James Wofford’s Book, “Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider” was first printed 20 years ago and it remains on my recommended reading list for students. It is one of my favorite books on good riding technique.
Few horsemen in the United States combine the rich heritage of the Cavalry School at Ft. Riley, a family history with multiple generations of US Olympians, personal Olympic experience, and students who regularly occupy Olympic berths, with the ability to clearly convey his methods through his writing, as does James C. Wofford in “Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider”.
Not only was Jim Wofford’s father an Olympic Team member, his brothers, JEB and Warren, also rode for the USET. Jim Wofford competed on numerous US Olympic Teams. He and Kilkenny were part of the Silver Medal Teams in 1968 and 1972. Jim also rode in the Rome Olympics. He competed at several World Championships winning individual bronze in 1970 and team bronze in 1980. Plus, Jim has had students on Olympic teams since 1978. “Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider” begins with a description of Jim Wofford’s riding education and career, so if you want to know more about him, this book is a good place to start.
Rarely do you find a book on horsemanship that’s fun to read, but Wofford writes like he’s talking directly to you. He clearly knows his topic through and through and knows how to get you to understand his method and system. His writing style excludes the feeling of equestrian elitism that is prevalent in many horsemanship books.
Following a short description of eventing history in chapter 1, chapters 2 and 3 discuss choosing a horse, matching the horse and rider, and selecting equipment. Jim takes a less is best approach to biting and although he believes that gadgets are substitutes for training, he doesn’t avoid discussing their use. His explanation of saddle types will help those of us who are caught in the “correct saddle” snare.
Chapters 4- 6 deal with Dressage, Cross Country, and Show Jumping in detail. Each venue begins with a good discussion on the position for that phase of eventing. Jim covers stirrup length and placement, balance, leg position and strength, 2 point, 3 point, and he gives you exercises to develop and test your riding. Jim is a horseman so he gives detailed attention to the training of the horse, covering several methods for schooling cross country and special schooling exercises. The chapter on Show Jumping includes exercises to develop an eye for stride, changing the length of the horse’s stride and handling jumping problems.
Chapter 7 has one of the best explanations and guides for conditioning that I’ve read. Putting It All Together (chapter 8) brings you to your goal of eventing and walks you through what to do at the competition. The Appendices have additional information about interval training, courses, scheduling and gymnastic jumping.
“Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider” is easily one of the best books on horsemanship available to today’s rider and instructor. It doesn’t matter if you ride (or teach) hunters, event horses, or if you foxhunt. This book is a valuable guide because it incorporates correct technique, with common sense and is written in a clean and enjoyable style. If you’re looking for a book on good riding technique, read this one. I heartily recommend it to all The Riding Instructor readers ; instructors, and riders alike.
Happy Reading and thank you for visiting The Riding Instructor.
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Barbara Ellin Fox