Christmas Books

I did not get to ride this week. Part of the reason is that I am being super cautious about the Covid-19 pandemic, and the other reason is that, for once, winter came to NC just after the Winter Solstice. It is 20º F here right now at 9:30 AM. No snow, just bitter cold.

But it was not all bad, one of my sons gave me 4 horse books that I got to select myself! They are:

Horse Brain--Human Brain--The Neuroscience of Horsemanship” by Janet L. Jones, PhD.

Equine Lameness for the Layman—Tools for Prompt Recognition, Accurate Assessment, and Proactive Management” by G. Robert Drisel, DVM.

The Rider's Balance—Understanding the Weight Aids in Pictures” by Sylvia Loch.

The New Anatomy of Rider Connection—Structural Balance for Rider and Horse”, by Mary Wanless.

Looking at these books I am getting the impression that I am overloading my brain. There is NO WAY that I will be able to do a lot of the riding stuff in these books because of my MS. Still they will stretch what could be possible and give me ideas that I can adapt to my own situation on horseback.


I have gotten the furthest in “Horse Brain-Human Brain”. This book is, in my opinion, the most important book on riding and handling horses ever written and I think it should be required reading for teens and older people BEFORE they lease or buy a horse. By reading this book you will begin to understand how the horse perceives the world through sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, learning the deep down biological actions of the horse's nervous system and brain.

Then, in Chapter Nine she starts writing about “Building an Equestrian Brain”, mainly about proprioception, joint alignment, balance, muscle isolation, and pressure. I am sort of stuck here, with my MS my balance is bad and my proprioception in worse. This Chapter has how to test yourself for proprioception, aligning your body, and other things. I am ultra cautiously trying to follow her directions for identifying where my body goes wrong. This is ultra frustrating to me, with the damage my case of MS has done to my central nervous system it is amazing I can ride at all without the horses giving up on me and “teaching” me a lesson I'll never forget.

Once I get past this part I will get to read about horse training, attention, emotion, and forethought.

With this book I have finally found a book that is better than “Common Sense Horsemanship” by Vladimir Littauer, for people who want to become horsemen/women rather than just casual riders. Considering that Littauer's book was first published the year I was born (1951) it has been a long wait.

As far as I am concerned everyone who desires to become a horseback rider, a horse trainer, a horse handler, or teacher of horsemanship NEEDS to read this book. If parents of children who want to learn to ride read this book they will be able to better judge if they are wasting their money on their childrens' lessons.

If people learn what is presented here the amount of unconscious and ignorant abuse of horses would be greatly reduced. It is full of knowledge that your riding teachers SHOULD know and that horse trainers SHOULD know, but they often don't leading to less than satisfactory results for both the human and the horse.

Amazingly I did not feel horribly guilty about my horsemanship when I read the first part of this book. Yes, I made grievous mistakes at first, but by following Littauer's system I minimized the damage to my horses. Considering that I was green and got a green-broke horse when I started owning horses I did pretty well, and over the decades of listening to my horses I came to a lot of the same conclusions that I read in the first section of this book. With this new to me knowledge I will be able to understand my horses' objections to my riding better and I will know how to correct myself so I can become a more effective rider. I will also be better able to explain to my riding teacher exactly what I am doing and why it will improve the situation.

Read this book.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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