10 Books and Articles You NEED to Read to Be a Better Rider

Photo by Jennifer Wile Rubin


Becoming a better rider is not just about the time you spend in the saddle; it is a combination of building your physical and mental strength, creating a trusting relationship with your horse, and learning as much as you can using as many resources as you can. Here are 10 books and articles you need to read in order to become a better rider.

1. How Good Riders Get Good: Daily Choices That Lead to Success in Any Equestrian Sport by Danny Emerson

Danny Emerson, international eventing gold medal winner, explains how to become a better rider. Key points include overcoming obstacles, building a support team, how to best utilize your riding “body”, analyzing your equine partner, and discovering the nine character traits of a successful rider. If you want to stop being a “wannabe” and want to become a “gonnabe,” Emerson’s book will get you on track to making it in the equestrian industry.  

2. Anne Kursinski’s Riding & Jumping Clinic: A Step-by-Step Course for Winning in the Hunter and Jumper Rings by Anne Kursinski

Olympian Anne Kursinski lays out the key elements of her riding techniques, including how she analyzes jumper courses and her strategies for riding them, in Anne Kursinski’s Riding & Jumping Clinic: A Step-by-Step Course for Winning in the Hunter and Jumper Rings. Kursinski breaks down important elements of flatwork and jumping, ranging from beginner to advanced levels with assistance from figures and diagrams of horse and rider.

3. How to Think Like A Horse: The Essential Handbook for Understanding Why Horses Do What They Do by Cherry Hill

A necessary read for equestrians of every discipline, Hill investigates the way horses think and how this affects their behavior. With explanations about how certain smells and sounds appeal to your horse, Hill emphasizes the importance of recognizing your horse’s thought process behind their actions and how you can communicate effectively with your horse to develop a trusting relationship based on a mutual respect. Knowing  how your horse may react in certain situations can allow you to incorporate that into more productive training sessions.

4. Pressure Proof Your Riding: Mental Training Techniques by Daniel Stewart

Daniel Stewart addresses how performance anxiety, stress, nerves, and distraction all come hand-in-hand with the competitive nature of horse showing in Pressure Proof Your Riding. Although equestrians love their sport, sometimes this love and passion can become lost in anxiety-provoking situations such as showing and performing. With this in mind, Stewart offers riders tips and tricks about how to overcome their fears and appreciate every moment they have with their horses. Pressure Proof Your Riding provides riders with clear, concise mental training techniques to help them regain their confidence in and out of the saddle.

A young rider reads the April Issue of The Plaid Horse Magazine
Photo courtesy of Audrey Oldfather

5. Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse by Tonya Johnston

Mental skills coach Tonya Johnston, MA, presents specific methods and understandable directions to help you prepare for your next ride, whether it be a lesson on a mischievous school pony or the Olympic games. Complete with anecdotes from the sport’s top riders on their coping mechanisms, Inside Your Ride is the perfect read for equestrians looking to improve their mental strength.

6. Fear Not! 8 Ways to Ease Your Riding Fears by John Haime

“What if I fall off?” “What if my horse spooks?” These are common questions that swirl through many riders’ heads before they enter the show ring. World-class mental skills coach, John Haime, addresses what fear is and how to face your fears head on both in and out of the show ring. You are in control of your fears, and Haime’s methods for earning your confidence back are sure to lead to success.

7. Avoiding Comparison: A True Challenge in the Equestrian Sport by Callie Hildenbrand

In life, judgement tends to follow us everywhere. However, in the equestrian industry, this feeling of judgement is heightened. Competitors pay to ship their horses around the country for judges to assign scores based on how well they perform. Although you can lay down the round of your life, it may not be good enough to top your class compared to another contender’s performance. The Plaid Horse Ambassador Callie Hildenbrand offers meaningful words of wisdom about how to maintain a more positive mindset and break the pattern of comparison.

A rider starts off her morning at the horseshow with a cup of coffee and the May/June Issue of The Plaid Horse Magazine
Photo Courtesy of Vyla Carter

8. Stefanie Mazer on Re-thinking Your Relationship with Your Horse by Stefanie Mazer

Stefanie Mazer addresses the notion that horses are not intentionally misbehaving and how we should react with compassion and empathy when our horses act out. Using her own encounter with a troubled small pony to further prove her point, Mazer discusses how we need to take responsibility for our actions in order to become better horsemen and horsewomen.

9. The Power of Presence by Mackenzie Shuman

Mackenzie Shuman discusses the importance of self-affirmation and how physical posturing can help you gain confidence based on Amy Cuddy’s novel, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. By focusing on your best qualities and looking within, you can find the confidence to succeed in any situation.

10. The Madness Behind The Inside Leg to Outside Rein by Ashleen Lee

Trainer Ashleen Lee emphasizes the significance of going back to the basics in The Madness Behind The Inside Leg to Outside Rein. Lee states that “balance, connection, and feel” are what riding thrives upon, and how while riding we must fight our instincts to not give in to our habits. This article is a great read for every equestrian, whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned professional, because we should always take time to go back to the basics.