I just finished reading Denny Emerson’s book, How Good Riders Get Good, published in 2011. It was an easy read, moving right along, with enjoyable stories and sage advice. Denny Emerson is not afraid to tell it like he sees it, an attribute that can be both encouraging and discouraging, depending on who you are. Denny uses a lot of good old fashioned work ethic for riders who have their eyes set for the top of their sport, no matter if that sport is eventing, endurance riding or another of the options open to horse enthusiasts. He speaks as a veteran of considerable success, talking about making hard choices and giving up things to reach your goal. (After all how important could it be to get married and have children?) Denny goes over fitness and weight from the safe view point of are you doing the best to reach your goals? And he says our jobs as riding instructors is “…to kick your lazy butt!”  “You pay someone else to make you do what you want to do, but probably won’t do left to your own lazy devices!” At least now I can put a new category in my instructor job description…not quite sure how to word it though… lazy butt kicker?

I’m not all that comfortable with considering the horse a part of my student’s sports equipment. Sports equipment gets kicked to the curb as soon as it’s old, faded, cracked, damaged or loses popularity. Ooops maybe that means I make emotional decisions.  Not good according to Denny Emerson.  On page 162 Denny says, “This may sound cold to riders who still regard their horses as companions or pets as well as (or instead of) as “equipment”- but it’s the reality.” Not my reality but then I’m not shooting for the top of a sport.  I’m just glad I’m not an old horse, or even an old rider under Denny’s thumb.

Denny talks about choosing the horse that’s right for the sport. Read this part carefully because it is a major decision for your competitive life. Denny has some good points about ability and disposition. And he’s pro continuing education- kudos, Denny.  I love the profiles of the other riders in the book, too. It’s nice to learn that not all of our sports heroes started with the silver spoon or the golden shovel.

Is it a good book? Yup. Should you recommend it to students who want to compete, even those who just want to ride? Yup. Will it give them the extra edge to make it to the top? Nope. But it’s a good book for encouragement and guidance, plus that kick in the pants to get going.

I loved the book but my answer is going to have to go along with JCWiatt when she turned down the Food Chain’s offer for Country Baby….

If you really want to get a jump on the competition try reading a couple of good books about your sport. The riders that have been there and done that might have some tips you could use. Denny Emerson’s good book about How Good Riders Get Good is just …well…good. You can buy it on Amazon by following the link below(you can get it on Kindle, too) and you’ll help The Riding Instructor with your purchase. Now there’s a deal!

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Barbara Ellin Fox TheRidingInstructor
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