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25 Best Books for Horse Training with Intention

horses galloping out of a glowing book
Written by Michelle Greene

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As equestrians, we are always learning. Even the top riders in each discipline continue to train with others and read up on the newest developments in the equine world. Keeping a book in my car is a go-to strategy that lets me make progress on a topic whenever I have a few extra minutes!

Finding the right books to help you with your equine education can be daunting. Check out this list of top horse training books, spanning a variety of disciplines and topics. Just think, if you buy a book today you’ll be one step closer to being a better horse person tomorrow!

Horse Training 101

To teach someone something new, you must have more than a basic understanding of the subject taught. The same idea applies to training horses. How can you train an animal if you don’t know how to communicate with them?

If your horse doesn’t know what you are asking of them, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

bronze horse trophy and stack of books

Source: Canva

Start with a Solid Foundation

Knowing the basics of horsemanship and horse behavior is a great place to begin. A strong foundation of equine knowledge makes subsequent learning even easier. When it comes to horse training, “if you don’t know—ask” is one of the best things you can practice.

A little humility goes a long way!

It’s always better to stop and take the time to do it right rather than re-train a bad behavior later.

Lean on the knowledge of a trainer, veterinarian, farrier, or combination of skilled equine professionals to help you when you have questions about your horse’s training, or overall well-being.

When learning anything new, it’s also helpful to incorporate a combination of various methods. This could include internet research, reading books, watching videos, in-person instruction, watching or participating at clinics, and hands-on experiences.

Why Books?

While the internet is a great place to start asking questions, books help take you to the next level. Generally, a published book, recommended by professionals, can be trusted as a credible source as well as promise of higher quality information.

The books we’ve recommended below have been vetted by horse people for horse people.

They are a great place to continue your equine education! We’ve done our best to highlight a variety of topics across equine disciplines and subjects. Reading any of these books will help build upon your foundation of equine knowledge, helping you achieve your equine goals.

#1 – The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship – Basics for Beginners

Author: Susan E. Harris

The Pony Club has a ‘standard of proficiency’ which refers to best practices when working around horses. Think of this manual as “Horseback Riding 101.” It’s both kid and adult friendly and has everything from horse care to riding in an area and open field. It also has updated developments on competitions, instruction, and nutrition for horses.

Personally, I still use my older editions of these manuals when I have a question about something equine related and want a solid answer.

#2 – The Original Horse Bible

Authors: Moira C. Reeve and Sharon Biggs

This is a great book for the beginner, featuring tons of resources and photos. It’s perfect for the horse-crazy kid who is trying to learn more about every aspect of horses. From breed profiles to riding insights, this book is a 480-page complete guide to the world of horses.

#3 – The Man Who Listens to Horses

Author: Monty Roberts

This book details Monty Roberts’ journey to becoming one of the world’s leading horse trainers using natural horsemanship techniques. It’s considered a classic in the field and is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about horse behavior and communication.

#4 – Connection Training: The Heart and Science of Positive Horse Training

Author: Hannah Weston

Using science to learn and understand equine emotions, Hannah Weston teaches the reader how to build positive emotions like confidence, relaxation, and willingness. This book features a problem-solving approach to a variety of problems rooted in understanding equine behavior.

Positive reinforcement training is gaining traction in the equine community, and this book is a great rundown of best practices!

#5 – Dressage the Cowboy Way

Authors: Eitan Beth-Halachmy and Jenni L. Grimmett, DMV

This unique book combines the traditional principles of classical dressage with the practical approach of Western horsemanship. The book offers a fresh and innovative approach to horse training, combining the elegance and discipline of dressage with the hard-working and down-to-earth nature of Western riding. Learn about everything from body language to the training pyramid, along with groundwork and mounted exercises.

#6 – Training Thoroughbred Horses

Authors: Preston M. Burch and Alex Bower

This classic book focuses specifically on the training for race horses. This book is an interesting read on training principles that was commissioned by the reputable Blood-Horse magazine. Pair it with the book “The Training Game” for a fascinating look at the American Racing Industry.

#7 – The Training Game

Author: Karen M. Johnson

If you’re curious how the most successful Thoroughbred training barns operate, this book is for you! The author dives into profitable training methods, dedicating a chapter to each conditioner. By following a typical “day in the life,” you’ll be sure to uncover insights that can translate to wagering advice.

#8 – Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship

Author: Janet Jones, PhD

This groundbreaking book explores the connection between horse and human behavior through the lens of neuroscience. The book combines scientific research with practical training techniques to offer a unique and comprehensive understanding of horse behavior and training. Dr. Janet Jones (the author) is both an equestrian and neuroscientist. A must for anyone looking to create a connection with their horse!

#9 – Horse Speak: Conversation with Horses in their Language

Authors: Sharon Wilsie and Gretchen Vogel

This book highlights a practical system versus a training method. Instead of expecting horses to comprehend our language, instead learn to listen and communicate in their language. This book can benefit equine enthusiasts of all levels and disciplines!

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#10 – Centered Riding

Author: Sally Swift

This top rated book is a classic for anyone riding English. Focusing on a balanced seat, this book will help every rider become more functional and purposeful in the saddle. This book emphasizes body awareness of the rider and how it affects the horse on the flat and over fences. On a personal level, this is one of the books I always go back to and read when I’m having a rough time in lessons.

#11 – Anne Kurskinski’s Riding and Jumping Clinic

Author: Anne Kurskinski

This book is written by an Olympic Show Jumper and includes 416 pages and hundreds of full-color photographs to illustrate how it’s done. If you’re looking for dozens of exercises aimed at improving posture, feel, and how to master a jump course, this book is for you!

