Many books on the subject of dressage are, let’s face it, rather dry in nature. They tend to fall into two categories: instructional books that show, in pictures and text, how to train dressage horses and perform dressage tests; or books that follow the history and philosophy of dressage.
Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when I picked up a copy of Enter at A, Laughing, written by Brian McKeown (a.k.a Mr. Dressage Husband). The subtitle of the book is, appropriately, “A Tongue-in-Jowl Examination of the Sport of Dressage as seen through the Satirical Eyes of a Dressage Husband.”
I was chuckling to myself as I read, right from the introduction. The book features a number of amusing stories (the author himself calls them “silly”) featuring horses and riders from the world of dressage. Essays include “Confessions of a Dressage Husband,” “Passing the Time at a Dressage Show” and “I Married a Dressage Show Secretary,” to name but a few.
Here’s a sneak preview, to whet your appetite, taken from “Passing the Time at a Dressage Show” (or The devil makes work for idle hands):
Try this: don one of those flat caps the Europeans like to wear and wander round the trade booths speaking in a loud German accent. All those in earshot immediately profile you as being either an “O” judge or a famous clinician, over here from Dusseldorf to teach these clumsy American duffers the finer points of horsepersonship, and maybe pick up a few American dollars along the way. They will assume that your name is something like Colonel Gerhard von Clauswitz-Schwung, who has written several prestigious dressage instructional books with names like We Have Ways of Making You Piaffe. Try to avoid eye contact with the peons. Just look important and allow them to display the awe in which they hold you.
Author Brian McKeown is originally from England, and his wife Sue is, in his own words, “a Dressage Queen of the first order.” Following an early retirement from the computer industry, he found himself in need of a creative outlet and began writing articles which appeared in publications distributed by the New England Dressage Association. Encouraged by his wife, and other NEDA members, Brian decided to write more essays with the aim of putting them into a book. Enter at A, Laughing is the result.
Enter at A, Laughing is published by Half Halt Press. I give it “Two Hooves Up.”