Practical insights and principals from some incredible horse books

By , May 20, 2015 4:07 am

There are some amazing horse books published. Over the last week I’ve been spending a few hours each day reading & re-reading my horse books. Here is a short collection of my favourite thoughts from each book. My strategy was to read 20-30 pages of a book, and then go out to the paddock and work with my horse using one of these insights. It worked out really well.

My #1 favourite that I 100% recommend as being wonderful and easy to read, is TRUE HORSEMANSHIP THROUGH FEEL.

I also loved ENLIGHTENED EQUITATION (focused on riding) and the feel and timing insights in BELIEVE are superb as many riders share their stories of horsemanship.

I also have a second batch of books to read, and will do a review on them in a week or two.

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I would recommend all of these books. Each person will pick up different things from these books. And every time you reread them you are likely to pick up new insights. These are my favourites right now, along with some suggestions on how you can use them.

Thank you to Maura who I hope they are useful for!


1. Focus your intention on always helping your horse. Check regularly with yourself, if your current actions fit with the concept of ‘helping your horse’ (rather than making him). This is a GREAT way to stop doing some old habits which may not be of great value to your horsemanship.

2. Release faster. Everyone can improve on this. Try it with a simple exercise first, such as asking your horse to turn his head a fraction using a lose lead rope, and then see how fast you can release once you get a tiny response.

3. Observe more. This has made the BIGGEST difference in my horsemanship. Its the first step of EVERYTHING! If you don’t notice something happening, then you can’t address it, good or bad. Walk your horse on a lead rope gently in a circle. Observe everything – head height, closeness of shoulders, when they lick and chew, what foot they start with, how they change their body going from walk to halt. Its the little things that you notice, that can unlock HUGE changes.

4. Feel is lightness without resistance.

5. When things are unclear to the horse, don’t add extra pressure.

6. Horses get bothered when they don’t understand pressure.

7. What can I do to make things go smoother for my horse?

8. A horse takes over when the feel is lost.

9. Always help your horse.

10. On the ground, turn your horses head left and right without taking the slack out of the lead rope.

11. Set things up and then wait for your horse. Patience.

12. To release, don’t over praise your horse vocally. Just release the pressure really quickly instead!

13. Lift the live up in your body before you swing your rope.

14. A horse that is lacking in balance may also be lacking in confidence.

15. Only work a few minutes on any movement

16. Exhale on a transition.

17. To relax a horse while he moves, hold your reins with your inside hand and rub his neck with your outside hand. Breathe out deeply and loudly the whole time (these really work with my horse!). I do these both in groundwork as well for now.

18. Be more observant when you halter your horse. Does he move a foot forwards or backwards as you put on a bridle or halter? Its a small thing, but it could be an indication of a important mental dis-comfort issue with your horse that would be useful to spend some time improving.

19. When you release do it properly – don’t keep half hanging on.

20. When you ask for a movement, focus on controlling just one part of the horse at a time. This can be really effective. The rest of his body will follow.

21. To go from walk to halt, slow down one front foot and then stop the next one.

I hope these are useful! 🙂 Definitely read these books if you can get a copy.

The first 3 points alone in this article (help your horse, release faster, observe more), have helped me so much in the last week with my horse. We are definitely improving!

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