Book Review: ‘How to Think Like a Horse’

by Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill’s book, “How to Think Like a Horse” is 181 pages of valuable information that will better every equestrian who picks it up. Even the most knowledgeable of horsemen and women will learn something within the pages.

From the very beginning, Hill discusses many reasons why each equestrian should strive to think like a horse. My personal favorite was, “to add to the horse, not take away from him.” She discusses the minimal needs of a horse such as feeding needs and what horses like and dislike.

She then discusses traits and characteristics of humans and the different types of trainers and their attitudes towards the horses they come in contact with — the good and bad trainers. She gives good feedback of how we can improve from our training methods if we are using methods that are not teaching our horses good behavior, such as excess treating.

An interesting topic that she covers in the book is the horse’s senses and how they perceive things using their vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch and reflexes. This section was fascinating! Hill really grasps the reader’s attention and gives that “ah ha” moment to many of the reasons horses react the way they do to situations. In this part of the book, she has two great charts, one with many grooming tools and their intended use and the other is a chart on the horse’s reflexes.

After thoroughly discussing the horse’s senses, she goes into the physical make up of a horse. She discusses how the horse changes with the season, the different parts of the digestive system, the skeletal system and hoof growth.

Later in the book horse behavior is discussed — the good and the bad. Hill discusses the difference between temperament and attitude and influences that make the horse’s attitude and temperament the way they are. In this part of the book she explains vices and bad habits that horses pick up. She includes a great chart on vices and bad habits and how to treat each.

Hill follows this topic by discussing the life span of the horse. She has illustrations of the timeline from foal to geriatric in two different variations and these depictions give a solid representation of what milestones happen at each age. One of the topics she covers in this section that was most interesting to me was the ages in which different growth plates close.

Reading a horse’s body language is also a large topic covered in Hill’s book. There are pictures of different types of body language to go with each description such as what an alert horse looks like as opposed to an unfriendly horse. Also covered in this section, going one step further from what your horse’s stance looks like, is what types of vocals your horse will use in different situations.

So, how can we take all of this information and utilize it to effectively communicate with our horse? Hill covers that too. She discusses how to effectively use your body weight, balance, hands, mind and voice to relay information to your horse. As equestrians, we need to be immediate, consistent, appropriate and concise in order to get the best outcomes.

Hill elaborates on this in the last section of the book that discusses training. She discusses how to set goals and how to be successful in training your horse. A great chart in this section is a chart that shows the ideal length of a training session according to the age of the horse.

If you’re looking for a great book that really teaches you about the horse, how they think and the best ways to get through to them, this is an awesome read. This book is sure to clarify why horses respond the way they do to different stimuli and how to get the most out of your partnership with your horse!

‘How to Think Like a Horse’ is available from Amazon.