Horses teach us to ask without aggression, how to love without condition, and how to avoid the destructive side of perfection.
They teach us to sublimate oneself through sharing, giving, and healing.
They teach us to remain true to the finest traditions of the past while expanding our vision for the world we create.
Born in France in 1950, Dominique Barbier began his equine career at a Jesuit school in Poitiers, and at the age of 15 attended Crabbett Park Equestrian Centre in West Sussex, England, where he certified as a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor (BHSAI). In 1972, Dominique returned to England to attend the renowned Talland School of Equitation in Cirencester under the instruction of Mrs. Molly Siveright, FBHS, DBHS. During that time he attained his British Horse Society Instructor (BHSI) designation. For the next eight years, he sharpened his riding skills at a number of highly regarded facilities throughout Europe, following various disciplines, including showjumping, three-day eventing, dressage and steeplechasing. Dominique then based himself in Portugal for two years to study with the legendary Mestre Nuno Oliveira. Here, his riding skills were enhanced by perfecting his “mental and physical attitude.” This experience was a defining moment that inspired Dominique’s belief in keeping a horse “light and happy,” known as “la belle legerete a la Française.”
In Portugal, Dominique purchased Dom Pasquale, Dom Giovanni and Dom Jose – the three Lusitano stallions he first trained to “high school” levels. Remarkably, Dom Giovanni also learned to canter on the spot and backwards! Moving to the US in 1976, along with his three original Lusitano stallions, Dom Pasquale, Dom Jose, and Dom Giovanni. Dominique quickly became a sought-after clinician. His time with Mestre Nuno Oliviera formed the foundation of the teaching that Dominique continues to offer today. Many individuals had the good fortune to study with Mestre Oliviera for varying lengths of time, but Dominique has held fast to the finest traditions of the past while expanding his teaching as his understanding of the horse grew. His unwavering devotion to the well-being of the horse as the first consideration in training is unparalleled in the horse world.
Since emigrating to the United States, Dominique’s teaching and passion for the “Art of Dressage” has reached many thousands of people throughout the country, as well as North Africa, Europe, Asia and Brazil. His avant-garde philosophy, focusing on the fundamental importance of mental communication and the understanding of the horse’s nature, has evolved and matured over 45 years.
With the publication of Dressage for the New Age with Mary Daniels in 1992, Dominique’s work found new outlets around the globe. Since 1992, Dressage for the New Age has been re-printed three times in English and there are editions in German (Perfekt Dressur Reiten. Wege zur klassischen Pferdeausbildung), Portuguese (Adestramento Para Nova Era), and French (La Nouvelle Image de l’Equitation). It remains one of the best-selling books on dressage ever to be published. Chuck Grant, renowned horseman said “Every horseman interested in training would do well to read this book.” The revolutionary nature of the thought in Dressage for the New Age is as applicable today as it was over 25 years ago. Sally Swift, the legendary innovator and founder of Centered Riding had this to say: “After reading Barbier’s book you will come away with a renewed desire to connect with your horse.”
Dominique’s unique perspective is offered as remembrances from clinics in Souvenir, a rare out of print edition from 1995 that is greatly treasured by his students. At about the same time, Sketches of the Equestrian Art was published in France and in the US. This lovely book was created in collaboration with Jean Louis Sauvat, the artistic director of the Versailles School and Maitre Teacher in Lex Beaux Arts in Paris.
Published in 2005, Dominique’s award-winning Dressage Training Companion placed first out of over 600 newly released books, and continues to be the handbook of choice for thousands of riders of all levels. The Dressage Training Companion described as “brilliant and informative,” won national and international awards for writer, editor and book designer, Christopher Bray. It was chosen for an IPPY award – International Independent Book Publishers Awards – from among over 3,400 entries submitted by every state and 18 countries.)
In 2009, Dominique released a magnificent collector’s edition entitled Meditation for Two – a joint collaboration with writer and photographer Keron Psillas – a voyage of enlightenment that transcends simple horse training. In 2010, this jewel of a book was published by Trafalgar Square, Horse and Rider books to tremendous reviews. Meditation For Two is a beautifully personal revelation of Dominique’s unique philosophy of riding and of life. It is now in its second printing and has been translated and released in Germany.
An expanded version of Dressage for the New Age has been released in Germany to wide acclaim. Wege zur Leichtigkeit in der Klassischen Dressur features new photographs by Candida Von Braun and a new chapter.
Dominique offers his latest book, The Alchemy of Lightness, with co-author Dr. Maria Katsamanis and photography by Keron Psillas. Alchemy is the merging of science and art to enhance our understanding of the essentials of Dominique’s teachings. Recent findings in research provide new insights that elucidate the molecular elements of connection with our horses. Through the eyes of an artist and the lens of a scientist we explore the infinite possibilities that can exist with our horses.
In 1996, Dominique debuted the first of his video series with Intimacy in French Classical Dressage, Volumes One and Two. This was followed by Spirit of the Sideways Movement, Volumes Three and Four, and later, Mastering the Basics. He offers unique and refreshing perspectives and philosophies, as well as insightful and incisive training techniques that remain true to the best traditions of the classical past while providing a comprehensive foundation that will change the way you ride forever. An engaging and enlightening DVD of the Classical Series Symposiums at Barbier Farms was released in 2013.