Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Favorite Books, or An ADD's Guide to Horse Training

I am really short on time this week. I had a great suggestion to make up a list of the reading that has shaped me as a trainer.
That's pretty easy for me, because I have my most important books sitting on a shelf in my studio, always within reach.
I'd love additional suggestions from anybody that has them. I am a voracious reader, especially horse books, any breed, any discipline, it all interests me.

Misty of Chincoteague (and the rest) by Marguerite Henry, illustrated by Wesley Dennis
OMG. Do you want your horse crazy child to go off the deep end? Here you go. Only the hard cover, full color editions will do on these beautiful, wonderful stories. I learned that you had to earn the right to ride, you should always listen to Grampa, and if you did those things, you could run off on your pony, fall, jump, or swim your pony in the ocean, save lives, capture wild ponies, and win races.

The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley
Alec was the coolest, most savvy kid on the planet. The Black was the best dream horse anybody could come up with.
Solid horsemanship came along with these wild ride books. Walter Farley knew what he was talking about.
The Black gave me a fairly stubborn, often unrealistic tendency to help the underdog. It convinced me that if I stuck with a horse, tried to understand it, and believed in the impossible, I would be able to tame anything.
The Black also gave me a bad case of the go-fast.
I've never recovered.
I guess I'm lucky ol' Walter didn't get me killed.

Monte Foreman's Horse-Training Science
This book went hand in hand with my learning the Monte Foreman method. I was sixteen years old when a young trainer named Mike Craig started me on this system.
It changed my life with my horse, and turned on my "trainer brain". Monte dissected every maneuver a horse performed with film. He mixed up western and english concepts with abandon.
To this day I break down every maneuver a horse in my training is required to make, and figure how to teach the horse to reach his optimum capacity for each step. I'm obsessive. Thanks Monte. I guess.

Lyons On Horses by John Lyons
My first peek into the kinder, gentler world of NH. Although John would cringe if you called him an NH trainer. A smart and savvy man, he teaches a safe, sane way to work with your horse.
This is the first of three books I recommend to new horse owners.

Think Harmony with Horses by Ray Hunt
Dryer than dust, still a must read as far as I'm concerned. This is the second book I want my new horse owners to read. Every single clinician on the planet, and a lot of the rest of us, have been influenced by this great, great, horseman.
I'm so old I remember Pat Parelli attending his clinics. Pat strutted around quite a bit, had a bevvy of little twinkies swirling around him, and I never saw Ray acknowledge him once. Ever. Kind of tainted my view of Pat. Seemed he was so busy planning his pyramid scheme, and his product line, he forgot to listen to the man. I digress.

True Unity by Tom Dorrance
The third book for newbies, this book makes Ray Hunt seem like a Pulitzer prize winner. Tough to wade through, but loaded with dynamite thinking. Plus it's good to know where Ray's thoughts about horses were shaped.

Dressage by Henry Wynmalen
This is my bible. I carry it around in my car. It has helped me in every area, balance, hands, foot placement of my horse. My colt development is largely based on exercises I learned in this book.

Simple Dressage for Every Horse, Every Sport by Jane Savoie
This fun book helped me understand what the hell Henry Wynmalen was talking about.

The Body Language of Horses by Tom Ainslie and Bonnie LedBetter
Simple, direct, not sappy. All of the things that keep my attention while I'm looking at things from the horses side. Kind of like horses, ya think? This book is also a great help if you like to bet a little on the ponies.

The Less Than Perfect Horse by Jane Thelwall
Written by three day eventers in the 60's, this book covers an incredible range of training issues. It addresses problems, causes, and solutions. It also addresses those horses that are not physically perfect, and how to work with them within their limits. Go Fuglys!
This is a great book for every discipline, I find ways to use the techniques in all of the areas they cover, even if the only thing I jump is a wet steamy cow pie, or a random yucca plant.

Larry Trocha Video Series
I know this isn't a book, but I first encountered Larry's videos when I first got into reining and cows. They really helped me.
Larry isn't exactly an Academy Award caliber speaker, but he has great information to share, and it makes sense. He shows you broke horses, green horses, talented ones, and some that aren't so much.
I had a nice conversation with him once when I was trying to put together a video package I wanted. Not only was he a really nice guy, but it turns out he started way back when with Monte Foreman too. So I really understood his approach.
Any of his tapes that apply to you will help a bunch. I still refer to mine whenever I get stuck. There's always something new for me to pick up.
So that's my list. Share yours, I need something to read.


  1. I would like to give you some suggestions, if you don't already have a wish list started for new books:

    Buck Brannaman’s books:
    The Faraway Horses

    Mark Rashid’s books
    too many to list

    Bill Dorrance & Leslie Desmond:
    True Horsemanship Through Feel

    Smokey Brannaman:
    Whisper This...Not to your horse, to yourself

    Eclectic Horseman Magazine

    I have more listed on my blog page, and more also listed in my LibraryThing Catalog.

