In Addition to Riding, I Can Also Read!

This entry is going to be about the differences between the Thoroughbred and Saddle Club book series, detailing their strengths and weaknesses both in content and writing.

This is the reason my perception of horse ownership is completely romanticized.

PSYCH. This isn't going to be about that at all. We're adults now, I read real books about real situations, people and horses not magic super horses that win the Dubai World Cup with whiny sixteen year olds aboard (yes, seriously).

I've been collecting all kinds of horse related books since before I could read, but I've distilled my library down to the most interesting and helpful horse books. Today I'm going to talk about three of my favorites.

1. World Class Grooming

I wish I had risen through my riding ranks in Pony Club. I love how anal retentive pony clubbers are. There is a precise method for everything from braiding to stable presentation. I like that you can't just get a nice horse and ride your way to the top, you have to do ALL of the leg work associated with it as well. Am I too old for it? Can we have an adult version of pony club? I would join in a heartbeat.

Since there isn't an adult pony club (that I know of) I have this book. Every review for it is extremely good, because the book is fantastic. It has tons of pictures of beautiful horses that I've seen competing up and down the East coast. One of the grooms works for an eventer, but both writers have worked extensively in hunters, jumpers, and even Arabian breed shows. I love their wide range of experiences in all these different circles; it means they get to cross reference between people who would rarely end up trading information and cull all the rest to give you the very best tips.

My favorite tip: It's hard for me to pick a favorite tip because I loved all of it, but I most liked the part on tails. Banging, pulling, clipping, and braiding. Usually my tail regimen is very careful conditioning and brushing with a slight trim on the edge. But Cat and Emma go the extra mile (of course) and show how they get those beautiful full perfectly manicured tails. I can't wait until I can show off Runkle's tail in our first show. Yes, that's what I fantasize about.

Judge: Halt at X...emplary tail!! 11 for the halt!

My favorite part of the book: The anecdotes, particularly the mistakes they made. Even after decades in the business you can still make mistakes, sometimes with the best of intentions. It's okay. You can recover from it, just like they did.

Buy it here on Amazon. For a measely $28 you can be a groom worthy of Connaught, American Pharoah, or Valegro.

2. Zee German Books: The Principles of Riding and Advanced Techniques of Riding

I'm not joking when I say these bad boys live on my nightstand.

Back when David O'Connor was made chef d'equipe of the US Eventing team, he had a lot of opinions about how things would have to change for the US to come out on top of the podium again. I poured over the clinic notes Eventing Nation posted because as I have a day job in an office I can't bugger off to Aiken in the middle of winter for a week of upper level horse learning. A very astute friend of mine noticed he mentioned two books every eventer has to have in their library. They are The Principles of Riding and Advanced Techniques of Riding, both from the German National Equsetrian Federation. 

How to win, German-ly.

The Germans are masters of their craft, dominating in Europe and here in the US. Not to mention my current idol is Ingrid Klimke. So I poured over these books, and still do especially now that I'm starting on my own with Runkle. I have a pyramid chart hanging in my home office of the six stages of collection, with the German terms. We are currently on losgelassenheit (looseness, reaching for the bit). 

The book starts from the very basic, which my friend thought I would find boring, but I loved it. I want to mount the horse in the German way. Sit in the saddle like a German. If I could teach Runkle to poop like a German horse I would, but sadly there are no instructions for that and I'm not sure it would help our collective marks.

My Favorite Tip: It suggests at least a ten minute walk warm-up before you pick up your horse to do anything. It spends a page saying how important this is not only for the horse, but for the rider. Neither humans nor horses have a switch that you can flip on and off to be in 'riding mode'. You need the ten minutes to slough off a bad day or warm your horses muscles up if he's been stalled when it's really cold.

My favorite part of the book(s): It's hard to say what part is my favorite. I laughed where they cautioned about how difficult mares can be. I loved the ample amounts of diagrams showing how and where the horse can and should bend. There are also plenty of diagrams showing common mistakes with the rider's positions. The book also goes into extreme detail about tack and event preparation. Basically, it's awesome. Or, if you're feeling German, eindrucksvoll

If you also hope to kick ass like a German, you can pick up these books although they are hard to find. Again, Amazon is helpful.

Happy reading, and riding!


  1. lol i still love the saddle club tho :) but seriously - nice reviews! i want that grooming book!

    1. oh me too... i donated my extensive collection because I just don't have room for it in my tiny place but every time i go on a trail ride, particularly with my two barn besties, i always feel like i'm in the saddle club.


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