What made you decide to write this book?
I wanted to give the important things to the student before they begin the learning process, but still be relevant throughout the entirety of it. Something to inspire in the student a passion for what dressage is: a very old and fascinating subject. And also to remind the rider that the horse bears every mark of it's previous handling, to temper our force, and not just ambitiously romp around on him. The book is there to remind people that most of the responsibility of learning is placed on the student who wishes to learn, and not the teacher to grind knowledge in. Also, to remind students that we must look back, and not forget the classical body of knowledge.
You write riders should also focus on mental aspects instead of focusing of their technique alone. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
There is all this argument over technique. The criticism is always about the technique. The technique is not to be criticized, but the bad use or interpretation of it. The technique gets the blame, but the rider has to do the technique. I want people to ingrain in their mind that there is nothing new in dressage. When you take the master away from his method, he takes the better part of his technique with him. What's left behind is for the student to sort out. Try to copy one's violin technique, or an actor's manner of speaking, and you will know what I mean. The most difficult thing to attempt is to become someone else, so we must as of necessity find ourselves. Technique is key, but if a person has a propensity to anger, he must discover this block and work on that, because the same technique applied by one person who is filled with patience and serenity in their riding, reaps a different effect, than the same technique delivered with ambition and impatience.
Which sins do you see occur most often?
Pride and Impatience. I think it's been popular to raise people's self-esteem way above their ability. We are all familiar with telling children: "you can do anything you set your mind to". It might be better to ask: "Do you think you can set your mind to that?" . Then you would find the real answer. It is like the person that loses interest in their work, the moment they realize the pay is in direct proportion to their worth. Many Americans gravitate toward that which requires very little effort on their part, but expect a very glamorous outcome. This leads very often to the sin of Immoderation.
In America, we think the louder we say it, the truer it becomes, and that a 2 week course in anything, makes you an expert. In Europe, there is still more respect for the apprenticeship system.
Would it be possible to add a practical exercise for some of the sins?
Timidity, Fear, Impatience and possibly Immoderation may seem most suitable for that - it would be great if that would be possible.
Never shrink from study. By studying we find everything. Study is the practical exercise. All of these exercises require effort. A practical exercise for Timidity is to watch good riders, a good exercise for Fear is to try to understand the taming process of the horse. A good exercise for Immoderation is to try to be consistent in all your interactions with the horse, and never think that study can replace a good teacher.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage was the most checked out book of our library atThe Florida Dressage Experience Program in 2014. Our trainers/riders found it articulate and thought provoking. In order to be successful trainers/riders must understand themselves as well as their mounts. Douglas Puterbaugh's practical training suggestions coupled with a deep understanding of human nature make this a “must read” for aspiring rider/trainers! Definitely in the “ I couldn’t put it down category! “
- Ida Norris "S" Dressage Judge Founder of the Florida Dressage Experience Program
“Most everyone riding a horse, has at one time or another comitted at least one, if not more of these sins. Maybe,hopefully, by reading this book, more riders will see themselves here, try to curb their behavior, so we can see happier and less misunderstood horses throughout the US. On behalf of all the horses, I thank you.”
- Sonja Vracko, Clinician, ‘S” Judge , Dressage
“The (Seven Deadly) sins, according to Puterbaugh, are: ignorance, timidity, pride, fear, impatience, anger, and immoderation. In The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage, Puterbaugh shows us how not to repeat the trespasses of our past horsemanship mistakes.”
—USDF Connection July 2012
“The book is a blend of psychology, philosophy, and practical advice. It combines old knowledge with modern concepts of riding and horsemanship, but it is not a book on dressage technique per se. It is a book about human character traits as they relate to riding. Above all, it is a self improvement book, and as stated in the chapter on Immoderation, the overarching theme is: “Before trying to improve your horse, try to improve yourself.” "
-Mid South Horse Review by Leigh Ballard (July 2012
“After reading this book you will feel inspired to do better, and will be aware of bad energies and habits that may have crept into your riding spirit. A truly good book. Highly recommend this, not just for dressage folks either. It applies in great part to all riders.”
"Douglas has a gift, or genius of communication. He can relay information to horse and human with explicitly and simplicity.
In his book, "The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage", he explains in detail human nature through their sins, the nature of a horse and how man must understand his sins in order communicate with the horse and to effectively train him. With Douglas's experience of over 20 years in the training of dressage, his explanation of the "Sins of Man" are what interfere with the training of the horse, or man learning how to ride well. Riding dressage is the highest expression of horse training, so the faults of man must be overcome to master both the concept of riding dressage and with the training of the horse.
I consider, "The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage", a horsemanship Bible of sorts or a "Good Book". Because dressage demands so much of horse and rider, the book is a guide to how to achieve this level of riding and training.
"The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage", also carries the signature of a musician in Douglas's style of writing. I see lyrics and prose evident in this book's content reflecting Douglas's musical nature and love of music.
All who are interested in the study of dressage or any other discipline of riding should read this book. No matter what your age, anyone interested in riding or training will glean much knowledge from this master dressage instructor, Douglas Puterbaugh."
- Joanie Freeman
"I love this book! It's not a traditional how to dressage book. If your looking for collection, shoulder in, etc… this is not it. If your looking to become a better rider and trainer for any riding discipline you've hit the mother load. The lesson I learned best from this book is not to look at a training problem as a problem. It must be looked at as another way to teach or explain something to your horse. What I learned in this book doesn't just apply to dealing with horses, but with life in general. If everyone applied these concepts to other people as well the world would be a much better place.
- Kim Nobel
"I love this book. Read it to unlock your potential as a rider and trainer. So much food for thought. If you ride you will find yourself saying “Amen, brother.” Should go on the required reading list for USDF Instructor/Trainers. It also makes you want to go have a lesson with Douglas Puterbaugh, except that he lives and trains in Michigan!
I just wanted to add that the news is spreading about this book. Chatter amongst trainers and USDF Instructors. If you train or teach you really MUST read this. If you don’t see some of your own errors, you won’t miss the ones you see your peers making!"
-Karen McGoldrick, author of ”The Dressage Chronicles”
The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage is recommended by top judges and trainers as an introspective look at the rider to better serve the horse. It is the nature of humans to fall victim to temptations, but when we swing into the saddle in search of a riding epiphany, a moment's weakness can forever breach fragile trust. The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage - Ignorance, Timidity, Pride, Fear, Impatience, Anger, and Immoderation are sadly so commonplace within the horse industry, and so it is the hope that this book, a passionate exploration of human nature, with wisdom from the Dressage Masters, that it will serve to shine light on the errors of our ways and help the rider to overcome weaknesses in order to realize a dream of riding with honesty, truth, and brilliance.