I've compiled a list of my all time favorite books on Dressage. All of these books have had an influence on my approach to training Dressage horses.
1) The Complete Training Of Horse And Rider by Alois Podhajsky
This was one of the first books I ever read that was about Dressage. To this day I still recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn the fundamentals of Dressage training theory. It covers all of the essentials in an easy to understand format.
2) Reflections on Equestrian Art by Nuno Oliveira
This is a super simple and fun to read book. It introduced me to Nuno Oliveira, and subsequently a 3 month trip to Portugal to study the Portuguese system of riding. Nuno's deep love of horses and his devotion to the art of training for the pure beauty of it has always been an inspiration to me.
3) Riding Towards The Light by Paul Belasik
Paul Belasik takes storytelling to a whole new level when it comes to Dressage. His passion to learn and share this knowledge in the way humans were designed to learn, through engaging stories, is second to none. Often as much philosophical as it is a training guide, this book will sit well with the thinking rider.
4) Gymnasium Of The Horse by Gustav Steinbrecht
I don't believe there is a more thorough book on the technical aspect of Dressage training than this one. The chapter on Shoulder-In itself took me a few days to get through. While dry, this book digs deep into the details that make Dressage what it is.
5) Misconceptions and Simple Truths In Dressage by H.L.M. Van Schaik
This is another fun book to read which covered some cool things I hadn't heard of before. An example of this would be how some old classical masters taught a 2 beat walk before teaching piaffe. Some interesting stuff!
6) Academic Equitation by General Decarpentry
This book was written by a member of the Cadre Noire who eventually wrote the first FEI rulebook on Dressage. I found this book super fascinating as its the first book written on Dressage from a "Classical Dressage" trainer with a passion for sport. There are some really cool insights from his observations of watching the Olympic Dressage competitions of the early 1900's.
7) Art Of Horsemanship by Xenophon
This book blew me away as it was written in 400 BC. Xenophon describes training horses in much the same way we approach training nowadays. So many principles he discusses are still relevant, which shows the deep understanding Xenophon had of this art. Impressive.
8) Breaking And Riding by James Fillis
For those of you interested in the French school of training, this is a fascinating book. Fillis studied the methods of Francois Baucher but I find Fillis' books much easier to understand than those I have read that Baucher wrote.
9) Lyons On Horses by John Lyons
While this book isn't dedicated to the sport of Dressage, this book made me think about my approach to training horses probably more than any other book. It delves deep into the nature of horse psychology and helped me understand why horses react the way they do.
10) The Nature of Horses by Stephen Budiansky
This book helped me understand horses from a more scientific perspective, again which helped me clarify some of my approaches to training. Some cool studies are discussed in this book which gives lots of food for thought!
So if you are looking for some summer reading, you won't be disappointed in any of the above books!
The Dressage Bridle Company
Try “Horses are Meant to be Horses” by Franz Mairinger and the other two Paul Belasik books. Boy, he makes you think