#12 – 101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse and Handler

Author: Cherry Hill

Whether you’re a seasoned horseman or just starting out with your first horse, “101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse & Handler” is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their horsemanship skills and deepen their understanding of horse behavior and training.

The book covers a wide range of exercises and is designed to be easy to follow and understand, with clear instructions and illustrations for each exercise. The best part is it can be brought out to the barn with you—and the easy-to-read guide is perfect for “Read then Ride” hands-on, immediate application!

#13 – Brain Training for Riders

Author: Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

This book teaches you how to understand your “lizard brain” and then train yourself to handle uncomfortable feelings. The author teaches you how to enter a state of “focused calm” to ensure you’ll be maximizing every hour spent in the saddle.

Total Game Changer!
Brain Training for Riders

This is the BEST book for learning about how fear and stress show up in the brain (and body) for equestrians. Learn practical ways to lessen your anxiety, reframe challenges, and calm yourselves in any situation.

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#14 – Riding with Intent: An Equine Training Journal

Author: Ali Burden-Blake

This workbook-meets-diary will help you track your daily riding while bringing goals to life. If you’re looking for inspiration (and motivation!), this book will help eliminate excuses and document your wins.

#15 – The Handy Book of Horse Tricks

Author: Sigrid Schope

Trick training has been growing in popularity. If you’re looking to vary your horse’s training routine and incorporate some pizazz into your groundwork, check out this book! You’ll be on your way to improving your partnership with your horse (while having fun) in no time.

#16 – Stride Control: Exercises to Improve Rideability, Adjustability, and Performance

Author: Jen Marsden Hamilton

This book teaches the fundamental skills needed to learn to find and ride the ideal jumping distance. This is a key skill in the jumping world! From strategies to specific exercises, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to nail that distance.

#17 – The USPC Guide to Longeing and Ground Training

Author: Susan E. Harris

Both longeing and ground training are a fundamental part of horsemanship, for both horse and rider. From principles to equipment, this book will teach you how to safely and effectively longe your horse.

#18 – Round Penning: First Steps to Starting a Horse

Author: Keith Hosman

Whether you’re starting a horse or working through a challenge, the round pen is an excellent first step. Learn a tried-and-true system for circling to success, following methods of John Lyons. Section 1 offers a 5-day, step-by-step plan, while Section 2 provides 11 additional lessons to teach your young horse.

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#19 – Lyons on Horses

Author: John Lyons

If you’re looking for an “essential guide to horsemanship,” look no further. John Lyons is known as America’s Most Trusted Horseman, with over three decades of experience. This book emphasizes communication and understanding to persuade instead of force. Every skill level and riding style can benefit from his lessons!

#20 – Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership

Author: Mark Rashid

Known as a real-life horse whisperer, author Rashid uses a sensitive, thoughtful approach to horse training. The reader will learn to be a “passive leader” to cultivate an equine personality that will be responsive and dependable for years to come.

#21 – Horse Showing for Kids

Author: Cheryl Kimball

This book will get you a blue ribbon in preparation! A comprehensive guide to all things show prep, you’ll learn everything from trailer safety tips to show-day grooming techniques. A must-read for kids (and parents!) new to horse showing.

#22 – The Equine Listenology Guide

Author: Elaine Heney

This book is the first in a trilogy and is the winner of the Best International Equine Non-Fiction Award. Full of a combination of stores, case studies, lessons, and training exercises, you’ll be well on your way to creating an awesome relationship with your horse.

#23 – Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101

Author: Jane Savoie

This book emphasizes the horse’s physical and mental well-being when training. Three golden rules—clarity, consistency, and kindness set you up for Savoie’s four stages of dressage education. Beginning at an introductory level, this book is well within most horse’s capacity.

#24 – The BIG Book of Dressage Exercises

Author: HowToDressage

This book is a workbook with over 40 floorplans and 190 different dressage exercises. If you’re looking to change things up with room to track your progress, you’ll be sure to stay busy with all these alternatives.

#25 – The Modern Horseman’s Countdown to Broke

Author: Sean Patrick

This book is for the do-it-yourself amateur looking for a guide to creating the complete riding horse. With step-by-step instructions, any horse can benefit from the “countdown.” This book teaches a foundation that is both effective and efficient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a beginner train a horse?

It is not recommended that a beginning rider train a horse. Though horses are majestic and wonderful animals, they are also over 1,000 lbs and can be deadly if someone does not know what they are doing. Beginner riders should work with a trainer under constant supervision, so no person or animal gets hurt.

Q: How many hours a day should you train a horse?

Horses, like people, can only do the same thing for so long in a day. You should limit training to 20-30 minutes a day when first training a green horse. If your horse already has a foundation under saddle and you are keeping up their fitness and training, you could work for up to one hour.

Q: How much is 30 days of training for a horse?

Training prices vary drastically depending on discipline, level, and geography. You should budget between $600-$1,200 for 30 days of training for a horse. This may or may not include board and care for the horse.

Q: What is the first thing you should teach a horse?

Teaching a horse to wear and lead with a halter is the first thing you should teach a horse. This will lead to more advanced groundwork, like standing in cross-ties, ground tying, or standing still for a farrier or vet visit.

Parting Thoughts

Though the idea of training a horse can seem daunting and scary, you can conquer your fears through learning. One of the best ways to learn is to read and apply what you’ve learned. These books are a great starting point for any equestrian wanting to learn more about training horses or equine behavior.

After all, remember Knowledge is Horsepower!®

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About the author


Michelle Greene

Michelle began riding through Pony Club at age 5 and continued training through high school. After a hiatus for school and family, she's now back in the saddle with her hunter/jumper.