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KFHInterview

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is more than a horseman. He’s a global brand with a tremendous international following—over 1.3 million on Facebook alone and YouTube clips with views also in the millions. He is incredibly prolific, with a multiple books and videos on horses and the horse-human relationship published in a number of languages. He is a writer, a philosopher, an artist—but mostly a teacher. His words, ideas, and images have changed the way people all over the world have interacted with their horses, with their families and friends, with their colleagues and business partners.

It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to interview Klaus; he is immersed in his study of horse and human nature and keeps an extremely busy seminar, consulting, and life-coaching schedule from his base in Denmark. But we were lucky enough to spend a morning talking with him about his newest offering for those who are searching for an authentic place in life and with horses: for the first time, Klaus’ autobiographical narrative THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE is available in English. And as we discovered in our conversation with him, within it lies quite possibly the secret to genuine love, authentic life, and the question of whether human beings should experience a necessary process of initiation before they are able to train, ride, and own horses.

 

TSB: It seems in many ways THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE is especially relevant today considering the current state of the world. How do you feel the lessons in the book might be able to help humanity as a whole—in 2016 and beyond?

KFH:  I agree absolutely with what you are saying. I have been writing this book some 25 years ago, and when I delivered the book to the publisher in Germany then, he told me that this book was probably published 25 years too early. Nevertheless you are right—it is definitely very on board, very present right now in light of all the confrontations that happen in the world and at the same time with the apparent lack of solutions.

 

 

TSB: How did you reach the place where you are now, as a world leader in life-coaching through horses?

KFH: When I started being with the horse (and this is a big part of the book), it was never like…that I was just interested in riding the horse, in being a show rider, a jump rider, this was never the interest. I was coming from an entirely different aim toward the horse, trying to discover again the horses for what they have symbolized and what they have been meaning to our forefathers, something very symbolic—a very high-range medium for personal development. Our forefathers, they always had the idea that the way how people are dealing with horses, the way how people are treating horses, the way how people are able to communicate with them, to bond with them…or in the other way, to treat them bad or to struggle with them, that this is always indicating the level of society…the quality of society itself.

 

TSB: So the way we are with horses is mirroring the state of society in general?

KFH: Right. The state of society in general and also how people are dealing with each other, and how people are dealing with those that are weaker inside the community; inside the state.

 

 

TSB: Did you set out to write THE MESSAGE OF THE HORSE as an exploration of this idea?

KFH: This was of course my attempt, my first attempt at being with the horses and trying to tell the entire story…the content of the book is not describing something like horsemanship itself, like how you should practically deal with something in this regard or that regard. This book is primarily talking about the spiritual, the philosophical, the symbolical background of the horse. We are as mankind, as entire creatures, confronted with so many huge reckonings and problems, and in this regard this book is definitely, in a way, trying to see, to watch, to perceive, and to observe our times with the eyes of our forefathers and with the eyes of the symbol [the horse] which they have mainly used in a way to understand the procedures, etc, of life itself.

 

TSB: We presume the main character in THE MESSAGE OF THE HORSE is you. How honestly do the specific challenges the young protagonist deals with reflect your own experience as you were discovering the spiritual aspect of horses and horsemanship?

KFH: One main idea of producing a book like this one is to bring things in a formal way together—to create, to formulate, something like a story, like a new artificial medium to entertain people, to have an exciting experience, to give them new ideas, in a way to educate them about different things on one side…and on the other side. A decision [to work] toward being a real, authentic, proper personality or being is timeless. In this book, I try to put the main aspects of my beginning of my life into an epoch of this young man who is living in the mountains, living with this monk, and of course, running through different kinds of misery, different kinds of confrontations with himself, with nature, with his expectations, with his ego, of course, together with the confrontation with this monk who in a way is mirroring all this. This young man really wanted…was always looking for something like an authentic way to perceive the world, which is hidden behind so many layers and walls. In this regard the book is talking about a period where I as an author…where I, where this guy, where I try to summarize all the experience before in my life which…with this epoch, starts to convert to really find the first authentic answers.

