by Ellen Eckstein and Betty Staley
At its pinnacle, dressage is an art form. Like all art forms, dressage is founded on craftsmanship; the execution of numerous exercises to make the horse supple, obedient, and more beautiful. With centuries of tradition, schools of dressage have risen; cross pollinated; competed with each other; and evolved into other riding traditions. What distinguishes this book from other dressage texts is the emphasis on the personal connection and understanding that develops between the horse and rider. In concise, straightforward language, Bringing It Together presents a method and philosophy that can become a bridge between schools of horsemanship, taking what appear to be conflicting concepts and integrating them for the rider and the horse.
Bringing It Together is collaboration between Ellen Eckstein and Betty Staley. A Grand Prix rider from California, Ellen travels widely, teaching, training and coaching numerous successful, competitive dressage riders. Ellen’s lifelong goal is integrating the techniques and philosophy she learned from Tom Dorrance, with those of classical dressage. At home in Montana, Betty Staley is an artist, writer and dedicated lifelong rider, both English and Western. Bringing It Together includes two forewords, written by Jane Smiley and Buck Brannaman.
Presenting three foundational building blocks, Bringing It Together focuses on getting positive results, with every horse, whether the horse is a traditional breed for dressage, or a non-traditional breed, whether the horse has been in dressage training, or not. (The tools in this book also have significant impact for horses that have “washed out” under the pressure of traditional dressage systems.) These exercises begin simply and carry from riding a green horse, through to the upper levels.
Bringing It Together is easy to read, information packed, and tightly written (88 pages). With an instructional DVD included, through video, clear photos and words, this book illustrates an approach to a lighter and happier dressage horse.
Bringing It Together is meant to be read and re-read, studied, and practiced. While focused on dressage, the teaching in this book is useful for every discipline of fine horsemanship.
I bought this book with the hope to piece together how everything I’ve learned reading Tom and Bill Dorrance could possibly fit together in classical dressage training. I wasn’t too far in before I could see the influence the classical dressage of the Old Masters within the pages. Ms. Eckstein does a wonderful job explaining how these simple exercises can make such a big impact on your horse’s training. Disengaging the hindquarters becomes the foundation of lateral work, and relaxing the horse’s jaw (the soft feel) is the very beginnings of collection. The accompanying DVD is a great tool for visual learners like myself who need to “see” how it all works together. I can’t recommend this book enough.