if we’re properly training our horse. So, don’t let this book’s title cause you to turn away, thinking you don’t “ride dressage” or own a dressage saddle. But, if you’re struggling to get your horse balanced, on the bit and supple, you’ll find suggestions, solutions and even sympathy and understanding in this book that will work in any discipline.
Jane Savoie is an experienced dressage competitor, with an impressive list of credentials, but where she really shines is as an instructor, clinician and writer. She makes things clear: “By using your driving aids a fraction of a second before you use your rein aids, you ride your horse from back to front. This is your goal no matter what type of riding you do, because it’s the only way you can honestly connect with your horse and make him more athletic and obedient.” Language like this simple description of the half-halt, with photos and diagrams, makeup the entire book.
This book isn’t designed for upper-level riders, who are doing FEI-level dressage. She doesn’t tell you how to piaffe or passage. In fact, nothing in this book is above a USEF Third-Level test. It’s actually a book written for the majority of riders, and it gives you the formula you need for a “happy, joyful” ride, whether it’s in a dressage arena or on the trail.
Bottom Line: It’s a wonderful companion to her excellent two-part DVD series “The Half Halt Demystified.” It looks and feels like a textbook, but it reads like a conversation with a fellow rider.
Best Suited For: Serious riders in any discipline at any level who want to improve their horse’s performance.
You’ll Be Disappointed If: You’re looking for directions on Grand Prix movements or want this book to replace your trainer. DVDs and books can clarify things, but you need a person to teach you to ride properly. Review from Horse Journal magazine.