 

 

TSB: Do you feel that one of the things we can learn from horses is the concept of genuine love?

KFH: Yes, I think it is a very important question, which by the way…is very very often misunderstood. If we just look in this book, for example…at this old monk, who was pretty beastly treating this young man, leaving him more or less alone. He was absolutely not willing to give real answers—“You have to find it on your own”— which is very difficult for this young man. There was definitely a disharmonious relationship between the monk and this young man. But, finally, when [the young man] came back from his adventure in the mountains, they could cook perfectly together. So could we say that, in the beginning, there was something like love between the monk and the young man? Or that love was created later? The next question he was asking himself, “Why am I living? Why am I living here?” Everything is so horrible but still I am staying here?” The young man himself, he is also described in this book as ambivalent. Is he nice? Is he not nice? He’s seeking for very peaceful togetherness with the horse, describing it, but there was a moment when he was so fed up, so abandoned, when he was about to beat this horse and started to have cruel ideas…so what I want to say is this book is very much talking about love but on a level where our forefathers are trying to explain to us that there is something higher than love.

When, for example, this Laozi, this guy who 5000 years ago was writing the Tao Te Ching, when he is talking about love, he is explaining it in a very simple way. He says, if you lead the path of Tao—and Tao I would translate as authentic life, into connected life with destiny—so if you lead this life, then on the next level you will meet with love. But…there is something which is bigger than it, which is incorporating love but in a different way. We have to understand that I say, for example, “I love horses.” But what is it with spiders? What is with snakes? What is with frogs? So in our way, where we are so often dealing with love, we are using the word very exclusively to say, “This Hamburger Hut I love,” but what is with the next one, what is with the next one? This book is talking so much about the real meaning of love so we are able to understand it even when in the first attempt we are seemingly disconnected from something, we are seemingly rejected from something (like so often the young man experiences this).

 

 

TSB: We commonly use horses today to ease our own suffering (whether emotional or physical), but when we don’t go to them with purity of conscience or peace within, don’t they acquire our suffering without us easing theirs? Is this a fair exchange?

KFH: This is the perfect direction to think about this entire issue. When I’m writing books then it is like this: there’s a lot of sort of information, a lot of vibration, to find between the lines…. Being with horses always has been one of the highest arts in personal development. If we look back even to the younger histories we can see leaders, state leaders, kings, emperors—even if they never in reality had been together with horses—they were always painted or sculpted on the back of the horse, with loose reins, the horse nicely collected, in something like a levade…So the idea that something like an emperor, a leader, is eager to be sculpted, to be painted, in a portrait together with a horse, on top of a horse, is radiating a sense directly to our very often unconscious understanding of symbols. Even if you have no idea what the horse means in reality, you understand that this person sitting on this horse is able to dominate, to maintain, to do something very special, and obviously this means that this emperor, this leader, this king, is qualified to lead people—to lead a nation. And that’s the idea. We look back to our forefathers and how they were treating horses, and this book is talking a lot about it…together with the monk, who perceived himself as the last lost ambassador of these ideas, and he definitely was not prepared once again to come back to the world and to life and to the position of a teacher…it did take a long time for the young man to convince him to take him into his house and give lessons and lectures….

So the point is: If you want to be with the horse, you have to already be something like and experienced something like a master. You can see this in the martial arts—those samurais of the Japanese culture, they…have to go through a career of a tea ceremony, of calligraphy, of paintings, etc. So this means that before you start with the horse you do have to run through something like an initiation. And the book is nothing more and nothing less than the explanation of this: The monk…only had to wait for the moment when he could sense the time was right for the young man in his “abandonedness” and (on the other side) in his innocent openness, where it would seem that everything was hopeless, all the effort was done for nothing…and this was the moment the wise monk was taking action to send him to the horses, knowing that if he would have sent the young man before, he would not be open enough, would not be desperately lost, close to death enough…. Coming back from this initiation suddenly the young man was different and this is the whole idea. Suddenly he could cope with the world, he could cope with the horses, and he could cope with the monk. All this what I’m trying to describe now, has been 200 percent erased from our understanding of what we do in life and what we do with horses.

