I recommend Common Sense Horsemanship by Vladimir Littauer. He actually does mention using treats, despite the book being otherwise very old school.
One book I wouldn’t recommend—though you might want to read it just to say you did—is Hannah Weston’s Connection Training. No big revelations in that book. If you’re familiar with the basics of clicker training and behavior shaping, it will only tell you what you already know. It didn’t get me past the trouble I was having getting my horse to relax, focus, and cooperate under saddle, but instead just repeated the thesis that if you consistently reward good behavior and develop positive associations, everything will eventually fall into place. I could see it working for a barn sour horse who is otherwise confident, but for a green horse, you need a more solid foundation than what Hannah’s approach can give you.
Another influencer to follow if you’re into R+ in the horse world is Shawna Karrasch. She’s the “sea world lady” (the former marine mammal trainer who switched over to training horses). She has a podcast. It’s ok, but Karen Rolfe’s podcast is probably better. I will say it’s hard to learn much from a podcast. Personally, I can’t say I learned much practical horsemanship knowledge from either Shawna Karrasch or Karen Rolfe, but I’ve enjoyed listening to both.
And if you just like to watch pretty videos of liberty riding and groundwork, you should follow Featherlight horsemanship on Instagram. She uses pressure and release, not R+, but she has some really successful and inspirational case studies. That said, I paid for her online course for a month and found it pretty disappointing. She’s very good at describing the feelings and goals associated with her techniques, but doesn’t explain in clear, practical steps what she’s doing and what you should do. So you walk away with a good sense of the feeling you’re trying to achieve, but then you’re in the round pen with your horse and you realize you didn’t really learn anything. IMHO she’s better just to watch on Instagram. Her instructions are most likely so vague and horse-focused because she doesn’t want it to be formulaic, but when you’re just starting out, you NEED a formula.
Let’s see…who else? You can read lots of online diatribes by Shelby Dennis, but just take it with a grain of salt. I went through a radicalized R+ horse training phase myself, so needless to say, I read all her blog posts and was very fired up on the subject. But at some point you re-emerge from the world of blogs and aphorisms and carefully edited videos, and you realize it’s a lot of hot air from people who frankly aren’t doing much with or asking much from their horses.
I had a lot of success clicker training my horse to do many fun, cute things, including run over from the other side of the arena to line up at the mounting block at liberty. So I know it works. But it did not stop said horse from bucking me off at the slightest provocation, rearing in the cross ties, striking at the farrier, or working himself into a sweat in a stall.
I didn’t make progress in those areas until I started using pressure and release training methods and really looking at myself and how unclear I was being (ie, while trying to be soft, I was being vague). I know this is the last name you’d want to hear on this list, but the videos that ended up helping me the most were Clinton Anderson’s, and believe me, I only tried it as a last resort. I think it’s unfortunate because the people who probably would most benefit from his approach are the ones most put off by it. He comes across as a bully, but he does make things black and white. Sometimes you have to look at yourself and take that into consideration combined with your training approach. Me doing my best Clinton Anderson impression is more like Yvette from featherlight horsemanship in practice. Me doing my best impression of Yvette is just nonsense as far as my horse is concerned. So, these are my $0.02! Just take everything on balance and don’t give up.