By Tineke and Joep Bartels
Hardcover; 158 pages; Trafalgar Square Books; $29.95 from HorseBooksEtc.com
Ride Horses with Awareness and Feel, a convergence of ideas from members of one of the Netherlands' most successful dressage families, the Bartels, offers a dressage training method utilized by top athletes and amateur riders alike for dressage riding.
The basic principles of dressage training sound familiar. For example, the Bartels enforce the mantra "action, pressure, reaction, reward"?the method of signaling your horse with gradually stronger aids. But the Bartels extend these dressage training techniques to shape our behavior and body language around horses, encouraging a relaxed relationship between horse and rider, both in and out of the tack. Readers learn not only how to develop correct dressage riding techniques but how to turn those techniques into automatic habits through concentration and repetition.
The Bartels take a holistic approach to promoting good posture and fluid motion, providing exercises to help you gauge your balance and control, even while walking on foot. They take seriously the idea that we need to pay attention to the slightest details in our dressage riding for them to become reflexive.
Offering specific exercises designed to improve both your riding technique and the way you interact with your horse in general, this book successfully incorporates broad theories into a practical training method.
This review originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Practical Horseman.