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«WHAT SHOULD I READ? Introductory message from Dr. Deb Students ask this question all the time: what should I read? One of the main purposes for which ...»

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Introductory message from Dr. Deb

Students ask this question all the time:

what should I read? One of the main

purposes for which Equine Studies

Institute exists is to foster higher

education in horsemanship. In pursuit of

that goal, here you will find a list of

books from my personal library. I have

gathered all these books (and many others that are not listed here) over a long period of years, and you might like to ask ‘how’. The main technique is to haunt used-book stores. Whether you are in your hometown area or whether you’re travelling, they have a tendency to pop up along a roadside. In this Internet era, you can, of course, buy used books cheaply through amazon.com, Dr. Deb’s old friend, Painty, seems to whisper in her ear.

alibris.com, barnesandnoble.com, Ebay, and so forth; but to make use of these services you have to know ahead of time the title you’re searching for. For myself, I love going in to the actual bookstore….mysterious, crowded little places often stuffed to the ceiling with who knows what wonderful treasures! If you take your time, you’re almost certain to come across something wonderful lurking in a box or on a dusty shelf in a back room. You never know what you might find!

Sometimes, however, I’ve gone after buying specific books. This list will be especially useful to you in making you aware of the fact that certain books exist.When you know ahead of time what you want, certainly you can use online services. However, for specialty equine titles – especially stuff that is older or out-of-print, or for facsimile reprints of “classical” works (or for the well-heeled, the originals), there is no greater help than Robin Bledsoe. If you want to expand your library as well as your knowledge, please sign up to receive Robin’s fabulous catalogs. If you are after a particular old book, Robin can often find it for you if you give her enough time. Contact her by Email: robin.bledsoe@verizon.net, or stop in the shop located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I buy all books with the intention of using them. This means I don’t have the same priorities as a “book collector”, who will often want books in near-pristine condition, first editions, original antique works, and copies inscribed by the author. I say this jokingly, but I pride myself on the fact that all of my books are dirty: I don’t own a single clean book. To save money I buy copies that are in reasonably good condition but that might be missing the dust jacket, have a few marks or dogears, fingerprints, scuffed edges, or some wear and tear to the binding. This not only lowers the cost, but proves to me that the book was well-loved before I received it. It is certain that it is going to be appreciated and used once it joins the other volumes in my library.

Onetime Olympic equestrian team captain Bill Steinkraus has said, “in order to be a good rider, you have to be both a rider and a reader.” If you want to learn how to ride well and, especially, how to train your own horse, you have to read – and think. Horsemanship is an ancient art and science, and since 1550 (when printing presses first appeared in Europe) more titles have been published on the subject of horses and horsemanship than on any other subject except the Bible. So there is no question of whether there is “anything” to read.

The problem is, in fact, that there is too much to read. While it’s true, as the old Spanish proverb says, that there is so much to horsemanship that it would take two lifetimes to master it, much of what has been printed about it – especially since World War II, and especially in magazines and in breed-club literature — is sheer rubbish. Thus, another of the functions I try to serve is as a guide to you for how to make the best use of the one lifetime you have. The following list contains books with “quality” content, meaning that they are written by knowledgeable horsemen who produced accomplished, and usually sound and contented, horses; by reputable scholars whose statements are backed up by real research; or by everyday people who are reporting authentic life-changing experiences.

Another old horsemanship adage tells us that for every ten horsemen there are eleven different opinions.

No two authors in this list do anything exactly the same way, and yet – very interestingly — one thing that the practice of “quality” horsemanship tends to do is reduce disagreement. Why? Because, for all its apparent diversity – “English” vs. “Western”, “classical” vs. “modern”, “indoor riding” vs. “cross country”, “jumping” vs. “trail riding” – real horsemen have far more similarities than differences. This is because good horsemanship comes from careful observation of horses: what they are really like, rather than what we might want them to be like. The only agenda a real horseman has is understanding horses better. The most important reason for you to delve into the books on this list is that reading will help you enter the ancient and universal stream of horse knowledge and horsemanship skill. The journey is sheer pleasure.

–  –  –

These books give essential information. Many of them cover a range of basic topics. Most are available for under $50. Every owner/rider should own at least two titles from this section.

Chenevix-Trench, Charles. 1974. A History of Horsemanship: The Story of Man’s Ways and Means of Riding Horses from Ancient times to the Present. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, New York, 320 pp.

