It’s been awhile since a book about eventing was published, so when I saw that Phillip Dutton was releasing one this year, I was excited to check it out.
One of the United States’ best international eventers, Dutton has a unique riding style, but gets the job done. Professionals and amateurs alike line up to ride with him and he’s had a far-reaching influence on eventing in the U.S.
Although proper riding never goes out of style, rules, equipment and the basic format of the sport (no more long format) have changed over time, so Modern Eventing aims to provide a complete resource to eventers.
The book, published by Trafalgar Square and co-written by Amber Heintzberger, is thick at 334 pages and covers just about anything a newbie could want, which is where I was a little let down.
As I read, I kept waiting for something I didn’t know. The book was excellent at explaining rules, giving tips and talking about basic concepts, but nothing was a revelation to me at this point in my riding career. Most of it served as a reminder of the basics, which is always useful, but I think I expected some more advanced techniques.
Part I, Introduction to Modern Eventing, features chapters on setting goals, selecting an event horse, tack, equipment and fitness. I found the horse fitness chapter to be interesting, as I know everyone has a different way of conditioning, and seeing how an Olympian conditions his horses is something I knew nothing about.
Part II, Schooling and Training, includes chapters on cross-country, show jumping and dressage. Dutton gives step-by step explanations of how to execute basic exercises and movements, as well as tips for introducing those concepts and troubleshooting.
Part III, Competing, includes tips on how to warm up for each phase and Dutton adds tips about rider position for each phase.
The final section, Part IV, Care and Maintenance, was the most interesting to me. Dutton’s former head groom, Emma Ford, wrote a chapter on grooming in which she gives her tips on how to get a horse ready for competition and the jog.
I’ll admit my knowledge in equine nutrition is not as good as it should be, so the chapter on basic nutrition served as a good refresher for me, as did the hoofcare and shoeing chapter written by Dutton’s farrier.
The final chapter, written by Dr. Kevin Keane, was also interesting. He discusses common health issues and injuries found in event horses and options for treating them. Sadly, I recognized several of them due to my several years managing Sam’s soundness issues!
The back of the book has a glossary of eventing terms and quick reference guide to scoring that will be useful to first timers (or to hand off to a mom, dad or boyfriend!), and an always helpful event packing list.
My favorite part of the book was the jumping exercises appendix. Although it’s only a couple of pages, this was what I was hoping for when I picked up the book. Dutton provides several grids, lines and exercises and gives short explanations for how to ride them. My only complaint is that the distances are mostly in yards.
The final pages find Dutton talking about several of his top horses over the years. While he’s a man of few words, his memories of his special partners was fun to read.
If you’re new to eventing, want to find out more about Phillip Dutton’s strategies and theories, or just want a reference book, Modern Eventing will appeal to you.
While I was hoping for a more in-depth how-to on riding each phase, I still found several useful chapters that will give this book a prominent place on my bookshelf.
My only major complaint is that the book isn’t available digitally. It’s a thick book to try and carry around! I wish more equine books were available on E-readers, but for now, you can pick up the book for about $30.00 at Amazon.com.