Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Dressage Sabbatical

Back in October, a Facebook friend of mine who works in publishing posted looking for advanced readers for a manuscript. Since I know many of her projects are equine-centric, I dropped her a message to see if I could be of assistance. We've spoken in the past, so she knew I worked in the field of communications. The project she needed readers for was a book about classical dressage -- I was in like Flynn! There was a pretty quick turnaround requested and it was in the final week of October, which is typically a pretty busy time at work for me, so I was a little concerned about my lack of time to devote to it.

But the minute I started it, I was hooked. Before I even finished the Intro, I had a Word document open on my computer to record my favorite quotes and thoughts that jumped out at me while I read through it. When I finished the complete manuscript, I immediately started at the beginning and read through it again. I can see this being a book I read over and over again, finding new nuggets of information every time. I also feel like I will gain a minimum of five pounds every time I read it, as the meals they eat at Lost Hollow sound divine, and made me hungrier with each description! I suggested an accompanying cookbook, but you know.....

The book is called Dressage Sabbatical: A Year of Classical Riding at Lost Hollow Farm by Rose Caslar, and chronicles the year she spent as an intern with Paul Belasik. Rose put her life on hold and traveled across the length of the country to spend a year completely immersed in the world of classical dressage, with amazing results. I'm also not at all biased by the fact that many of the horses in the book are Spanish..... ;) haha.
My review made it into the forward of the book and into the website updates (I know, I about died!), and it sums up my thoughts on the book pretty perfectly!
As a struggling, over-achieving adult amateur having a passion for dressage, an imperfect rider with an imperfect horse, Rose Caslar’s book Dressage Sabbatical resonated with me on so many levels. Her story gave me a glimpse into the experience of a lifetime. I had barely finished reading the book for the first time before I eagerly settled in to read it again. I found myself laughing out loud and nodding in agreement in so many places, and empathizing with that moment of extreme frustration right before a major breakthrough. 

Anyone interested in dressage would enjoy this book, particularly those fascinated with the grace of correct classical dressage. I saw elements of my own struggles and triumphs reflected in Rose’s journey, and was inspired by the immense progress she made in a year. The next time I’m tempted to accept some minor progress and “have a margarita at the crossroads of Getting Better and Good Enough,” I’m going to pick up this book again and remind myself what can be achieved through hard work, sacrifice, and having a willingness to learn. It is a wonderfully inspiring book.
From the publisher Editions Mistral LLC: A fascinating, beautifully written account of her year spent interning with classical master and author Paul Belasik at the Pennsylvania Riding Academy. Approx. 300 pages. Contact Kip Mistral directly at to order. $29.95 plus shipping. Copies will be ready to ship approximately December 5th and will be gift-wrapped and mailed to arrive before Christmas. Cover drawing by Elise Genest.

I won't spoil the book for you (because I think you should order your own copy!), but I couldn't resist sharing one of my favorite quotes... and believe me, it took me ages to narrow down my three page word document into just one quote to share!
Regardless, I’m learning that having made improvement is no reason to stop improving. (Rose Caslar)


  1. Ooh sounds like a great read!! And how awesome that your review was published too!!!

  2. It was a fabulous read, I highly recommend it!! Although it made me wistful for pre-DH days when I totally could have dropped everything to become a working student....haha. but that ship has sailed now I suppose! 😉

  3. This makes me want to run away and play with horses for a year...

  4. Right??? If only I'd read it like 9 years ago... *Sigh*

  5. Even makes me want to read this, and I'm a western dressage lover!

  6. That sounds like a great read. I will have to find it. FYI if your friend ever needs more readers......

    1. They're taking orders now! I imagine it will be commercially available a little into December 😀