Dressage Sabbatical: A Year of Classical Riding at Lost Hollow Farm is the captivating tale of a rider’s challenge of a lifetime. Rose Caslar, experienced rider and trainer, arrives for her year-long internship at American classical dressage master Paul Belasik’s Pennsylvania Riding Academy to find she must put aside everything she knows about riding, from her position to dressage theory. Rose is courageous, honest and remarkably open, sweeping readers along in the daily work, adventures, and her private thoughts. The tremendous workload of a first-class training facility is not for the faint of heart; neither are weekly lessons with sometimes mysterious Belasik who encourages Rose to ask the right questions, giving nothing away.
Throughout, we enjoy humor alongside technical discussions of training, history, and self-evaluation. A true outdoorswoman, Rose notes the farm’s seasons and writes lyrically of the countryside. The weekly gourmet “barn dinners” will send you to your own kitchen for a glass of wine and something scrumptious. Rose voices the doubts and anxieties, hopes and dreams common to those who quest to become better horsemen, unafraid to voice thoughts we rarely share, even to ourselves. It is impossible not to be inspired by Rose’s perseverance and hard work.
A deeply insightful book, Dressage Sabbatical provides the reader with an understanding of the day-to-day running of a top equestrian yard and the hard work required to maintain the high standards. What I loved about this book is that it is not only an easy read but a real page turner.
The book describes so well the challenges faced by the author, the journey and transformation of the not-so-polished rider through the year-long sabbatical of moulding, shaping, sculpting and fine-tuning bringing to light a now polished rider well-schooled in Classical Dressage. This offers hope to all the “non-professional” equestrians out there, including myself. In all of this, the author encourages each one in the reality that if you work hard… anything is possible. ~ Andreia Ho-Tong
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. ~ Leah Strid
Dressage Sabbatical is riveting, fascinating, and a great opportunity to learn about the inner workings of a classical training facility and the master behind it all. I felt like I was interning by Rose’s side and living vicariously through her. Having read all of Paul Belasik’s books, audited several of his clinics, and met him when he came to town, this is also a new angle to learn about Paul and his training techniques. I loved going along with Rose’s journey and reading her more in-depth dialogue as her education progressed. I was inspired by this book to dig even deeper into my dressage journey. ~ JoAnne B.
Dressage Sabbatical deserves a place in the library of any student of the horse and of riding. The author presents a thoughtful analysis and discussion of her journey into the nuances of classical dressage training. The technical discussions are beautifully woven into context throughout. She also includes references and discusses many of the classical works she studied in her non-riding time. However, it is her open and honest sharing of her personal experience, her wonderful metaphors and storytelling that make this book so special…and that is part of what hooked me.
~ Lisa Kelly Simmons – President, United States Lipizzan Federation
From my perspective as a seeker of equestrian enlightenment and an oftentimes confused student when it comes to “dressage speak” from all the different trainers, whatever their method, I found Dressage Sabbatical to be a wonderful insight into dressage training from the perspective of a fellow seeker. I would highly recommend this book to any rider seeking an elaboration of the path to not only the upper levels of competitive dressage, but also the importance of returning to good basics and how to attain them, what to look for along the way, and how to develop the tact to resolve constantly evolving and never-ending problems. A job very well done, and I so appreciate Rose sharing her experience! ~ Christina Turrissini.
Dressage Sabbatical is well-written, inspiring, engaging, and hard to put down. I found myself relating to many things the author says as she describes her journey to develop self-awareness and feel, and deeper understanding of classical riding. Her little insights into subtle changes in her position and how she uses her body, and the profound effects upon how the horse goes, these little things are fascinating and what excite me… And then I want to go out and ride. ~ Courtney Rebecca LaValle
Having just finished reading Dressage Sabbatical: A Year of Classical Riding at Lost Hollow Farm, by Rose Caslar, I have to say, WOW…I LOVE IT! This very talented author has written and shared with the world a positive and honest accounting of the life of an equestrienne working and studying at Paul Belasik’s classical training academy at Lost Hollow Farm. Anyone who has ever interned under a serious professional trainer will understand and empathize with the author’s dedication, hard work, sense of humor, and emotional swings.
Miss Caslar has done an excellent job of relating what she learned and how to apply it, as well as clarifying “dressage myths” that have confounded riders and spectators unfamiliar with classical training. Having interned a few times in my career, I can honestly say Rose Caslar’s story touched my heart and soul, made me laugh a lot, and even cry a little. ~ Ann Clemons