SYLVIA LOCH DRESSAGE BOOKS - REVIEWS
THE ROYAL HORSE OF EUROPE
HORSE AND HOUND, November l986, Colonel Anthony Crossley's Christmas Review -
Beautifully produced and illustrated, The Royal Horse of Europe must be very hard to beat as the equestrian Book of the Year. Well supplied with maps and much high-class colour photography, supporting 250 pages of densely packed and deeply researched information on a quite fascinating subject, it is worth every penny of its considerable price tag.
The history of the Iberian horse, from prehistoric to contemporary times, seems to have been strangely neglected in our language until now, bearing in mind the high value of this very individual breed to the Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Moors, the cavalry of Western Europe in the l5th, l6th and l7th Centuries, the conquest of the Americas and the development of the female line of our own world-famous English Trhooughbred.
Known now as Andalusian if bred in Spain, and Lusitano if bred in Portugal, the breed has throughout history been famous for courage, intelligence, docility, endurance and agility. Added to the horses' hotblooded quality and clean, hardy limbs, these characteristics led to their being in great demand as improvers of many other breeds.
We learn that in the l4th Century, Edward IIi imported 50 Spanish stallions and that his example was followed by later British monarchs such as Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, James I and the two Charleses.
The Duke of Newcastle rode Iberian horses, and in his day there were certainly more imported Iberians than Arabs in England. They were, as they have always been, the charger 'par excellence' for kings, nobles and cavalrymen.
All is presented by the author as the result of a quite unusual amount of devoted and scholarly research and has been condensed into a vivid picture not only of an extraordinary breed of horse but also of the character and way of life of the inhabitants of the Peninsula.
Though quoting extensively from modern and ancient authors, Sylvia Loch is never dogmatic or subservient to them, but offers her own well-considered opinions based on personal study and first hand experience.
THE HORSE MAGAZINE REVIEW, Australia, l987....
Everything about The Royal Horse of Europe spells style and class. It is a handsome book to pick up, the paper stock is of fine quality, but most of all, it has that wonderful look - the design, the typography and the illustrations, are all first class.
Sylvia Loch is no stranger to Australians or readers of The Horse Magazine, and in this latest work, her clear, lucid style of writing is seen at its elegant best. Here is quite obviously a labour of love, the story of a breed of horse, a people and a way of life, that has won some large part of Sylvia's heart forever.
Perhaps it is to repay the marvellous Lusitano and Andalusian schoolmaster horses that taught her so much when based in Portugal with her first husband Lord Loch, Sylvia has marshalled her evidence comp-
rehensively to support her argument that the Spanish horses were not only the favoured mount of the aristocracy, but truly the aristocrats of the horse world iself.
The history is a fascinating detective story that traces the origins of the breed to the dawn of civilisation. Along the way we learn a great deal about the changing styles of riding,and the development of a coherent equestrian philosophy - the Classical School of Riding, which perhaps owed as much to the genius of the horses, as the wisdom of those early Riding Masters.
At every point, the story is informed by the enthusiasm and love of the author for her subject - indeed after reading the two chapters on contemporary Spain and Portugal, the temptation to book the next flight to the Iberian Peninsula is darn near overwhelming.
Of special interest is the discussion of the distinctly Spanish and Portuguese schools of riding - a style and an ethos which found its home in the bullring - but in the case of Portugal, the bull walks away from the encounter without suffering!
It is a book to be read, savoured and read again. A kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and sensations - a homage to a Noble creature, truly The Royal Horse of Europe.
This great tome described by Horse & Hound magazine as "The equestrian book of the year" is now being reprinted. Watch this space for availability!
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