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.
Natural Horsemanship Explained: From Heart to Hands, by Robert M. Miller.
Lyons Press, 208 pages
List price: $24.95; electronic version available.
Horseman and veterinarian Robert Miller researched foal imprinting and changed the way many horsemen approached foaling time. In this book, he explains why natural horsemanship methods are so effective. He offers insights into the horse/human bond, and explains equine instincts and the philosophy behind natural horsemanship.
Parelli Levels Pathway, by Pat Parelli.
Parelli Natural Horsemanship
List price: Levels 1 and 2, $199 for the set; Level 3, $199; Level 4, $199; parellinaturalhorsetraining.com.
Work through the four levels of Parelli Natural Horsemanship with this DVD series. Levels 1 and 2 explain “On Line” and “FreeStyle” riding, focused on safety, confidence, and fun. Level 3 teaches the fundamentals of performance, and Level 4, the final level, focuses on finesse.
Think Harmony With Horses: An In-Depth Study of Horse/Man Relationship, by Ray Hunt, Edited by Milly Hunt.
Pioneer Publishing Company, 100 pages
List Price: $14.95
“This is real important to me. You can ask the horse to do your thing, but you ask him; you offer it to him in a good way. You fix it up and let him find it. You do not make anything happen, no more than you can make a friendship begin,” says Ray Hunt. This slim volume carries the weighty words of this master horseman, and it explains communication, relationships, and harmony with a focus on feel and philosophy.
True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse and Human, by Tom Dorrance, Edited by Milly Hunt Porter.
Word Dancer Press, 151 pages
List price: Varies; look for the collector’s edition at tomdorrance.com.
Tom Dorrance explains the relationship between horse and rider, with the understanding that horses have their own minds and personalities, and unity between horse and rider is the result of willing communication between horse and rider. When you’re trying to teach your horse something, “…it’s just as well not to crowd the horse if he isn’t ready for it. You keep offering, trying to help as much as you can, without troubling him too much about it,” Dorrance says. “Then, there will be a day when it will just clear right up.”
Groundwork and Colt Training
101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse and Handler, by Cherry Hill.
Storey Publishing, 256 pages
List price: $29.95
Cherry Hill offers exercises that cover every aspect of ground training, from haltering to driving. Appropriate for work with horses of every age and breed, it features a pre-cut hole placed so that the book can be hung in the barn or on a fencepost. Each exercise is clearly illustrated, and Hill highlights variations, key points, and common problems.
Clinton Anderson’s Ground Manners Short Course, by Clinton Anderson, With Jennifer Forsberg Meyer, Edited by Sue M. Copeland
Equine Network, 42 pages
List price: $12.95
A compilation from a popular Horse&Rider series, this booklet provides 13 proven lessons to solve your horse’s bad behavior on the ground, while building your control and confidence. Clinton’s methods address what to do if your horse drags behind or pulls you when led; if he pulls back when tied or resists clipping or farrier work; is cinchy, or has a blanket phobia; is head (or bridle) shy; and more. It’s a great go-to book for teaching a horse to mind his ground manners. (Editor’s Note: On DVD, look for Clinton’s new Foal Training series, and his series “Longeing for Respect”.)
Groundwork, by Buck Brannaman.
List price: $69.95; brannaman.com.
Follow groundwork step-by-step as Brannaman works a 2-year-old colt through halter breaking, leading, “mannering,” longeing, driving, and saddling. Brannaman also offers a 91-page book by the same name that offers commonsense advice and some 90 photographs of Brannaman’s techniques.
The Modern Horseman’s Countdown to Broke: Real Do-It-Yourself Horse Training in 33 Comprehensive Steps, by Sean Patrick.
Trafalgar Square, 258 pages
List price: $29.95; four-disc DVD, $79.95.
Sean Patrick’s no-nonsense advice takes you from start to finish with your young horse (or helps you re-train your older horse), working toward Patrick’s goal of “perfect trust, perfect respect, and an endless skill set.” Each of the 33 steps was developed to help every horse owner with instructions that build a solid foundation.
The Horse Behavior Problem Solver, by Jessica Jahiel.
Storey Publishing, 416 pages
List price: $19.95 paperback; electronic version available.
Jessica Jahiel’s free, Q&A e-newsletter, “Horse Sense,” takes on just about any question a rider has about her horse, and offers clear, reasoned responses. She uses that same approach in this book as she addresses some of the most common problems riders face. The book is divided into sections: “On the Ground,” “Under Saddle,” “At Home,” and “Away From Home.”
Ride the Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic Horsemanship, by Chris Cox, With Cynthia McFarland.
Western Horseman, 228 pages
List price: $23.95
Chris Cox’s no-gimmicks approach helps you move from the basics to advanced riding in partnership with your horse. You’ll go from arena to trail with his building-block approach, and will find useful tips and strategies throughout the book with his short “Practically Speaking” segments.