Conn, George H. 1955. The Practical Horse-Keeper. Orange Judd Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 284 pp.

Conn, George H. 1969. How to Get a Horse and Live With It: The Common Sense Guide to Buying a Horse. Arco Publishers, Inc., New York, 262 pp.

Dent, Anthony. 1974. The Horse: Through Fifty Centuries of Civilization. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York, 299 pp.

Gianoli, Luigi. 1967. Horses and Horsemanship through the Ages. Iris Books/Crown Publishing, New York, 441 pp.

Hartley-Edwards, Elwyn. 1977. The Encyclopedia of the Horse. Octopus Books, New York, 256 pp.

Isenbert, Hans-Heinrich. 1986. The Kingdom of the Horse. Time-Life Books, New York, 304 pp.

Russell, George B. 1966. Hoofprints in Time. A.S. Barnes and Co., New York, 440 pp.

Mindset Books in this section are all, essentially, indispensable. No one can get very much done with a horse if their horse does not willingly cooperate. Here are people who have discovered how to communicate two-way with animals, or those whose philosophy will help you learn to do so. All exemplify our “….attitude and approach to horsemanship”. Attitude and approach come before any technique.

Bennett, D.K. 2001. The Birdie Book: An Internal Geography of Rider and Horse. Available on CDRom from: www.equinestudies.org, click on “Bookstore”.

Blake, Henry. 1976. Talking With Horses. E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 172 pp. See also by the same author: The Henry Blake Reader.

Boone, J. Allen. 1954. Kinship With All Life. Harper and Row, New York, 157 pp.

Brannaman, Buck, with William Reynolds. 2001. The Faraway Horses. The Lyons Press, Guildford, Connecticut, 260 pp.

Brink, Hans. 1960. The Nature of the Beast. Crown Publishers, New York, 210 pp.

Campbell, Joseph. 1990. Transformations of Myth Through Time. Harper and Row, New York, 263 pp.

Dorrance, Tom. 1987. True Unity and Willing Communication between Horse and Human, edited by

Milly Hunt Porter. Give-It-A-Go Enterprises, Tuscarora, Nevada, 151 pp. Obtain by ordering from:


Franck, Fredeerick. 1993. The Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation. Vintage Books, New York, 130 pp.

Gardiner, Margaret. 1999. Losing Less Money Raising Horses. Privately printed, Woolwich, Maine, 91 pp. See also Margaret Gardiner’s pamphlet entitled “Horses for Actually Riding On”.

Gyatso, Tenzin (His Holiness the Dalai Lama). 2005. The Universe in a Single Atom: the Convergence of Science and Spirituality. Morgan Road Books, New York, 216 pp. See also the many other works by this Nobel Peace Prize laureate: The Good Heart, Advice on Dying, etc.

Hearne, Vicki. 1986. Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name. Alfred Knopf, New York, 274 pp. See also by the same author Bandit (1990) and Animal Happiness (1994).

Herrigel, Eugen. 1971. Zen in the Art of Archery. Vintage/Random House Books, New York, 90 pp.

Hunt, Ray. 1978. Think Harmony with Horses: An In-Depth Study of the Horse/Man Relationship.

Edited by Milly Hunt Porter. Give-It-A-Go Enterprises, Tuscarora, Nevada, 87 pp. Obtain at www.rayhunt.com.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. 1969. On Death and Dying. MacMillan and Co., New York, 287 pp.

Lewis, C.S. 1946-1949. Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength:

A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grownups). Widely reprinted and available.

Mead, Margaret, ed. 1955. Darwin’s ‘Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’. Philosophical Library, New York, 372 pp.

Magner, Dennis. 1887 & 1893. The Classic Encyclopedia of the Horse (reprint, 1980, of the original The Standard Horse Book). Beacon Books, New York, 464 pp.

Masson, Jeffrey M. and Susan McCarthy. 1995. When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals.

Delta/Dell Books, New York, 291 pp.

McElroy, Susan Chernak. 1996. Animals as Teachers and Healers: True Stories and Reflections. New Sage Press, Troutdale, Oregon, 178 pp.

Nicholi, Armand, Jr. 2002. The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex and the Meaning of Life. Free Press/Simon and Schuster, New York, 295 pp.

Rarey, John S. 1856. Horse Handling and Horse Wisdom. Reprinted (2001) in The Inner Horseman, Vol.

