Dressage Masters in hardcover is available on Amazon from $88.50 to $257.71. Dressage Masters is now an out-of-print collector's book. The kindle price is $21.49]
Already eagerly anticipated by the international dressage community, Dressage Masters is destined to become an instant classic in the literature of classical horsemanship.
Dressage Masters takes the reader into four of the greatest training stables in Europe. The master instructors express their philosophies and practices with regard to training horses and riders, and the state of dressage in the United States and elsewhere in the world. They also share fascinating and enlightening stories about their own education, and the triumphs and hurdles encountered along their paths to success.
The trainers are:
• Klaus Balkenhol: Olympic Individual Bronze and two-time gold Team medal winner; coached the German Olympic gold medal team including the individual silver and bronze medalists and the USA Olympic bronze medal team.
•Ernst Hoyos: trained Ulla Salzgeber, winner of two Olympic Team gold medals, and Lisa Wilcox, member of the United States Equestrian Team bronze medal squad.
•Dr. Uwe Schulten-Baumer: trained Nicole Uphoff and Isabel Werth, Olympic equestrian record holders of four gold medals; Dr Schulten-Baumer Jr., winner of team gold medal in the 1980 Alternate Olympics and 1978 World Championships
•George Theodorescu: trainer of many top international teams and riders, including his daughter Monica, three-time Olympic Team gold medalist
Each chapter includes insightful descriptions and sequence photographs of exercises and other teaching techniques, and the book concludes with a detailed index that cross-references training problems as a handy guide for the reader-rider's own program.
The original objective of this book was to share a small amount of critical knowledge from 12 of the greatest dressage masters of our time. The good news is that the plan succumbed early to the sheer volume of useful material. The breadth and depth of interesting and valuable knowledge made further omissions by the first interviewees too painful—there was just too much good stuff. Additional inspiration came from the fact that each of these individuals stated his knowledge and understanding is constantly increasing—each remained committed to learning and evolving under the guidance of the best riding teacher of all, the horse. Two of these masters are still passionate and productive in dressage at the age of eighty; they are a true source of inspiration.
In the following pages (including 172 photographs), these masters shared a few of their key points of wisdom including a valuable glimpse into their philosophy and paradigms that evolved as they achieved their considerable success. These four trainers are responsible for significant contributions in the training and teaching of horses and riders which together won an incredible 90% of the Olympic dressage gold medals in the last four Olympic Games. During this period, the German dressage squads won 18 out of the 20 individual and team gold medals awarded. This is an unprecedented achievement in the history of equestrian sports—a 90% win record in a sport/art in which very few countries have even won one of these coveted prizes. These few masters have taught students who won more gold medals than entire nations—Sweden ranks behind Germany in the gold medal count with a total of seven, followed by USSR with four. Additional gold medal winning countries are France, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Austria (German jumper riders are also well known for a system of training that is based on dressage. This is a major contributing factor to their success. German jumping squads hold the record for most Olympic show jumping gold medals).
The most important aspect of the great master’s success, for the purposes of this dressage book, lies in their uncanny ability to produce successful horse and rider pairs—to communicate their knowledge to others. Great trainers, great instructors and great riders are three separate but related categories. As is often witnessed, success in one does not guarantee success in another. These masters are the people who stand behind the scenes at world-class competitions. They help others to achieve success.
Curious is the fact that these Great Masters, two native Germans, one Romanian and one Austrian, live within a small circle of the world; it has a radius of less than a hundred miles. As a successful restaurateur once said, “I always build my restaurants right next to successful restaurants. Together we create a dining district, a place for people to come. The worst scenario is to be in the middle of nowhere, alone”. This small area of the world is rich in equestrian tradition and knowledge. It possesses an unusual mixture of industrial and agricultural areas in close proximity which provide land and money for the breeding of quality horses. Perhaps most important, the culture respects and idolizes the horse.
Another curiosity is the gender of the dressage masters. They are all male. This seems odd in a sport that is increasingly dominated by females. However, this reflects a trend that started in the 1980s. Prior to this the top ranks of the dressage world were predominately men, which most likely was a result of the military tradition behind dressage. As the current cadre of riders matures, most of the great masters in the near future will be female, as can be observed with Kyra Kirkland.
Of course, a critic could search for and probably find faults with some of the riders pictured in this book. After all, most Grand Prix classes can be won with a 75%. In school this would only earn an average grade, so the difficult sport of dressage can always be performed better. However, judging by the success of these masters, they must be doing a lot of things right. Therefore, any mistakes of these students or horses must be judged in context to the level of excellence of the masters, the Yin and the Yang of their distinction. Therefore, analyzing faults would not be a good teaching tool, since these mistakes haven’t interfered with success. You can watch any rider if you want to see mistakes. If you ever have the pleasure of watching any of the people in these pictures ride, focus on what they do right. A person who looks solely for mistakes searches for a guiding image in a house of mirrors, a form of solidity in a myriad of refractions and reflections. A person who searches for positive aspects that contributed to a master’s success often finds a beacon to light the darkness.
There are many others who could have been included in this book, and their omission is not intended as disrespect
Dressage Masters, Copyright 2006, Lyons Press
January 4, 2043
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