The Sport Horse Problem Solver

What Works, What Doesn’t, and How to Make It All Better

Eric Smiley



A simple system for figuring out and fixing what's wrong with a horse's performance.

Former international event rider Eric Smiley has brought along his own top-level horses for decades. Now he taps his immense knowledge to help riders whose horses may not have had “the right start.” Every horse comes with his own “baggage”—behavior or training issues, minor or significant, that may be difficult to pinpoint or resolve. In these pages, Smiley addresses the most common problems he has seen over the years in dressage, eventing, and show jumping, including: 

  • Problems with head and neck position.
  • Connection issues.
  • Failure to follow the rules of forward, straight, and regular.
  • Difficulty with collection.
  • Lack of consistency.

    Smiley teaches readers how to identify what isn't working by looking at how things should work. Then he walks us through dismantling and reassembling the issues, providing an easy-to-follow system for determining what's potentially wrong with a horse and choosing sensible exercises for fixing it. He introduces a troubleshooting five-point system:

  • Ask yourself, “What is the problem?”
  • Ask, “How, when, and why did it arise?”
  • Ask, “Why does it need solving?”
  • Formulate a plan.
  • Analyze the results in the context of “now” and what they may mean for the future.

    Layers and shifts of understanding in horses combined with the physical and psychological challenges of riding can often make solving problems that arise seem complicated, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to even begin. Smiley's system helps readers find that “start point” and map out a sensible plan for future training. He shows how to determine when something may have become an issue for your horse or your performance, ways to try and avoid it happening in the first place, and of course, offers highly practical solutions to employ when you find you do have a problem. Smiley's goal is to “always leave people and horses with a positive journey to go on, with the prospect of ‘better to come.’” With its usefulness, cross-disciplinary approach, and optimism, The Sport Horse Problem Solver is all you need to achieve success in partnership with your horse, wherever you are in your journey together.

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    Additional Information

    Author: Eric Smiley

    Format: Paperback

    Page Count: 264

    Illustrations: 100 color photos, diagrams and cartoons

    ISBN: 9781646011193

    By Eric Smiley

    Eric Smiley is a former international event rider who represented Ireland at European, World, and Olympic level, winning team bronze medals on two occasions. Smiley began his equestrian career in the Pony Club, and continued it in the army and at the world-renowned Talland Equestrian Center in the United Kingdom, during which time he gained his British Horse Society Instructor's certificate. In 1995 Smiley passed his British Horse Society Fellowship exam, the highest teaching qualification in the industry. Smiley was Team Coach of the Belgian Eventing team for the 2011 European Eventing Championships and 2012 London Olympics and was an FEI judge who regularly acted as a Ground Jury member. Smiley is the author of the cross-country bible Look…No Hands!, The Sport Horse Problem Solver, and Two Brains, One Aim. He travels the globe helping professional and amateur riders achieve their goals (

    USDF Connection Says:

    The Sport Horse Problem Solver will help you make
    sense of it all—and will point the way toward better
    riding and training.”