In which I review a book: 4th Gear - Power Up Your Endurance Horse

So, y'all know I'm writing a book called Endurance 101.  This book is designed to be the book that every beginning endurance rider should read, because it answers questions and describes situations for new competitors.

If you want to read some of it, early versions of chapters are posted HERE.

When I heard that Dennis Summers was writing a book too, my heart sank.  He knows so much more than I know.  He probably knows more than I will ever know. 

Everybody would love his book, I feared, and nobody would even look at mine.

But, good news for everyone:  Dennis didn't write a book for beginners.  Dennis has written the book that every experienced endurance rider needs to read. 

His book assumes that the reader has a horse (or more than one horse) and has competed in the sport for a few years.  For example: Dennis doesn't spend time describing what electrolytes are; rather, he leaps straight to the good stuff:  how he uses them (in combination with a lot of other stuff) to enhance the performance of his horses. 

 His writing style is casual, conversational and fun, reminding me of the narrative style of classic old horse-tradin' writers like Ben K. Green.  Dennis uses terms you recognize but don't often see in print, like woo-woo, stink-eye, and my personal favorite, no-talent turd. 

Here's a short excerpt: 
Some of the greatest learning experiences race-wise for me has been when I had to squeeze 50 miles out of a no-talent turd of a horse.  You may have to use every tool in your bag of tricks and maybe make some up on the fly to get your race finished.  I had to pace well and do my groundwork to save horse.  I had to, because I didn't have much horse to start with.  I had to ease into vet checks since turds don't recover well.  You get the idea: there are learning situations in the most unlikely situations.  Make the most of them.  Afterward, you will be that much wiser, and well-prepared for future challenges, hopefully without the turd.  Those nuggets you learned will pay off big-time when you apply them later on with your well-bred and well-prepared horse.

The training techniques he recommends are, in his word, extreme.  This is not an entry-level book for beginning endurance riders; it is the book for riders who want to push themselves and their horse(s) to perform at a much higher level. 
 The advice is practical, down-to-earth, and personally tried out by Dennis and his wife Sue Summers.  These two have been riding and racing in endurance for a long time.  Their horses do fast miles over many years...but if you read the book, you will understand the training and work that goes into preparing a horse to do that kind of work year after year.  Dennis and Sue have learned a lot about riding, training, and maintaining good solid endurance horses, and we're lucky that they are willing to share the knowledge. 

Maybe following their advice will make a huge difference in your ride, and maybe it will make a small improvement. 

Even for confirmed "riding-not-racing" endurance folks like me,  this book is definitely worth reading and re-reading.  I learned a lot.  Oh, and the illustrations are delightful. 

Highly recommended, 5-star read. 

Wanna read it?  4th Gear: Power Up Your Endurance Horse is available as an e-book. 

The price is cheap, the link to purchase is HERE


  1. Hahah, that sounds awesome. Especially since I think I have a marginally talented manure ball, not a prodigal superstar. How to get the most out of both of us sounds great!

  2. Great review Aarene, I just downloaded my copy. Love the no-talent turd description!

  3. I've been enjoying that book too, although I'm not now, (and probably will never be) ready for 4th gear! Ha ha.

    I'm looking forward to Endurance 101- will you be making it available via Kindle?

  4. I'm totally waiting for Endurance 101. I hope I can figure out how to purchase one once it's out. (never bought anything overseas ;) ) :)


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