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Is there a "wild thing" loose in your barn? Get these great tips for "taming manes" and more in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Is there a “wild thing” loose in your barn? Get these great tips for “taming manes” and more in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

 

AH, SPRING! The warmth of the sun tickled just right by a crisp breeze…the grass growing braver by the day, emerging little by little…the birds chirping their hourly status report with pre-nesting gusto…and ALL THAT HAIR coming off your horse…and onto you…and into your mouth…and…

UGH. SPRING.

As much as we northern horse folk love what it heralds, spring’s not the prettiest time of year for horse OR rider. Between the acres of dirt we’ve let accumulate under “Simba’s” coat (for insulation) and the wilderness that once was a bridlepath, we have weeks ahead spent shedding blade in hand while avoiding all clothing made of fleece and its near relations (aka horsehair magnets).

When we grow most desperate, we just need to remember: the rewards are many when our horses finally reflect the hours of love, labor, and supplements we’ve been throwing their way…usually around June.

Just in time for spring cleanup, pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford bring us WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, a truly unparalleled guide to top equine turnout, with over 1200 professional color photographs by Jessica Dailey (www.jesslynn.photography). WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Here’s what Cat and Emma have to say about training unruly manes:

 

Whenever you groom your horse, the mane should be combed or brushed out to keep it free of tangles. After bathing, always comb down the wet mane to encourage it to stay on the same side. For the most part, a mane is “trained” to the right side of the horse; however, breeds with manes naturally to the left—Friesians, Andalusians, Lusitanos, Morgans, and Arabians, as well as any dressage horse—are allowed to leave the manes where they are.

 

“Training” the Mane

There are a couple of ways to train a mane to stay on the right side of the neck and to lie flat. In the long run you may never fix issues like manes that stand up or lie on two sides of the neck, but getting it to lie down correctly for a couple of days will allow you to pull, thin, or trim it evenly.

 

Banding

1 Wet the mane and comb smoothly on the right side of the neck.

2 Section off a 2- to 4-inch piece of mane and wrap a braiding band around it until it is snug.

3 Repeat this all the way down the neck.

 

Braiding Down

Depending on how “wild” the mane is, you might need to braid it down.

1 Wet the mane and comb it smoothly on the right side of the neck.

2 Section off a 2- to 4-inch piece of mane and start a loose braid.

3 Make sure you do not pull the side pieces in tightly since this can cause irritation, as well as damage the mane.

4 Braid only 3 or 4 “crosses,” then rubber band the end.

5 Leave these braids in for as long as the horse is comfortable; when he starts to rub his neck, they need to be taken out. Be aware that some horses will take offense and start to rub them out immediately, so always be on the lookout for this!

 

Check out this short video trailer about WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES:

 

 

To order your copy, CLICK HERE NOW.

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The inner circle of the best of the equestrian best is not a large one, and considering the length and breadth of the “horse world,” few of us will ever have the opportunity to step inside it. The responsibility to share what the experts and pros have earned over their lifetimes of hard work and devotion—wisdom gleaned from years of riding, training, and striving for horse-and-rider harmony—therefore falls to those who have earned a place at the table.

As the first editor for Dressage Today magazine, and the technical editor for most of the years since the magazine’s beginning in 1994, Beth Baumert has been in constant contact with the best dressage riders, trainers, and judges in the world. Over time, exposure, and because of her natural interest and curiosity, she has accrued a unique understanding of the practical ways riders can learn to harness the balance, energies, and forces at play when they’re in the saddle. We recently caught up with Beth and asked her about the book she has written to help disseminate all she’s learned from “the best of the equestrian best” over the years.

 

TSB: Your new book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS is partly the result of your many years as Technical Editor at Dressage Today magazine, which gave you access to the best trainers and top riders from all over the world. What’s one memory you have of interviewing or working with a famous equestrian?

BB: My best memories are of interviewing Hubertus Schmidt. We did quite a few articles together, and he puts a lot of effort into explaining things in a way that he thinks people will really understand. His English has become extremely good over the years (and he talks faster than anyone I’ve ever interviewed). He tries to refine the nuances of our language in a very impressive way. It’s quite obvious that he cares. When I finish one of my articles with him, we go over it carefully to be sure everything is clear. Not everyone cares that much.

