University of Vermont AAHS

Book Review

Kellie Raske
Safety Certified Riding Instructor

[Reprinted from Summer 1997 issue of Caution:Horses.]


Horse Handling and Grooming,
Cherry Hill
Photographs by Richard Klirnesh
Storey Communications, Inc.
Pownal, VT

This book is an informative guide to help understand and learn successful and efficient ways to handle a horse on the ground and to keep it well-groomed. The photographs are clear and are the main attraction of this book, which has something for readers of every level of experience, although it seems to be aimed at the novice.

Horse Handling and Grooming includes pictorial tips for equipment, facilities, haltering, and even some training. The grooming tips include bathing, clipping and mane and tail care explained by precise sequenced instructions. The illustrations and descriptions of the tools needed for each job are clear. Each description takes into consideration how the horse may react making handling and grooming safer for the handler and more enjoyable for the horse.

The book does have a serious problem in that although safety helmets are mentioned, the message is given that only inexperienced handlers or those working on a green horse need them. Statistically, most accidents are caused by sweet "Old Dobbin" that somebody just took for granted.

Compared to the days, many generations ago, when horses were depended upon for transportation and transport, nowadays many people would qualify as "inexperienced". Certainly many weekend riders and these who ride at home (where 80% of the accidents occur) fit into that category.

It is always wise to wear protective headgear when working around horses and we as horse professionals have the obligation to give the dangers of horses more than a passing nod. Most at home horsemen have not had all the training they would like and where they may have many hours experience. They may still lack training or the knowledge and "feel" that someone has who handles several horses on a daily basis. This book is not going to be purchased by many people who handle several horses everyday but by people who handle fewer horses or handle horses less often.

Both should wear helmets. If the reader is a child he will get the message that the helmet is a necessary evil until such time and he/she is deemed to have enough experience.

In the section about shampooing the mane, the horse pictured has its head under the pipe wash rack. It is not possible to see whether or not the horse is standing under a pipe that has no lower barrier or simply has its head under the pipe. Either way it is a bad situation. Many horses, particularly individuals belonging to the hotter breeds, can become frightened when they realize that their heads are under something. They can panic believing themselves to be caught.

It is also evident from the pictures about tail-washing that the groom is standing directly behind the horse some of the time. This is always a bad idea.

One should never stand directly in front or in back of the horse for any reason, not ever. Even if this is your special pet it is a bad idea. It is a really bad example in a book to be read by anyone as it appears that the author condones this practice.

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