Summer (Equestrian) Reading

Surely I wasn’t the only nerdy kid who looked forward to the summer reading programs at the local library just about as much as the whole vacation from school part? I still read A LOT, every single day, although mostly non-horse fiction. Still though, I do quite enjoy the occasional horse book, usually non-fiction, and I’m always on the lookout for good ones. The one I got last week is definitely what I would classify as a super cool book.

Henry approved

It’s called Cross Country Completion: considerations about jump decorating, written by ‘r’ eventing course designer and cross country course decorator Janine Preece McClain. I’m always interested in anything about course design, or how horses read fences, or why jumps are set or decorated the way they are. It’s super fascinating to me. McClain has decorated courses for tons of different venues and big events, including 2018 WEG.

This book is especially cool, I think, being that it’s chock full of gorgeous illustrations and handwritten notes. It’s spiral bound, nothing fancy, but it’s just so freakin pretty. It kind of makes you feel like you stole a course decorators notebook.

Plus it’s full of really interesting information, like when and how to use groundlines, what materials to use, considerations regarding color, jump shape, etc. There were definitely a few tidbits in here that I’d never thought of, and I think I’ll be looking at fences a little bit differently on course walks. I have to admit that decorations aren’t something I’ve given a ton of thought to before, beyond noticing if something looked odd.

If you’re an eventer or a book collector, this would definitely be a cool addition to your collection. You just don’t see a lot of books like this one, but subject matter-wise and presentation-wise. I absolutely love it. Oh, and duh… you can get the book on her website here.

I’ve also had my eye on Trafalgar Square’s New Releases page. They’re the best equestrian book publisher in the game and I feel like they’ve always got some interesting ones in the works. There are two that have caught my eye in particular.

Still Horse Crazy After All These Years

Eventers have probably already heard some hype surrounding Jimmy Wofford’s new book, Still Horse Crazy After All These Years. This one is more of an autobiography, which I always love. He talked about it last week on the Major League Eventing podcast and it sounds like it has some good stories from the old days of eventing. Definitely up my alley, I find Jimmy to be super entertaining.

The other one that made my list is Ride Big, which is about building your confidence as a rider. Y’all know I love a good book about upping your mental game, and this one speaks to me for sure.

Ride Big

From the website description:

Haime invites readers to dive into three clear and informative areas of exploration:

  • The Confidence Building Blocks: Firm up the fundamentals.
  • The Confidence Builders: Systems and tips to help you build confidence.
  • The Confidence Threats: An inside look at what to watch out for in riding and in competition.

Throughout, those who have reached the highest levels on horseback in a number of disciplines share their stories, including Michael Jung, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Laura Tomlinson, Harry Meade, Oliver Townend, Mattias Tromp, Casey Deary, Beth Underhill, Fred Mannix, Jared Zenni, Jonathon Millar, and Kelly Soleau-Millar. These Olympians, champions, and medalists explain what they do in the saddle and how their techniques for performing under world-class pressure might help other riders develop a similar kind of confidence.

Gotta be honest, I’m kind of dying to know what Michi had to say on the subject.

What’s on your summer reading list? Any horse books caught your eye lately?

6 thoughts on “Summer (Equestrian) Reading

  1. Thanks for the recommendations. They all sound right up my alley. I just ordered the kindle versions of the Jim Wofford and John Haime ones. The cross country one is so gorgeous looking I think a hard copy is a must.


  2. I am also a big fan of Trafalgar Square Publishing (BTW, have you explored having an affiliate link with them on your blog site?). I enjoy the variety of books from different disciplines and viewpoints in the equestrian world. One book of theirs that might be of interest to you or your readers is How to Minds Meet: The Mental Dynamics of Dressage by Beth Baumert (also author of When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics). Whether you ride dressage or not, the information in the book is very applicable to all riding disciplines. Here is one of my favorite quotes from her book

    “Some trainers say, “The way to a horse’s body is through his mind.” And others say, “The way to a horse’s mind is through his body.” Which is it? Either can be argued. It can be said without physical harmony there can be no mental and emotional comfort, which is why I wrote the book about the physicial aspects of training first. But it is also true that you can’t train a horse well unless you’re his friend to begin with. Either way, the mind and the body are, indeed, closely aligned. Empower yourself to engage your horse’s mind as well as his hindquarters.”- Beth Baumert.


  3. The Wofford book caught my eye; can you let us know the ratio of horse stories to fly fishing stories? I liked his other books but…too much fishing.

    I’ve got two memoirs and a horse history book on my list for the summer, probably mid to late summer at this point on my list, and I was actually thinking of perusing the book offerings at the local tack store’s tent sale this weekend. I’d like something thinky about classical dressage as I work on breaking down body mechanics right now.


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