 

 

TSB: Is there a simple lesson that readers can take away to apply to their lives with horses and their lives in general?

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

KFH: I am absolutely sure about this, and I think that not for nothing we have (by the way, in my opinion) a very nice translation in the English language and…I would like to express my gratitude toward the translator David Walser. Not for nothing we have this translation now because I think now, compared to 25 years ago when I did first write the book and [heard from] the first publisher that this is 25 years too early, I think now we are in a time where we will understand this, where people will understand this, much better—consciously and subconsciously. In my opinion this book is a reality, it is a real story (of course, converted into a novel, no question about it), and I think people will sense this…and they see now how I am with horses in my life. What I’m doing is congruent and authentic continuation of this book…is very much like a fairy tale. So if children, they read a fairy tale, they are with so many symbols—we have the seven mountains and the seven dwarfs and the seven walls we have whatever, all these symbols—and without explanation, the children are able to immediately connect with their soul with this…it is encouraging to children that finally Snow White will wake up again. Snow White will live, even if it looks so bad, even if everything seems to be lost….

With all the wisdom and wise words of the monk, I think that this book hopefully might touch conscious parts, and in a pretty huge way, unconscious parts—like the fairy tale—so that you may read this book page by page and breathe deeper and find trust again and to connect again…to strengthen and revive your hope…. There’s not one truth. If we have more than 7 billion people on the planet, then we have 7 billion truths.  And that is also part of the story. So take your truth and find your path. The wisdom wherever it might come from. The connection to the horses, the connection to the monk, you will find it here and there…. One thing I think is very important in this story is that the young man didn’t ever give up. And this was the sort of testing of the monk: he was teasing, he was pushing, he was withdrawing, and he was asking with this and without words, “Do you really want it?” And the young man was so often about to give up but …finally he is rewarded with an entirely different life.

I think I’m living my life, I’m managing my life, working mainly as a life coach and management consultant. This is my main job: Using the horse, taking the horses to explain, to make things easier, to break down things and make them visible. But, of course, the initiation was the beginning of the life, which has been providing me the tools to take destiny into my own hands—to connect with destiny, have a dialogue with destiny—and the symbol of this crossroad, the symbol of this breakthrough, is and has been the horse.

 

 

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling’s THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE to read a free chapter.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Back in 2009, TSB teamed up with green-living horsewoman and writer Lucinda Dyer to create the first book of eco-conscious tips and ideas for the equestrian community. ECO-HORSEKEEPING was called a “handy, inspiring, easy-to-read book” that “provides perfectly prepackaged tips, ideas, and expert advice” by Smartpak Founder Rebecca Minard.

“There’s no reason why each and every one of us can’t make owning, riding, and loving horses a planet-friendly activity to be enjoyed for generations to come,” writes Minard in the foreword to ECO-HORSEKEEPING.

On the eve of Earth Day 2016, we again consider the role that each and every one of us plays as stewards of the environment at large, and most certainly of the equine environment—which ensures the health and happiness of our horses. Have each of us taken a few small steps toward limiting our footprint, lowering our impact, and preserving our natural world?

“The following are just a few ways horses and horsepeople impact the environment at large,” write veterinarian Dr. Allen Schoen and horse trainer Susan Gordon in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN. “These are factors that require thought in order to ensure the equine industry is not negatively affecting our world but rather contributing to it in the best way possible.”
• Transportation of feed.
• Maintenance of buildings and facilities to house horses.
• Consumption of water.
• Management of manure and barn waste.
• Transportation of horses to shows, clinics, training facilities.
• Creation of waste related to products and services needed to maintain
domestic horses.
• Runoff from pastures and paddocks.
• Overgrazing land both domestically and in the wild.
• Overpopulation due to overbreeding and unwanted animals.

