California Riding Magazine • December, 2011

Book Reviews
West Coast Show Jumping; Connect With Your Horse From The Ground Up

West Coast Show Jumping
Edited by Erin Gilmore and Allison Eckeroth
Reviewed by Kim F. Miller

This beautiful coffee table book celebrates the West Coast hunter/jumper scene with an emphasis on high performance jumping. Chapters on the World Cup league, the growth of the Grand Prix scene, course design, Hunter Derbies and breeding are fun and informative. The photographs really knock it out of the park. This ambitious 210-page volume is packed with action, artsy and people shots that paint an appealing portrait of our sport and capture its excitement.

The brainchild of ProEquest's Allison Ekeroth and edited capably by her and veteran writer Erin Gilmore, West Coast Show Jumping will make a great holiday gift for any equestrian enthusiast. It was produced to benefit the Sacramento International Horse Show, which was held in November.

Visit West Coast Show Jumping on Facebook to learn the latest about its availability.

Kim F. Miller is editor of California Riding Magazine and a freelance writer.

Connect With Your Horse From The Ground Up
Written by Peggy Cummings and Bobbie Jo Lieberman
Reviewed by Dianne Champman McCleery

Judging by the relaxed expression on my horse's face after I tried the exercises in Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up, she really appreciated the fact I read this book. If you buy this book, plan on getting it dirty because you will definitely take it to the stables with you.
Peggy Cummings is the founder of Connected Riding. In this book, she explains Connected Groundwork, using ground exercises to help horses release the "tightness, bracing patterns, crookedness, and on-the-forehand tendencies (that) exist in all horses" and that will prepare the horse for riding. You are not left out either; there are several exercises to help you find "neutral posture" so you can use your body to support your horse. As Cummings says, "Be aware of this: your horse can't soften unless you do."

Cummings gives a thorough background and explanation of Connected Groundwork. Two of her mentors are Sally Swift and Linda Tellington-Jones (who also wrote the foreword) and their influence is evident throughout this book. However, Cummings builds on their work and takes it further. She says, "'Connection,' in my lexicon, describes the all-important horse-and-human dynamic that enables physical, emotional, and mental balance to occur in both beings."

Cummings states, "Any time there is bracing in the horse or human, it needs to be released." She then proceeds to tell the reader how to do this through detailed explanations and an abundance of photographs and illustrations. The only equipment needed are a halter, line, wand and leather gloves. Although these are available for purchase on her website (, Cummings gives suggestions for using what a typical horse owner has on hand.

Exercises for the horse go from the very basic Leading in Connection to the more complicated Connected Longeing. My horse and I both enjoy the twenty-one Beginning Exercises for the Horse, Standing Still Exercises. With the book open to the appropriate page, I found them easy to understand and perform. The Groundwork in Motion Exercises are more challenging. An assistant to read the exercises as you do them would be helpful.

I found the Case Studies particularly inspiring. If you have any doubts about the value of these exercises, the before and after pictures of the case studies should put those to rest.

If you observe any bracing patterns and/or tension in your horse (or yourself), or just want another way to connect with your horse, you will enjoy this book. In my opinion, your horse will thank you.

Dianne Chapman McCleery is a writer and editor who rides with a natural horsemanship trainer in the Sierra Nevada foothills.