At Trafalgar Square Books, we are incredibly excited to announce the release of a unique new work from rider, trainer, and innovator Linda Tellington-Jones. DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL is an out-of-the-box introduction to Linda’s theories and how the Tellington Method—comprised of Ground Exercises, Ridden Work, and her specialized form of bodywork known as TTouch—can become an integral tool to getting the finest performance from your dressage horse while at the same time preserving his physical and mental well-being.
We asked Linda to tell us about what inspired to write this book and how she hopes it will change the sport of dressage for the better.
TSB: Over your 40-plus-year career, you have covered how the Tellington Method can be applied to a number of species (horses, dogs, cats, humans) as well as in a number of ways (for better behavior, improved learning, better health). Why did you decide to write your newest book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL with the dressage horse and dressage rider in mind?
Linda: Caroline Robbins, my publisher, knows I have worked with many prominent dressage riders and their horses over the years, and she felt it was time I found a way to share the different ways the Tellington Method can benefit the sport horse with this particular group of riders and trainers.
I knew this book could be very different from what is already available to dressage riders. Over the years I have studied and read about both the scientific and spiritual aspects of our lives—the reasons we are who we are and why we do what we do find their roots in both science and spirituality. Dressage is a wonderful example of how science and spirituality come together. In some ways, there are few sports as demanding of precision, practice, and repetition, as dependent on an understanding of horse and human biomechanics, as dressage. And yet without “feel,” without soul, without connection, dressage is just a series of mechanical movements.
It takes both science and spirituality to produce riding art.
This book was an opportunity to write about the philosophies and practical exercises that have been my passion for so long, and the theories and beliefs that are at the core of my work with the Tellington Method all over the world.
TSB: As you say, you have worked with many top dressage riders and trainers and their horses over the years, and you share some of those stories in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL. Can you tell us a little about one horse in particular who you worked with and how the Tellington Method changed his life and his relationship with his rider?
Linda: I have had the privilege to work with many wonderful Grand Prix horses and their riders, but I believe my most touching experience (no pun intended!) was my work last year with the 18-year-old Grand Prix horse, Meggle’s Weltall. He was on the German dressage team in the Olympics in Athens, but this big gelding had been explosive in every class he entered for several years. Dieter and Dodo Laugks attribute the Tellington Method—applied daily by Weltall’s groom, Katie Rast, for several months—to the phenomenal change in Weltall. After many years of unsuccessful competition he won 10 Grand Prix classes last fall! He changed from a horse who was defensive and very challenging under saddle and on the ground, to a trusting, cooperative, and very happy horse.
TSB: If there is one thing that you hope people will take away from your new book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, what would you like it to be?
Linda: That they ride with an attitude of gratitude, for their horses of course, but also for themselves.
That they practice the art of riding with “HeART” (which I explain in the book), forgiving mistakes, realizing that it’s through our mistakes that we achieve success.
That they discover the power of smiling as they ride and the resulting enhancement of health and well-being, for both themselves and their horses.
TSB: When did you first realize that helping horses and the people who love and work with horses was your mission in life?
Linda: I don’t believe I had an “aha” moment in terms of it being my “mission” to work with horses and people. It was simply woven into my life’s journey. I began teaching riding as a teenager at Briarcrest Stable, where I rode every day from the time I was 9 until I was 16. Horses were as much a part of my life as breathing. And so it has continued on from there.
TSB: You travel most of the year, giving workshops on the Tellington Method around the world. What is planned for 2013—where will you go and what message do you plan to bring?
Linda: 2013 marks the beginning of a new era. My husband Roland and I were inspired to focus on our new concept of SpiritGo: In this twenty-first century, there is scientific evidence supporting the value of training horses with focus on a trusting horse/human relationship that enhances the health of both horse and rider.
SpiritGo is Tellington Training for the twenty-first century that:
– Honors the spirit of the horse.
– Builds trust between horse and rider.
– Develops a willing and cooperative relationship.
– Results in the Ultimate HorseHuman Connection.
SpiritGo is for all levels of training and riding and every discipline, from the beginning equestrian to the Olympic star.
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.
Linda: The first time I sat on a horse I was six years old. My father took me to a riding school to buy a horse for me because we were moving from the city to my grandfather’s farm, and my school was more than two miles away. There weren’t any school buses in those days, so I had to ride to school.
I was put on a 15-hand chestnut mare named Trixie who walked once around the riding arena and headed straight to the barn. My father bought her and with one exception, the mare took good care of me. I rode every day to school and most days would come home after school and ride some more. I was nine years old before I had my first riding lesson.
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.
Linda: The first time I remember coming off was rather dramatic. One day I left for school too late and my cousins, who lived up the road from me, left without me. When I got to their farm entrance, Trixie decided she was not going on alone and balked. I gave her a whack on the rump and she promptly dumped me on the road. I was too small to get on bareback alone, so I marched her back to the barn, stomped to the house, got two clothespins, took them back to the barn, and put them on her ears. I thought this would teach her a lesson, but she showed no reaction at all. I don’t know where I got the clothespin idea, but I often joke that it was the forerunner to the Tellington Ear TTouch, which of course we use to calm horses in times of stress and alleviate pain at times of injury, among other things.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
Linda: Gratitude and intelligence.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
Linda: Intelligence and trust.
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
Linda: Ride in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in perfect summer weather.
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
Linda: An Arabian mare and one of Rumi’s books on life because I love to memorize and it would give me much to think about.
TSB: If your desert island had WiFi and an iPad, which movie would you stream?
Linda: Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah Kevin Bacon.
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
Linda: Cranberry water.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Linda: The understanding that happiness is a choice.
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?
Linda: Macadamia-crusted Ahi with mashed yams and steamed greens, key lime pie, and St. Pauli Girl nonalcholic beer.
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
Linda: Cruising on a sailing ship or steamliner with my husband, my iPad, and friends.
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
Linda: My mother, Marion, to thank her and let her know what an amazing woman she was and how much I appreciate her teaching me by example about trust, tolerance, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, and to live by the Golden Rule. I also so appreciated her example of the loving, respectful relationship she had with my father.
TSB: What is your motto?
Linda: Remember your perfection.