From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2011:
What Every Horse Should Know
by Cherry Hill
Storey Publishing (210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams,
MA 01247), 2011. 192 pages, paperback. $19.95.
“Horses are wonderful already,” begins Cherry Hill in What Every Horse Should Know. Her book is wonderful too.
Hill, horse trainer extraordinaire, begins the book with a chapter on fear. Fear, she says, is the single most dangerous and destructive force in a relationship with a horse. “Eradicate fear and you begin to develop trust,” Hill writes. Fearful horses often panic and try to flee. Wild or undomesticated horses, suddenly cornered, feel trapped. Attempting to escape can harm the horse or anyone standing close by.
Hill’s chapter on fear begins a sound and thoughtful discussion of proper training methods that start with birth of a foal and continue throughout the horse’s life.
Horses can experience separation anxiety just like dogs. Among horses this behavior is manifested in several different ways. A “herd-bound” horse misbehaves when separated from the herd. A horse who is nervous when separated from just one particular horse is called “buddy-bound.” A horse who is antsy when taken out of the barn is “barn-sour.”
Hill suggests ways to help nervous horses relax. She adds a section on building confidence.
Sub-sections outline key behaviors. For example, on page 49 Hill offers a list of “Visually spooky things” that a horse may find frightening, such as umbrellas, bicycles, balloons, and people who are behaving strangely.
Communication with the horse is critical for anyone who rides. There must be mutual respect and trust between horse and rider. Hill discusses horse movements, conversing with a horse, and getting a horse ready to ride. She also talks about rewards such as rubs. Horses enjoy soothing physical contact.
A chapter about the various riding methods includes clear concise sketches and colorful photos, along with an easy-to-follow discussion about rein release, backing, and yielding.
Riding a horse is more complicated than just hopping on the horse’s back. Much preparation is involved, such as the saddling process. Keeping a horse is also not cheap. Those who acquire horses need to be prepared for all the costs of stabling, feeding, hoof care, and vaccinations, and the work needed to keep the horse adequately exercised, trained, brushed, and cleaned up after.
What Every Horse Should Know is beautifully written and illustrated. If you are thinking about adopting a horse, read this book first. You’ll find out what you’re getting into. But as Hill says, horses are wonderful. If you follow her tips, your horse should become a good equine citizen and you’ll become a satisfied horse keeper.
–Debra J. White
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960
Clinton, WA 98236
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