The most comprehensive single volume dedicated to horses, The Original Horse Bible is a celebration of the long relationship that humans and horses enjoy, written by two highly regarded horsewomen, the late Moira C. Allen and Sharon Biggs. This 480-page volume, elaborately illustrated by world-renowned horse photographer Bob Langrish, is divided into eleven sections, covering topics that span the world of horses, from evolution and domestication to horse riding, training, competitions and more.
Section 1: “History, Physiology, and Behavior” discusses the natural history of the horse, including adaption, migration, and domestication, how horses became integral to human kind, the role of horses in society (war horses, law-enforcement horses, race horses), as well as animal welfare and the plight of wild and feral horses. The anatomy and physiology of the horse are detailed in discussions of the horse’s bodily systems, structure, senses, gait/movement, and coat and color patterns. In terms of behavior, the authors discuss the life cycle of the horse and reproduction, intelligence and trainability, and horse mentality and natural instincts.
In Section 2: “Breeds and Types,” the authors trace the evolution of modern horse types from three known ancient ancestors and archaic types and extinct breeds. They describe the modern types of horses based on their particular looks and specific uses (Baroque, Cob, Hack, Hunter, Polo Pony and so forth). A detailed discussion of horse color follows, explaining the differences between each and what specific characteristics define each (buckskin, palomino, and pinto).
The extensive breed chapter offers portraits of approximately 175 breeds, alphabetically arranged, from the Abaco Barb to the Welsh Pony, including many rare and handsome breeds from around the world as well as favorites like the American Quarter Horse, the Shetland Pony and the Thoroughbred. Main entries provide alternative names, region of origins, brief history, and physical descriptions for each breed. Sidebars called “Breed in Brief” offer concise overviews of the lesser known breeds.
The popular hobby of horse riding is the focus of Section 3: “Activities with Horses,” which describes English, western, and driving competition as well as rodeo, competitive trail riding, vaulting, polo, and other horse sports. Section 7: “Rider Instruction” continues the discussion on riding with chapters on riding instructions, safety and fitness as well as English and western riding skills.
In Section 4: “A New Horse” and Section 5 “Horsekeeping,” the Bible becomes a primer for all horse owners offering detailed information about choosing the right horse for novice riders, families, and experienced riders and purchasing the horse and the proper equipment (saddles and bridles, boots, gear, and gadgets). The section concludes with chapters on transporting horses, stabling and boarding, and feeding and grooming. Section 6: “Health” discusses veterinary care and vaccines, recognizing the signs of a healthy animal, first aid for each area of the horse’s anatomy, hoof care, and winter wear. A complete chapter is dedicated to battling parasites and pests and avoiding poisonous plants in the horse’s environment. A chapter on alternative care completes the section.
Section 8:”Horse Training” focuses on various training philosophies and early handling, training lessons, solving training problems (leading, bolting, biting/nipping, rearing/buckling and shying).
Section 9: “Competition” is dedicated to horse shows and classes, preparation for various kinds of shows for both the horse and the rider, and what to expect at the show. These chapters are filled with priceless firsthand advice and pointers from the authors about how to succeed at each of these events.
Section 10: “Breeding Mares and Raising Foals” offers a complete overview of the reproduction of horses, with details on choosing a stallion, live cover versus artificial insemination, pregnancy, delivery, and care, imprinting, and handling of the young. Section 11: “The Senior Horse” discusses the horse’s golden years, signs of aging, nutrition and care, retirement from activities, and general care for aging animals. Horse owners will find symptoms and treatment for sixteen of the most common equine aliments (found in the appendix) to be of great utility, as are the resource section and complete index at the end of the volume.