Dressage Sabbatical: A Year of Classical Riding at Lost Hollow Farm is the enthralling tale of a young equestrian’s true challenge of a lifetime. Rose Caslar, a highly experienced rider and trainer across disciplines, arrives for her year-long internship at American classical master Paul Belasik’s Pennsylvania Riding Academy only to find she has to put aside everything she knows and basically start completely over. Beginning with the very thing that she was sure she had mastered…her position! Rose is courageous, honest and open as she writes about her journey, sweeping her readers along in her daily activities, adventures and private thoughts.
We learn about the tremendous workload of a top equestrian training facility, which is not for the faint of heart. And neither are the weekly lessons with the sometimes mysterious Belasik who always encourages Rose to find the right questions to ask and gives nothing away. As the months pass, we enjoy many technical discussions of training methodology, much self-evaluation, and stories of struggle, breakthrough and progress that happily begins to snowball as time passes. Raised a true outdoors woman, Rose makes time to note the change of the seasons, describing the beauty of the countryside in all of its natural glory. Her descriptions of the weekly gourmet “barn dinners” will reflexively send you to your own kitchen to forage for for a glass of wine and something scrumptious to eat. Rose voices the thoughts and fears, hopes and dreams we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives in our quest to become better horsemen, the thoughts that we rarely voice to anyone and not often to ourselves. In the end, we realize by her example that if, like Rose, we persevere and we work hard, anything is possible.
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