Many riders pursue the sport of dressage in North America, and the majority of those riders do it on a budget with a horse they have and it is often a horse they can afford. What this means is that riders are challenged with the mastery of one of the world’s most esteemed equestrian events on horses that may not be up to the task. Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse: Riding Through the Levels on the Peculiar, Opinionated, Complicated Mounts We All Love shows that this may be because the horses are not bred specifically for the task, or even if they have been bred for the task, they may not be top prospects due to conformation, injury, or even to not having grown to the ideal size. There are any number of reasons why a horse is not perfectly suited to compete in the world arena.
Janet Foy, is a dressage judge, clinician, and riding coach and has ridden many different types of horses in dressage competitions, and has compiled her best tips for training and showing in Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse. Foy acknowledges that many riders face the challenge of refining their dressage skills on horses with behavioral quirks, conformational impediments, and age or soundness issues.
Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse was a book I was hoping to love and recommend to equestrians everywhere, but I will not be doing that. I like Janet Foy as a judge, a clinician and magazine article author and find her sense of humor and ability to share information in a relational manner to be enjoyable. The book did not come across in that same manner. Evaluating the book as a how-to guide for less experienced riders, I found myself concerned with the number of photos with riders pointing their toes down with heels and spurs up into the horses’ sides. Not only is this unattractive, it is unsafe. Perhaps the non-vintage photos should have been re-shot to show proper equitation so newer riders would be able to emulate the correct position(s) as they are working with their not-so-perfect horses.
Borrow this book from a friend or check it out of your local library, but save yourself the $32.95 and the space on your horse library bookshelf.