Quiet Riding

Equestrian Book Reviews

Book Review

The Classical Rider

Tebo, the horse.
A horse is a gift from Creation. He is here to serve but not to be enslaved.

Sylvia Loch is an admitted romantic. But she is practical as well. She populates her book The Classical Rider with quotes from numerous past and present masters to prove that her methods are neither strange nor unusual.

The reader finds accounts of personal experience and revelations interspersed with advice and practical techniques. In an age of the quick fix and instant results, Sylvia Loch calls for patience and progressive development of the horse. “…taking time to lay solid foundations reaps its own rewards.”

While a horse will accept just punishment, we should not automatically blame the horse when something goes wrong. Sylvia Loch urges the rider to examine his or herself. “As with children, horses will neither respect nor love people who punish them unjustly.” She adds: “You can never blame the horse when you made it impossible for him to give you what you wanted in the first place.”

In her preface, the author states: “Nobody knows all the answers, especially this author, and there is much still to learn and always will be.” Still, believing that knowledge must precede action, Sylvia Loch enthusiastically shares with her readers what she has learned in years of study both on and off the horse.

Knowledge passed down for hundreds of years shares pages with findings of modern veterinarians and physiologists. The author emphasizes the importance of proper development in both horse and rider.

The proper seat, often passed over by other authors, receives major emphasis in this work. Proper posture and muscle tone on the part of the rider greatly effect the performance of the horse.

Just as the rider expects a horse to feel and respond to his or her cues, so the rider should be sensitive to the horse. Sylvia Loch puts it this way: “Equitation necessitates a heightened perception of feel, tuning into the animal and the environment around us.”

This should include studying the movements of horses in nature to guide us in how to (and how not to) ride. Such a study should help eliminate the current fad of over–bending the horse's head in a mistaken belief that such a practice produces “collection.” “…such a preoccupation with shape and a forcing of outline stifle forward movement and athleticism.” As Xenophon would say: allow the horse freedom to glory and delight in his work.

Sylvia Loch sums it up well when she says: “…we cannot therefore afford to put our personal considerations or ambitions first; we have, first and foremost, to ride for love if we are to be creative and restore the horse to his natural potential.” In so doing, we can experience riding at its highest level.

If this seems like too much work, Reiner Klimke has this to say: “A rider who thinks he can ride without having to study will fail.”

Buy The Classical Rider: Being at One With Your Horse