 

TSB: You were recently interviewed on the Dressage Radio Show (Horse Radio Network) and you stated that writing WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS was something you did partly out of selfishness. Can you explain what you meant?

BB: I should probably say that gathering the information (not writing the book) was done partly out of selfishness. Interviewing the best riders and trainers was—and is—very enriching. In interviews, I never try to make the experts’ information gel with what I think. I’m always an open book because I want to learn as much as I possibly can about how to train dressage horses. The horses and riders in my barns (in Connecticut and in Florida) benefit enormously from the knowledge of these experts. I don’t think I wrote the book out of selfishness. Compiling my thoughts and illustrating them was, frankly, rather tedious, but ultimately rewarding when I hear that it’s helping riders. I never get tired of hearing that.

 

TSB: Your book describes four physical “Powerlines” that help riders become more balanced and effective in the saddle. Where did you get the idea for the “Powerlines”?

BB: It’s hard to say because I’ve thought of the positive energy of a stretchy body as “Powerlines” for a long time. It might have begun with Sally Swift when she first discovered the importance of being “grounded” as a rider. That was after her first book, CENTERED RIDING, was published.

 

Here you see all the Powerlines at work: The Vertical Powerline goes from ear, shoulder, hip, to heel; the rider uses the Spiraling Powerline as she turns slightly to the left; her elastic Connecting Powerline goes from elbow to bit; her Visual Powerline points the way. Find out more about Beth Baumert's Powerlines in her new book.

Here you see all the Powerlines at work: The Vertical Powerline goes from ear, shoulder, hip, to heel; the rider uses the Spiraling Powerline as she turns slightly to the left; her elastic Connecting Powerline goes from elbow to bit; her Visual Powerline points the way. Find out more about Beth Baumert’s Powerlines in her new book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN.

 

TSB: You actively train horses and teach riders at your farm Cloverlea Dressage LLC. What is the most common issue you see in your riding students? What is the usual solution?

BB: Riders are inclined to treat half-halts as if they’re sort of mysterious—as if they can only be mastered by experts. Their expectations are often too low. Half-halts are not mysterious, and anyone can do one. I tell riders how to do a half-halt (I outline this in WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS), and I ask them to do them rather frequently. Then I ask: “Did that one work? No? He quit behind? Okay, no problem. Do it again with a little more seat and leg. Did that one work?” And so on.

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

BB: I’m not sure I remember specifically, but I wasn’t very young. I was given a horse—a green jumper mare—when my father died. I was 16, and she helped me through a hard time. She was a great horse.

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

BB: I don’t remember the first time, but I remember the last time was off one of my daughter Jennifer’s horses. He dashed me into the stones below so fast that I never saw it coming. It was stunningly impressive.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

BB: Honesty

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

BB: Again, honesty. Almost all horses are honest. When we say a horse isn’t “honest,” it often means he never learned that “this aid means that.” Lack of clarity in the riding.

 

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

BB: Butter. There’s nothing that doesn’t taste divine when it has a stick of butter in it.

 

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

BB: They say that a mother is never happier than her least happy child, and there’s some truth in that. I’m happiest when the people who are dear to me are happy and fulfilled.

 

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

BB: With family or friends by the pool in Wellington, Florida. It doesn’t matter what we’re eating, but if Jennifer cooked, it’s always good.

 

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

BB: I’m shy with famous people and feel especially distant if they’re dead.

 

TSB: What is your motto?

BB: Honesty works, even when it makes you unpopular.

 

TwoSpinesHere

Beth Baumert’s book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS has been called “timeless” by dressage judge Axel Steiner and “desperately needed” by former US Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe George Morris. It is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

TSB author Denny Emerson on the Morgan stallion Lippitt Tweedle Dee at the 1961 Morrisville, Vermont Horse Show.

TSB author Denny Emerson on the Morgan stallion Lippitt Tweedle Dee at the 1961 Morrisville, Vermont Horse Show.

