One of the coolest things about our sport, or any horse sport, is that you are never finished learning. I learn something new every day it seems. Sadly, over the years, I have seen the ways of good horsemanship often ignored in favor of whatever gets you to the show ring more quickly. This year, my resolution is to constantly improve my horsemanship. Let’s make some resolutions we plan to keep; because we all know giving up coffee/sugar/cheese isn’t going to last long!
Educate and Edit. The internet is an amazing tool for learning, but it’s also a place where anyone with access can write anything they want from their sofa…far from the barn with actual horses. Anything. I once saw a video on how to measure your horse and the girl explained that you measure your horse using your hands and counting from hoof to neck like the itsy bitsy spider. Really?? Then I made a spoof video of it and put it on the internet. See? There are no rules and fact checkers and unlike my mom’s beliefs, everything you hear on the internet isn’t true and Jesus will still love you if you don’t forward this message to 13 people in the next 4 minutes. Judging from the comments on a Facebook post in an OTTB lovers group about how to dress a wound with proud flesh, about 89% of what people post is just wrong and ridiculous. Please, don’t get your Veterinary/horse care advice on Facebook. Call me old fashioned, but I am a believer in books and articles written by actual professionals. So this year, let’s all step away from the “internet forums of misinformation” and crazy Facebook groups and educate ourselves with books and hands- on experience. My Amazon wish list has a long list of horse books that I have either read, borrowed, or want, and if you want t place to start, here’s a list! (these are tailored to eventers of course)
1. The Event Groom’s Handbook by Lisa Waltman and Jeanne Kane. Everyone, learn to groom and take care of your horses. Everyone.
2. Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider by James C. Wofford. This is basically the Bible.
3. The BHS Complete Manual of Horse & Stable Management (British Horse Society) by Josephine Batty-Smith. English people know stuff about horses. Read this.
4. How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson. This will inspire you to quit whining and ride.every.day.
5. Common Sense Dressage by Sally O’Connor. I lack common sense when it comes to dressage and I overthink things. Dressage is hard. I like jumping. This book has lots of pictures. It helps me.
6. The USCTA Book of Eventing by Sally O’Connor, Sue Maynard, Jean Hammond, and Pat Marshall. Remember the USCTA? If not. Read this book. If so, read this book.
7. The De Nemethy Method by Bertalan De Nemethy. This is the Bible of equitation over fences and it’s VERY hard to find. I’ve been dying to read this for years. If you have a copy, you are lucky. Read it.
8. Blyth Tait’s Cross-country Clinic: The Ultimate Problem Solving Guide for Riders at All Levels by Blyth Tait. Only read this if you have ever had a problem cross-country at any level on any horse.
9. Grooming to Win by Susan E. Harris. Learn to braid well and preferably not with rubber bands. Sticky-uppy, fluffy and uneven braids are scary. Read this book.
10. Principles of Riding by German National Equestrian Federation. German people know things about dressage and training horses. Also that training scale thing is in here- apparently that’s important.
11. Understanding the Equine Foot by Fran Jurga. This is perhaps one of my very favorites. It’s AMAZING how little most of us know about our horse’s feet and sometimes shocking how little we know about farriers’ techniques etc. and how to tailor our shoeing according to each horse’s needs. That old saying “No hoof, no horse” is not just a wive’s tale. Think about how many times you’ve missed a show/clinic/lesson due to a hoof issue. Blaming the farrier/mud/footing isn’t helpful. Learning the causes of these problems and how to improve hoof quality is paramount. Also learning to be vigilant about hoof treatments based on your horse’s feet and learning to properly choose studs is a powerful preventative! Ok, I’m preaching. Read this book. Keep it in your tack box.
That should be enough to get you started! Read books and go Eventing!