This book is a long-awaited resource, with brilliant, well-placed color photos that clearly show what the author is discussing and line art that further drives the text. The rider in the photos is Kottas's daughter, and many were taken in a field, showing there's no reason to be ring-bound, even if you're doing "dressage."
This isn't a heavy textbook. There are no mind-numbing discourses that pontificate but never actually tell you what you're supposed to do. It's a how-to manual with theory so well-entwined in the descriptions of the techniques that you absorb it seemingly by osmosis, not only retaining the words but actually feeling empowered.
He stresses proper equitation, of course. He also assumes you're training a young horse, which feels frustrating at first, with a lot of sections on longeing and in-hand work. That said, a "trained" horse might benefit from a few steps back in order to build a stronger foundation. Kottas explains the progression for longeing to passage so well, you will be convinced by the end of the book that you can do it all.
This is far from the only good training book written by an expert horseman, albeit one who has achieved more than most of us can ever hope. (Kottas is the former First Chief Rider at the Spanish Riding School.) But the text design is what really sets it apart, a brilliant presentation for this information-overload day and age.
We found it extremely easy to read, with clear subheads (i.e. shoulder-fore isn't buried under "lateral exercises") and bullet lists. The sections My Advice, Frequent Problems,and Checklist are incredibly user friendly. Excellent use of bullets.
Bottom Line.If you're genuinely looking to improve your own riding so that your horse can improve, buy this book. It doesn't matter if you ride dressage or not. If you listen, you'll learn.
Best suited for: The intermediate to advanced English rider who is serious about proper training and its progression.
You'll be disappointed if: You don't have a strong grasp of the fundamentals or expect a quick fix.