April 2017 - Book Reviews
Written by CRM
Friday, 31 March 2017 02:49

California Dressage Society 50th Anniversary Yearbook; A Journey To Softness

California Dressage Society 50th Anniversary Yearbook
Reviewed by Kim F. Miller

It’s hard to believe that the California Dressage Society has been around for 50 years. That makes some of us kind of old! But the organization has stayed young through the years and now numbers approximately 3,500 members participating in 30 chapters throughout the state and in Nevada.

In celebration of this impressive milestone, CDS has issued the 50th Anniversary Yearbook that’s a must-read and keep for California dressage enthusiasts of any age.

“This book was put together to remember and honor all the things this organization has done to promote, educate and encourage participation in dressage,” explains CDS president Kevin Reinig in his introduction. “Our focus is education and we always strive to put on top educational events to help our members progress in this sport.”

Articles and wonderful photos detailing CDS’ evolution provide an enlightening, fun and inspiring history lesson. Dues began at $15 a year and the late Diane Cobb used a horse head chess piece to sketch the CDS logo that continues today.

Waypoints including the growth of chapters, their shows and clinics and the year-end CDS Championships bring the Yearbook’s great stories up to the present and set the stage for another 50 years.

The pictures are of particular appeal, to the point that my non-horsey husband was drawn into the book when I brought it home from the CDS Annual Meeting in January. We highly recommend this to all, in and outside of the dressage world!
The Yearbook can be ordered through the CDS main office. Visit www.california-dressage.org.

Reviewer Kim F. Miller is editor of California Riding Magazine.

A Journey To Softness
Written by Mark Rashid
Reviewed by Lucy Bobek

Horse trainer Mark Rashid shares his triumphs and stumbles in finding “softness” with horses and “horsey people.” “Softness” is often described as “feel.” The theme throughout this book is a lesson for the horse world - horse folk could and would learn so much from listening to our horses via “feel.” In the absence of “feel” we will be working against our horses, not in unison with them.

“...True softness is always a byproduct of the internal softness.”

Rashid uses psychological techniques associated with martial arts known as the “way of harmony” as a lifetime goal. The author is outstanding in mixing eastern mindfulness with western ways to improve the way humans can tune in to equine language(s). Rashid’s patient, long-term techniques transform once devilishly difficult ponies and horses. Horses that were seen as problems on legs, became willing partners.

Rashid elaborates on the tenets of a journey to softness:
1.    Softness comes from what we don’t do.
2.    A horse feels your entire body, soft hands are a good start.
3.    Be respectful.
4.    Be connected.
5.    The initial contact determines what follows.
6.    Nudge, don’t hit.
7.    A horse should be prepared for what the rider will be doing next.
8.    Stay curious, questions help you be present in the here and now.
9.    Be prepared for what could go wrong.
10.    Work on yourself from the inside out.

The author acknowledges that more often than not, riders were completely unaware of the problems they were causing to a horse. Ultimately, Rashid wants to train people to be the person a horse can respect:
“True horsemanship is developed in the mindful quality of everything we do-not just in the quality of everything we do with our horses.”

Reviewer Lucy Bobeck is a South Bay rider with a passion for rescued horses.