Books, Videos, DVD's
on Horsemanship
Advice from Top Trainers and Clinicians

"Sometimes going slow is the quickest way to get there."
- Tom Dorrance

What should you look for in books on horsemanship? After all, there are many on the bookshelves containing a wealth of knowledge for those wanting to work successfully with a horse.

Many of the top trainers and clinicians have published wonderful books which can be found in your local bookstore or from a bookseller on the Internet.

It can work to your advantage to go directly to a trainer's web site. There's plenty of interesting and useful information to be found - articles, downloads, schedules for TV appearances, clinics, etc.. You can get a definite feel for what to expect in the book or books they've publshed.

You'll probably get to choose among some very good options. Not a bad problem to be faced with.

What do you look for as far as content is concerned?

Natural Horsemanship is the term that pretty much covers it.

What is Natural Horsemanship? Let me start with a personal story that at first glance might seem to have little to do with horses but I believe you'll find it has much to offer.

A Lesson in Management

Some years back I was the manager of a diverse group
of highly skilled and motivated aerospace engineers
working in a high tech environment.
At our staff meetings I would look around the group and think
"I may well be the dumbest person in this room
and yet I am their leader."

I learned that for these talented folks, running
an organization that was barely under control was the best approach.
Once it was obvious that each individual knew their responsibilites,
I needed to get out of their way and let them get the job done.

They were the experts at getting done what needed to get done.
Under the thumb of a control freak, who would shudder at the thought "barely under control", that group would have
either staged a revolt or reverted to mediocre performance at best.

My fingerprints on the organization weren't visible to the outsider.
They were there - but they were faint.

So it is With the Horse

You let the horse know what you want it to do, keep it barely under control (i.e. light rein, light pressure) and then get out of its way.

As far as the doing is concerned, the horse is the expert. Sounds simple but it's one of the hardest lessons to put into practice.

But that's what Natural Horsemanship is all about - at least as I see it.

Watching Ray Hunt work in the round pen with a green horse provides an excellent example of this kind of subtle "horse management". So often we try to make the horse do something instead of letting the horse do it. The top clinicians follow this example though their approaches and the terms they use often differ.

You can't watch a horse perform and say, "That horse must have been trained by the Parelli method or the Lyons approach, or by Ray Hunt". At least I can't. All I can say is, "that's a well trained horse (and rider)". The fingerprints of the trainer are there, but they are faint. The horse is doing the work.

Consider the gift of a book and/or video that helps get horse and rider to this level.

Get a book on horsemanship that lends itself to being studied. Just reading it from cover to cover isn't going to get the job done. Any book on horsemanship needs to address the mind and psychology of the horse and instruct you what to look for to communicate with the horse.

You need to learn what makes a horse "tick".

In many ways, video is easier to work with than a book. I was told the first time I got a video (one of Ray Hunt's) to view it at least 7 times.

Good advice! I actually did that and I'm glad I did. There are parts of that video that come to mind anytime I'm working a horse in the round pen. Had I viewed the video only once or twice I'd have retained little if anything.

Which Books to Buy?
Parelli Horsemanship Book

Hempfling's Dancing With Hprses

Two very good choices -

  • Pat Parelli's
    Natural Horse-Man-Ship

  • Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling's
    Dancing With Horses.

Both provide a solid foundation on handling the horse on the ground and in the saddle. Both are highly recommended.

If you are interested in either you can find out more by clicking on the appropriate ilustration, taking you to

But we can't neglect John Lyons (some of our horse lovin' friends swear by his approach), Buck Brannaman, or his mentors, Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt.

And there's Mark Rashid, Cherry Hill, Richard Shrake, Fran Devereux Smith, and others. You will see in their books on horsemanship a natural approach to the horse with the idea that in working with the horse you will and must learn a lot about yourself.

You might want to find out more about these folks before coming to a decision on a book or video to purchase. That's the purpose of this article so, please, read on.

Buck Brannaman

A respected horse gentler whose approach has had a significant impact on the equestrian world. When not traveling on his busy clinic schedule, he makes his home in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Books on Horsemanship: Groundwork book, a step by step starting your colt from the ground and Buck's own story, The Faraway Horses and BELIEVE - A Horeman's Journey. You can find a review of BELIEVE in our Four Foot Shelf of Books page.

Horsemanship Videos: - on working with your colt from the ground, achieving horsemanship goals, trailer loading and problem solving, the Ranch Roping Series and most recently The Making of a Bridle Horse Series .

Website: Visit

Buck Brannaman's web site plus an interesting audio interview at can be found at

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is a highly acclaimed European trainer whose book and video, Dancing with Horses shows how to use body language to communicate with the horse and has achieved recognition on this side of the Atlantic as well. A search on the web for material on this horseman turns up sites in most of the major European languages.

