Training Resources

Here are the books, DVDs, articles, etc. that have really helped me with my riding.  Please note that I am not paid for any of these links - these are my own opinions.

General

Mark Rashid  - This man is probably one of the most gifted horse trainers ever.  He has written several books and he still does quite a few clinics every year.  If he is ever in your area, go ride with him.  I took one of his clinics just 2 weeks after I got Nimo.  Nimo was a just-castrated 15 month old idiot at the time.  His ground manners were terrible and the biggest problem I was having at the time was that he wouldn't lead well.  It took less than our 45 minute session to resolve the problem.  Mark talks a lot about timing when working with horses and his recommendation for my leading issue was that every time Nimo stopped, I should immediately turn around and start yelling and waving my arms like a crazy person.  Mark's theory was that I needed to become a person Nimo didn't want to be around whenever he stopped when I hadn't asked.  It was a great technique and worked beautifully.  If you can't get to a clinic, read any or all of Mark's books.  They are written less like horse training books and more like a story about how Mark has learned to interact with horses.  But, there are some great insights into horse (and human) behavior that are well-worth reading.

Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse by Jec Ballou - I followed the conditioning advice in this book a couple of years ago (pre-baby) and got my horse in great shape for trail riding.  The author is actually the youngest person to ever win Vermont's Green Mountain Horse Association's 100-Mile Competitive Trail Ride.  She's got some great exercises for conditioning and stretching, plus conditioning plans for different fitness stages.  And, if you like what you see in the book, her website offers additional conditioning programs that you might be interested in at:  http://jecballou.com/online-shop/.

Endurance/Trail

Conditioning for Your First Endurance Ride  - This article provides a great overview of some conditioning milestones that should be achieved prior to your first 25 mile endurance ride.

Heat-Stress Chart - There doesn't seem to be much left of this website overall, but there is what appears to be a super useful chart showing guidelines for exercise at different heat and humidity levels.

Endurance 101: A Gentle Guide to the Sport of Long Distance Riding by Aarene Storms


Dressage

Happy Horse Course by Jane Savoie - This course is the number one thing in my arsenal.  It is crazy expensive, but it is worth every penny.  I rode with a dressage trainer for 7 years, and I got to the point where I couldn't even ride my horse without someone telling me what to do.  I was scared to ride outside the arena, and my horse couldn't even do a decent Training Level test.  I was on the brink of giving up riding because I thought something was wrong with me.  After over 20 years of riding, I couldn't even canter my horse properly!  Well, it turns out that the only thing wrong with me was that I was letting somebody tell me how to ride.  This course was a godsend!  It didn't take long until I didn't even feel like I wanted a trainer, much less needed one.  I now ride trainer-free (and save myself $60/week on lessons).  And even after I had to take time off to have a baby, I still feel like I can ride my horse and bring him back to the level he was before I stopped riding.  If you want to see a very inspiring story about another Friesian gal who had success with this training program, check out:  http://youtu.be/2ucF68yaG_k.

101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider by Jec Ballou - I love this book because it has so many different exercises in it.  It's a great companion for Ballou's other book (see above).  The exercises are sorted by type, like Warm-Up, Looseness, Lateral Work, and Canter.  And the level of difficulty ranges from Intro Level to much more advanced stuff that I can't do yet.  I can always find inspiration in this book if I'm stuck on what to do in the arena.