This first book entry into Peggy Cummings Connected Groundwork/Riding method has TONS of good information in it.
The information is definitely valuable and of good use. I highly recommend checking it out because Cummings does a good job (in the TEXT) in explaining her method and how to apply it. If you can be patient and willing, you will see results.
Like Linda Tellington-Jones (who is her mentor) this method would be hard to screw up or use it to harm your horse while you are figuring out. You might look a bit of a confused idiot while you sort out the lines, what hand goes where, etc… but your horse won’t suffer too much from your mistakes.
Personally, I favor methods like this because many horse owners/handlers, me included, don’t have the money or the ability to go to a clinic. For example, the Mark Russell clinic I was hoping to go to was cancelled due to poor attendance.
People need these ideas presented in a way which enables them to help their horse become a better partner, while also educating the Horse owner/handler to new, compassionate, ideas.
The good news is that Peggy is able to explain her method quite well throughout the text portions. The photos (though too small) are done in a sequence that aids in explanation and are well shot (many horse books have poor explanatory photos). The same with the line drawings and graphics of the book – these portions are helpful.
The reason why I have this hmmm attitude though, is that this book, like many of the Linda Tellington-Jones and Klaus Hempflings books, is put together in a format that makes it difficult to use. While reading it, it crossed my mind that whoever the editor was they must have come from a magazine layout background. Since I myself, have edited newspapers as well as some magazine formats, I recognize the usefulness of these designs – but here it simply does not work.
The problem with the layout is you have a two page spread, explaining a difficult subject, stuck with all sorts of sidebars (a box within text that explains a related but different subject then the main text) and when you add in photos (that are simply too small), there is too much information that is being chopped up, spread page over page, and sliced mid-paragraph so you lose the chain of thought.
This seriously impacts readability and understandability.
Part 1 is an introduction to Peggy’s concepts and background (17 pages); Part II is about Handler posture and position and will be familiar to those who have done Centered Riding work (15 pages); and Part III is about the equipment (22 pages). Not until page 57 do you get into the actual exercises.
This will turn a lot of readers off. In this Mc-World people want answers and they want them now. They want to jump in and try it. While I understand why the book was set up like it was, and I was okay with it (though somewhat impatient for it to get started), in the long run this editorial set up of the book is going to turn off potential converts.
For example, this book would have benefited from the personal case studies being grouped in one chapter; perhaps at the end with a sample outline of how you could combine exercises for Problem A horse, Problem B horse etc… showing the different ways you could build a training program.
I understand why they spaced it throughout – to keep the readers attention – but instead of doing this it just impacts the comprehension of text that can be highly technical (placement of left/right hands, line of the rope, whether moving clockwise or counter-clockwise, standing on the horses’ left or right side etc…) .
What would have been better was having each exercise be at the top of a page and cover it with a 2 page spread. In this way, when working in the field with my horse I could plop the book open to say, Caterpillar, and see the entire information and photos about this exercise. I could also have indexed my book with tabs on each exercise so I could easily refer to it when working in the barn or arena. Instead I have a too-small page format book, cluttered with “extras” when I just want to read the exercise!
The book wraps with the groundwork in motion – an area I would like to see another 10 pages about… and then ends rather abruptly. Again, this is where I would have preferred to have read about the case studies, what was done, how long, why and what was the result. It would have made referring back to the book easier and especially when I took to the field to do actual work with my horse.
Overall, I have no issues with recommending this book for the horse owner who wants to increase the performance of the horse (especially horses with body issues, soreness, being stuck etc…). I’m already seeing small but significant gains with my horse Z, using these methods and I am just at the beginning of my learning curve.
It will take patience though to glean the information you need so please be persistent and give it a try!