By Lynn Palm and Stacy Piggot. Hardcover. 2011. Trafalgar Square Books. $29.95. Available at http://www.horsebooksetc.com/, 800-952-5813.
The problem with Lynn Palm’s book is that it’s mis-titled. “Collection” is one of the most misused words in the equestrian lexicon, as she notes in chapter 1. She should have called it “The Guide To True Balance,” because that’s what she’s really talking about, both philosophically and practically.
The cover blurb accurately describes the book’s theme: “Achieve willingness, balance and the perfect frame with performance horses.”
In chapter 1, Palm correctly notes, “Collection can only be achieved by riding the horse from back to front,” adding, “A ‘headset’ is not collection. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions in riding.”
Palm is best known for her training and riding of Rugged Lark, the Quarter Horse stallion with whom she won numerous American Quarter Horse Association Western titles and performed a long list of training demonstrations around the country, including at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The author is admirably experienced in a wide range of riding disciplines (including dressage), and the primary point of her book is that balance (or “collection”) is a necessary precursor to a good performance in any discipline.
She works very hard to explain her philosophy and exercises in ways riders of almost any discipline will understand, and the photos by acclaimed photographer Cappy Jackson beautifully illustrate her words, with horses in both English and western tack.
Bottom Line: The Rider’s Guide is a thoroughly written and beautifully designed book about the basic training of horses. But it’s not really about collection.
Best Suited For: This is a good book for beginner or novice riders who need to understand how to create balance and energy in their horses. Palm clearly and thoroughly explains the basics of training and various equipment.
You’ll be disappointed if: You’re a reasonably experienced dressage rider who hopes a book will teach you how to develop the level of collection needed for upper-level dressage.