It is a common misconception among many new to horses, and sadly some with a lifetime’s experience, that horses “plan,” “scheme,” and “plot” to frustrate and embarrass us, and always at the worst of times. Of course, this belief is based on the presumption that they think like humans, and so suffer the same faults of personality. But as influential trainer and coach Denny Emerson points out in his fabulous book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, more often than not, the roots of our problems in the saddle lead back to us, not to our horses:

 

“My horse won’t do what I want!”

How often have you heard this statement? But now the train of logical thinking starts to go off the track. It is true that the rider’s horse isn’t doing what she wants him to do. That much is a fact. But unless the rider is a true, honest-to-God, educated horseman, the conclusions stemming from the initial statement will be untrue—here’s how the typical anthropomorphic “logic” usually works in real life:

“My horse is misbehaving.”

“My horse is being bad.”

“I, therefore, have permission to punish him.”

 

In contrast, here are some possible correct conclusions, stemming from the premise, “My horse won’t do what I want”:

“I must not be explaining what I want correctly.”

“He must not have a base of work thorough enough to enable him, either mentally, physically, or emotionally, to perform the action that I want him to perform.”

“My seat (hands, balance, whatever) is not steady and ‘feeling’ enough to convey the proper stimuli to induce him to perform the action that I desire.”

“In making this request of my horse, I am creating athletically induced pain, either from asking him to lift more than he has been prepared to lift, or stretch more than he has been prepared to stretch. I need to go back to an easier level, build a proper foundation, then try again.”

 

These are the right kinds of conclusions that are drawn by true trainers and real horsemen with correct knowledge of how horses experience and respond to stimuli. The wrong conclusions, that the horse is “misbehaving” and “being bad,” stem from the rider’s misinformed perception that the horse has a malign “motive.” The rider’s false premise is that the horse understands and is capable of doing what she wants, but simply chooses not to out of stubbornness or for other contrary reasons.

So the rider starts to get frustrated and angry. The horse gets more confused and upset. The rider gets even more frustrated and angry, and the horse gets even more confused and upset … The downward spiral has begun. It has nowhere to go but down, and it can lead to some real brutality on the part of the rider.

I don’t know any rider who hasn’t been guilty of this, sometime, somewhere. The good riders and good horsemen usually catch themselves before it gets out of hand. The really bad riders almost never do. That’s why so many horses live their life in a world of fear, pain, and conflict—because their riders are angry people and terrible horsemen. This is the single worst part of the entire saga of man’s relationship with the horse. Robert Frost wrote, “God mocked the lofty land with little men.” We can modify this line to, “God mocked the lofty species with little men.”

Training derived from genuine knowledge and true thinking, not false anthropomorphic thinking, is one of the most important choices you have to make if you ever expect to be a quality horseperson.

 The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.  —Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

 

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Yes, you read that right: dynamic buttocks are the secret to moving fluidly with your horse, whatever your riding discipline. “Sitting on a horse is never rigid (static),” write sports physiologist Eckart Meyners, Head of the German Riding School Hannes Muller, and St. George magazine editor Kerstin Niemann in their book RIDER+HORSE=1. “It is always dynamic.”

You can break through the stereotypical static sitting pattern with these two exercises from RIDER+HORSE=1, intended to improve sacroiliac joint and pelvic mobility in the rider.

 

You can mobilize your pelvis by lifting and lowering your buttocks on each side of the saddle---riding is never static, it is always dynamic!

You can mobilize your pelvis by lifting and lowering your buttocks on each side of the saddle—riding is never static, it is always dynamic!

 

1  While sitting on your horse, slide one buttock down the side and out of the saddle, then gently lift and lower this side of the body 8 to 12 times. Repeat on the other side. You will feel this exercise pleasantly reorganize your entire body structure when you again sit centered in the saddle.

2  Again sitting on your horse, imagine you are sitting on the face of a clock: when you lower your pelvis to the right, you are sitting on three o’clock, and when you lower it to the left, you are sitting on nine o’clock. Lower your pelvis to three o’clock only several times, then nine o’clock only, and then combine them in one fluid motion. Vary the pace of your movements and do not strain.

 

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You can find more exercises to improve your balance and aids, and identify and respond to the motion sequences of the horse in RIDER+HORSE=1, available from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

TSB author Magali Delgado with Mandarin.

