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The Dressage Rider's Survival Guide: Memoirs of a Struggling Dressage Rider    by Margaret A. Odgers order for
Dressage Rider's Survival Guide
by Margaret A. Odgers
Order:  USA  Can
Half Halt Press, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I'm impressed. I've watched Dressage on television and at horse shows and thought it was a lovely sight. The grace of horse and rider is impressive to watch. But I had no idea of the depth and dedication and money and time that were involved. I've learned this and much more by reading The Dressage Rider's Survival Guide.

I am not a horse person, although my dad broke horses to the saddle and played polo in another place and time. I sat the saddle once or twice and the horse I perched on was kind to me. But it was a long way down to the ground, and I quickly decided I was safer watching riding. So when this guide came into my hands, I thought I'd quickly page through it and learn a little about something I would never do myself. Instead, I found myself reading every word and enjoying the journey, as the quest for skill is termed.

A well-written Foreword by Dr. Lynne Flaherty caught my attention and I found myself happily immersed in the book's text, in which Margaret Odgers is wittily frank about her struggle to perfect her chosen sport. From being Hack Stable Queen to winning a 76.5 in a Dressage test, she is open about the perils and pitfalls of the training ring. She talks about the books that must be added to the personal library; the videos watched over and over again as a Master performs the movements every Dressage student hopes to achieve; the money spent to support the horse, lessons and equipment; the nasty gibes and quips directed the rider's way by Railbirds; and the love and support offered by members of the Ultimate Dressage Bulletin Board.

A quote from one of those members, Erik Herberman, caught my attention - 'Dressage is the fundamental obedience training ... for the rider!' Apparently the rider and horse must achieve harmony before either can be expected to perform correctly. Makes sense. To do that is another matter. The correct horse is another issue. The long search for the next (But Not Last) horse is unending. The Dressage Rider's Survival Guide is a delightful read for the non-Dressage rider - and a book chuck full of insights, tips, and advice for the serious Dressage rider. It shows that one must be serious to embark on this journey.

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