Horsemanship For Beginners, by Evelyn Pervier
A book like this can certainly be profitably read, but it does not start off on the right foot, because the author seeks to start out the book by discussing the fanciful speculation of horse evolution that dramatically reduces the credibility of the author when it comes to questions of fact and science. Not everyone will find that to be a negative; some people may in fact find it to be a positive that the book wades into dangerous and speculative waters as a way of seeking to ground its discussion of how to take care of horses in a factual and scientific way. For those who just want to get to the horses, the book is thankfully short and gets to the horses in a less divisive and speculative matter later on. Given that there are a lot of books about horses, many of which are perfectly fine, it is unclear why exactly this book exists or why it is the first book in a series that apparently also deals with intermediate and perhaps even advanced riders. Be that as it may, the author clearly saw a market for this book and was interested in seizing that market as is often the case.
This book is a short one at less than 100 pages. The author begins with a discussion of what a horse is from the point of view of Darwinian evolution, which amounts to a failure from the start (1). After that the author discusses the physical characteristics of the horse (2) as well as breeds and colors (3) and how one chooses the right horse based on one’s riding skill and weight and size and the purposes one is looking for (4). The author then discusses questions of stabling (5), feeding the horse (6), obviously a matter of considerable importance, and grooming (7), where the author talks about brushing and bathing the horse and similar matters. After that the author discusses tack and has some rather specific ideas about the knots and tacking up that one is to do when riding (8). Also, the author has rather unsurprisingly strong views about mounting and rider position (9) and how one can do basic walks, turns, and halts as a relative newcomer to horseback riding (10). The author discusses learning to trot (11) as well as cantering and galloping (12), and making sure to clean up after one rides (13), after which the book ends with a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an index.
My enjoyment of this book was somewhat limited. Aside from the book’s beginning, I found a great deal to appreciate about the book, but the fact that the author had caused such offense did make it possible to look askance at the tone that the author took. The author, for example, only states that certain ways of riding are only to be done by advanced riders and takes a somewhat lordly approach about the comparative lack of intelligence that horses have relative to other animals that seems to suggest that she has some idea of the relative intelligence of animal species. Indeed, if one uses the multi-factor approach to intellect then one would be able to point out the high degree of interpersonal and emotional intelligence of horses as one of the reasons why they have long been particularly beloved animals for human beings, many of whom happen to appreciate emotionally intuitive and responsive beings who are as loving and gentle as horses often are. The author, though, does not appear to have as much insight about matters as she thinks, and that means she is apt to think of herself as an authority when that is not really the case.