Great Gift Ideas from The Equiery’s Library (first published in the December 2022 Equiery)

Grid Pro Quo
By Margaret Rizzo McKelvy

Grid Pro Quo by Margaret Rizzo McKelvy of Mt. Airy is a training book for all levels of horses and riders featuring 52 grid and jumping exercises from international trainers. The concept for Grid Pro Quo began as a column by McKelvy in the U.S. Eventing Association’s monthly magazine. The book contains easy to follow diagrams and explanations about the goal of each exercise. Each exercise starts with a list of materials needed, an explanation on how to set up the exercises, followed by text on why the exercises are useful, and instructions for riding the exercise. Additional “pro tips” accompany each exercise.

Maryland-based trainers feature prominently, including Patty Foster, Mary Lisa Leffler, Valerie Pride, Sandy Ferrell, Justine Jarvis, Sheryl Sutherby, Danny Warrington, Kelly Williams, and McKelvy herself. Also featured are several pros who often offer clinics in Maryland such as Olympians Steven Bradley, Boyd Martin, and Phillip Dutton. International trainers based overseas are also included!

McKelvy herself competes in both dressage and eventing, currently with her Maryland-bred off-the-track Thoroughbred Runsonstilts. She is the owner of Mythic Landing Enterprises which specializes in public relations, event planning, and business development.

Overall, this book is a great tool for both riders and trainers. Most of the exercises take up very little set up space, which makes them perfect indoor activities for the coming winter months here in Maryland.

By Geraldine Brooks

Horse is the latest book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks. The story crosses generations from an enslaved groom on a Kentucky farm in 1850 all the way to Smithsonian scientists in 2019 Washington, D.C. with the main focus linking all the characters together being the legendary Thoroughbred racehorse Lexington.

The Kentucky-bred born in 1850 won six out of seven starts and went on to be the top American sire for 16 years. Lexington was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1956. This novel is a work of fiction based on Lexington’s career both on the track and in the breeding shed.

Through Horse, readers will learn a bit of history following Lexington’s story and legacy from the Civil War through modern day. Many chapters take place in Maryland and Washington, D.C., with the Smithsonian’s scientists and art historians playing a major role in telling the story not only of Lexington but also in uncovering the lost history of the Black horsemen who were critical to the horse’s success.

Horse is an interesting read for those who love a deep dive into U.S. history… with a horsey spin.

Riders of a Certain Age
By Fran Severn

According to Riders of a Certain Age, “it’s never too late for horses!” This book by Eastern Shore author Fran Severn focuses on all aspects of riding specifically for women over the age of 40. Each chapter offers a guide to embracing the horse life from the perspective of those in their midlife and beyond. Topics include finding the right lesson barn, what sort of clothing to wear, and what steps to take when buying a horse. Many of these topics are ageless but Severn puts a midlife spin on each.

Severn is a freelance writer and broadcaster who learned to ride later in life. She has lived in Kentucky where she covered the Kentucky Derby and events at the Kentucky Horse Park. She later moved to England with her U.S. Air Force husband. It was in England that she discovered her love of dressage, which she has continued here in Maryland.

Riders of a Certain Age is a great book for those… well, of a certain age, but also for those who teach riders of a certain age or run barns with adult clients. The insights within this book are super helpful for all aspects of the horse world.

The Fast Ride
By Jack Gilden

The Fast Ride chronicles the career of the Thoroughbred racehorse Spectacular Bid, who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1979. His twelve consecutive stakes winning streak ended with a third place finish in the Belmont Stakes. The bizarre events that happened to this horse and his connections leading up to the Belmont were never truly explored… until now.

Baltimore author Jack Gilden grew up surrounded by the hype of the Preakness Stakes, and The Fast Ride takes readers on a deep dive behind the horse racing scene in the 1970s. The book confronts the thin line between hard work and excess, including substance abuse, animal manipulation and doping, and race fixing. Gilden introduces readers to Spectacular Bid’s team of humans, including owners from the Meyerhoff family, trainer Grover “Buddy” Delp, and teenage superstar jockey Ronnie Franklin. The story is both tragic and inspiring.

The Fast Ride is the second book by Gilden, who ran an ad agency before turning to writing full-time. His first book, Collision of Wills: Johnny Unitas, Don Shula, and the Rise of the Modern NFL, earned him the Simon Rockowner journalism award.

The Fast Ride is an interesting read for both racing fans and those that simply enjoy a compelling story.