May 10, 2014

Ride the Right Horse

by Yvonne Barteau

The author of this book that caught my eye on a library shelf is a horse trainer. She has during her career taught and ridden horses in equine theatrical performances, schooled horses brought to her with training and behavioral issues and trained her own horses to ride in various competitions. This book is all about learning how to recognize the basic personality types among horses and how to work with them- each needing a different approach. She defines the personalities as being generally social, fearful, aloof or challenging, with intensity ranging from passive to aggressive and of course many variations- a horse can show characteristics of different types at the same time.The main part of the book is about learning what these types are, how to recognize them, and how to deal with issues each type may have. In the final chapters are instructions on how to work with each type of horse during weaning or starting them for the first time (introducing tack and rider). Also there is a chapter about recognizing your own personality type, with suggestions on which kind of horse (and trainer) you would be most compatible with- taking into consideration your experience and confidence level as well. All around it is a very solid book with excellent information and guidance, at least it seems so to me.

But I'm not the target audience for this book. So I found all the lists of points and instructions uninteresting after a while, and started just skipping through the book to read the case studies; samples from the author's own experience with many various horses are given for each point. I liked reading about the different animals and how she worked with them. Appreciated that not all were success stories- some animals (or their owners) were ultimately not curable of their bad habits, and with a few the author herself was not experienced enough at the time she encountered them, but they all made good examples. I also gleaned a little bit about things in the horse world never imagined existed before: there is a competition with a "champagne class" where a rider has to hold a full glass of champagne in one hand- whoever ends up spilling the least amount of champagne wins. There is a type of endurance race which is a 100-mile all-day ride. The author also worked a lot with standardbred horses, which compete at a trot in harness- a discipline I hadn't read about before so that was interesting. Amusing was the story of one horse named Shorty who won several races in a row, and seemed to enjoy the fuss made over him afterwards. At the end of subsequent races he would automatically turn to go into the winner's circle. When he then lost a race, it "was so close that even the tired and sweaty youngster thought he had won" and he sulked at not being allowed into the winner's circle!

So it feels rather unfair of me to give this book an "abandoned" rating. I did enjoy the parts of it that I read, I just skipped around to what interested me. I'm sure people who ride or work with horses would find this book very useful; I'd be interested to hear someone's opinion who really knows the subject matter and doesn't just read about it from the sidelines like me. I only found one (see below).

Abandoned        298 pages, 2007

more opinions:
Thoughts on Dressage

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