So how do we put on the green-tinted glasses, and keep them on even when we leave the recycle-friendly world of work and home and head for the barn?

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

When boarding, “research how your horse’s home could possibly be made safer, cleaner, and less toxic, and bring a list of reasonable steps to the barn’s manager,” recommend Dr. Schoen and Gordon. “Offer to help. Many equestrian operations tend to run at low to no profit, so issues of finances are often the first to be considered when changes are suggested. Even when those changes would lead to a much better environment for both horses and humans, the costs may seem prohibitive. Encourage small, affordable steps, as little changes can ultimately make a significant difference in the horse’s well-being.

“When on your own property with just your own horses, you can make a personal project out of determining what will help make your barn and property less toxic and more environmentally friendly. Put together a step-by-step plan, and, then start with the simplest thing. Do what you can under the circumstances and always remember you are benefiting all beings just by becoming conscious and aware of environmental concerns. Horses and equestrian facilities have a significant impact on their immediate and neighboring surroundings and it literally ‘takes a village’ of like-minded participants to become aware of issues with the keeping, feeding, watering, and transportation of animals, and it takes that village once again to actually improve the state of things.”

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

With small, doable, affordable steps in mind, and the long hot days of summer just around the corner, here are a few water conservation tips from ECO-HORSEKEEPING to kick off your Earth Day 2016 weekend:

  • Lose the Drip: Fix or replace everything in your barn that leaks or drips, be it a faucet, hose, or toilet. A faucet that drips at one drop per second wastes 7 gallons of water a day and 2,700 gallons a year.
  • Go Low-Flow: Make certain all your barn water hoses have nozzles that let you adjust the spray as needed, as well as a “trigger” that allows you to shut off the flow of water completely while soaping up dirty legs or conditioning tangled tails.
  • Reuse Water Whenever Possible: STOP! Before you mindlessly toss that half-a bucket of water from your horse’s stall into the driveway—can it be used to control dust in the round pen or water plants around the barn?
  • Hook Up a Rain Barrel: A rain barrel can be easily connected to one or more of your barn’s downspouts to collect water that would otherwise simply wash away. Use the harvested water to wash trucks, trailers, and farm equipment; water the rings; and cool down hot horses with a pleasant sponge bath.
  • Go Grunge: The easiest step in reducing water use is the obvious one! Get choosy about when and how you use it. Before you hook up the hose yet again: Just how clean does your horse really have to be today? Are you riding in a clinic with George Morris or taking a leisurely afternoon trail ride? Whenever possible, ask yourself, “Will a strong arm and a curry do the job?”

 

ECO-HORSEKEEPING and THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more tips for an Equine-centric Earth Day.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

 

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It’s no secret that if the traditional Barbie doll was a real woman, she would be 5’9” and weigh 120 pounds, with approximate measurements of 38″-18″-34″.

The average woman’s measurements, on the other hand, are about 41″-34″-43″.

In the US, most little girls grow up with more than one Barbie doll, and again, it is no secret that playing with legs and hair that long kind of make you think your legs and hair should be that long, too.

When’s the last time you pulled on your riding breeches, looked in the mirror, and liked what you saw? When’s the last time you didn’t worry about a back fat wrinkle when wearing your show shirt? The very real horse-loving “us” is made up of a vast worldwide riding population, majority women, and majority complete with legs we wish were longer, butts we wish were smaller, thighs we wish were thinner, waists we wish were slimmer. Be brave for a moment and take this quick quiz from Melinda Folse’s RIDING THROUGH THICK & THIN:

1  Consider each of the following characteristics and beside each one, note Very Dissatisfied, Mostly Dissatisfied, Mostly Satisfied, or Very Satisfied when you consider the characteristic in conjunction with your own body, and in particular with your body as that of a horsewoman.

