In reference to my first post entitled “What is Required?”, we come across the word knowledge. Knowledge is the first on my “List of Five Things You Need to Become A Backyard Horse-Owner”. Knowledge can be accumulated in many ways. You can read, you can watch, you can do. You can also contemplate all that you read, watch and do.
With all things horse-related, there is nothing better than doing. Learning to read them, interact with them on the ground and ride them all require lots of experience that is best acquired by doing.
That being said, you certainly can and should learn also by reading and watching and listening. There are an endless list of books, dvds, magazines and all manner of online horse materials. I am a reader by nature and am sharing a few of my favorites sources here. They are listed in no particular order.
How to Think Like a Horse By Cherry Hill- Just like Cherry’s “Horsekeeping On a Small Acreage” book that I recommended in a previous post, this book is an excellent read for those new to horses as well as for folks who want to expand their ability to read equine body language and behavior. Cherry’s Hills books can be purchased online as well as in many bookstores. I have also seen her books in libraries across the country.
The Anna Blake Blog– Anna Blake shares her perspectives on affirmative horse training and all that it encompasses through her blog as well as a series of books. Anna Blake’s perspective is different from what I would consider to be main-line horse training. I have learned so much through her nuanced views of horses and horse-people. My favorite line from her work is “less correction, more direction”. Go to http://www.annablake.com to sign up for her blog and view her other materials.
Horse Listening– This blog is written by a dressage trainer who breaks dressage down in a way that all horses and riders, no matter their chosen discipline, can benefit from her instruction. She also has written a series of books that I would highly recommend to help improve your riding. Go to http://www.horselistening.com to sign up for this blog and other materials.
Equus Magazine– I actually remember when this magazine first appeared in the 1970’s. I loved reading Equus as a child. I was absolutely thrilled to later as an adult have several of my essays published in Equus. It was a monthly magazine for most of its history but has recently gone to a quarterly format. Equus is a general interest horse magazine that appeals to folks across the various horse disciplines and levels. Go to http://www.equusmagazine.com to check it out.
The Horse Magazine-Your Guide To Equine Health Care– This magazine still comes out in a monthly format. It is focused on horse health and welfare issues. The magazine also maintains an extensive online library with information about all kinds of horse health and horse care articles. The magazine is a great monthly read and the online library an excellent reference source. Go to http://www.thehorse.com.
Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses: Recognition and Application- Ever heard of calming signals in dogs? Horses use them too. They use these signals to calm themselves and those around them (that includes humans) in order to reduce stress, avoid conflict and maintain social relationships. This is an indepth book that strangely has not gotten a lot of attention in the horse world. It has opened my eyes to a number of horse behaviors that I have previously misinterpreted or missed altogether. If you are new to horses, I would suggest starting with the book How To Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill and then go to this book. If you have been around horses for awhile or forever, I think you will be surprised as to how much new information you can get from this book. Special thank you to horse professional, Andrea Datz from the Restoration Ranch in Colorado, for making me aware of this book!
In a future post, I will explore what I consider to be a subset of acquiring knowledge- gathering a team of horse professionals to help you help your horse. As a backyard horse person, you will largely be a do-it-yourselfer. There are very few people who don’t need and use outside help along the way though. In the mean time, click on some of the above links or search for the books listed and go reading!