There is a boat load to learn when it comes to horses and horseback riding. Reading some quality books about horses will kick start your equestrian journey to help transform you into a well rounded, effective rider and savvy horse woman.
Beware, you definitely don’t want to learn to ride only through books, that could spell disaster. Better be safe than sorry and hire a knowledgeable riding instructor who has safe experienced lesson horses. This is the best place for you to take on the challenge of learning to become something more than just an unbalanced wobbly rider. Every rider, even the best have always started at the bottom with the basics.
You should also know there are more to horses than just riding. As a new equestrian you have a whole new world to explore. The world of horses. Breeds to discover. Tack shops, farms, clinics, horse shows and horse expos to travel to. Tack and horse equipment to learn about. Horse behavior to translate. Horse care to attend to. Equine relationships to win over.
Riding Discipline Disclaimer: These books like my blog are geared mostly toward english riding. Though some of these books aren’t subject to just english riding.
Truths About Learning From Books
- Your instructor’s opinion may differ from the books information.
- Your instructor should know their horses in and out. The book does not know the horses you are working with.
- Accept instruction from your instructor, but feel free to talk about what you learn from your books and ask questions.
- Keep an open mind about everything you learn, there’s not always one way to do something.
- One thing you learn from a book may work for one horse, while that method doesn’t work for the next horse you work with.
- There are many opinions in the horse world and the more you read and listen the more you will begins to realize this.
Reading and studying horse books are not going to make you an overnight equestrian genius. But it will give you a better understanding of what your learning in your lessons and cause a rapid growth to your riding skills.
The goal I have sharing these books with you are to help you become well established with the basics as a horse person and equestrian.
Must Read Horse Books. The Topics I’m Covering!
- The basics of horseback riding
- Improving your riding
- Horse handling and horse care
- All-around horse books
The Basics Of Horse Riding
1. 40 Fundamentals of English Riding: Essential Lessons in Riding Right (Book and DVD)
by Hollie H. McNeil
This is a great book for someone learning to ride and someone who is more experienced that want to solidify the basics. It is evident that Hollie has extensive experience as a riding instructor.
The fundamentals are in progressive order of learning to ride which is ideal. It teaches correct leg, seat and hand position, how to ride the basic movements of the horse, how to direct the horses speed, direction, body position, how to apply half halts and more.
The fundamentals are well explained, and easy to understand with tips and pointers for improvement. Hollie also goes over how to avoid common riding errors.
I find it really helpful that the book comes with a DVD that goes over every fundamental, so that you can also see a demonstration of what you are learning. The pictures are wonderful as well and really capture what is being explained in the lessons.
Overall this is a great first book for learning the basic concepts of riding.
2. Getting the Most from Riding Lessons
by Mike Smith
There are several things I like about this book and several things that are different than the last book.
One thing that is different and kind of interesting is that at the beginning of each chapter you get a lesson horse’s profile, which gives the horses states and a description of the horses personality, behavior in the field with other horses and how the horse is under saddle.
Each chapter has a new topic with a new set of skills to learn. I like how Mike breaks down new riding skills step by step so they are easier to digest and understand.
I find it helpful that there is a troubleshooting section. If this is what your struggling with do this to help fix the problem.
Throughout the book there are tips, safety warnings, workout exercises, descriptions of pictures. Just so you know the pictures in this book are both photographs and drawings and come in black and white.
At the end of the book there are 2 Appendix sections and a Glossary. Appendix 1 is a workout routine for riders and Appendix two is a quick step by step reference guide to standardized riding aids (signals to horses) used in (FEI)-the international Equestrian Federation.
I would say this book is a handy reference book and good learning tool.
3. The Principles of Riding: The Official Instruction Handbook of the German National Equestrian Federation
by German National Equestrian Federation
This is the official manual of the German national equestrian foundation and has been translated into english.
The Book covers all the areas of the riders training as well as the horses training for a solid riding foundation for horse and rider.
You start off learning about the seat, how to sit with balance, move with the horse, not hinder the horses movement. And next you learn proper use of leg signals.
I believe with the German Training System they start their riders on a lunge line.
The book covers the very rider basics and once established then moves on to more dressage movements, show jumping, and cross country jumping. As well as progressively training a young horse.
Of course though it’s valuable to know how to train a horse, a beginner rider needs to work with a solid schoolmaster that can help them build their foundation of skills.
The German Training Principles are considered classic and the German Training Scale is well known by riders, instructors, and trainers. The foundation of Dressage is built on that Training Scale.
This pictures in this book are comprised of drawings. There is a lot of text to read but I believe it is valuable information. I feel it was worth my time reading it.
Improving Your Riding
4. Centered Riding
by Sally Swift
The aim of this book is to reduce body tension and change your position in the saddle, get the rider moving with the horse and reduce pain for horse and rider.
Sally Swift’s goal is to get the rider in complete balanced and unity with the horse, with improved communication and allowing the horse to move freely without restriction.
How this is done, is through body awareness with visualization and mental imagery.
This is not the traditional way of teaching and has many odd, creative images to visualize. Personally the visualizations in this book changed my way of riding. Sometimes in one riding session I could feel the difference.
