Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Light and Easy Dressage by Penny Hillsdon

I bought this book only because I was hanging out the a local Half Price Books store while they were tallying up the total offer on some books that I was selling them. I was in the horse section and then the sports section and was looking at a different dressage book that was more pictures rather than instructional. When I put that one down I saw this one, picked it up to look over, and it just looked friendly enough that I decided to try it out and I'm so glad that I did!

This is probably one of my favorite Dressage books that I've read recently and I read it from cover to cover in about a week.

To start off, let me just say that it's probably not for everyone. It may be a little touchy feely for some of you but for me it was amazing. I'm already a perfectionist and this is something that I ultimately do for fun so the typical language of dressage books can be discouraging to me. Especially when they're talking about flying changes by something like chapter 4-5. It's easy to get the message that if you can't do it perfectly you just shouldn't do it but this book isn't like that at all.

The writer routinely talks about how it's ok to make mistakes as long as you analyze and go back to try again. She talks a lot about the relationship with the horse and about not bullying them or expecting more than they can give. She takes on a very fun, relaxed and comforting tone while still making sure that she makes her point about how certain things are necessary or other things should be avoided at all costs.

I loved that the entire book felt like it was at a level that made sense for me and, while she talks about things like counter canter and shoulder in which is above our pay grade at this point, that means that the whole book was useful while still feeling like there was room to stretch and grow. I actually go so much out of the explanation about canter transitions that I've changed how I'm cueing and have been able to get Katai to take the correct lead about 9 times out of 10 when before, to the right she was only correct about 2 times out of 10.

She makes some great points that I needed to hear about how certain things are like bullying the horse and that, while expecting a quick upward transition is great and will be necessary, when you are starting out you need to give them time to react. This and many other things in the book made me think and gave me things to work on.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone in Intro through maybe somewhere around 1st level and while I think that all riders could gain insight from this book I think it would be most valuable for the lower levels which is what it was really written for.

I would give this book 5 stars out of 5 for the truly encouraging tone, lovely exercises, and fun writing.

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