Understanding the whole from the parts: a systemic analysis of classical dressage

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This chapter reports on an application of systems theory to a complex area of human endeavor, classical dressage. The area is well represented in a rich literature dating back to the time of Xenophon (c.380BC) and has many practitioners worldwide today. The author uses her interpretive systems perspective to explore classical dressage theory and practice and, throughout, uses examples from the classical equitation literature to support and illustrate the analysis presented. The chapter offers a description of classical dressage from considering its component parts and suggests that it concerns not only the “correct” and ethical training and riding of horses but, fundamentally, the personal development of the trainer/rider. The chapter concludes by (1) inspecting the relationship between classical and competition dressage and suggests that they contain important elements that are mutually exclusive and (2) considering the potential contribution of “systems” to the study of the human-horse relationship as complementary to the increasingly popular approach of equitation science.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSystems Research for Real-World Challenges
EditorsFrank Stowell
PublisherIdea Group Inc
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781522559979
ISBN (Print)9781522559962, 1522559965
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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