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2  Now how do you think your body causes you to ride? How do you think you look when you ride, and how you feel about your own body as you ride? After each of the following, note how often thoughts like these cross your mind: Never, Sometimes, or Often.
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3  Now consider the thought: I feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or self-conscious about my body . . .
and follow it with each one of the statements below. Then note how often you feel that thought cross your mind: Never, Sometimes, or Often.

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You might find after taking the quiz above that you harbor a whole lot of anxiety, disgust, despondency, anger, frustration, envy, shame, or self-consciousness when it comes to your body. And you might even admit that it gets in the way of your being able to truly enjoy your time with horses.

Well, guess what, ladies? Most of us don’t look anything like the traditional thin, blonde, white Barbie doll. This is why in 2016, Mattel—the company that makes Barbie—is making the biggest change ever in the toy’s 57-year history.

“Faced with changes in beauty ideals, shifting demographics and ongoing criticism of Barbie’s impossible proportions, Mattel decided to remake the iconic blonde,” says the January 28, 2016 story at Time.com. (Read TIME’s Cover Story on Barbie and Body Image in America by CLICKING HERE)

And if finally, after 57 years, Barbie can learn to be true to the real short/tall/big/small/curvy/skinny/imperfect us, then can’t we go ahead and do ourselves the same favor?

In RIDING THROUGH THICK & THIN, rider, writer, and imperfect horsewoman Melinda Folse gives us the tools we need to give bad body image the boot. It’s a great place to start making sure we all get the most from every ride, from here on out.

 

CLICK HERE for more information about RIDING THROUGH THICK & THIN

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Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business located on a farm in rural Vermont.

GHM-interview

George Morris’s hugely anticipated autobiography UNRELENTING The Real Story: Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of Excellence has been officially out for about a month and is a red-hot bestseller. Morris knew that the release of the book, within which he reveals the private side he’s long kept hidden, would stir the big ol’ pot that is the equestrian world. “For an intensely private person like me, it wasn’t an easy choice to publish such intimate details of my life,” he says. “If there are people that can’t handle the truth, well…”

In this recent interview, he shared a little about what he thinks his new book means for his legacy as the Godfather of American equestrianism.

Q: While you’ve written many articles and several books on horsemanship and equitation over the years, UNRELENTING is the first time you “get personal” and share the “Real George Morris” with the world. What did you find fun about the book-writing process this time around?

GHM: Well, what was fun was Karen Terry, my ghostwriter. She was really the perfect person to help me with the book because she looks like a party girl but then she has this other side where she is very organized—amazingly organized. And very capable. That’s a little how I go through life, too: I have these two different sides. So that was fun.

Q: You say you have “two different sides.” I’d be willing to bet most people in the horse industry only know of the “one side” of George Morris—your publicly traded persona that hinges on your well-known roles as demanding coach, unabashed critic, and absolute perfectionist. What do you really think of this notorious side of yourself?

GHM: You know, I never think of my “George Morris” horse-world person because on a daily basis I’m interested in riding and teaching, and day after day I do it all over the world—that’s what I’m into. I have to sort of look from afar at this persona that’s “happened” because that’s not really what I think about when I get up every morning in Texas or Belgium or riding horses in Wellington.

Q: What made you think it was time to tell the world about the “other side” of yourself?

GHM: I have had a very interesting life because I was the least likely to succeed. My personal identity when I was a young child was very, very complicated—I was very insecure and very much a mess. I was the least likely rider at Ox Ridge Hunt Club to succeed. I was very, very timid and stiff. I was not a natural. Then I was also dealing with the sexual identity situation. So you know, I was really a pathetic creature who went very far. And now that the book is finished, if there are people that can’t handle the truth, well…I feel I’m laying it out there maybe to help people. In fact, I’ve already told a couple of young guys who are just coming out to read my book because it will be good for them. It is a very difficult situation for people at that age. I look at it this way: If my story, which is an egotistical, self-interest story, is boring, that’s all right. There are some titillating tidbits in there that people will like, anyway. But it’s going to maybe help people who don’t have the best ability to ride; it’s going to help people who had a very difficult childhood emotionally; it’s going to maybe help people who have struggled with their sexual identity. I figure, like always in my teaching, I am trying to help people. Not that I want to help people…not that I get up every morning and I’m Mother Teresa…but it seems to be my destiny, because I was the least likely to succeed and did, to try to help other people. So that’s the way I look at talking about my other side in this book.

