Sunday, December 21, 2014

When Spines Align: Book Review

A long time ago, a trainer told me "the problem is, you don't know what you're doing." While that is not an especially insightful or helpful comment for the average rider,  I agree in sense that many riders wonder if they are doing things correctly. Does my half-halt feel right to the horse? Am I sitting too heavy? Engaging my core properly? Weighting a seatbone too much? Is there too much weight in the rein?

One of my fantasies has been to momentarily "sit inside" a great rider while they are working a horse, and to get a feel for what they are doing. That probably isn't going to happen, but...

Beth Baumert's book When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics, comes close to that fantasy. This is easily the most influential book I have read for a long, long time. Much as I love Sally Swift, this book had a bigger impact for me than Centered Riding did. It captures that many of the ideas in the simple (and useful) Swift metaphors and goes further in its analysis of what constitutes good riding -- there are exercises too. When Spines Align is about more than posture -- it has helped me to better understand the right "feel" -- both in the particulars (connection, use of weight, etc) and more generally. I have been implementing what I've learned for about a month, and I can feel a distinct difference.

The book is divided into How Riders Work, How Horse Work,  and How Two Spines Meet in Balance. Baumert talks about "powerlines" -- the vertical powerline, the connecting powerline, the spiraling powerline, and the visual powerline. So many great concepts it is almost overwhelming.

HUGE thumbs up -- you will love this book.


  1. Beth Baumert is a super writer, too. Can't wait to get this book.

  2. I got this book for my birthday and am about 3 chapters in. I'm also a fellow Sally Swift devotee, and like you, I am finding this book even more valuable than Centered Riding. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed by remembering every little detail the first time around, I feel like it's something I'll need to read multiple times to absorb. Great book!

  3. I haven't read mine yet, but just the TITLE concept has improved my riding!


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