The Best Horse Books to Gift this Holiday Season

‘Tis the season … for looking for that perfect gift for the equestrians in your life. Here’s a list of the best books for your favorite horse lover — even if that’s you!

By Emily Randolph, of Randolph PR

As the ground and water buckets begin to freeze in the north, and as many equestrians across the country find themselves with perhaps more time at home than most years, it’s the perfect season to curl up with a good book. 

Whether you’re shopping for someone that is 6 or 96 (or for yourself!), there’s a book for every equestrian on your list! 

For Young Riders  

Isla & Pickle: The Pony Party by Kate McLelland

One morning Isla and her best friend Pickle, an adorable miniature Shetland pony, receive an exciting invitation. Isla’s friend Rosie is having a Pony Party on the beach for her birthday. There’s just one problem – Isla hasn’t learned to ride yet! Illustrator Kate McLelland brings the lovable pair of Isla & Pickle to life in bright, humorous illustrations.

The second in a series of Isla & Pickle picture books, “Isla & Pickle: The Pony Party” is a fun read to enjoy with any future pony rider!

Show Strides: School Horses and Show Ponies by Piper Klemm and Rennie Dyball 

Tally Hart loves riding in the lesson program at Quince Oaks, but when a new trainer arrives with his student, Mac, and her pony hunter, Joey, Tally will be introduced to a whole new world of horse shows. With the extra saddle time she earns working at Oaks, Tally takes advantage of every ride she gets, from school horses to show ponies. 

The first book of the Show Strides series, “Show Strides: School Horses and Show” may take you back to your Saddle Club book days! It’s not only an enjoyable read for middle-grade equestrians, it’s chockful of advice and lessons on both riding and life. Gift all three books in the series by shopping the second book, “Moving Up and Moving On,” here and the third book, “Confidence Comeback,” here

Hello, Horse by Vivian French

A little boy isn’t sure if he likes horses, but his friend Catherine assures him that her horse will like him. Catherine patiently teaches the boy how to talk to a horse quietly, how to feed her carrots, how to lead her across a field, even how to blow at her softly to show that he likes her. Facts about horses are sprinkled throughout the book to satisfy inquisitive readers.

Recommended for readers in kindergarten through third grade, “Hello, Horse” is a gentle introduction to horses that will draw both committed horse lovers and those who need a little reassurance before jumping into the saddle.

For Improved Riding and Increased Equestrian Knowledge 

Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation: Develop a Winning Style by Geoff Teall

Discover how to increase the effectiveness of the time you spend in the saddle, whether you are a beginning hunt seat rider or a seasoned competitor. Noted judge, trainer and clinician Geoff Teall helps you put together an unbeatable package, including setting riding goals, finding the right horse and instructor, developing confidence and facing your fears and more. He then demystifies the jumping course, showing you how even the most challenging, demanding patterns can be simplified and easily practiced at home. 

Piper Klemm, PhD penned the Note to the Reader in the newly released edition of this book, and she sums it up well: “I encourage you all to read this book cover to cover and then read it again. While you are doing that, gift it to someone joining our industry. No matter how long you have been in this sport or what capacity you are joining us in, this has such great content for everyone. From how to navigate the sport, what judges are looking for, to mental game and finding personal satisfaction in a fiscally overwhelming game, the principles explained are even more relevant now than when they were first written.”

Anne Kursinski’s Riding & Jumping Clinic: New Edition by Anne Kursinski

Olympian Anne Kursinski’s acclaimed book on riding horses over fences delivers on-target counsel and the kind of sophisticated, quality instruction you can only get in top barns around the world. The book features step-by-step descriptions of 20 exercises to improve your position, your feel and your overall understanding of how to confidently and successfully master a jump course. You’ll find a top-notch education in basic flatwork and jumping, including bending, adjusting stride length, moving laterally, riding straight lines and curves, jumping without stirrups, and flying changes. You’ll also learn advanced flatwork and jumping, with lessons in flexion and collection, counter-canter, half-pass, ways to perfect distances and count strides, and tips for riding different kinds of combinations, bigger jumps, and natural fences.

This popular book has been newly re-released and includes an additional new chapter on riding derby-style courses, as well as hundreds of illuminating photographs, completely reshot in full color for the new edition. 

Brain Training for Riders by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

Did you know there’s an area of your brain known as the “lizard brain” that thinks only about the immediate moment and your means of survival? In certain circumstances, your “rational brain” can effectively “shut down” and you are at the mercy of this lizard brain, unable to think clearly – even though you know better. This can happen in any number of unfamiliar, uncomfortable, challenging or stressful riding situations. However, with the right kind of training, you can learn to manage the reptile within, which leads to greater confidence with horses, better riding performance and ultimately, happiness at the barn, at shows and everywhere in between.

In this book, Andrea Monsarrat Waldo teaches you how to handle uncomfortable emotions, such as fear, anger, anxiety and embarrassment. She covers how to hone your mental game and focus your riding time to get the most out of your hours in the saddle, how to care for your emotional injuries the same way you would care for an injured horse and how to produce a state of focused calm to tap into the skills you have (whether you know it or not!). 

Fit & Focused in 52 by Daniel Stewart

 Coach Daniel Stewart has made a name for himself over the past 25 years, enthusiastically training riders of all levels throughout the world, as well as coaching top athletes on several U.S. Equestrian Teams at World Championships, World Equestrian Games and the Olympics. He’s widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on equestrian sport psychology, athletics and performance. 

In “Fit & Focused in 52,” Stewart combines his popular rider mental conditioning techniques with ideas for physical conditioning. The spiral-bound book provides riders and readers with exercises for the body and exercises for the mind for each week of the year. The end goal is attaining full-on fitness that ensures improved performance on horseback. 

For Your Coffee Table 

Equestrian Life: From Riding Houses to Country Estates with photography by Mark Roskams 

This beautiful coffee-table style book offers a visual study of the equestrian lifestyle, showcasing stables and interiors of country houses and estates of the British Isles and Ireland. 

Riding for the Team edited by Nancy Jaffer

Presented as a 302-page hardback coffee table-style book full of memories and images, “Riding for the Team” features the stories of 47 athletes who have served on championship teams for the United States in all eight international equestrian disciplines and recounts their struggles, triumphs, and journeys to the top of the sport. 

Along with stories of athletes at major games competition, the book features fantastic photographs, including behind-the-scenes moments and images of top riders in their younger years, such as Margie Engle’s pony ride as a five-year-old and Phillip Dutton in his Australian Pony Club days! Proceeds from the sale of “Riding for the Team” benefit the USET Foundation. 

Happy reading! Go Riding!