Q: But the “George Morris Mystique” has developed over time and people know you for your desire for perfection. Do you feel like admission of your imperfection and humanity will harm your influence?

GHM: No, no, no, no, no, no. Because my body of life’s work is set. Something could scandalize it, which wouldn’t ruin it. Or something could embellish it, which wouldn’t embellish it much. You know, I’m going to be 78 next week, and what’s done is done. That’s the way I look at this book. Maybe I wouldn’t have written this when I was 60, let alone 40 or 20.

Q: While your relationships have never been secret, UNRELENTING is the most public “coming out” you’ve ever had. Is it because you feel the world is finally ready to deal more frankly with homosexuality?

GHM: Oh yes, there’s no question this is my most public coming out. I think the world being more accepting probably colored it but I’d say that if I was going to write this book, I was going to be very honest. Whether I’m right or wrong—I’m a very honest person. My family name is Frank, and that’s suited my grandfather and suited my family and myself; we’re very frank people. And if I’m going to write this book, I’m going to be frank, and it’s not that nobody in the world knew that I was gay—everybody in the world knew that I was gay. Its’ not like it is a big shock to people. I think that some of the specifics to certain people will be a shock. And, you know, I could write a really x-rated book. I could shock them a lot more. WAY more. So I decided if I was going to do this book about my life, well…this is my life.

Q: UNRELENTING progresses systematically through every decade of your existence, reliving the equestrian high life and world of competitive riding through the years. You reconstruct so many details from so many different pivotal moments—what do you hope sharing a history you know very intimately will provide readers?

GHM: Well that’s the bulk of the interest to the public, if they are horse people. Bill Steinkraus is the only real living person who would have the same length of intimate connection with this level of the sport since the 1940s. You know all the ones before that are dead or almost dead, and I’ve been in the trenches since the forties. I’m in the trenches tomorrow. And in the trenches at the highest point of the sport—have been since I was ten. So from a historical perspective I will stand behind this book. From the personal side, if there are criticisms and dart-throwers—fine. If they say this is a boring, egotistical diary of George Morris—fine. But from a historical perspective, if nothing else, this is a great book.

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Q: 2016 marks a year when you’ve altered your usual schedule of clinicing and are instead focusing on a few individual students, as well as coaching the Brazilian show jumping team. What inspired this change?

GHM: Since I retired as chef d’equipe, in fact my whole life, I’ve given just massive numbers of clinics every year. And I love clinics, and I’m excellent at clinics. But the last couple of years I did 43 or 44 and my instinct said, “Listen, you’ve just got to stop and go back to taking on a couple of private people, go to the horse shows, have horses in training for a consistent length of time.” And then I’ve got this Brazilian thing through the Olympics. No, I’m just taking a deep breath from clinics. I will always do clinics, whether I do 44 a year or whether I do 6 or whether I do 2. It’s just my instinct said to stop for a while and do something different because I was on the airplane every Thursday and coming back late every Sunday or Monday. And clinics make you teach a lot of people a little bit, and this way I’m teaching a few people a lot—so it’s different. It’s not that I don’t like clinics; it has nothing to do with that. Next year we might be having a conversation and maybe I’ll do the 44 clinics again. I don’t know.

Q: Do you see yourself receding from the front lines? Do you desire to find a quieter lifestyle in the years ahead?

GHM: Listen: I am interested in the horse world and chasing men. That’s all I’m interested in. That’s all I’ve ever been interested in.

 

UNRELENTING by George H. Morris with Karen Robertson Terry is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information

 

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In WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS author Beth Baumert explains the four physical “Powerlines”—Vertical, Connecting, Spiraling, and Visual—that she says enable us to become balanced and effective in the saddle. The Visual Powerline influences the horse’s balance, as well as his line of travel.

