Since of course everyone is looking for some beach reads over the summer, we thought we would give you a few horsey book recommendations to add to your summer reading list. To start, here are some books meant to educate the rider. Soak up that knowledge and see if your skills improve!
Hunter Seat Equitation – George Morris
If George Morris is the founding father of the modern American-style of forward seat riding (and he is), Hunter Seat Equitation is his Bible. Rightly considered the definitive work on our sport, his book is a must-read for anyone wanting to improve their riding or understand the philosophy and underpinnings of riding hunt seat. Taking the rider from the beginning steps up through world-class levels of riding, Hunter Seat Equitation offers useful exercises and explanations for flatwork and jumping. Known for his biting critiques and insistence on technically correct riding, George Morris represents a height of riding skill and feel for the horse that few of us will reach in this lifetime – but his experience and dedication to the sport and welfare of the horse are applicable to every rider.
On Horsemanship – Xenophon
One of the most amazing facets of horseback riding is that even though many things change over the years – advances in theory, or equipment, or veterinary care – much also stays the same. A quick glance through catalogues of museums will show bits and horses shoes from thousands of years ago that are not that far removed from our own. Nowhere is this more apparent than in historical writings on horses, and Xenophon’s On Horsemanship
treatise is a wonderful place to start. Written around 350 BCE, there is much that will sound familiar to modern riders. He offers suggestions on horse selection, conformation, grooming, training, and riding. Xenophon’s emphasis on kindness and gentleness and on creating a willing partner in the horse may surprise those who see humane treatment of animals as a modern concept. However, Xenophon shows us that the partnership formed between horse and rider has been a highly regarded and sought after ideal for thousands of years. You can download common domain translations for free at Project Gutenberg
or find newer translations available at brick-and-mortar stores or online.
Centered Riding – Sally Swift
Having one of those days where nothing seems to go right in the saddle and you feel like a sack of potatoes? Do you find that your stress or tenseness is making your horse unhappy? This is the book for you! Sally Swift teaches you to ride with the horse through centeredness, breathing, balance and body awareness, based in a thorough grounding of human and equine anatomy. Through consideration for your horse and awareness of how you and the horse interact, Sally Swift aims to create partnerships based in mutual trust and enjoyment – you can only learn to control the horse’s body by first learning to control your own. If you do well with vivid descriptions, imagery, and “thinking” exercises, this may be the book for you.
101 Arena Exercises – Cherry Hill
101 Jumping Exercises – Linda Allen
101 Ground Training Exercises – Cherry Hill
These three books offer what they say on the cover – 101 exercises to work on while on the ground or riding your horse. They start with the basics (for instance, perfecting the working walk or trotting a great figure-8 over poles) and work up to more advanced moves. If you are looking for exercises or patterns to help reinforce what you are working on in lessons and incorporate into your hacks, you will find some very useful ideas.