‘In balance, forward, with rhythm’
I’d find it hard to pin down a favourite non-fiction horsey/eventing book but this one is pretty high up the list and one to which I return regularly. It’s an odd little book: part biography, part instruction manual, part anecdote, part philosophy text. There are next to no photos but it is full of little snippets of wisdom that have stuck with me over the years.
The first part is an account of Lars’ career, from his time in the Swedish cavalry to his tutelage under Major Henri St. Cyr to the heady days of the establishment and expansion of Waterstock in the 60s and 70s. It is this period that most intrigues me. So many famous names trained there: Caroline Bradley, Michael Whitaker, Richard Walker, Robert Lemieux, Graham Fletcher, Mike Plumb, Jimmy Wofford, David O’Connor, Ian Stark, Matt Ryan, Mary King, Yogi Breisner… The list is littered with the great and good of international show-jumping and eventing. I wonder if anyone has ever totted up how many Olympic and Championship medals have been won by Lars’ pupils? I would give my right arm to take a time machine trip and be a fly on the wall for some of those sessions.
The second half of the book concentrates on Lars’ philosophy – flatwork for the jumping horse, jumping work for the rider, education for show-jumping and training for cross-country. There are no colour diagrams of prescribed grids to cure this, that and the next thing, no detailed criticisms of photographs of horse and rider at work, no ‘you must do it this way’; merely words, ideas, anecdotes and philosophies. I particularly like the story of how Mary King learned to sit up on the approach to a fence.
The above quote – ‘in balance, forward, with rhythm’ is one that I try to carry with me now. I have let it slip my mind recently but a re-reading of this fabulous little book has reminded me that this is what is missing from my training at the moment. I shall endeavour to make it my mantra and repeat it in every show-jumping warm-up and every XC start box in future.
My other favourite is ‘what is right on Monday is not always right on Tuesday’ which is easily forgotten but vital to keep in mind when training horses. If your current method isn’t working stop, sit back, think, then try something different.
I haven’t met anyone else with a copy of this book, and whilst it may not be up everyone’s street I think it deserves a bigger audience. I, for one, will be riding with more thought from now on.
The book is available from www.sederholmselected.co.uk and costs £10