Best Books for the Beginning Rider
Read to Improve Your Ride
The only way to improve as a rider is to ride. Time spent in the saddle is priceless; it's the only way to gain the muscle memory and balance necessary to ride well. Unfortunately, most people can't spend several hours a day in the saddle. Adult beginning riders typically have numerous responsibilities that compete for their time. With spouses, children, work, errands and chores, it is often difficult to carve time out of their busy schedules to ride.
If you love to ride, there's no substitue for getting out to the barn and hopping on a horse. But, the second best thing to riding may be reading about riding. The following is a list of riding resources compiled especially for the adult beginning rider. Many of the authors are titans of the horse world, and their books are a concise, structured summary of some of their best ideas. When you're not riding, at least you can be reading about riding!
George Morris is a demi-god in the hunter/jumper world. This book takes the rider from the most basic tasks, like mounting the horse, all the way through to jumping a course. It's an easy read packed with excellent information from one of the masters of hunt seat riding.
I recommend this book especially for anyone who is working on their own without a trainer. As the title suggests, it's full of exercises that will mix it up and keep you from getting bored with the same old, same old. The exercises are rated by difficulty, so you can start with the easy ones and work your way through the book.
Anna Jane White-Mullin, like George Morris, is a titan in her field. Her book is another text you will refer to over and over again and should be included in any hunter rider's library.
Alois Podhajsky was the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during and after World War II. He has a dressage focus and his book is a little more dense, but it still stands as a classic. No matter what discipline you ride in, Podhajsky's training methods will help you attain a calm, supple, relaxed and happy horse.
Mary Wanless is one of my favorite equestrian authors. She has a unique focus, very different from other riding instructors. She is interested in bio-mechanics, working through unevenness in the rider's body to achieve correct posture and balance. She is also excellent at breaking down complex ideas into "bite-size chunks," making them easy for beginning riders to understand. She will explain what your seat should be doing while your leg is simultaneously doing something else. I have found her explanations wonderfully helpful in dissecting my riding and pinpointing ways to improve.
Whether you ride dressage or hunters, if you are like most riders, you are desperate to improve. Books are a low-cost way to gain access to world-class trainers that can take your riding to the next level. Happy trails (or double oxers or 20 meter circles)!