In all truth I sighed when I first looked at Two Brains One Aim. After many, many years of involvement with horses and riding competitively I have a book case literally groaning with books on every aspect of horsemanship, horse care and riding. Could there really be another book which would help my riding, my relationship with my horse, or tell me something new?
Well there is – and this book is it.
There are few people in the equestrian world who have been both top international riders and then gone on to become top international coaches. It is a true testament to the skill and knowledge that Eric Smiley has done just this.
Originally from Ireland, he came up through the Pony Club, went on to serve in the army before qualifying as a riding instructor. He went on to become a Fellow of the BHS, the highest accolade for instructing. He’s had a long career in eventing and as well as now coaching, produces young horses.
Ellie Hughes, the co-author of Two Brains One Aim has had a long and prolific career in equestrian journalism as well as competing in eventing at Advanced level.
Two Brains One Aim details how a rider can get the best out of working with a coach. There is so much information available about riding and competing, both in the media, books and out in the ‘real’ world. Everyone it seems is an expert. Coaches come and go, there will always be someone who knows best on the yard. The problem with this is that riders don’t get consistent advice and often the advice is muddled. One of the key elements I gained from Two Brains One Aim is the need for clear, easy to understand instructions, for both the rider and the horse. How can a horse understand what we want if we don’t understand ourselves. This is a concept I very much identify with, having worked once with a very high level dressage coach, who although brilliant at their sport, had no idea of how to communicate this to a rider. I went on to work with another coach, less well known, but a true genius in that they could explain things so well. My riding – and of course the experience for my horse, improved immediately. As Smiley says, ‘you must be very clear about what you want’ (from the horse).
This book details how horses learn and our different relationships with him. Very sensibly it also advises if a partnership doesn’t work – move on.
Two Brains One Aim is packed with useful advice and tips, even the understanding that not every rider has an arena available is taken into consideration with information on how to school outside the arena.
The advice is clear and down to earth and throughout Smiley’s indepth knowledge of both what makes a horse and rider become a team and how to get the best out of both. There is no sugar coating in the book, the message is clear throughout – if you want to succeed you’d better be ready to work hard.
This is a book for riders who want to get the best out of their learning experience and for trainers and coaches who want to improve their interactions with their pupils, both human and equine.
Horses teach us something new every day if we are willing to learn. This book really does offer something new and is one I will value for having a better understanding of my horse and our relationship.