Book Review: ‘Two Brains One Aim’

By Eric Smiley with Ellie Hughes

There are many reasons why a rider isn’t connecting with their equine partner. Some common reasons are the rider isn’t understanding the instruction she is receiving from her coach, the rider isn’t providing clear cues to her horse, or the rider and her equine are an inappropriate match for each other.

In Eric Smiley’s book, Two Brains One Aim, he discusses many ways to aid in improved communication between instructor and rider and rider and horse. His book is aimed towards anyone who wants to be more effective in the communication between horses and riders.

Simplicity of instructions, being open to different techniques that will provide the same result and good horsemanship are all vital components to becoming more successful with your equine counterpart.

Smiley discusses how riders learn and how as a coach he tailors the needs of his coaching to the style of learning of the rider. He makes it a priority to provide effective instruction to his students in order for them to “harmonize a partnership.” He goes further into depth discussing the different methods of learning he uses to teach. Each of these methods is explained in a simple way in which other instructors reading the book can use them in their own lesson and training programs.

After thoroughly discussing instruction towards the rider, he focuses on how horses learn. One of the topics I found most valuable was his discussion on warming up your horse. He provides input on a horse’s behavior in the wild and explains the importance of not only warming up the horse’s muscles during the warm up but to make it a priority to immediately engage the brain at the very start of your warm up.

Horses, like humans, come with all different types of personalities. Some learn quickly while others need time. Horses don’t have a full understanding as to what’s in riding and competing for them. One of my favorite statements Smiley made in the book is, “The only reason that a horse joins your partnership is his generosity of spirit: a spirit that has to be nurtured, cherished, applauded, loved, and never taken for granted.” The right foundation is important in creating a long-lasting relationship with your equine partner.

Smiley discusses the many different training aids each rider uses while riding such as weight distribution and seat. He also gives different exercises that can easily be incorporated to riding sessions. He has question and answer portions in the book that give real scenarios, explanations and interventions.

Switching up routines is another point that Smiley thoroughly covers. Working with your horse outside of the arena and incorporating ground poles into your exercises are two ways to improve your riding and switch things up to keep your horse’s mind engaged.

For any rider, instructor or trainer who is looking for reading material to further explain teaching techniques for the horse and rider or to find ideas of how to take yourself further in your rides and success for competition, this book is a good read!

Two Brains One Aim is from Horse and Rider Books.