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The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine

Reading Reflections Effective Riding A Series By Dawn Jones-Low Books have always been important to me. As a child, I spent countless hours reading at home and at the public library. Growing up in the suburbs in a non-horsey family, books were also my main entryway to the world of horses and provided fuel for my dreams. Several decades into adulthood, books are still a treasure to me as they continue to inspire and inform all areas of my life –including riding and horsemanship. Reading vintage equestrian books provides insights to the

The origin of the modern competitive sport disciplines in

perspectives and expectations of other eras. Effective Horseman-

the military tradition is still reflected today in the methodically

ship by the British amateur rider G.N. Jackson was published in

progressive nature of these disciplines, but most of us have no

1967 at a time when interest in dressage was growing in both the

direct experience with the kind of intense system that character-

UK and the US (it was fairly well established as the predominant

ized the military equestrian schools. Mr. Jackson’s book provides

riding tradition on the “Continent” by then) as a competitive dis-

a window into that world from an era when the connection be-

cipline and as a source of practical tools to be applied to other

tween the competitive sport disciplines and their cavalry roots

riding disciplines. Mr. Jackson was a diplomat who had the good

was tangible.

fortune to have the opportunity to take the 9-month course in eq-

The expectations for that intensive program at Mafra were

uitation for officer instructors at the Portuguese Military School

that a rider starting from an elementary riding level could achieve

of Equitation at Mafra. When he was stationed to a new post, he

a rather comprehensive set of skills including “[establishing] a

decided to draw upon his Mafra education to assist the local polo

deep and supple seat, education in the aids on horses trained to

team to im-

the Prix St. George and even Grand Prix Dressage standard, and

prove their

the final stages of training a young horse in Dressage up to the

riding and

Prix St. George level.” Instruction also included show jumping,

their hors-

cross country jumping, a bit of polo, teaching students to ride,

es’ perfor-

and lectures in riding theory and in veterinary topics. Each week

mances on

over the 9 months of the program included 30 hours of riding and



3 hours of lecture! (That’s over a thousand hours in the saddle in


that time period.) Graduates of this program could then teach


riders and train horses by applying the principles and tools of


the system.




The scope of the book is phenomenal. Jackson comprehen-

his lecture

sively covers first the systematic development of the rider’s seat

notes into a

and aids, then initial training of the young horse­—the “débour-

book aimed

rage,” thirdly “basic” dressage, followed by a summary of training

at a wider

to the specialized Grand Prix dressage, and finally by chapters


addressing the application of “basic” dressage principles to show

December 2013/January 2014  

The December 2013/January 2014 issue of The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine.

December 2013/January 2014  

The December 2013/January 2014 issue of The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine.