After years in the horse magazine business, just about everyone at H&R has seen stacks of books come and go—fiction, non-fiction, training manuals, grooming guides. Obviously, there's a lot to write and say about horses.
As writers and riders, editors love to read books that give new insights they can apply with their own horses. But there are some books and DVDs that remain at hand, well used, oft referred to, and beloved. Some are inspiring newcomers, others are classics that have earned a permanent, revered spot in the library.
With a nod to the old classics, and a tip of the hat to newcomers, we've compiled a list of training aids that not only teach, but inspire and motivate as well. Consider it your recommended trail toward a great DIY training library!
Note: The hot-linked titles are available on HorseBooksEtc.com.
The British Horse Society's The Manual of Horsemanship, by the Pony Club Training Committee.
The Pony Club/Half Halt Press, Inc., 448 pages
List price: Look for used copies on Amazon or eBay.
Some of the horse industry's greatest riders point to this book as influential in their own riding skills. In its 13th edition, this bestseller covers a wide range of equestrian topics. Look also for the United States Pony Club manuals, organized by levels.
Centered Riding I and II, by Sally Swift.
St. Martin's Press and Trafalgar Square, 208 and 272 pages
List price: $26.99 and $28.95, respectively.
Swift's insightful use of imagery and her spot-on descriptions made these two books into bibles for a riding generation. She explains centering, balance, and soft eyes, with descriptions that stay with riders for years. Centered Riding offers rider basics that inspire, with illustrations that have given more than a few riders "aha" moments in the saddle.
The Complete Training of Horse and Rider, by Colonel Alois Podhajsky.
Wilshire Book Company, 256 pages
List price: $15.00
Podhajsky explains the mechanics and nuances of classical horsemanship (writing separately about training the horse and training the rider), encourages a positive approach to understanding horses and working with them, and defines key concepts in clear terms. Also by Podhajsky, and worth looking for: My Horses, My Teachers.
Dressage 101: The Ultimate Source of Dressage Basics in a Language You Can Understand, by Jane Savoie.
Trafalgar Square, 488 pages
List price: $34.95
Not just for dressage enthusiasts, this book offers clear, well-illustrated instruction that will give any rider a solid foundation for training a well-broke horse. In down-to-earth language, Savoie points out the importance of clarity, consistency, and kindness, and progresses through four stages. Her final chapter will help you put together a logical, systematic, daily work session. "Think of each of your daily schooling sessions as a story unfolding," she writes.
Monte Foreman's Horse-Training Science, by Monte Foreman and Patrick Wyse.
University of Oklahoma Press, 144 pages
List price: $26.95
Well ahead of his time, Monte Foreman studied how horses and riders work together, and videotaped them to analyze and study. While this book was first published in 1985 and is a bit dated in appearance, the content is timeless. It offers step-by-step instruction (applicable to both English and Western riders), and uses detailed photographs to illustrate humane horsemanship based on careful study.
Riding Logic: Transform Riding Skills to Art on Horseback With Classical Lessons in Flatwork and Jumping, by Wilhelm Museler.
Trafalgar Square, 176 pages
List price: $29.95
This classic manual provides practical knowledge that lays out fundamentals for solid horsemanship and skilled riding. Both beginners and experts will benefit from guidelines as useful today as they were some 70 years ago.
Downunder Horsemanship, by Clinton Anderson, With Ami Hendrickson.
Trafalgar Square, 206 pages
List price: $29.95
Clinton Anderson has helped thousands of riders communicate effectively and safely with their horses, explaining the horse's behavior as a prey animal, and how it drives his reactions and understanding. This book takes Clinton's method and gives riders hands-on, clear, concise exercises to solve problems, move the team forward, and strengthen the horse and rider relationship.
Lyons on Horses: John Lyons' Proven Conditioned-Response Training Program, by John Lyons, With Sinclair Browning.
Skyhorse Publishing, 256 pages
List price: $14.95; electronic version available.
Inveterate teacher and horseman John Lyons has spent decades helping riders solve their horse problems through clinics, books, and videos. Whether you're working with a green horse that doesn't want to load, or an older horse with ingrained habits, Lyons offers step-by-step advice to help you understand your horse's behavior, and how to change it. "I don't care what the horse has done before or what's happened to him," Lyons writes in the first chapter. "From here on out, we'll deal with today only." Another great Lyons book: Bringing Up Baby.