Grand Prix dressage rider and famed performer Yvonne Barteau has dedicated her life to discovering how to best communicate with horses.
“I have made understanding horses my life’s goal,” she says. “Growing up, I read every book about horses, training, and riding I could get my hands on, and during my teens I was willing to run seven miles beyond where the bus line ended so I could sit for hours and stare at horses, interacting with and riding them any time I had a chance.”
Before finding her way to dressage, Barteau spent years working at racetracks along the East Coast, first as a groom, then as a trainer.
“These young horses had lots to say, and I was someone who did listen,” explains Barteau. “I became the groom who could ‘tell’ when a horse was well, unwell, in a mood to win, or feeling off and likely to finish at the back of the pack. When one of my charges was off his feed, I figured out the reason. I paid extremely close attention because I wanted so badly to understand what each horse might say to me if he could talk.”
Barteau’s interest in understanding the horse led her to categorize horse personalities, eventually writing a book on the subject (Ride the Right Horse, Storey Publishing, 2007). These personality assessments helped as she began retraining problem horses and dealing with everything from bucking and rearing issues, to bolters and runaways.
“I eventually entered the equine theater business, and there I needed to pay close attention in order to be able to determine what would keep 67 horses working together in front of a live audience, night after night, while continuing to look agreeable and happy to do their jobs!” Barteau admits. “I was the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and a Feature Performer at the famous Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida, for over five years.”
Since her time in Florida, Barteau has devoted the bulk of her riding and teaching time to dressage.
“I believe it to be the best sport for a horse,” she asserts, “and I am ever so interested in anything that might make our equine friends more happy and comfortable doing their jobs.”
And this leads us to Barteau’s newest project: She’s written a book “from the horse’s mouth”—all the things a horse might say about the dressage training process if he could—called THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. From Training Level through Grand Prix, with Barteau’s help, 10 dressage horses tell us like it is: what feels good, what hurts, what they like, what they find boring, why you need more leg here and less rein there, and even how to ride a test, movement by movement, according to their training and tendencies.
“Hopefully, my words, which are based on reactions from horses I have met and worked with and strived to interpret over these many years, might help you in your journey,” says Barteau. “If they do, even in a small way, your horse will likely benefit…and that is my ultimate goal.”
THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE to download a free sample chapter!
“Because it is written from the horse’s perspective, this book is a different and valuable new guide to training dressage from start to finish. All the levels—and required movements and demands of each level—are clearly explained in great detail. Plentiful photos make clear the objectives of each training exercise. By developing an understanding of how horses mentally and physically react to their riders’ progression of training, we will be more likely to achieve the goal of harmony, which is so important in dressage. This is why THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is a must-read for all dressage enthusiasts.”
Two-Time Olympian, Six-Time National Grand Prix Dressage Champion, Three-Time USDF Dressage Breeder of the Year, USEF “S” Dressage Judge, USDF Hall-of-Fame Inductee