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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jonathan Hale Foreman, DVM, MS (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
Description: This book is intended as a tutorial for lay persons on the anatomy and movement of their horses. The book has two main sections: anatomy and conformation and the "horse in action," or illustrations and text designed to teach the reader about how horses move in various gaits, including walking, trotting, cantering, galloping, jumping, and rolling and shaking.
Purpose: The book "is designed to help all horse owners and riders to understand how a horse moves and how its anatomy helps, or hinders, the horse's athletic ability." The authors cleverly combine three graphical elements (photographs, and drawings of musculature and skeleton) to illustrate, first, the anatomy of the horse, and second, the biomechanics of the various typical motions or gaits of the horse. These are important topics for horse riders and trainers to understand, and this book represents the first textual, non-anecdotal or observational, source material for horse owners to reference regarding the basics of equine biomechanics under different conditions.
Audience: The intended audience is horse owners and riders. This book will also prove to be valuable for any veterinarian, veterinary student, or animal scientist interested in equine biomechanics. The authors have adequately geared the text to their audience. The anatomical figures link photographs of actual horses with the same underlying anatomy drawn in separate but paired figures to illustrate the underlying anatomy.
Features: The most valuable asset of the book is clearly the linking of anatomical drawings with the use of photographs of actual horses in stances or in motion. The authors combine single point-in-time black-and-white photographs and separate detailed drawings of the skeleton and the musculature drawn at the same point in time as the still photograph to illustrate what the anatomy under the horse's skin is doing at the time of the photograph. This leads then to a sequence of illustrations for each gait which elaborately and painstakingly details the changes in the horse's anatomy and body position as it jumps, gallops, or trots. The authors have easily met their intention of illustrating for the reader the basic biomechanics of the horse in motion.
Assessment: The authors state that "tips are provided throughout on ways in which the horse's life can be made easier, such as saddle fitting, warming up and cooling down procedures," but the real value in this book is in the quality of the illustrations. The sheer number and sequence of the illustrations, and the cleverness and detail with which they have been undertaken, makes this an invaluable book for anyone interested in the motion of the horse. The affordable price makes it an even better purchase, and no equine-oriented student should be without it.