TSB author Magali Delgado with Mandarin.

“Ability to make deadlines.” This is the kind of positive review we might expect to receive from a supervisor, or it’s a bulleted point we add to a resume. As a society, we value an individual’s commitment to doing what he or she says he or she will do “on time”—we schedule meetings we expect others to attend; our children have homework assignments we expect them to complete.

But when it comes to horses, deadlines are a recipe for disaster.

“In our world, everyone is obsessed with deadlines and speed,” says Magali Delgado in the bestselling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM, which she wrote with her husband Frederic Pignon. “In the horse’s world, you have to forget these. If you tug on a carrot, hoping to speed its growth, you will loosen the roots and achieve the opposite effect.”

Goals are different than deadlines, in that we can move the “achieved-by date” as necessary. We want our young horse to load into a trailer quietly and consistently? That’s a good goal. But a bad idea is to decide you need to reach that goal by the end of the week. Maybe you will accomplish it in that amount of time–or even less. But, few things scuttle your ability to work with horses in a rational, fair, and flexible way than stress and urgency brought on by—you guessed it—a deadline.

“When there are difficulties, I try to divide them up into manageable parts. I wait until the horse feels ready to take the next step, and I am convinced that in the end I save time by this approach,” says Magali. “When it comes to work, I try never to overdo it. Deciding on the correct length of a working session is vitally important. What is more, a horse must feel that if he does really well he will be rewarded with  a shorter session. If he is forced to go on too long it not only tires him, it also ‘demotivates’ him—a great mistake.

“In horse training, inevitably, you will make mistakes. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ My horse shies: Is that wheelbarrow the reason? I remove it; he shies again. Is it because he doesn’t like being away from his friends? And so on. I spend my life trying to get to the bottom of enigmas.”

But one thing, say Magali and Frederic, remains very clear:

“Always be patient and never push too fast or too insistently.”

 

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GALLOP TO FREEDOM: TRAINING HORSES WITH OUR SIX GOLDEN PRINCIPLES is coming in paperback!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE WAITLIST on Trafalgar Square Books’ online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

BeatBalk

Remember those stubborn ponies of your past whose fat bellies deflected your thumping heels like a bug guard on the front of a pickup truck? I can recall more than one incident when “Misty,” “Sweetpea,” or “Katrina” just decided they would do no more (and really, looking back, who could blame them?) Most of us are a long way from ponies now and a child’s willingness to spend an hour or two negotiating three steps forward. But still, if you ride at all, you’re likely to face a balk or two in your time in the saddle, and having the techniques to negotiate the issue quickly and peacefully is key.

Note: Many horses balk when approaching something strange or “scary.” This is a different issue and can be successfully dealt with in a layered, progressive fashion using desensitization. According to lifelong rancher, horse trainer, and author Heather Smith Thomas, horses that stop or balk for no apparent reason are the hardest challenge. Here are tips from her book GOOD HORSE, BAD HABITS to help fix the horse that just plain refuses to go forward.

How to Change This Habit

1  On occasion a horse has some kind of physical problem that causes pain or discomfort when saddled and ridden. The horse may not be lame, per se: He may move out freely without a saddle or any weight on his back, yet be reluctant to move when someone is riding him. If the horse is balky and stubborn when first starting a ride and then seems to “warm out of it,” you should suspect a physical problem as the cause, such as a sore back or arthritic joints. Contact your veterinarian to discuss the possible causes of pain or discomfort.

2  When the horse refuses to move because he doesn’t want to do something—such as go through a gate—the easiest way to get him moving is to convince him that he’s not being made to do the thing he doesn’t want to do—in other words, change his focus. For example, you can turn the horse in another direction and reapproach the gate, or back him up through it. This solves the immediate problem, and then you can work on the larger issue with progressive training to teach him to go through gates over many training sessions.