The trajectory of the rider’s eyes is a Visual Powerline that goes out from your body—that is, outside the physical system. It connects you and your horse to the outside world. Your body spirals onto your line of travel, and your eyes focus on a point—a dressage letter, tree, fencepost, or a jump—and use it as a frame of reference so the horse can be directed on a planned course.

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The rider who is constantly looking at her horse’s neck has a problem similar to the one who clutches the saddle with her legs. She will always be in her horse’s balance; she uses her horse’s balance as a frame of reference because she never looks outside it. The rider who stares at her horse’s neck is committed to being “on the forehand” and can’t influence her horse otherwise. Some riders have nervous eyes; they furtively glance here and there. The horse might experience this behavior in the same way a rider experiences a horse that is always looking this way and that. Maybe it’s distracting; it surely can’t help.

The trajectory of the rider’s eyes has amazing influence over the horse’s balance. It can help put horse and rider in a downhill, horizontal, or uphill balance. The angle of the floor of your seat in relation to the ground and your torso’s position is determined by the horse’s balance, but it is influenced by the trajectory of your eyes. When the trajectory is in a downhill balance, your seat is not only inclined to be downhill, but it actually can’t follow the horse’s back.

When the trajectory of the eyes is horizontal, the floor of your seat offers the possibility of a horizontal frame for the “downhill” horse. It influences the horse’s spine to travel in a horizontal path, thus improving his natural balance. The horse’s horizontal frame puts the floor of the rider’s seat in a horizontal position. When the rider is in self-carriage with the trajectory of her eyes on a horizontal line, she can influence the horse to come into an uphill posture.

If you have problems with the trajectory of your eyes, imagine “half-halting” with your head. This encourages you to inhale and shift your head up, which improves your horse’s balance both longitudinally and laterally. It puts the trajectory of your eyes on the line that encourages your horse to become better balanced. Your seat can’t work when your head isn’t balanced over the place where the two spines meet.

Try this exercise:

Step 1  Hold on to just the buckle of your reins with one or both hands, and keep your hands over the pommel of your saddle.

Step 2  Use your eyes to chart your course. Be aware of how your eyes relate to the rest of your body. Your head will want to lead and misalign your body, but don’t let it. Be sure your hands, shoulders, knees, and toes also point the way.

Step 3  Track left and spiral onto a diagonal line of travel. Weight your left seat bone slightly and turn with your outside (right) aids. Be aware of how your weight works. You might need to use more outside leg than you expected.

Step 4  As you finish your diagonal line, spiral right to turn right. Weight your right seat bone slightly and turn with your outside (left) aids. Be persistent about your horse following your body.

Step 5  When your horse is able to understand your body language, pick up the reins and begin your warm-up. You’ll find that your horse is more in tune with your body language, and you only need very subtle rein aids.

 

Learn about the other three Powerlines in Baumert’s bestselling book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business located on a farm in rural Vermont.

LTJBookClub

World-renowned authority on animal behavior and creator of the Tellington Method Linda Tellington-Jones invites members of the public to join her and her popular Online Book Club for a conversation with Dr. Allen Schoen about compassion’s role when working with animals, and much, much more.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Schoen for close to 20 years,” says Linda. “He’s been on our veterinary advisory board for Tellington TTouch Training and we co-taught a workshop together in the late 1980s—sharing our modalities with horses and dogs—he with his holistic, integrative veterinary approach and I with Tellington TTouch.

