November 2016 - Book Review: Dressage Q&A
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:48

Dressage Q&A with Janet Foy
Written by Janet Foy
Reviewed by Lucy Bobek

For those who wonder whether they can be a part of the world of dressage, Janet Foy is the best person to put you on “her team.” The author of Dressage for the (Not So) Perfect Horse has managed to excel with a fun fount of knowledge. The fear of falling off a horse often pales in comparison with the fear of admitting lack of knowledge in the equine world. Dressage is probably most daunting because of its revered status in equestrian circles. Even retired eventer, Lucinda Green (known as the “Queen” of Badminton) admitted that dressage was the most difficult stage of eventing.

Horse people are not always very forthcoming with their mistakes or gaps in knowledge, but the author has a chatty, supportive style. The book is a list of questions and answers, broken up by “aha moments” clarifying and underlining the knowledge previously artfully explained. Foy also breaks down some myths regarding judges (yes, you can take exams to be a judge). Janet recommends showing before USDF judges (judges who have experience and have passed exams).

The segments entitled “Story from the road” give us a reality check. Foy has built an impressive variety of skills as an FEI/USEF Dressage Judge yet Janet does inject some harsh reality into her tales. A good example is the story of Janet the Judge being forced to sleep in a hotel lobby when her flight was delayed. Sadly, the show organizers had not guaranteed a late arrival and her room had been given away!

Foy has a particular articulate talent. Don’t look for photographs, this book is text and illustrations, the explanations are on-point so there is no need to add graphics to what is concise and targeted. A good example is Foy being very clear that overflexing is caused by the incorrect use of a double bridle, there is no need to add photographs to her reply to a concerned questioner.

Janet is aware that there is some ambiguity in dressage terminology and uses the classic German dressage terms (in addition to the translated English dressage terms). She correctly points out that many words just do not translate well. For instance in dressage, “straightness” is a common term that can be easily misinterpreted. Perhaps this is why the Germans do so well in dressage! Don’t let the foreign words scare you, the author has not forgotten beginners and the anxiety any horse or rider can feel while learning new skills. This book could be subtitled “Dressage for the not-so-perfect rider.”


Reviewer Lucy Bobeck is an English rider living in the west with her Quarter Horse with a passion for all rescued horses.

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