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Nature, Nurture and Horses: A Journal of Four Dressage Horses in Training-From Birth through the First Year of Training [Hardcover]

Paul Belasik

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Book Description

May 18 2012
Follow along as four young horses-Corsana, Kara, Elsa, and Escarpa-leave their babyhood behind and begin their training for future careers as sport horses, well schooled in the art of classical dressage.

Renowned rider, trainer, author, and equestrian philosopher Paul Belasik shares the daily schedule, weekly events, and his own musings over each horse's character, physicality, athletic ability, and training as the months and seasons pass. Belasik's honest and enlightened journal entries give the reader an inside look at training horses according to the classical system he has used for almost 40 years. His style of writing allows the reader to "live" the experiences as he did-in the moment, and without the benefit of hindsight. The result is a true account, both thoughtful and thought provoking, and by turns tender and efficiently practical.

While many horsemen may have the opportunity to train a young horse in the course of their life, it is only he who both breeds and trains who benefits from working with full and half siblings, horses both closely related and distant. Training horses that share bloodlines, birthplace, and breaking-in techniques enables one to witness the power of nature and the influence of nurture on the eventual result-a "finished" riding horse. Whether that horse is a pleasure to work with and ride,or dull and dispassionate, or worse-a danger to himself and others-is ultimately dependent on the right mixture of nature and nurture, and a sensitive knowledgeable hand to offer lessons in fair and yet effective measures.

It is this that we witness, in words and photos, in the pages within. Paul Belasik opens his farm and his experience to us all, in the hope that his continuing education in the realm of horsemanship can be our own.

Frequently Bought Together

Nature, Nurture and Horses: A Journal of Four Dressage Horses in Training-From Birth through the First Year of Training + Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse: Riding Through the Levels on the Peculiar, Opinionated, Complicated Mounts We All Love
Price For Both: CDN$ 50.08

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Trafalgar Square Books (May 18 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570765316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570765315
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 25.7 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #339,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The very heart of the book is the information about the horse's neck and what to do with it. . . . The richness of the content of this book is way too valuable to bypass." —Dressage Today (December 2012)

This book takes a look at the day-to-day life with horses and the work that goes into them .... [A] valuable read for riders of any discipline.”  —Jennifer Roberts, Equine Journal

About the Author

Paul Belasik is an international rider, trainer, writer, and teacher, and an avowed proponent of classical equestrian ideals. He is the author of numerous books, including Dressage for the 21st Century and Exploring Dressage Technique. He lives in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania.
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 beyond Grand Prix. 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 of 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 seven 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 (

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for Trainer and Breeder July 9 2012
By Carole J. Cox - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I look forward to the work of Paul Belasik and I quickly placed a pre-order once I heard that another work was on the horizon.

The is a particularly relevant production for me at this time since I am in the process of buying my first PRE Andalusian who I met on the day of her birth. I am already analyzing each of the for foals highlighted in this book toward how they behave as a newborn as to what they become as an adult horse. At first, I was disappointed that more was not said as to the foals heritage and birth size but I quickly decided that the authors intent was to focus on purely on behavior-both hereditary and learned rather than sell a breed or suggest any influence from size. At all times, the subtle progress is kept as close to what nature defines as possible. I say this even though aids such as side reins are used because at no time are their harsh influences. Aids are applied in a supportive way which will ultimately support future evolution between the horse and its human partner.

This book follows four horse -three fillies and one stud colt- through their early, formative years- from birth to quite pleasant mounts. Their progress and the supportive techniques are followed throughout the erly life. I think that the key point is that the foal is unique and each one must have his or her own training program while still observing the goal of producing a sound partner for the experience of classical training.

In a sense, this work is a continuum from "Lost Quixote" in that natural dominance and leadership within the herd are considered while training. I have witnessed such with my own limited experience as a trainer. Just today, I applied this philosophy in an approach to helping my Haflinger mare get over a fear or wish not to do something. She is a leader in her group and I allowed for the fact that she was having difficulty giving decision making to me. From this, I took a sit and wait approach which allowed her to see the wisdom of what I was trying to guide her through.

There is a great deal of beauty to this approach to bringing a horse along. One who can do this is almost guaranteed to have an easy partner. Equestrians from any discipline -Western, English-can benefit from this classical approach. The horse is permitted to evolve into its role rather than having its spirit forced into compliance.

So very unfortunate that all horses cannot enjoy such guidance!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just what I was looking for Aug. 10 2012
By diane - Published on
I really liked this book, really takes you through the days of training. Usually we only get to see the end result in competitions but the day to day with horses is the important part. I have a Dutch Warmblood and recently got an adorable Andalusian to train in dressage, really fun. This book added to the fun.
5.0 out of 5 stars So insightful Sept. 22 2013
By ma - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Have ridden with Paul several times and find his comment insightful and his exercises work. He repeats his lessons with you so that when you return home, they are still in your head. The training of these four is quite insightful; es. go back to longing when there is a problem.
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book on training Feb. 16 2013
By florence teiger - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is rare to get a detailed training program for young dressage horses that is as useful as this book; the photos and personalities of the four horses followed are terrific. That said, the book has a narrow appeal to those interested in the correct development of the young horse. Love his approach!
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read-perspective of a horseman's life and the rythyms it entails. Feb. 12 2013
By D. Cobb - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read the book as if it was a journal-as the title suggested. I enjoyed it tremendously as you envision the daily life of a horseperson who makes a living at it-any enjoys it. There were pearls of wisdom tossed in here and there. Obviously the text had been edited so as not to be a "rough draft" as most journals would be-but, you still have the sense of ongoing observations/notes and reflections on each horse which was featured. No one should read it as a "how to" guide for training-you will miss the point. I have read all of Paul Belasik's books and his style of writing is easy to read.

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