EN Book Club: ‘The Riding Horse Repair Manual’ by Doug Payne

Welcome to the EN Book Club! We’re always looking for new riding and training resources to add to our libraries. Today we’re taking a look at The Riding Horse Repair Manual by Doug Payne, which is available for purchase at this link. Have a book you’d like us to review? Email [email protected].


“The reality of riding is that someday, one day, you’ll have a horse that stumps you — he won’t go forward; won’t accept contact; or he rears, bucks, spins or ducks out. When that day comes, you’ll want Doug’s advice on hand … It will save you time and money, and it may help you see that your ‘problem horse’ isn’t a ‘problem’ at all — just a challenge worth meeting.”

Doug Payne’s latest contribution to the world of publishing begins with the above testimonial from dressage rider, trainer, and judge Linda Zang. The Riding Horse Repair Manual is the latest book to hit the shelves that deals with the subject of training difficulties. The biggest takeaway that Doug stresses throughout the book is that training issues can usually be remedied.

Many times, riders find themselves with a horse who has some sort of training issue right off the bat. In many cases, this can be attributed to improper training or riding experienced previously, and Doug’s goal is to give the reader tools to help the horse enjoy its job again. “Nearly always, such problems can be fixed with correct riding and retraining so these horses can be ‘reclaimed,’ and enjoy their intended job,” Doug says in first chapter of The Riding Horse Repair Manual.

The book goes on to address several different situations in which a rider may experience training issues. Doug begins by going over some guidelines for starting a green horse correctly, from groundwork to building a good foundation in the saddle. With a horse with little to no previous training, it is imperative to lay a good foundation to prevent any sort of behavioral issues from cropping up later.

Still, there are countless horses who come to us after training from another person, and here is where behavioral issues often come up. Doug begins his advice on addressing and rectifying these issues by suggesting a general assessment on the horse. Is the horse sound? Perhaps a behavioral issue is coming from a physical problem than needs to be addressed. Are you a rider who can fix the horse’s problem? Are you at the right barn that will be the best environment for you and your horse? All of these questions and more need to be asked when you are faced with training issues.

The Riding Horse Repair Manual goes on to then address specific potential issues. Everything from evading contact to refusing a jump is addressed, with illustrated examples on what Doug suggests to remedy the issue. Doug also remains cognizant of the fact that one solution may not be the end all, be all answer for every horse and rider. To that end, several solutions are presented for each problem.

Doug also recognizes that different things may cause the same problem in different horses, so varying possibilities for causes are also mentioned. This approach gives readers the ability to really examine the horse’s behavior and match the behavior to a possible scenario presented in The Riding Horse Repair Manual.

Another area of emphasis in the book is that of rider strength and position. While a horse may present a certain training issue, a rider may be inhibiting progress (inadvertently) by using incorrect or insufficient aids. Doug highlights the importance of ensuring that you as the rider are doing your best to set your horse up for success, something that all riders should be constantly aware of as they work through any sort of issues.

Overall, The Riding Horse Repair Manual is a great read and a handy tool to have in your training arsenal. Whether you are wrestling with a herd-bound horse or dealing with a horse who lacks self confidence, chances are that a solution can be found in this book. Doug does a wonderful job of speaking objectively about the varying problems that can arise when dealing with horses and helping riders work through them correctly.

You can pick up a copy of The Riding Horse Repair Manual by visiting this website. We definitely recommend this book for riders of all levels and disciplines, and would like to thank Doug for taking the time to put together a great resource.

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