A Much-Needed Contribution

This book is solid work, a much-needed contribution.

One of the strongest aspects of the book is that it bridges the gap between English and Western styles of riding. It does that because it includes excellent and clear sequences showing the correct approach to ground-work which we simply cannot do without. Sequence photos and text show exactly how little, soft, one-step-at-a-time “exercises” accomplish that. The book echoes the ancient wisdom written on the wall of the school of the bullfight in Seville, Spain: Tranquiliza a tu caballo antes de pedirle nada,” which means, “Get your horse 100 percent all right on the inside before you ask him to do anything else.”

Riding with Life is on my list of recommended reading for all my students, here and abroad – those who study it and put it into practice will find themselves far ahead.

Deb Bennett, Ph.D.
Director, Equine Studies Institute
Consulting Editor, Equus Magazine

A Special, Unique, Groundbreaking Book

I taught riding lessons to support my passion for riding for over 40 years, but during the last decade I became much more interested in the partnerships that other people were forging with their horses. I teach horsemanship lessons now. I value Melanie Smith Taylor’s good work put in print as a handbook; it has gone with me on every teaching trip since it came out. I have taught several clinics this past year and I have been promoting Melanie’s book at every one.

It is such a special, unique, groundbreaking book! From learning more about her blessed life with horses and the elite horsemen and women she has had the opportunities to work with, to the superb series of photos and explanations of groundwork and under-saddle exercises explained in collaboration with esteemed horsewoman Mindy Bower, to the fresh look at traditional flat work and creative new jumping exercises, it should be required reading for anyone who wants to become a more complete horseman or woman.

Linda Parkhurst, on Goodreads

Review in the June 15 & 22, 2015 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse Magazine

This is a book to read, re-read, and keep in your tack box!

As an Olympic gold medalist, Melanie Smith Taylor could very well write a book all about her own experiences. Instead, she’s chosen to write a comprehensive and interesting roadmap of how any horseman can learn from her experiences.

But Taylor doesn’t take her years of showing at the highest levels and tell you how to jump a grand prix course – she writes about how to establish and strengthen your relationship with your horse so that jumping a grand prix course could be a natural progression …

There is such a wealth of information packed into these pages. I felt I was privileged to be reading Taylor’s wisdom, and I will definitely be approaching my training in a different way now. I’ve never been a fan of natural horsemanship in its “pre-packaged, clinic” form, but the way Taylor presents its tenets as essential building blocks for a riding relationship is compelling. This is a book to read, re-read, and keep in your tack box for future reference.

— Molly Sorge

An Excellent Guide

This book is an excellent guide through the exercises developed by Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman as applied to the Hunter/ Jumper world Melanie Smith excelled in. Where Ray admitted to struggling to get his point across, Melanie has crossed the divide and made sense of the many lessons the great horsemen of the last few decades have been trying to teach. Melanie explains exactly where the handlers position should be to best find feel, timing and balance with their horse. When a horsewoman at her level speaks we should all listen, for the sake of the horse.

— Harriet McFadden, posted on

Clearly-Written Step-by-Step Manual

Excellent, clearly written (international show jumpers need to be very clear-minded people) step-by-step manual to helping your horse find what a horse needs – peace, balance, comfort – and so, be able to be his best self. l know this is saying a lot – a how-to guide to giving your horse peace? But yeah, that’s pretty much what this is.

I loved the way it answers a lot of the questions that sometimes arise when you try doing things with your horse in maybe a new way – from little back-and-forth jaw flextions, to your riding.

Lots of useful photos with every exercise.

For any of us who follow Buck Brannaman, Dr.Deb Bennett, and the other great, personally modest, true horsemen on Dr.Deb’s list – this book is a find.

— User: Chamber Music,, verified purchaser

Best Book Of Good Horsemanship Ever

Riding With Life by Melanie Smith Taylor is a must-have book for everyone interested in horses.

Riding With Life teaches us to maximize the relationship with our equine partners to improve the overall performance of every horse we ride.

Melanie’s wonderful organization of Riding With Life in four user-friendly parts, combined with her excellent training skills has produced a masterpiece of horsemanship.

Thank you Melanie, for a major literary contribution to the equestrian world!

— Joyce St.James, on