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We recommend: Horses Hate Surprise Parties

December 2016 by Horses and People Magazine

Horses Hate Surprise Parties: Equitation Science for Young Riders is the first book to present the scientific principles behind horse training in a simple and easy to understand format. Suitable for both young and not so young riders, the book provides clear explanations of horse behaviour and an easy to follow blueprint for training on the ground and under saddle. 

The book is packed with enough illustrations, photographs and quirky facts to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged and, although it was primarily written for riders between the ages of 12 and 18 years, it will suit any rider with an interest in horse behaviour and anyone who appreciates science translated in a fun and interesting way.

Award winning equitation scientist, Dr Andrew McLean wrote the foreword for Horses Hate Surprise Parties and he points out that the book, while entertaining and interesting, can also make a significant contribution to rider safety. Dr McLean writes, “One of the most important contributions that Equitation Science has made to equestrian endeavour is to demonstrate the close link between evidence-based training, improved rider safety and horse welfare. That is, research has shown that when used correctly, the scientific principles of learning will help keep riders safe and optimise the welfare of the horse.”

Dr McLean continues and suggests that “the most significant contribution of this book is to make the scientific principles of learning readily available for young riders and this, as research has shown, can help to keep them safe. As such this is not only an enjoyable book, it is also an important one. It is my hope that this book becomes a core text for pony clubs across the world and all other junior equestrian institutions that hold human safety and horse welfare as their highest ideals. I am very pleased to recommend this ground-breaking book. It will most certainly save lives.”

In clear and easy to understand language Horses Hate Surprise Parties explains the science behind horse training and provides practical, progressive exercises suitable for a wide range of riders. The training section begins with the training of the horse on the ground, leading readers through a series of exercise that are not only fun but will also help them make their horse safe and easier to handle. The book moves through the basic training of the horse and includes a chapter on introducing the horse to jumping and cross country training. The book also includes a chapter on taking the young horse out to his first events. Titled “Show-nopoly,” this chapter offers a series of steps that will help guide readers through the process of taking young or inexperienced horses to competitions safely and calmly. The chapter is a little bit like the board game, Monopoly ­– each step must be achieved before the rider moves on to the next.

Horses Hate Surprise Parties will be a valuable addition to the library of anyone who is interested in coaching and horse training. It is sure to delight young and not so young riders and, with its focus on safety and welfare, their parents and their horses too!

Horses Hate Surprise Parties was written by professional horse trainers Dr Portland Jones and Sophie Warren. It can be purchased online through Sustainable Equitation at for $25.00 plus postage and handling.