Dressage in Harmony: From Basic to Grand Prix By Walter Zettl

Maybe the best way to introduce this book to our audience is to quote Max Gahwyler when he read the book when it was in manuscript form: You must publish this. It is superb! We agree this is, truly, one of, if not the clearest, most readable books on training dressage ever written. It's just delightful! As Egon von Neindorf, a recognized master himself, says in the Foreword, If you are not fortunate enough to be taught by Walter Zettl personally, he gives you in this book a very valuable guide to the art of classical riding. In clearly worked out and easy to understand chapters, he takes you through each step of the training stages, discusses problems that occur, and assists with competent, sensible corrections, from Beginner to becoming a Master. With Walter Zettl's guidance, it is made possible. Dressage in Harmony: From Basic to Grand Prix

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Technically, although I have read this book (and loved it). The book I ACTUALLY read was How To Make Your Horse Happy by Linda Parelli. Unfortunately it isn't on the Goodreads list so I am fudging this so that I will show one of my books to complete my year end numbers goal. 246 Absolutely brilliant volume on training a young horse and the how to's of dressage. I have had the privilege of meeting the author and watching live sessions. This book references all of that knowledge and his true love of the horse. A must read for riders and trainers. 246 This is the dressage book that sits on my desk or by my bed for ongoing review and enjoyment. Zettl's approach is humane and focuses not only on the movements but the relationship between horse and rider. IMO, this is a dressage must-read. 246 My notes in progress... not a review yet:

Book 1 :Dressage In Harmony, From Basic to Grand Prix by Walter A. Zettl

Reading Date: May-June 2010.

Notes: The quote “Ride your horse calm, forward and straight.” (Guenter Festerling) requoted from the master, Gustaf Steinbrecht 1980-1885 Germany and posted at the end of Festerling’s arena. The quotes both refer to Schwung, but ‘calm’ refers to a lack of force.

Seven Elements of Training 1. Rhythm: Unique to each horse. Closely related to relaxation. A rushed gait will lose relaxation and balance. Regularity of rhythm is key. 2. Relaxation: Tension looks like limbs being jerky and stiff at the joint. A relaxed horse will not be spooky, tight or stiff. Relaxation occurs even at high level movements. 3. Contact: between hand and mouth must be straight and responsive. The horse’s mouth will remain soft, relaxed and closed. “True contact must come from the activating and allowing seat and leg aids, not a pulling with the hand.” 4. Schwung: power of the hindquarters that carries the horse forward and its transmission over the back (free, fluid, swinging). It is totally necessary before collection can happen. 5. Straightness: evenness of the horse from side to side not only in movements, but in build, strength, and gymnastic ability. 6. Suppleness: Elastic, obedient fluidity of movement without resistance to changes. The horse must respond easily to all the rider’s aids. 7. Collection: Lowering and increased engagement of the hindquarters that allow (the hind) to reach farther under the weight of the rider. This elevates the forehand and leaves the “uphill” feeling.

I am intrigued very much by the assertion “…it is not wise to ask for too much contact without relaxation” (p. 14). This reinforces a belief I have long held that my horse cannot relax if contact is placed as a priority over his comfort zone. My attempts to bring him to relaxation first have improved his relaxation. The rhythm portion has gone the wayside but can be brought in now that I have managed to relax him and contact is something he is beginning to accept.Tips on walking

1) Free and extended walk both demand two to three hoof lengths overstep. Free frame is on the vertical, extended frame is slightly in front of vertical. Medium walk requires contact and shorter steps (no change in impulsion). Collected walk has the hoof fall behind the print in front. Long rein walk and loose rein walk are different. Long rein walk is for show, loose rein is a mental break.

2) Jigging and pacing are a result of too much hand. Think ½ lb hand, 1 ½ lb drive. Use shoulder in or haunches in to work out these issues.

Tips on Trot

Working trot is energetic and full of impulsion without rushing. Tracking up (overstep) is a sign of correctness. Used for training young horses and warming up horses of any age/training. Also use it for cooling out by doing a stretchy chewy trot in a working trot.

Post only in medium and working trots. Always warm up in a post.

Trot work of medium and collected trots stem from COLLECTED trot, not working trot. First learn working, then collected, then lengthened, then medium, then extended. “The medium trot must come from the collected trot. It can only be as good as the collected trot that precedes it…” p. 25. That means, I won’t be working on collected, medium or extended trots until I have worked through the other elements on the pyramid!

“Anything that is forced can never be beautiful.” Xenophon p. 42.

Canter should feel long, not more up and down… I have questions about this as it relates to collected canter work. He only discusses working, medium and extended canter, though.

The Aids : “Only when the hind leg is in the air can the rider influence the stride to either lengthen, shorten, go sideways or backwards.” Question: which hind leg and when? The trot moving toward center off the rail, could be cued when the left hind is in the air (on the outside e.g. during a sit stride while posting). In a leg yield toward the rail, the crossover is cued, then, while standing? (Confirmed… page 53)

Driving aids: “The driving push is to be given when the hind foot on the same side is leaving the ground.” Sideways aids: slightly behind the girth and given when the hind foot on the side you are moving is off the ground.

Rein aids: “The outside rein controls the tempo, flexion, bending and outside shoulder. The inside rein supples and softens and guides in the turns. It also controls the inside shoulder.” Here is some conflict with my training “The desirable hand technique is to rotate the hand in and out. In a turn, for instance, the inside hand rotates in so that the little finger points toward the rider’s other shoulder. The rider should not work with the entire arm. He should just use the wrists.’ P. 55.
246 Reading this some more--out loud to Arrow! 246