A review from Mary Seefried

Mary is a highly respected member of the dressage community both in Australia and internationally. Mary has been a national dressage judge for 30 years and has served as an FEI5* dressage judge for 15 years. A former Chairperson of Equestrian Queensland and Equestrian Australia, Mary is a dedicated servant of equestrian sport. She has served as a national dressage selector and on numerous state and national Committees. Mary was most recently involved in the Rio 2016 Olympics apart of the Equestrian judges supervisory panel to ensure fair judging.

Judges Mary Seefried and Jan Geary (AUS) during a break in the Inter II-4911.jpg

"This is a book for all riders who want to understand how to develop the harmonious partnership between horse and rider that make riding a pleasure, if not a MAGICAL FEELING! In other words the dressage of horses – the training of horses. 
To quote: “The rider balanced in the appropriate position on a horse, using right body tone and aids, and keeping elastic connections with the horse has virtually complete control of the horse’s movements, because of the impact of all of these on the horse’s balance. Horse and rider become one - this is the magic horse.’’

At first glance, the title and the cover of this book may make one think it is written for the younger reader. It is of course, but more than that it is an Aladdin’s cave of wise advice for the serious adult rider as well.
Throughout Liz White’s interesting and varied life – from growing up on a property, becoming “horse crazy’’, studying economics at the University of Armidale, being inspired by the remarkable horseman Kel Jeffrey, Liz’s great facility to observe horses behaviour and learn stands out. In Hahndorf, she started to break in and retrain problem horses. After many experiences, the next step was to work with people of all ages to teach them how to handle, ride, listen and talk to horses. Above all, she understands the behaviour and body language of horses.

This book is a synthesis of those experiences and has so many tips for riders of all ambitions - for example:
• Horses need as herd animals
• Basics of catching a horse
• Leading a horse
• Health and maintenance of horses

The second half of the book is a “how to” to achieve a “magic horse”.
For me as a dressage judge and a dressage rider in the past, it is Liz’ insight (again proven by observation and practice) and the wonderful way in which she brings in her interest in biomechanics and psychological aspects of humans and horses into discussion about the effect of the seat and the coordination and use of riding aids. There is a wonderful illustration painted by Liz herself on p136 – showing the transformation of a slouching rider and horse on forehand being transformed into a horse which is taken forward into the reins from her centre – rounded and on the bit!

For dressage riders, she provides so many tips and exercises to assist with developing the independent and effective seat, the half halt, how to turn and ride circles correctly, the dangers of pulling on the inside rein, moving the horse into the outside rein – all very foundational key lessons to become an effective (dressage) rider and to train your own horses effectively. Super tips.

There are chapters on horse management in the subtropics and tropics. And How to float horses! And finally what to look for when you are buying a horse – conformation and temperament. The joy of the book is the illustrations by Liz herself – beautiful watercolours that tell us so much about the author herself and her experiences, what she can teach – they show right and wrong, but so effectively but what shines through is the charm and character of the horses themselves – the MAGIC HORSES! 

I would recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in learning to ride correctly and has a passion for the welfare of the horses - our companions."