Forward Riding by Eloise King
I have only heard of Nuno Oliveira through various other sources and have always been very taken by his training ideas and theory. Not training with force but with feel is something that is an uncommon sight nowadays. Luckily though, we can still see and learn these lessons through people like Sylvia and Eloise, but it is still mostly an uncommon sight even though it was second nature to the great Masters almost half a century ago.
Having happy horses working with you is far more productive for both parties than forcing the animal to perform under duress and while reading this book I found that this was the undercurrent of the entire book - i.e. happy equals harmonious. By the second page I found myself nodding in agreement to the training ideas and classical statements - “Observe your horse, let him train your eye and feel.”
The book is very sympathetic towards the horse and its behaviour and its individual achievements. Conversely, it relies on the reader to be sensitive enough to recognise the progress of the horse and this subtle moment can sometimes be missed even by the more competent person.
I did find however that the idea of only lunging with the inside side rein only attached was not something I could relate to. I think it very important to activate the horses inside hind leg during lunging, but not at the expense of teaching him to fall out of the outside shoulder due to lack of support on the outside rein. We are always encouraged to support our horses, and I believe the same principle should be applied when lunging too.
I was taught using the well established ‘training scales’ where collection is the last and highest achievement and rhythm and balance are first established and used as a foundation. The same classical ideas can be seen throughout this very enlightening read. Starting slowly and doing it correctly from the beginning saves time later - no matter how easy it is to cut corners and thereby introduce mistakes. I feel this book does make the effort to start with the reader from the very beginning of training right up to riding half pass etc in a very constructive way.
When I teach, I have been told my sessions are like ‘painting by numbers’. By keeping it simple, I found this book imparts information in a similar way, like an easy to follow instruction guide.
Review by Chrysi Warner