The best books for training horses

Alexandra Kurland Author Of The Click That Teaches: A Step-By-Step Guide in Pictures
By Alexandra Kurland

The Books I Picked & Why

Don't Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training

By Karen Pryor

Book cover of Don't Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training

Why this book?

One of the best books for training horses isn’t even a book about horses - at least not directly. Karen Pryor’s classic text translates the complexities of learning theory into clear, understandable language. Don’t Shoot the Dog introduced us to clicker training and started a revolution in animal training. It’s a fun read that will transform your training. It certainly transformed mine.  

I read Don’t Shoot the Dog for the first time in 1993. This is the book that sent me out to the barn with treats in my pockets to ask my horse what he thought about clicker training.  His answer - he loved it! Don’t Shoot The Dog set me on my clicker training journey.  It was and still is a must-read book.


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Classical Dressage

By Anja Beran

Book cover of Classical Dressage

Why this book?

Clicker training shows you how to train. Now, what are you going to train? Let the beautiful photos in Anja Beran’s book on Classical Dressage inspire you. Anja Beran loves horses and that’s reflected in her desire to share her deep understanding of Classical Dressage.

We need images of beautiful horses being correctly ridden in good balance. Classical Dressage sits at the core of all good riding programs. Balance matters because it helps keep your horse sound no matter your riding goals. We are indeed lucky to have someone as gifted as Anja Beran sharing this work with us.


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Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest

Book cover of Black Beauty

Why this book?

There are many how-to books on training horses out there. Before you fill your bookshelf with them, it’s good to remember how much you love horses. That’s different from how much you love what horses can do for you - the jumps they can carry you over, the ribbons they can win for you. Remember how much you love horses, and remember how much they depend upon us to be kind. It’s all too easy to reach for “get tougher” solutions. Anna Sewell’s childhood classic reminds us to question how horses are handled and to look at what we do from the horse’s point of view. When choosing a training method, she reminds us to listen to our hearts and to our horses.  


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Centered Riding

By Sally Swift, Jean Macfarland, Mike Noble

Book cover of Centered Riding

Why this book?

Prior to Centered Riding much of how riding was taught came from the cavalry. It was get tough or get out. Sally Swift changed that with her gentle approach to riding instruction. She introduced the horse world to the Alexander technique and the use of visualization. Instead of pushing riders through their fear, she helped them connect with their horses. She is a revolutionary thinker who transformed riding instruction.   


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The Dressage Seat: Achieving a Beautiful, Effective Position in Every Gait and Movement

By Anja Beran

Book cover of The Dressage Seat: Achieving a Beautiful, Effective Position in Every Gait and Movement

Why this book?

Anja Beran again shares her love of horses by helping us ride better.  

Thoughtless riding damages horses. It breaks their bodies and their spirits. But we can ride horses into soundness. We can bring back the sparkle in their eyes even as we help heal their bodies. The Dressage Seat will help you ride effectively and support the well-being of your horse.


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