In the 1970s, the sport of dressage was still in its infancy in the United States. Unlike the countries of Europe, there was neither an established tradition nor a written history to educate and inspire. A rider intent on learning the discipline had to be prepared to travel, to immerse himself in other cultures, and to care only for what those who had already mastered the art might teach him. Paul Belasik was this rider, intent on learning all he could about dressage methodology, and willing and able to compare and contrast the various means for achieving related goals: beautiful movement, “lightness,” connection between two beings. In these pages he shares a lifetime of searching and studying, both through stories of his own adventures and thoughtful essays on the subjects he has pondered during the years he has trained and ridden horses. Beginning in northern New York, and traveling to Portugal, and later, Vienna, Belasik serves as a tour guide of the various dressage “paths” he had the chance to explore, including the German system, the Portuguese art of equitation, and the revered institutions of the Spanish Riding School. Armed with the knowledge and experience he accrued over time, Belasik debates whether classical dressage and competition dressage are at all compatible. Then, he considers the role of mindfulness, how to become a good teacher, and how to be a good student in today’s horse world, providing the guideposts needed to take dressage—and riding, in general—the next step forward.
About the Author
Paul Belasik is a highly respected international rider, trainer, writer, and teacher, and an avowed proponent of classical equestrian ideals. Belasik has ridden and trained at every level in dressage, from young horses to Grand Prix and beyond. He also has had extensive experience in eventing, which encompassed the early part of his career, before turning solely to his first and true love: classical dressage and the art of riding. Belasik has sought wisdom from great riding masters such as Dr. HLM van Schaik and Nuno Oliveira, and his wide-ranging studies include the concepts of Zen Buddhism and martial arts. Belasik has authored eight books, and he gives clinics, lectures, and demonstrations internationally while training a wide cross-section of clients at his Pennsylvania Riding Academy at Lost Hollow Farm (www.paulbelasik.com).