5, nos. 1 and 2. Available from: www.equinestudies.org, click on “bookstore”.

Sayers, Dorothy. 1941. The Mind of the Maker. Harper Books, San Francisco, California, 229 pp.

Schäfer, Michael. 1974. The Language of the Horse.: Habits and Forms of Expression. Arco Publishers, New York, 215 pp.

Seton, Ernest Thompson. 1898. Wild Animals I Have Known. Bantam/Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 150 pp.

Smythe, R.H. 1961. The Mind of the Horse. Stephen Greene, Battleboro, Vermont, 123 pp.

Sewell, Anna. 1867. Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions. There are a zillion publishers and versions of this book – in its original form, certainly not a children’s book. Try to obtain an original, unedited and un-Disneyized version. About 250 pp.

Swift, Sally. 1985. Centered Riding. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 198 pp. This book is intended to be a “how-to” riding manual, and it does a good job of that – it is one of the most accessible and most clearly illustrated books ever produced. I classify it with the list of “mindset” books, however, because it is really mindset that gives Swift’s book its highest value. See also Centered Riding 2: Further Explorations (1995). Trafalgar Square Press, North Pomfret, Vermont, 264 pp.

Tolle, Eckhart. 1999. The Power of Now. New World Books, Novato, California, 191 pp. See also Tolle’s Stillness Speaks (2003) and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2005).

Tschiffely, Aime F. 1933. Tschiffely’s Ride, Being the Account of Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle Through the Americas from Argentina to Washington, with preface by W.B. Cunninghame-Graham.

Simon & Schuster, New York, 328 pp.

Wynmalen, Henry. 1979. Dressage: A Study of the Finer Points of Riding. Wilshire Books, North Hollywood, California, 287 pp. The primary use for this book comes in the first three chapters, which

contain an absolutely beautiful argument for harmony between man and horse. However, be forewarned:

Wynmalen equates this with dressage, which is incorrect. Further, you will not want to imitate his training results or riding style; for all the loftiness of Wynmalen’s ideals and the goodness of his intentions, his seat is hard and his horses are stiff.

Basic Facts of Horse Biology

This is an area where many owner/riders lack basic knowledge. To ride well, you must realize what kind of an animal a horse actually is, what his needs are, what the limits of his capabilities are. Franz Mairinger’s book is a classic that relates horse biology to training. The Ranger Piece should also be thought-provoking.

Bennett, D.K. 2001. “The Ranger Piece”: Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses, with Comments on Practices in the Industry. View online/free download at www.equinestudies.org, click on “Knowledge Base”.

Bennett, D.K. and Robert S. Hoffmann. 1999. Equus caballus, in Mammalian Species of the American Society of Mammalogists. Available online/free download: www.equinestudies.org, click on “Knowledge Base”.

Frandson, R.D. W. Lee Wilke, and Anna D. Fails. 2003. Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals, 6th edition, Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins Publishers, Philadelphia, 481 pp.

Green, Ben K. 1974. The Color of Horses. Northland Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 127 pp.

Gower, Jeanette, DVM. 1999. Horse Colour Explained: A Breeder’s Perspective. Kangaroo Press/Simon and Schuster, East Roseville, New South Wales, Australia, 144 pp.

Mairinger, Franz. 1983. Horses are Made to be Horses. Howell Books, New York, 168 pp.

Silver, I.A. 1970. The Ageing of Domestic Mammals, in Don Brothwell and Eric Higgs, eds., Science in Archaeology: A Survey of Progress and Research, Praeger Publishers, New York, pp. 283-302.

Sponenberg, Phil, DVM. 2003. Equine Color Genetics. Iowa State Press/Blackwell, Ames, Iowa and London, 215 pp.

Willoughby, David P. 1975. Growth and Nutrition in the Horse. A.S. Barnes and Co., New York, 194 pp.

Anatomy and Physiology Books and articles in this section will help you to understand the physical structure of the horse and how the various systems of the body work. This will help you to communicate better with your veterinarian. Also included here is my “Who’s Built Best to Ride: Men or Women” – you should review this to better understand how your own body works in the saddle.

Allen, Tom. 2003. Manual of Equine Dentistry. Mosby/Elsevier, New York, 207 pp.

Ashdown, Raymond, S.H. Done, and S.A. Evans. 2002. Color Atlas of Veterinary Anatomy, Volume 2:

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