“With his new book he is once again laying a fresh trail. THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN offers new possibilities to the thoughtful horse owner.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 3.47.16 PMOn Wednesday, March 23, 2016, from 6:00-7:00 pm PT (9:00-10:00 pm ET), you can be part of this revolutionary discussion. You do not have to have read THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN to participate and learn from this extraordinary meeting of two of the world’s most exciting advocates for equine welfare. The Book Club meeting is free and open to all.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/849145520

Or iPhone one-tap: 16465588656,849145520# or 14086380968,849145520#

Or Telephone: Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 849 145 520

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=UwSFoJWg-SZrbkunk0wS385C33H4xNo6

 

“I love this book! I believe the Compassionate Equestrian concept is a perfectly presented foundation to support our aim to attain a new level of relationship with the horse. At Equitana in Germany this year we celebrated my 40 years of teaching the Tellington Method around the world, and I was asked what my goal is for the next 20 years. Well, my goal is to increase acceptance of recognizing each horse’s individuality so that more people learn to ride, compete, and work with the horse, coming from a place of compassion and understanding.

“THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN is a wonderful, wonderful book that helps show just how more of us can join together to spread this message. I love the authors’ 25 Principles as they give us such clear guideposts as we take steps toward a future where science merges with spirituality. I think it is just brilliant!” —Linda Tellington-Jones, Internationally Acclaimed Authority on Animal Behavior, Author, and Founder of The Tellington Method

AlchemyFB

There’s been something missing from the news in general of late (and if your life is anything like mine, you can’t seem to escape that constant flow of “what’s happening”…all day, every day, yesterday, today, tomorrow). The problem is, it seems the “what’s happening” is all pretty dark, pretty frightening, pretty fractious, pretty upsetting. If you dig deep below the fold, you might find a story that dares flirt with sunshine, but that takes effort your weary self might just not have on tap.

Of course, there is a ripple effect to take into account here, too. Our glowering brow impacts everyone we come into contact with in the course of a day. Our frustration spreads faster than this year’s norovirus. Our anxiety transfers with a worried look or concerned cough. And not just to people—our mood wreaks havoc on our horses.

Over the past few years, TSB has published several books that highlight the importance of manning our mental ship and preparing ourselves emotionally in order to interact with our horses in a fair, calm, and positive way: Linda Tellington-Jones’ DRESSAGE FOR MIND, BODY & SOUL; Dr. Allen Schoen and Susan Gordon’s THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN; and Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis’ THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS.

“I think joy is the most important ingredient in everything we do, say, share, and experience in this world,” writes classical dressage master Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS. “We see so many people who are so serious about things all the time. And it’s like the seriousness, the worry, the guilt—all that ‘fear stuff’—is killing the very essence of what they want to accomplish.

“Joy is a product of love, which is one of the two emotions I’ve described as having a direct impact on our riding. Joy and love are thus, in effect, the same. When we are happy and able to give happiness to others, transmitting our joy and love to our horses and to other people, we experience what has to be one of the most powerful feelings known to man.

“Constant perseverance means that we need to be dedicated to joy and the ‘giving’ of happiness to others. We need to make an effort, a constant effort. It is so easy to get up in the morning and find 500 good reasons not to be happy. We have only one real reason to be happy, and that is that we want to be happy. Therefore, we need to ‘practice happiness.’ We need to ‘practice joy.’ And we need to constantly remind ourselves to constantly be in that state of joy.

Click image to order.

Click image to order.

“There is always, in life, some kind of serious situation going on. There are some moments when we must see the ‘true face of life,’ and sometimes it is not very enjoyable. But I think that at the end of the day we have to count our happy moments and be satisfied. (Our horses will love us for it!)

“We have to make a decision about the ‘Happiness Factor’ before our day starts: Are we going to the ‘Depressing World’ or the ‘Happy World’? There are a lot of happy things, joyful things, happening all around us. Just the simple act of putting smiles on our faces can produce many smiles in the people we meet each day. A smile goes a long way.

“Remember, our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. We need to free ourselves from confirmed ego and from destructive emotions. This is the best thing we can do for ourselves and others. This is the best thing we can do for our horses.”

 

If you, too, hunger for the “Happy World,” you can make the Happiness Factor work for you. It is easy enough to take the first steps recommended by all the authors mentioned in this post: smile and breathe…and go spend time with your horse.

 

THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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