A Classic – Revisited
Today, I want to spend a little time to introduce (or re-introduce) you to a treasure in the equestrian library. Stick with me, even if you read it before and wonder, why you should read this book again.
The Anatomy of Dressage by father and son team Drs. Heinrich and Volker Schusdziarra was originally published in German under the title “Das Gymnasium des Reiters” (literal translation: The Rider’s Secondary School) in 1978.
Since at that time, Siegfried von Haugk’s “Reiter ABC” (The Rider’s Elementary School) was still in print, I assume this was a play on that title, indicating that now the rider would continue his/her education at a deeper level. Or, of course, on “Gymnasium of the Horse”.
NOTE: Since Gymnasium in German means “Secondary School”, this was advanced knowledge, beyond elementary things that the beginner would want or need to know. The book is about elevating your knowledge. Knowing that, the English title falls short and is a bit flat. (Lost in translation…)
Both authors were medical doctors and passionate riders and set out to present the modern art of riding (versus “baroque” riding) from the perspective of anatomical workings between the two moving bodies of horse and rider.
This was new! While classical German horsemanship embodied anatomical correctness, there was – besides Müseler’s classic “Reitlehre” – not much insight into these inner workings for the broader rider population.
NOTE 2: When it comes to translating German equestrian texts, it is CRITICAL to have a translator understand the German language perfectly AND be familiar with the deeper meaning of the German equestrian language, which includes terminology that DOES NOT EXIST in English.
Why You Should Read This Book
If you are interested in really understanding what is needed to succeed in riding, experiencing joy and doing no harm – whether dressage, jumping, or eventing – you will do best when you understand what a knowledgeable instructor MEANS when he or she asks you to ‘brace the back’, ‘stop clamping’ or supple your seat.
This book is like a road map and user manual to the rider’s body and movement at the same time. We learn about the spiral seat, the effects of a lack of suppleness in the rider’s body and how to use your body effectively (in detail) when you perform a half halt. Many anatomical drawings illustrate the points.
There is good reason that this book is still on the USDF required required reading list for instructors.
NOTE 3: HOWEVER, … You need to get the correct information and translation. (See note 2) Therefore, I recommend perusing the internet and procuring a copy translated by Sandra Newkirk and published by Breakthrough Publications. This will even convince those, who previously found the book confusing or unclear.
Now, if you are ready for adventure that takes you DEEP INSIDE (the rider’s seat) and you now know why you should read this book, enjoy Heinrich and Volker Schusdziarra’s “Anatomy of Dressage”. But remember to get the better translation. It will be worth searching for.
As always, enjoy your horse!
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