Resources: horsemen, books, DVDs, studies, etc.

books

Resources (books, DVDs, methods, etc.) and personal analysis


All the following comments are my personal opinions. I am not trying to convince anybody, just to share my thoughts. All titles and references are given so you can check the information by yourself and make up your mind.

I decided to present the following horsemen and horsewomen in two parts: first the origins of this Natural Horsemanship trend, second the contemporary horsemen.

Origins of Natural Horsemanship

Xenophon

On Horsemanship (Περὶ ἱππικῆς, peri hippikēs)
Xenophon is known as the first author ever to have written a complete text about horses, their selection, care and training. One text is more ancient (by Kikkuli of the Mitanni Kingdom) but clearly not as complete as this one.

 

John Solomon Rarey

A New Illustrated Edition of J. S. Rarey’s Art of Taming Horses
John Rarey was one of the most famous horsemen back in the 19th century. Born in the United States of America, he became well known after he tamed Cruiser, a horse reputed to be pretty wild.

 

Nuno Oliveira

Oeuvres Complètes
This Portuguese horseman is considered by many as the Master of dressage. Contrarily to what is commonly accepted, dressage is initially a very light, soft and respectful equitation. Nuno Oliveira is a great representative of the Haute-Ecole of dressage and his teaching is stunningly close to Tom Dorrance’s horsemanship…

 

Tom Dorrance

True Unity
That book is probably the most important concerning our matter: communication with horses. Unfortunately, that is also certainly the most complicated to understand. Writing is good and vocabulary is common, but ideas developed in that text require a new way of thinking, a fresh mind about horses.
A Day With Tom Dorrance
This two-and-a-half hour DVD presents Tom Dorrance in his late days. He is interviewed and presented several horses and horse problems in order to understand his philosophy and more practical technics. It can be interesting to watch him giving advises, yet the rider does not always understands very well the instructions and we end up sometimes with someone trying to get Tom Dorrance’s idea without real success.
An interesting complement to the book, but not necessary.

 

Ray Hunt

Think Harmony With Horses
Ray Hunt was probably the best disciple Tom Dorrance ever had, his understanding of Tom’s approach is really good and he has _ on my mind _ a better capacity to express ideas. This book is a perfect explanation of the philosophy behind natural horsemanship.
Colt Starting
That set of DVDs is a must-have to those who want to start horses. It is a great source of knowledge to all others. We can watch Ray Hunt starting a few colts in real-time, from the first contact to the first lope in the round-pen.

Current horsemen and horsewomen, or sometimes horse'business'men

Clinton Anderson

Horsemanship 101
This is a very interesting set of DVDs, in particular for beginners. I recommend these films to all those who just start with horses: Clinton Anderson deals with everything from handling a horse, to the equipment and tack, to hoof care, to the very first exercises.
Downunder Horsemanship
This title designates all Clinton Anderson’s horsemanship methods from handling the foal to the groundwork to starting a horse to the first saddle work to horse training… A complete set of DVDs that cuts down every exercises into multiple steps to achieve with the horse.

 

Buck Brannaman

The Making of a Bridle Horse
It is a three-DVDs set edited in the early 90’s. Three DVDs for three steps: riding in a snaffle bit, riding in a hackamore and finally riding in two-reins to end with a bridle horse.
Faraway Horses
This book is Buck Brannaman’s biography. As it deals with one of the greatest horsemen in my opinion, it deals obviously with horses. No exercises, no methods. But a beautiful philosophy, a moving and interesting way to consider life!
Believe: a Horseman’s Journey
That second book is quite interesting as it deals with the qualities a horseman or a horsewoman should develop to improve his or her communication with horses. Buck Brannaman explains those concepts which are then all supported by the testimonies of people who attended Buck’s clinics and testify about their own experience.
Buck
This is the documentary inspired by Faraway Horses. This film deals with Buck Brannaman’s life of course, but many extract of his clinics are showed all along the movie. We can see some pretty amazing pieces of horsemanship.
7 Clinics
This 7-DVD set is the source used for the documentary Buck. Hours of footage were available and it has been decided to share these videos which perfectly illustrate Buck Brannaman’s methods inspired by late Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. A lot of exercises, a lot of tips, a lot of information…

 

Smokie Brannaman

Whisper This… Not to Your Horse, to Yourself
Yes, Smokie is Buck’s brother and vice-versa. Having said that, approaches are quite different. Smokie Brannaman does not have the same knowledge, probably not the same empathy to horses. Yet, this book is pretty interesting as the text is 100% frank and honest, words can be rude sometimes, but truth is exposed.
Equiknowlogy 101
This second book has the same kind of approach as Whisper This…, as Smokie answers questions he gathered from forums or via his web site.

 

John Lyons

Lyons on Horses
John Lyons is considered as a great horseman by many. I am not that enthusiastic about him: I think he uses the Natural Horsemanship technics without the essential knowledge, the philosophy that should rule our relationship with horses.
The subtitle of his book says it all: “John Lyon’s Proven Conditioned-Response Training Program” . . .

 

Pat Parelli

Parelli Liberty and Horse Behaviour
This set of DVDs could be described as a shrink-therapy for horses. Pat Parelli has a very psychological approach to horses. Psychology is important of course and the concept of “horsenality” is quite interesting, but basing all horsemanship on psychology is a mistake on my mind.
Natural Horse-Man-Ship: Six Keys to a Natural Horse-Human Relationship
This is the Bible of all Parelli preachers in the world, Pat Parelli explains in these pages how he discovered Natural Horsemanship and how his scientific program can fit everybody and every horse worldwide.
Freud now has his alter ego in horsemanship…

 

Frédéric & Jean-François Pignon

La Leçon Indispensable de Frédéric et Jean-François Pignon (English subtitles)
This TV show has taken me into the Pignon brothers world, although I’m usually not fond of horse shows and circus tricks, these interviews are based on their philosophy, their way of life with horses. It’s unbelievable to discover how much Haute-Ecole, Ranch work and Circus share, the education of the horse is the same for everyone!

 

Monty Roberts

A Real Horse Whisperer
This DVD is presented as the utmost wild experience by Monty Roberts, the objective is to show Monty’s method and his capacity to communicate with horses… The observation is not that glorious: many lies to hide poor horsemanship behind a wall of smoke.
From My Hands to Yours