The Ultimate Level of Horsemanship: Training Through Inspiration, by Al Dunning, With Tammy LeRoy
Lyons Press, 128 pages
List price: $30.00
Quintessential horseman and teacher Al Dunning gathers more than 30 years of experience into this handbook, offering riders a glimpse of Dunning’s experiences and the lessons he’s learned over the years.
Western Practice Lessons: Ride Like a Champion, Train in a Progressive Plan, Improve Communication With Your Horse, Refine Your Performance, by Charlene Strickland.
Storey Publishing, 160 pages
List price: $19.95
Charlene Strickland offers 35 lessons for mastering the skills you need to be successful as a Western rider. She focuses on fundamentals like rhythm, relaxation, suppleness, straightness, and impulsion. Structured lessons include objectives, benefits, a suggested time frame for the lesson’s duration, and a checklist for lesson setup.
On the Trail
Training on the Trail, by Clinton Anderson, With Jennifer Forsberg Meyer.
Primedia, 48 pages
List price: $9.95
Drawn from Clinton’s series in Horse&Rider, this booklet provides practical solutions to trail-riding problems?with lessons that range from how to cure spooking and stop grass-snatching to building suppleness on the trail and facing water and traffic fears.
Bombproof Your Horse, by Rick Pelicano and Lauren Tjaden.
Trafalgar Square, 220 pages
List price: $24.95
If you think about the situations police horses face on a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to understand why author and mounted policeman Rick Pelicano has mastered the art of training horses to remain calm, responsive, and obedient in all situations. In Bombproof Your Horse and Better Than Bombproof(which includes a section for mounted shooting enthusiasts), Pelicano offers a step-by-step, systematic approach to “bombproofing” your horse.
Trail Riding: Train, Prepare, Pack Up, and Hit the Trail, by Rhonda Hart Poe.
Storey Publishing, 320 pages
List price: $19.95
Rhonda Hart Poe leaves no stone unturned as she prepares you for the trail?whether you’re planning an hour-long ride or a weeklong camping trip. Chapters take you through horse evaluation, gear, conditioning, training, traffic, vices, trailering, trail conditions, toxic plants, survival, trail competition, camping, and trail resources. You’ll find checklists, tips, and a list of 50 great North American trails.
The Complete Trail Horse: Selecting, Training, and Enjoying Your Horse in the Backcountry, by Dan Aadland.
Lyons Press, 304 pages
List price: $19.95
Author Dan Aadland is an experienced packtripper and horseman, and he offers a thorough volume that shares his knowledge from selecting a trail horse to training and packing. Specifically aimed at the backcountry horseman, the book includes chapters on training, ethics, equipment, techniques, packing, and wilderness camping, and includes a list of suggested gear for pack trips.
Reining Essentials, by Sandy Collier, With Jennifer Forsberg Meyer.
Trafalgar Square, 224 pages
List price: $26.95
With its five-star rating on Amazon, Reining Essentials is a manual not only for the sport of reining, but also for anyone who wants to develop a supple, well-trained, responsive horse. Collier, who won the World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship in 1993, takes readers through horse selection and helps them master required maneuvers. Riders gain confidence as they progress through Collier’s clear instructions for a well-broke horse.
Les Vogt’s Cowhorse U, by Les Vogt.
130 pages per workbook
List price: Each series is $189 on lesvogt.com.
This two-part series uses DVDs and workbooks to cover Vogt’s “Foundation Level” (which focuses on early training and body control to improve your performance in any discipline) and “Maneuvers Level” (which shows you how to continue to develop fast turn-arounds, lead changes, speed control, and sliding stops).
Maximizing Your Western Pleasure Horse, by Dana Hokana.
Three-part series, 106 minutes each set
List price: $145.95 for DVD set on hokana.com.
Dana Hokana has trained multiple Western pleasure champions, and in this series she focuses on exercises that increase your horse’s flexibility, improve his movement, and improve your riding. She shows how your seat and body rhythm affect your horse’s movement, and helps you sharpen your strategy and presentation.
Heroes and Friends, With Todd Bergen, Bob Avila, Ted Robinson, and John Slack.
Six DVD set (can be purchased individually)
List price: $200 from avilaproshop .com.
This DVD series stars world champions Todd Bergen, Bob Avila, Ted Robinson, and John Slack, and offers you comprehensive advice for training the competitive cow horse. Topics covered in each DVD include herd work, reined work, fence work, show-ring strategies, and maintaining the older show horse. The final DVD features “The Best of Heroes and Friends” and features some of their top horses and most memorable performances.
Team Roping 101, by Kayla Starnes and USTRC.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pages
List price: $24.95
This book, the official resource to roping from the United States Team Roping Championships, starts with the basics, and moves through all of the essentials, from rope handling to rules.
Barrel Racing 101, by Marlene McRae.
Lyons Press, 240 pages
List price: $22.95
World champion barrel racer Marlene McRae helps you set goals and evaluate barrel prospects; reviews gear and trailering; and includes chapters on the barrel pattern, exercises, conditioning, mental preparation, problems and solutions, and preparation before your run.