A while ago I wrote a blog on my favourite horsey novels, and I intended to follow up with another one on my favourite reference books. Well, time got away from me a bit, but finally tonight I got round to it.
Except that when I went to our over-stuffed bookcases and started withdrawing favourite books to photograph, I found myself taking almost every single volume off the shelves! So I decided to narrow it down to the books that I found most useful when studying for my British Horse Society Stable Managers (BHSSM) exam, and before that for my Stage 4 and Intermediate Teaching (IT) exams. And then I still had dozens of books so again I had to narrow it down further. I excluded all the BHS Manuals (Stable Management, Equitation etc) that are so helpful, and any book that is produced specifically for the students of these exams. So what I’ve got left is half a dozen or so books that may or may not be on a riding instructor's reading lists which I personally found to be invaluable, and a couple that should just be on every horse persons shelves. Happy reading!
Principles of Conformation Analysis volumes 1-3
Deb Bennett PhD
EQUUS Stable Reference Guide
ISBN: 1-929164-05-X / 1-929164-06-8 / 0-9611314-3-8
Deb Bennett is an American authority on the evolution, anatomy and biomechanics of equines. These three volumes date from the late 80’s and early 90’s, but seeing as horses have not radically changed their physiology in the last 20 years I think they are still extremely relevant. These books totally changed how I assessed horses’ conformationally and altered the value I put on certain physical traits and characteristics. There are lots of images of horses throughout the books and “self-tests” and I guess the only thing I’d change would be to make the images colour and larger. The books mainly feature trail horses, quarter horses etc but Deb Bennett is a universalist and the American bent makes the books no less worthwhile.
Shoeing for Performance
in the sound and lame horse
Haydn Price & Rod Fisher
The Crowood Press
The well known Haydn Price is Team GB Lead Farrier and Consultant Farrier to the British Equestrian Federation. This is an old copy of the book, a glance at Amazon assures me it has been reprinted since. It's a standard text for farriery students, and although the world of shoeing is changing all the time and new innovations occur frequently, particularly in the field of remedial farriery, the basic tenants of hoof balance and shoeing to fit the horse’s conformation have not altered and this book is well worth picking up for those chapters.
German National Equestrian Federation
I always say to students training for their BHS Stage 2 or 3 lungeing sections, that lungeing is as much of an art as riding. It’s all too often seen as an “extra” whereas working from the ground is such a vital part of horsemanship. This book is a really good reminder of that, and also contains sections on how to fit various training aids and how to lunge the advanced horse for collection and over poles etc.
Reflections on Equestrian Art
Nuno Oliveira (translated by Phyllis Field)
An absolutely beautiful book for any lover of horses, this is a series of commentaries, some only a paragraph long, some several pages, on the art of horsemanship. Open the book at random and there’s a gem on every page “It is only by rational and calm methods which are never brutal that the horse may become obedient and well balanced…” “A horse is not taught balance at the canter by cantering for a long time, but rather by doing frequent strike-offs from the walk and from the halt…” Honestly, get a copy - I’ve just lost 20 mins as once you start reading you can’t stop! The words of a master.
Soundness in the horse
A guide for buyer and seller
Peter Gray MVB MRCVS
I found this book of the utmost use when it came to section 4a (STATIC AND DYNAMIC ASSESSMENT OF CONFORMATION AND ACTION FOR PURCHASE) of the British Horse Society's Stable Manager exam. While there is no substitute for experience and actually assessing horses in the flesh, I found that this book really helped me develop a system for assessment that was repeatable and thorough.
Peter Gray MVB MRCVS
Another gem from the only author to feature on this list twice, this is essential reading for anyone who needs a comprehensive understanding of all the many, many ailments that can effect a horse. I found it particularly helpful as rather than just a huge list of ailments, it's broken down into sections by cause - so those related to tendons, bursae and tendon sheaths, and those related to concussive injuries etc. I also find this is a really good way to teach students - so that they understand the similar mechanism behind thoroughpins, windgalls and bog spavins etc, and the various bony disorders such as periostitis, ringbone etc.
Masters of Equitation Series
Compiled by Martin Diggle
This book would be very relevant to the BHS Equitation and Coaching exam, as well as for anyone who would like a better understanding of equitation through the ages. Martin Diggle has delved into the wealth of literature available on the art of horsemanship, from the ancient Greeks to the modern day, and grouped together the classical masters' thoughts on specific subjects so the reader has a convenient source of reference. It’s humbling to realise just how much heritage and history there is behind what we do today, and fascinating to see where the most eminent equestrians agree and where they differ. There are pictures and line drawings and the bright pink text of Martin’s summaries and explanations breaks up the text and makes these little books very readable.
The International Horseman’s Dictionary
Are you a riding instructor who teaches international students or holiday makers…? This dictionary of equestrian terms is sooo useful!!
By the way, I cannot take credit for researching and sourcing all these books. Big thanks to my mum, whose tireless perusal of the internet furnished me with the comprehensive equestrian library I enjoy now!