  2. I too, have all Marguerite Henry's books. From Misty to Black Gold and everything else. I also have a few of the Black Stallion series and remember reading the entire selection from our library over and over.

    Here are two more author's offerings I highly recommend:

    Norman Thelwell - his boxed set of:
    A Leg at Each Corner
    Angels on Horseback
    Riding Academy
    Thelwell Country

    This set of books has always made me see the humorous side of this crazy obsession we call horses!

    Creative Horsemanship by Charles DeKunffy:
    This book is my mantra. It is excellently written and really expresses how I have always felt, that working with and developing a horses' talent is a creative process, an art form and needs to be done with feeling and sensitivity.

  3. To this day I want a big black Arabian stallion (I have NO CLUE what the heck I would do with one, but I want one anyway). Thanks a lot Walter! LOL

    I read several books by Alois Podhajsky that were wonderful. He was the director of the Spanish Riding School during WW II.

  4. Along the lines of M. Henry and W. Farley I recommend:

    The Red Pony by Steinbeck. Both the book and the movie bring me to tears.

  5. Centered Riding, by Sally Swift is one I'm really enjoying right now. Its not about horse training per se, but it does a nice job explaining riding and especially how your riding affects horse behavior and performance.

  6. If you like the older clinicians and want to know something about them I highly suggest the revolution in horsemanship.
    It's a really interesting book to read about the top trainers and who influenced them in their lives. Not so much about training.

    I have SOOOOO many books I could sink a ship. I'll name the ones that I think are beneficial, not to a new horse owner but the one looking for a better understanding of the horses body and mind.

    The truth about horses: Andrew McLean
    A great book that brings a really different approach on training. It begins by giving an analysis on how the horses brain functions, how training becomes incorporated into the horses life and why training failures occur. It has a lot of English riding but its such a different approach from the traditional english training. Very different book.

    Conditioning sport horses: By Hilary M. Clayton.
    A performance horse owners MUST HAVE! It is a bit more complex than most horse books. It explains how a horses body works when you ride it and why some breeds have more stamina and why some are sprinters and others long distance.
    I always love the books that have a science over tradition approach.

    Nutrient requirements of horses (6th revised edition): by national research council.
    Any barn owners must have. It taught me so much about how we feed our horses wrong and how their digestive system works and a whole other whack of nutritional stuff. Expensive book but well worth it.

    Equine massage: By Jean-Pierre Hourdebaight.
    Again, for any performance or even pleasure horse owner. Not necessarily to do massage but it teaches you how your horses muscles work when you ride them and common injuries for certain sports that are often looked over and how to prevent them.

    Clinton andersons down under horsemanship:
    I know boohiss, clinicians. I happen to like Clinton. I have met him in person a few times and his methods even though he trained with Parelli are different and more down to earth. He gets the same stuff done pat does in about 1/2 the time.
    I like this book because for example say you have a real broke horse but said horse has a habit of crowding you on the ground or head tossing these one/two paged exercises give you the door to a more well behaved horse and you don't have to follow the whole bandwagon with the other X number of things in the book. Although he uses those silly sticks in the the book he gives you some that he just uses a rope and get the same message across. I have personally tried them, they really do work because he gives you a troubleshooting for each one.

    Thats all I can think of right now that I would put as a must have in my horse library, training/understanding wise anyway.

  7. Who could resist that smiling pony on the cover of Misty of Chincoteague? I think I read almost all of her books. My great-grandpa was a US Marshal of Indian Territory and my uncle lived in Skiatook, Oklahoma, so Black Gold was also one of my favorites. I looked on All-Breed pedigree and found Black Toney (Black Gold's sire) to be on my mare's pedigree. OK, now count the people you know that can relate to what I'm saying.

    Ahem, back to class. I thank everyone for taking the time to list their recomendations Where would we be without the internet and Amazon for making one click shopping for used books so darn easy?

  8. I also love 'The Faraway Horses', Alois Podhajsky's books as well as anything by Jane Smiley.

    Read "A Year at the Races" It will turn your brain inside out about the way we communicate with horses.

    I used to look after a GP jumping Stud who would bite me the day after my day off. His son would mope if I didnt hug him first thing...It turns out other people feel that there horses have 'human' tendenencys too. In this book Jane explains about her own horses and her experences with communicators.

    Yes I am sane......i think.....

    Anyways it explains her real life story that turned into her award winning book.

    Also "Barn Blind" about a horsey family and a death of a child in a horse riding accident and how they keep riding.

