The best books on horse-and-human teams

Who am I?

Horses have helped me negotiate the world since early childhood. I’ve worked as a horse trainer, show competitor, catch rider, barn grunt, and riding instructor. As a UCLA-trained brain scientist and full professor, I also taught human perception, language, memory, and thought for almost 25 years. Combining these interests produced an “aha” moment, leading to my development of brain-based horsemanship. Successful horse-and-human teams require an understanding of how prey and predator brains interact. With that understanding, both species learn to communicate mutually via body language. We humans cooperate in this fashion and degree with no other species of prey animal—it’s a rare and special bond! 


I wrote...

Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship

By Janet Jones,

Book cover of Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship

What is my book about?

Horse Brain, Human Brain introduces the many differences between horse and human brains. Without this knowledge, we often assume that horses learn, think, perceive, and attend to tasks the way we do. That assumption invites us to work against our horses' brains, expecting them to function in unnatural and counterproductive ways. This book offers the information needed to ride with our horses' brains. Each principle is applied to real everyday issues in the arena or on trail, often illustrated with true stories from my horse training experience. Written in plain language, Horse Brain, Human Brain is intended for anyone who works with horses.

The books I picked & why

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The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse

By Lawrence Scanlan,

Book cover of The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse

Why this book?

The beautiful true story of Eddie Sweat, the groom who bonded with Secretariat for life throughout the horse’s racing career, stallion service, and retirement. Sweat was the son of a tenant farmer in South Carolina, the sixth of nine children in a poor family. His daily efforts and devotion to the finest racehorse of all time were largely ignored until this book came out in 2007 long after Secretariat died. This story took me for a heartwarming ride that reminded me of true horsemanship and the roles of the most important (but lowest paid) people on a performance horse’s successful team.

The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse

By Lawrence Scanlan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horse God Built as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most of us know the legend of Secretariat, the tall, handsome chestnut racehorse whose string of honours runs long and rich: the only two-year-old ever to win Horse of the Year, in 1972; winner in 1973 of the Triple Crown, his times in all three races still unsurpassed; featured on the cover of "Time", "Newsweek", and "Sports Illustrated"; the only horse listed on ESPN's top fifty athletes of the twentieth century (ahead of Mickey Mantle). His final race at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack is a touchstone memory for horse lovers everywhere. Yet while Secretariat will be remembered forever, one man, Eddie…


The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

By Wendy Williams,

Book cover of The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

Why this book?

A New York Times bestseller, this is the contemporary classic that kick-started equine trade publications in the 21st century. Williams' book took me on a fascinating tour of the world’s critical locations for investigating the evolution and domestication of the modern horse. Science and fun at the same time! I loved her rare combination of meticulous research and passionate entertainment. 

The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

By Wendy Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A Best Book of 2015, The Wall Street Journal

"Love is the driver for Wendy Williams's new book, The Horse . . . [an] affectionate, thoroughgoing, good-hearted book." —Jaimy Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

"Charming and deeply interesting . . . Ms. Williams does a marvelous job." —Pat Shipman, The Wall Street Journal

The book horse-lovers have been waiting for

Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne…


The Mind of the Horse: An Introduction to Equine Cognition

By Michel-Antoine Leblanc, Giselle Weiss (translator),

Book cover of The Mind of the Horse: An Introduction to Equine Cognition

Why this book?

This book surveys and explores the facts behind how horses perceive and think. Leblanc was the first to collect equine research that explores the horse’s mentality. It’s one of the academic references that helped me create, test, and apply my ideas for my own book. I like the way he pulls research together and presents it with care and accuracy. 

The Mind of the Horse: An Introduction to Equine Cognition

By Michel-Antoine Leblanc, Giselle Weiss (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mind of the Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Horses were first domesticated about 6,000 years ago on the vast Eurasian steppe extending from Mongolia to the Carpathian Mountains. Yet only in the last two decades have scientists begun to explore the specific mental capacities of these animals. Responding to a surge of interest in fields from ethology to comparative psychology and evolutionary biology, Michel-Antoine Leblanc presents an encyclopedic synthesis of scientific knowledge about equine behavior and cognition. The Mind of the Horse provides experts and enthusiasts alike with an up-to-date understanding of how horses perceive, think about, and adapt to their physical and social worlds.

Much of what…


The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History

By Susanna Forrest,

Book cover of The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History

Why this book?

Horses have been helping humans build civilization since the time of their domestication at least 6,000 years ago. This book analyzes the horse’s contribution to construction, transportation, military warfare, hunting, food, therapy, frontier expedition, and more. Interesting in its own right, it also taught me to look with new eyes at the modern cities and towns, the farmland and infrastructure, even the art and music, that humans created only with the cooperation of their horses. I enjoyed thinking about how both Western and Eastern societies have horses as their common cornerstone.

The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History

By Susanna Forrest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of the Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Man has always been fascinated by Equus caballus, recasting horse power into many forms: a hunk of meat, an industrial and agricultural machine, a luxury good, a cherished dancer, a comrade in arms and a symbol of a mythical past. From the wild tarpans sought by the Nazis to jade-laden treasure steeds in Ancient China, broken-down nags recycled into sausages and furniture stuffing, stallions that face fighting bulls and brewery horses that charmed the founder of the Sikh Empire, The Age of the Horse knits the history of the horse into that of humans, through revolution, war, social change and…


Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

By Halimah Marcus,

Book cover of Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

Why this book?

A collection of stories written by respected authors explaining how horses help their everyday lives. Jane Smiley, Maggie Shipstead, and Carmen Maria Machado are all here, along with many other excellent women writers. I feel deep appreciation and respect for all the horses I have known—especially those who taught me the most painful lessons, and even the few who taught in a painful or frightening way. Every horse is unique, and every horse offers something you can’t get anywhere else. It was magical to read what some of the world’s best writers have to say about the bonds they created with their own mounts. 

Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

By Halimah Marcus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Horse Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A wild, rollicking ride into the heart of horse country—these essays get at what it means to love horses, in all that love's complexity.” —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

A compelling and provocative essay collection that smashes stereotypes and redefines the meaning of the term “horse girl,” broadening it for women of all cultural backgrounds.


As a child, horses consumed Halimah Marcus’ imagination. When she wasn’t around horses she was pretending to be one, cantering on two legs, hands poised to hold invisible reins. To her classmates, girls like Halimah were known as “horse girls,”…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in horses, evolution, and racehorses?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about horses, evolution, and racehorses.

Horses Explore 95 books about horses
Evolution Explore 94 books about evolution
Racehorses Explore 7 books about racehorses

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like We Go In A Circle, This Way, Charlie, and Black Beauty if you like this list.