The Complete Book of the Horse


344 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-88830-230-4





Edited by Elwyn Hartley Edwards and Candida Geddes
Reviewed by Teresa Pitman

Teresan Pitman was a childbirth educator in Willowdale, Ontario.


This large book is edited by two popular equestrian writers, and the individual chapters are by well-known experts such as Daphne Machin-Goodall and Jean Froissard, covering the role of the horse in many countries and in many sports.

Books titled “The Complete Book of Anything” always seem to promise more than they can deliver, but this particular volume comes very close to being truly comprehensive. After an introductory section on the history of the horse, breeds from around the world are discussed. I was impressed by the impartial assessment of each breed. For example, because of my long-standing involvement with Arabs, I paid particular attention to that section, and found that besides covering the unique strengths of the breed, the author also mentioned the most common faults in conformation. This detailed breed analysis can only be helpful to anyone considering the purchase of a purebred. The illustrations, which show good examples of the breeds, include fascinating horses we rarely see, such as those from Russia and Asia.

Stable management, feeding, tack, and all aspects of riding, training, competitions, and sports are covered thoroughly, with good illustrations. A surprising amount of information is included under each topic. The orientation, however, is primarily British. While other countries are mentioned, the emphasis is always on British riding and competitions. The few pages devoted to the horse show scene in the United States are used primarily to point out the differences between American and British shows. Stock seat (or “Western”) riding, so popular in Canada, is only briefly mentioned.

Despite this problem, The Complete Book of the Horse contains a wealth of information about horses, particularly useful to those interested in English riding, jumping, eventing, or dressage, or to those who simply want to broaden their knowledge of horses around the world.


“The Complete Book of the Horse,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,