  9. Wonderful list, Mugwump! I'm adding some of yours to my Amazon wishlist.

    If anybody out there is into (or just ends up with) a TWH or other gaited horse, be sure to read
    Easy-Gaited Horses, by Lee Ziegler.

  10. Hmm. We like a lot of the same books.

    For anyone into bridle horses, there's the two classics by Ed Connell: Hackamore Reinsman and Reinsmen of the West.

    Jean-Claude Racinet: Racinet Explains Baucher, Another Horsemanship, Total Horsemanship.

    Anything by Sylvia Loch.

    John Richard Young, The Schooling of the Western Horse

    Stories by Vian Smith (hard to find now), Dorothy Lyons (same) and don't forget the Flicka books.

    Oh, and Vladimir Littauer.

  11. I love Lyons on Horses.

    Loved the Black Stallion, hated the rest of them.

    Has anyone else read Doodlebug? It's about a girl and her hackney pony. My ponies were Shetland/ Hackney and I looooooved this book. The illustrations are gorgeous. The kid with the braids is... well, ME. haha.

    Another great book that I've only seen on my shelf is Backyard Horseman by Ron Rude. Very common sense, financially efficient advice, safety conscious and humorous at times.

    I ONLY read horse books as a kid. In grade 4 I vowed to only write about horses in grammar class. My teacher asked if I could write about something else every now and then. I said no.

  12. A book that had parents of my daughter's 4-H club chuckling was "Horse Crazy!" by Bob Goddard

  13. Some of mine:

    Clicker Training for your Horse--Alexandra Kurland. (It's not just trick training)

    The Nature of Horses---Stephen Budiansky.

    For the Good of the Horse--Mary Wanless.

  14. I actually have a farily large collection of vintage horse stories. I have nearly all of the Dorothy Lyons books, all of the Walter Farleys, and several others. Ever heard of the Star Crossed Stallion, Cherokee Bill, Oklahoma Pacer, The Sorrell Stallion or Old Sam, Thoroughbred Trotter? The Red Pony by Lippincott was also good. I remember some others that I don't have that I wish I did, there was one about a black and white paint named Shadow. I love all the old horse stories.

  15. Sorry that last one was supposed to be the Red ROAN Pony by Lippincott. Not the Red Pony, that is a different book all together.

  16. Hey seaequestrian, (or anyone else) do you remember an old series (maybe 3) of books about a teen boy living on a ranch with some stallion in the high country but rode around on a mare called Trey Spot? It is making me crazy trying to remember some of the titles.

  17. Texas Missy,
    Google and Amazon are your friends. ;)

    The Golden Stallion’s Adventure at Redstone by Rutherford G. Montgomery
    The Golden Stallion and the Wolf Dog by Rutherford G. Montgomery
    The Capture of the Golden Stallion by Rutherford G. Montgomery
    The Golden Stallion to the Rescue by Rutherford G. Montgomery

    Looks like he wrote a bunch of other books, too.

  18. I remember loving the Billy and Blaze stories by C.W. Anderson as a child. Fabulous pencil/charcoal drawings!

  19. I'm going to go through these and make up an "I wanna" list. There are some great suggestions.Thanks. But it's late, I should go to bed, I've had two Margaritas and I have to show again tomorrow.
    So instead, I'll add a kinda bleary post......

  20. What a great idea! I definitely remember the horse fiction books mentioned. And the lists are reminding me of books I "need" for my "library" for when it's -40 and I need to advance my horsemanship indoors. The Less Than Perfect Horse is exactly the kind of book I was looking for! I have to get that Jean Savoie book too, I can't understand Wynmalen either. :P I would never have bought it, but the DH had a small collection of classics before we married.

    The Collier & Prince book "Basic Training for Horses: English and Western" was another one I found in my DH's pony club nostalgia box. I really liked it -- very easy read, straight-forward, and simple language for a neophyte rider like me. I like their writing style so much I want to get their other book, Basic Horsemanship, which is probably more relevant to me. The key feature in this book was its minimal use of lingo; a contrast to the dratted "Blue Book" for Pony Club that I can NOT understand -- the modern editions are apparently no better. I would have made a very poor pony clubber. :P

    Another book I rather like is called The Undisciplined Horse. I can't recall the author and the book is lost under the bed somewhere with the stray socks and a border collie.

    I wish I could remember the name of the book I bought recently on horse conditioning/physiotherapy. I got it when I started riding an old schoolmaster in earnest, my job being to keep him in shape. It turned out to be a GREAT read with illustrations showing how to identify problems and how to do some basic stretches and massages -- for both horse and rider. Very cool. It too is probably under the bed.

  21. Thanks so much!!!! So glad to hear that Cross Train Your Horse has been helpful to you!!!!
    Jane Savoie

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