I like that at the end of each chapter or concept, there is a summary that lists the essentials of what was taught and the positive results that come from it.
I find it handy at the end, there is an Appendix that offers a quick review of useful imagery for each lesson that was taught.
This book made a world of difference in my riding and I think it could do that for you as well.
5. 50 5-Minute Fixes to Improve Your Riding: Simple Solutions for Better Position and Performance in No Time
by Wendy Murdoch
This book is all about improving your riding through tweaking your riding position to get out of the horse’s way as well as yours.
Wendy provides easy straightforward exercises that work on each area of the body, to correct those annoying bad habits. The best part is they are each only 5 minutes of your time.
Imagine if you took 5 minutes of your ride every ride. Think about how much you could improve your position.
The chapters in this book start with exercises with your head and continue downward. Some of the exercises are unmounted, some mounted, some with assistance and some with props.
You just focus one area at a time, take it slow, give yourself time to absorb what is going on, be willing to experiment, and less is more according to Wendy.
Like Sally Swift from Centered Riding, Wendy is teaching an out of the box method, that is not considered traditional. Having tried some of these exercises myself it definitely did help improve my riding position and I am sure I will continue to refer to this book as problems may arise in the future.
6. 100 Ways To Improve Your Riding
by Susan McBane
Basically this book goes over 100 common riding problems and provides solutions to those problems. But more than that Susan helps the rider to identify what problems are there own, that need fixing.
Susan covers not only problems in the rider’s position, but also lack of communication between horses and rider, as well as improving the horse, and the riders thoughts confidence and attitude.
Each chapter contains common problems and cures under a certain topic. There are photographs demonstrating what is being taught or explained.
This is another great book for enhancing your riding skills.
Horse Handling and Care
7. The Complete Horse Care Manual
by Colin Vogel
This is a detailed step by step guide using beautiful photography aimed at creating a happy healthy and safe place for the horse. It is not sparse when it comes the quality photos.
This book though basic covers many aspects of horse care and management. The horses nature and behavior, movement and the way a horse is put together. Everyday care of the horse from Owning and keeping the horse healthy to grooming, clipping, shoeing. Caring for the horse kept on pasture or stabled or both. Feeding the horse. Problems that occur with horses as well as tack, clothing and equipment. At the end there are extra tips and a glossary.
I really like that the book goes over illnesses and unsoundness’s in the horse and what you can do about it. Horses are often getting themselves in trouble and it is super beneficial to know how to spot issues, what to do about it and when to call the vet. There are some great charts that make that simple and clear.
This is definitely a great book to reference for anyone that works with or rides horses.
8. Horse Handling And Grooming
by Cherry Hill
Cherry talks about good safety practices when it comes to handling and just being around horses. She gives step by step instructions with accurate photographs (about 350 photos) to learn over 100 horse keeping skills.
She includes some really great tips and tricks you may not have heard of yet as far as grooming goes.
This book is definitely geared more so toward beginners as there is a lot more to horse keeping and grooming.
Subjects the book doesn’t cover transportation of the horse, wrapping their legs, clipping patterns, hoof care information besides just picking up the horses hooves, lunging the horse, etc.
But for someone needing to learn the basics it’s great and super easy to follow.
All-Around Horse Books
9. The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship: Basics for Beginners/D Level
by Susan E. Harris, Ruth Ring Harvie (Editor)
So many top level riders had there start with horses in pony club. This book has set a standard in the horse world for safety, proper care and responsible use of horses.
Though this book is geared toward the young rider it is suitable for both children and adults.
This book goes over all the basics of horsemanship and riding in a progressive manner. It contains relevant drawings and explains everything clearly enough a child could read it.
You will learn about riding in an arena, out on the trails, in fields and on the road. You’ll be introduced to jumping fences and courses, all aspects of horse care and proper handling. Safety on, near and around horses. Also you will have goals to reach to for each level of riding and horsemanship.
There are two other more advanced Pony Club manuals for when you have established the basics from the D level manual.
I would say this book is a horse woman’s staple and a must have, for the educated horsewoman.
10. Handling And Understanding The Horse
by Marcy Pavord, Tony Pavord
This book is ideal for the soon to be horse owner as well as the rider getting started.
It will give you a better understanding of horse behavior and the nature of the horse. It goes over being safe around horses and the safety practices for handling horse, caring for your own horse, riding tips, equipment.
It talks about breeding toward the end of the book. Breeding as a beginner horse person is not something you even need to worry about at this point.
There is also a section toward the end about working with and retraining a problem horse. While this is not a good idea for a beginner. It is a good thing to know what to do if a certain problem arises with the horse you are riding or working with.
This book also has some British terminology and the pictures though colorful seem a bit older. All in all it is a good book. Not my first recommendation if you were to just read a couple books. But it is worth a read.
Which Book Should You Read First?
Even though I have read all these books I don’t expect you to read them all.
So you might be wondering which of these books you should read first. Realistically you will probably only read one, two, maybe three of these books. That’s okay.
I created the flowchart below to help you personally figure out which book you should start off with.
Answer These Two Questions
I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to answer these questions in the comments below.
What kind of horse book do you find the most helpful?
What do you want to learn that you wish would be included in an educational horse book?
Happy Horse Riding,