Books on Horsemanship - Best known is Dancing with Horses. At you'll find a good review of the Dancing with Horses book and video from Conquistador Magazine.

Hempfling Horsemanship Book NEW! In “What Horses Reveal,” a follow-up to his groundbreaking book, “Dancing with Horses,” Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling explains his unique system for recognizing horses’ personalities and training methods fitting each personality type. One of the greatest hurdles we have to face in learning to work with horses is knowing what to look for and, as Hempfling explains, it is not the same from horse to horse. Hempfling categories horses into 26 character groups and with the aid of some outstanding photography, touches upon each category. You may be tempted to try to "fit" your horse into a particular category. Hempfling advises otherwise. Understand the whole first. That's not easy.

There's plenty to absorb - most all of it of value. The first part of the book can be slow reading. Not boring by any means, quite the opposite, just plenty of information crammed into each paragraph. Once you get to the 26 character types it is smoother sailing.

While any true horse lover should enjoy this book it is better suited for those who spend lots of time with different horses or work with horses than for the occasional rider. But I should add, that it is also a fine gift for anyone who is just getting acquainted with the horse world and has a true desire to communicate with these wonderful animals. Most of us rarely read a book more than once but this book shold be an exception.

Add the fact that it's offered by Back in the Saddle and they're rather particular about the value of their offerings. This just might make an excellent gift for one beginning to work with horses.

Horsemanship Videos: Videos can be purchased together with the books.

Website: The best website we came across is from Denmark, but half of it, where Hempfling is speaking, is in English. For the Danish rytter eller rytterske : Interviews med Klaus Hempfling, manden som Danser med heste, og Einer Aaby Hansen, som benytter Klaus Hempflings metode med stor - Spilletid: 5.36

Cherry Hill

Colorado resident Cherry Hill is a prolific author with hundreds of articles on over 20 books on horsemanship, horse psychology, horse care and training to her credit. Many of these articles are available for viewing on her website and give you an appreciation of her expertise.

Books on Horsemanship - For a complete listing of Cherry Hill's books, vist her website (see below)

Horsemanship Videos: A 3-Volume Set Titled 100 Horsekeeping Tips is the Centerpiece

Website: Cherry Hill's web site contains loads of articles and solid information.

Ray Hunt

Ray Hunt one of the greatest of the teachers of natural horsemanship. The book and movie The Horse Whisperer were based upon Ray's methods of working with horses. There is a nice story about him in the January 2005 issue of Western Horseman.

Also there is a web- site where you can find a good article about Hunt.

Books on Horsemanship - Think Harmony With Horses: An In-Depth Study of Horse/Man Relationship

Horsemanship Videos: No books for sale on his site but there are some videos worth considering.

Web Site: You can visit Ray Hunt's web site or watch a video clip of him at work at

John Lyons

John Lyons is the author of a fairly large number of books. We have horse friends that swear by Lyon's methods which is good enough for us to suggest that you probably will do well with any of his offerings you feel might be appropriate for a gift. You can see him in action on RFDTV (see the website for program schedule).

Books on Horsemanship - The Perfect Horse series and Bringing Up Baby are the best known. Lyons also publishes The Perfect Horse magazine.

Horsemanship Videos and Web Site: You can find out more about John Lyon's books on horsemanship at his website and find out more about Lyon's, his products and his TV and Clinic schedules.

Pat Parelli

A California native Pat Parelli has been working around horses since the age of 9. Following a successful career in rodeo (bareback riding). An established trainer by the 1980's, Parelli moved into the training arena where mentored by the likes of masters Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt he developed his approach to Natural Horse Man Ship.

The Parelli method embraces English and Western, dressage, penning, polo, cutting, jumping - you name it.

Books on Horsemanship -Natural Horse.Man.Ship is one of the best in the industry.

Horsemanship Videos: There are half-a-dozen videos available from his website.

Web Site: Parelli's books on horsemanship and a ton of information including downloads and a free DVD are available at the Parelli Website. This is a site worth visiting. You'll find some good articles including an excellent article by Linda Parelli on Fluidity and Becoming a Natural Horseman by Pat.

Reading these articles will give you a feel for the "Parelli method". You'll also find the schedule for Parelli's appearances on RFDTV.

One of the truly great horsemen passed away a couple of years back. Tom Dorrance's legacy is in the minds of those he helped with horses, students and great trainers alike. His toughts and those of his students and associates are captured in "TRUE UNITY" Tom Dorrance Talks About Horses ISBN 1-844995-09-8. If you're not too familiar with Dorrance's contributions you'll find a visit to the Tom Dorrance website of value.

Finally, there's an interesting web site we came across recently and recommend to anyone interested in training or working with horses the natural way. Natural Horse Network is a network of information, products and training tips for people who naturally love horses.

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