Joan Fry — a writer's life

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The Beginning Dressage Book

The Beginning Dressage Book: What It’s About

Dressage trainer and judge Kathryn Denby-Wrightson and I co-wrote The Beginning Dressage Book, which was published by Arco Publishing in 1981. It sold very well—Kathy still receives questions from frustrated readers. Until it came out, there were no do-it-yourself books for every-day horse owners, most of them women. The only books available in English were mainly written by military officers, all of them men. In 2004 the book was republished by The Lyons Press, with many new photographs, because today even trail riders wear helmets. As a result, Kathy is headless in several photos. The Beginning Dressage Book remained in publication for over 30 years.

According to the Critics

“A wonderfully easy book for a rider of any level to follow and understand. The Beginning Dressage Book is also a great tool for the riding instructor. Bravo!”—Lisa Heres-Rosenberger, 2003 winner of Germany’s Goldenes Reiterabzeichen (Golden Riding Badge)

The Beginning Dressage Book is for any rider who’s dreamed about riding dressage but thought it was only for the experienced. Witten in an interesting, easy to understand style, this book gives riders all the information they need to side-pass into a trail ride or a dressage ring.” –-Gayle Lampe, professor of Equestrian Science, William Woods University, Fulton, Missouri

“Although many instructional books are said to be for beginners, this one truly is, and that’s meant as a compliment. Its appeal comes as much from how the information is transmitted as the information itself: the style is straightforward breezy-chatty, as if the reader were taking a lesson from an enthusiastic, quick-to-point-out, quick to-forgive instructor. The tone (again to paraphrase) is ‘okay, here’s what we want to accomplish, here’s how to do it, and here’s what to do if things aren’t working out at the moment.’ That tone appears throughout the book, whether the reader is learning how to sit properly, or what to expect in the heat of competition, and therein lies The Beginning Dressage Book’s usefulness.”—Dressage & Eventing Magazine

The Beginning Dressage Book is available online at