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”.

the anatomy of dressage
While we may take issue with the chosen cover image, it does not take away from the content.


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!


Stefanie Reinhold



Please note: I may earn a small commission from any purchase as a result of readers following links to other e-commerce sites, such as Amazon.

This summer, I received the generous offer to review a book. This happens every now and then and – just like I would expect from someone reviewing my work – I am dedicated to an honest opinion.

The book sounded like ‘another one of those’ horse tip books:

Horse Owners’ Essential Tips: Grooming, Care, Tack, Facilities, Riding, Pasture”.

There must be hundreds of those books on the market, I thought, and did not have great expectations. (A horse owner’s) Life, however, can be full of surprises and this was a positive one!

Let’s examine the book’s promise:

“More than 500 Practical Ideas”

What sounds like a drag to read through, is actually a very well presented wealth of really good, imaginative, practical and downright frugal ideas, covering anything from grooming over tack care and facilities to riding and pasture.

Granted, some of the tips may not be down your alley (not wanting to create a hand-made net?) but many will.

One I really liked and that alone would make it worth the purchase: Easy to make stirrup covers that will prevent the stirrups from scratching up your saddle when you put it up. It’s not rocket science, but the point is, I never had the idea!

“Horse Owner’s Essential Tips will quickly find a place in the stable office”.

Yes, indeed. It’s easy to read format and delightful illustrations make it wonderful to have at hand for perusing when you only have a little time to kill (waiting for the vet, for instance). In those 10 minutes of browsing through the book, something will catch your eye that will make a difference to your (horse) life, all while enjoying a well-illustrated book, written in a light and easily digestible style.

It is now a part of our barn library to be enjoyed by all.

Some of my favorite horse tips from the book:

  • Oil to ‘cure’ chestnuts: Apply sunflower or olive oil to large, dry chestnuts daily until they fall off on their own. (I might add: Apply once or twice weekly afterward to keep them from growing back.) This is a low-cost, easy solution to a common unsightly problem.
  • Secure blanket clasp: Many horse owners blanket their horses in the winter, only to find that their expensive blanket will not stay on the horse. The problem: The clasp keeps opening. Meyrier suggests an easy solution: Use a rubber gasket such as found on certain beer or lemonade bottles to prevent the clasp from opening. A nifty illustration shows how it’s done.
  • Dried up tear stains on your horse’s face: Many horses don’t appreciate the feel of a wet sponge around their eyes, especially once you start rubbing. Philip Meyrier had an idea: Use moisturizing make-up remover pads: The dirt sticks to the wipes, it’s easy and the horse seems to like it better! (Of course, you could also use Aspire Natural Tear Stain Remover.)

In short:

  • An enjoyable read, great to keep in the barn or take along on a show or horse camping trip.
  • A chock full of innovative, imaginative and often frugal and funny tips and tricks to make your horse life easier.
  • A useful addition to any horsey library.
  • On my personal list of horse friend Xmas gifts!

So, if your are so inclined, I recommend you put Horse Owners’ Essential Tips: Grooming, Care, Tack, Facilities, Riding, Pasture in your shelf or on your Christmas list. It’s a keeper!

As always, Enjoy Your Horse!


Stefanie Reinhold