3  The horse that halts for no apparent reason (there isn’t an object or obstacle that seems to be the cause) and refuses to move in spite of coercion is harder to deal with. It’s often as if he suddenly decides he’s had enough (of whatever you’ve been asking him to do while being ridden) and his mind shuts down. Kicking him or using spurs or a whip is not the answer here as he will likely still refuse to budge. Punishment is usually counterproductive in this scenario and makes the horse’s mind shut down even more. The best way to get him to move is to make him take a step to the side by getting him a little off balance.
Pull his head abruptly around toward you and use your leg strongly on the opposite side.
Lean into the turn you are asking the horse to make to encourage him to move away from the leg pressure and to rebalance himself—he will have to take a step or two with his front feet.
Using this technique, spin him around one way and then the other. This usually breaks his mindset and you can get him moving forward again.

4  Some horses that stop and refuse to go forward will still back up when asked. If this is the case, back the horse until he gets his mind off balking, and he will then be likely to go forward again when you request it. Note: This solution should only be used when you are riding in an arena free of hazards. In addition, it is important to recognize that the last thing you want is for the horse to develop a habit of rushing backward blindly whenever he doesn’t want to go forward—someday he could back right off a mountain or into a ditch. It is best to use the back-up tactic when you can back him into a safe but solid object, such as the arena wall or board fence. The “bump” from the wall or fence will make him want to go forward again.

 

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For solutions to more than 130 common behavior and training problems, check out GOOD HORSE, BAD HABITS by Heather Smith Thomas, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

In the horse industry, we often feel bound to our chosen discipline, breed, or horse sport. We proclaim our undying devotion to specific organizations and vow to remain true, in sickness and in health, to trainers, instructors, and clinicians. We divide ourselves into helmets and hats, jodhpurs and jeans, competitors and non.

But there is a strangeness to this self-imposed segregation in that we can all surely come together, whatever our difference in preferred coat color and saddle shape, in agreement over one thing: our love for the horse. And, it is no secret that “cross-training” is as good for the equine athlete as it is for the human athlete, so it benefits us on multiple levels to open our minds to the “other” and maybe even give it a try.

One master of multiple disciplines is Jonathan Field, author of the stunning book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, in which he teaches us how developing communication skills and our relationship with our horse through liberty benefits all that we do—both on the ground and in the saddle. Quick responses to subtle cues, clear aids, and a relaxed and attentive horse: These are the keys to liberty, and they are also objectives when you ride, drive, and interact with your horse on a daily basis around the barn.

“I read THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES all in one evening and enjoyed and agreed with all of the very great wisdom that Jonathan so precisely shared,” says Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau. “He is a true horseman, and I have seen him work a number of times in the past and think this book is a great portrayal of his life, his training, and his process. Every horseperson should read this book, even if they do not want to do liberty work.”

 

Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau and GP Raymeister.

Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau and GP Raymeister.

 

In addition to kudos from the dressage world, Jonathan has worked closely with the legendary George Morris, including creating a DVD set with the former US show jumping chef d’equipe. For more information check out the trailer below, or visit Jonathan’s website JonathanField.net.

 

 

Jonathan tells the following story about a jumper he reschooled in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES:

“Many years ago I took on Tommy, a jumping horse that was given to me for free. I was his last resort. I was told that Tommy wasn’t ever easy to ride, and it got worse when jumps were present. He’d start at a nice pace, but as soon as he was pointed at the first jump, he would speed up twice as fast. Two jumps later, he’d be even faster, and finally, he’d bolt. Soon, all it took was the sight of a jump to cause the bolt reaction.

“The key with a horse like Tommy is recognizing the weak link in the communication between horse and human. In his case it was neutral, which is very common for performance horses. They come into the arena, are worked hard, and only rest back at the barn. Neutral or active neutral is not a part of the training program. So, with each ride they get a little more wired from anticipation. Because of those nerves, their flight instinct gets closer to the surface.

“Flight instinct can’t be taken completely out of any horse, and I never took it out of Tommy. I just recognized the best way to help him was to recreate the arena as a place of comfort, relaxation, and connection to the rider. I also had to keep him moving in a controlled way when he wasn’t connected to me.”

 

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You can read the rest of the story about Tommy, as well as learn how teaching your horse neutral and active neutral can benefit all that you do together in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Plus, preview a lesson from the book on how to find the neutral sweet spot by CLICKING HERE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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