Book Review: The Working Equitation Training Manual

horse training book, the working equitation training manual, horse and rider books, 101 Exercises for horse Schooling

101 Exercises for Schooling and Competing

By Ali Kermeen

Trafalgar Square Books, 2022, Non-fiction, ISBN 9781646011216; 190 pages

Reviewed by Tania Millen

The Working Equitation Training Manual is exactly as described and fills a gaping hole in many riders’ libraries. The book is a handy size for the barn and clearly explains and illustrates the movements required in working equitation competitions. 

The bulk of the book (about 150 pages) describes 100 separate exercises, some of which require simple equipment such as barrels, cones, or ground poles. Every exercise is broken into short sections which describe what riders should be able to do before trying the exercise (prerequisites), how to set up any needed equipment, how to do the exercise, what to keep in mind while riding it, variations to make the exercise more or less difficult, and the benefits of the exercise. Each exercise covers about one page and is clearly illustrated.

To assess the book’s effectiveness as a training manual, I took it to the barn one morning when I was planning a flatwork session. My horse is easily bored and so am I, so I’m always keen to add obstacles to our sessions and plan specific exercises to keep us focussed. I randomly flipped through the book and selected two exercises to work on — the “Leg-Yield Swoop” using cones and “The Swing” from walk to rein back without halting. Having read through my chosen exercises and set up the cones we needed, I hopped on my horse and gave them a whirl at walk. After a few tries, I reread the how-to section for clarity and corrected my mistakes. 

One of the beauties of the book is that it’s not just for working equitation fans. The exercises provide fun ways to spice up schooling sessions and challenge the accuracy and basic flatwork skills of horses and riders at any pace. But where it really shines is as a training tool for individuals who are interested in trying working equitation or are planning to compete in the sport. 

It’s also ideal for groups of working equitation enthusiasts. Having attended a working equitation practice evening with a group of local riders, I found many of us didn’t really know what to practice or how to best maneuver through the obstacles. This book answers those questions and I envision every working equitation group having a copy of this book on hand when they host practice nights.

Although the book is filled with exercises for the ease of handling and speed portions of a working equitation competition, the dressage test and cow work elements are summarized, too. Plus, there are four example working equitation courses so that riders can practice obstacles in sequence.   

I’m thrilled to have The Working Equitation Training Manual in my tack room for easy reference when I need exercises to focus my flatwork. I’ll be gifting a copy to a friend who’s actively competing in working equitation and often schools at home alone.

Ultimately, this book is an excellent resource for riders wanting to liven up their flatwork or excel at the sport of working equitation.

To read more by Tania Millen on this site, click here.

Book Review: The Working Equitation Training Manual