New Book: Harmonious Horsemanship by Sue Dyson and Sue Palmer

In Harmonious Horsemanship, Sue Dyson and Sue Palmer ask why there are problem horses and provide an approach to recognizing and resolving these problems that is backed by scientific studies.

All too often, pain in ridden horses is labelled as ‘bad’ behavior. The apparently “sound” horse is “naughty,” “lazy,” “difficult,” “explosive,” “spooky,” “nappy” and more. These labels are wrong. Pain impacts all aspects of a horse’s performance, including its partnership with the rider and its potential to progress. It does not always create lameness. Relieving pain can lead to greater potential, a deeper partnership, and improved performance. In Harmonious Horsemanship: Use of the Ridden Horse Ethogram to Optimise Potential, Partnership and Performance, Sue Dyson and Sue Palmer share their professional knowledge and experience.

This book is unique in asking why there are problem horses and providing an approach to recognizing and resolving these problems that is supported by rigorous scientific studies. It crosses many disciplines, harnessing expert opinions and taking an holistic approach to the horse-tack-rider triad. 

The factual background is supported by real-life case studies, contributions from riders who have experienced problems with their horses. It follows their journeys while they sought solutions. This will resonate with many riders and equestrian professionals and help them to know how to proceed. Only by first recognizing pain can we then address it through accurate assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

The book is full of practical tools which are backed by robust science. It teaches you how to use ridden behavior to recognise the subtle signs of pain, even in horses that appear to be sound. It is for anyone who cares about the horse, whether you are an interested amateur owner or an experienced equestrian professional. Together, we can make the world a better place for horses.


  • Mary King, international event rider, six times Olympian

“Sue Dyson’s research is known and respected worldwide. This book blends science with compassion, helping riders to accurately interpret the behaviour of ridden horses without bias, for the ultimate good of both equine welfare and performance.”

  • Polly Bryan, equine journalist

“This is a highly informative, eye-opening read, with a good balance of evidence-based information, personal experience and emotional storytelling. I think it prompts a real sense of urgency in the reader, which is backed up by science and expert opinion to great effect.”

  • Mily Shand, founder of Concordia

“Harmonious Horsemanship will revolutionize welfare and positively affect our relationships with horses – and social licence – in all areas of the horse world. With a clearly defined ethogram to detect pain, this equine language tome should be on every yard, at every veterinary practice, and in every equine education facility on the planet!

A life-changer for horses and equestrians alike, the shared personal experiences help us to realize that we are not alone, as for many of us the realization dawns that we will have, at times, misunderstood our horses and even worked them when they were in pain.”

  • Andrew Bennie, FBHS

“As a coach, international judge and former 5* level event rider my aim is to promote a harmonios, confident, trusting and happy relationship between horses and their riders. This book supports those ideals and has been written by two hugely knowledgeable, experienced and passionate people who care about horse wellbeing and the relationship and communication between horses and all those involved in their care. 

This book serves as an inspiration to us all, to those who desire to understand how a horse can ‘communicate’ with humans and thus help us to ‘hear’ what the animal is trying to tell us, so that we can help horses and their riders.

We know that our goal is for horses to be well-ridden and totally happy in their work in whatever equestrian sphere they are performing. It’s time we let the world know how much horses mean to us, and just how far we will go to ensure harmonios horsemanship.”

  • Dottyjo (posted on Amazon)

“Wow finally a book to enable us to try and get a true partnership with our horses, to read the signs on how they may be feeling and to trust the scientific processes and yourself to reach that goal. A must buy for all horse riders.”

  • Lizzie Hopkinson, rider and writer

“If you have any love for your horse – read this book. I rode at a high level (English U21 dressage) 25 years ago. Looking back on my experiences after reading Harmonious Horsemanship made me cringe. Standard practices were forceful, harsh and draconian. Memories of lessons with top trainers floated through my mind. No-one ever suggested that my very beautiful, and talented Welton bred gelding might be in pain when it repeatedly reared. My trainer used to ‘set up’ my rangy Hanoverian for me, so that I could ride him between lessons. I wish this book had been written back then, I wish I had the knowledge I have now. But while we can’t fix the past, we can fix the future. Listen to your horses, they are talking to you – they are telling you to read this book!”

Harmonious Horsemanship, Troubador Publishing

ISBN 978 1805140 078

Available from Harmonious Horsemanship – Troubador Book Publishing or Amazon.

For further information or for images, contact

+44 (0)7860 826028

About the Authors:

Sue Dyson

Sue Dyson qualified as a veterinarian in 1980. After an internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a year in private equine practice in Pennsylvania, Sue returned to Great Britain to the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket. Sue ran a clinical referral service for lameness and poor performance for 37 years. From 2019 she has worked as an independent consultant, combining her horsemanship skills with her previous veterinary experience, with the aim of maximizing performance potential.

Sue’s key interests are improving the diagnosis of lameness and poor performance and maximizing the opportunity for horses to fulfil their athletic potential at whatever level, taking a holistic approach to the horse, rider and tack combination, and improving approaches to diagnosis and management. She has been involved not only in providing clinical services, but also clinically relevant research and education.  Sue is co-editor, with Mike Ross, of Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse and co-author of Clinical Radiology of the Horse and Equine Scintigraphy. She has published more than 400 papers in peer reviewed journals concerning lameness diagnostic imaging and ridden horse behavior and has lectured worldwide to veterinarians, paraprofessionals, coaches, riders and judges. 

Sue is a former President of the British Equine Veterinary Association and is currently scientific advisor to the Saddle Research Trust and Moorcroft Rehabilitation Centre. Sue is also a rider, and has produced horses from novice to top national level in both eventing and show jumping. Sue holds the Instructors and Stable Managers Certificates of the British Horse Society (BHSI).

Sue Palmer

Sue Palmer has worked in the equestrian industry for over 25 years. During this time, she has been fortunate enough to work with some truly inspiring owners and professionals. With a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from Kings College London, a MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy from the Royal Veterinary College, and a BSc (Open) from the Open University, Sue has a solid education. However, the horses are, and always have been, Sue’s best teachers, and she learns more every day. Sue is an award-winning ACPAT and RAMP registered Chartered Physiotherapist and an Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Trainer. Formerly a competitive rider and British Horse Society Assistant Instructor, Sue works full-time treating horses. Through multiple books and articles, Sue shares with you her passion for ethical and harmonios horsemanship.

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