Biography – Dominique Barbier
As a best-selling author, clinician, world-renowned horseman, Dominique is our greatest link to the French classical riding tradition of the last four centuries ~”descent de main, descent de jambe.” But he is an innovator as well and that is what makes his message and his life’s work so important. Whether it is a clinic situation, a lecture, or a large symposium, Dominique brings his passion, his practice, and his life-long commitment to an ideal to create an uplifting message for all participants.
Dominique was born in Orleans, France, in 1950. At age 7, Dominique learned judo with the great Master Gibeau who was from the Kodokan lineage, 7 Dan. He learned much about balance, attitude, and respect. Dominique began his equestrian career in 1962 behind a Jesuit school in France.
At 17, he traveled to Crabett Park School in England and received his British Horse Society Assistant Instructor certification. In 1972, Dominique returned to England to achieve his British Horse Society Instructor certification and attended the Talland School of Equitation in Cirenchester, where Mrs. Molly Siveright, FBHS, DBHS, instructed him. He continued riding throughout Europe at numerous facilities in various disciplines, including jumping, three-day eventing, dressage, and steeplechasing. Dominique then went to Portugal to study for two years with Mestre Nuno Oliviera. Through his internship with Mestre Nuno Oliviera, Dominique learned to ride by perfecting his “mental and physical attitude.” This time period was transformational as it inspired his belief in keeping the horse light and happy; “la belle legerete a la Francaise.” 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 un- paralleled in the horse world.
Since immigrating to the United States, Dominique’s teaching and passion for the “Art of Dressage” has reached many thousands of people in the North America, as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Ahead of his time, Dominique has been teaching the importance of mental communication and the under- standing of the horse’s nature for nearly forty 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 20 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.”
Other volumes have been published, including Sketches of the Equestrian Art with Jean Louis Sauvat, the artistic director of the Versailles School and Maitre Teacher in Les Beaux Arts in Paris. From Dominique’s introduction in Sketches of the Equestrian Art: “Horses teach us how to ask without agression, 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 cherish every single moment for its novelty and wonder, and to remain true to the best traditions of the past.”
The Barbier Dressage Training Companion is an award winning book that offers readers a simple, concise companion to their training methods. The book is uniquely formatted and easy to access for all levels of students and trainers. Dominique’s unique perspective is offered as remembrances from clinics in Souvenir, a rare out of print edition greatly treasured by his students.
Meditation for Two, with renowned equestrian photographer Keron Psillas, will delight riders, as well as lovers of beautiful artwork, bookmaking, and photography. 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. An expanded version of Dressage for the New Age has just 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 has released his latest book, The Alchemy of Lightness, with co-author Dr. Maria Katsamanis. 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 tech- niques that remain true to the best traditions of the classical past while providing a comprehensive foundation that will change the way you ride forever. New DVD’s of the Symposiums at Barbier Farms will soon be available.
An accomplished instructor and trainer, Debra Barbier’s career began riding three-day event horses and jumpers. Having earned her instructor’s certificate she headed a riding school whose mainstay was providing courses for those wishing to become certified as instructors. Wishing to further her pursuit of dressage, she moved to study full-time with Dominique in Sun Valley, Idaho. Debra excels as both a trainer and instructor thanks to her deeply rooted patience and knowledge of both horses and riders. During her long career, Debra has worked with many breeds, but has recently focused her efforts almost exclusively on the beloved Lusitano. “Their honest, generous nature allows them to form a sharing partnership with their riders.” Instructing both at home and abroad, Debra often accompanies Dominique to Brazil and shares in his quest to import the best Lusitanos and provide many clients with their “dream horse.”
Dominique and Debra and their daughters Domina and Tianna, reside in Northern California in the Sonoma Valley along with 20 or more Lusitano stallions in the barn at any given time, Dominique and Debra grow Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in their vineyard in Healdsburg. Clinics are offered in their home three or four times each year. Private instruction can be arranged year-round. This is a special opportunity for students to come and enjoy the experience of riding highly trained Lusitanos with both Dominique and Debra teaching. Dominique continues to offer clinics and multi-media lectures around the world. He is regularly in Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Portugal and Brazil.
Now is the time for Dominique’s message of compassion for the horse to find a greater audience. The application of Dominique’s teaching and his unique insight is valuable in all our lives…not just the lives of horse owners and enthusiasts.