Book Review: How Good Riders Get Good

book review: how good riders get good, how to be a good horse rider, denny emerson book

Daily Choices That Lead to Success in Any Equestrian Sport

By Denny Emerson

Published by Trafalgar Square Books/, 204 pages, Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle

Reviewed by Margaret Evans

If you want great advice on how to succeed as a rider or trainer, read HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson, revised edition 2019.

Emerson is an accomplished rider, past president of the US Eventing Association, a vice-president of the US Equestrian Team, and has been inducted into three Halls of Fame. His goal in writing the book was to help all riders — competitive and recreational — be the best they can be.

Emerson shares his practical sense of humour with readers when helping them define who they are and what best suits them when riding.

The book follows seven key chapters. Chapter one covers choosing the right horse sport. You need the right fit, one that matches your priorities as a performer and one that best suits your horse. Chapter two helps you come to terms with the cards that life has dealt you whether you are gifted, financially fortunate, or dealing with endless struggles. 

Chapter three really highlights the need for a support network, valuing people who can help you and who you can repay in kind. Chapter four delves into your emotions, personality, and traits, good and bad. Chapter five unpacks the physical component — your body and all the parts of you that help you climb aboard and ride on. Chapter six addresses knowledge — what you know and the wealth of information waiting for you to find. Chapter seven is all about the horse and your wise use of one that can go the distance of your dreams.

In his nine key character elements, Emerson says that patience is number one followed by initiative, a positive attitude, and assertiveness. Number five is courage. 

“Most people possess more courage than they know,” he writes. “All horse sports require courage, but some require an enormous amount.”

True grit, a cousin of courage, is next followed by work ethic, competitiveness, and focus.

“Real riders’ focus drives them like a cattle prod. They ride when it’s cold, they ride when it’s raining… they ride when they don’t really feel like riding for any of a hundred reasons.”

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD is not only a composite of Emerson’s experience, wit, wisdom, and knowledge, but includes profiles of other greats such as Anne Gribbons (dressage), Daryl Kinney (eventing), Laura Kraut (show jumping), and Meg Sleeper (endurance) to name just a few. This book is a terrific read on so many levels. 

Book Review: How Good Riders Get Good

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