We are so excited that Equitana USA at the amazing and beautiful Kentucky Horse Park is right around the corner, and we are THRILLED that six of our amazing authors are featured presenters. Here’s what you have in store in Lexington this weekend.
Sally Batton, Founder and President of the Athletic Equestrian League and author of the forthcoming The Athletic Equestrian (coming January 2022)
With a dynamic combination of seminars, clinics, and trainings, the EQUITANA USA Education Program will broaden your understanding of all things related to horse care and riding, while opening doors to new disciplines and fun. It all starts on Friday, October 1! Get your tickets and plan your visit today!
From June 7 to 11, 2021, TSB author Janet Jones, PhD, whose HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN has become a runaway international bestseller since its release last year, was a featured presenter at HETI Seoul. Hosted by the Korea Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (KATH) and Korea Racing Authority (KRA), the 17th HETI International Congress was held as both an in-person and virtual event. Janet traveled to Seoul to speak to attendees in person.
The goal of HETI Seoul was to welcome experts and officials from all over the world to catch up on the latest trends taking place in the field of equine-assisted activity and therapy. In her presentation, Janet discussed what it is about equine brains that makes horses so good at equine-assisted therapy for humans. She introduced some of the reasons:
Horses have no prefrontal cortex and therefore cannot judge their human handlers.
Horse-and-human communication depends on nonverbal body language.
Horses learn and respond quickly in “pure” form with little emotional baggage.
Horses have little to no categorical perception and therefore notice small details.
The horse’s primary emotion is fear, as is common to wounded human psyches.
Methods that calm equine fear also help control human fear.
Successful horse-and-human interaction requires mutual trust built over time.
Horses’ size and power requires humans to abandon techniques involving force.
During her talk, Janet explained how each of these items affects human wellness and aids in many types of therapeutic intervention (read more in her official conference abstract HERE).
*Photos above: Janet presenting six neurological reasons for horses’ excellence at equine-assisted psychotherapy; the foreign speakers, organizers, the HETI Board, and leaders of the host organizations Korea Racing Authority and Korea Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship at the Presidential Dinner held at Seoul’s Floating Island on (on top of!) the water of the Han River; Janet presenting the Best Volunteer Award to a young Korean rider who worked tirelessly to help everyone.Photos courtesy of Janet Jones.
“I enjoyed the HETI Congress immensely,” says Janet. “The organizers managed every detail, the presentations were informative, and all the complex online hybrid and translation technology worked. I met lots of interesting new people and got to discuss global and local horse industries with many of them.The presentations had simultaneous translation into multiple languages–I think simultaneous translation is pretty cool, though perhaps it is more common nowadays than I was aware! Final convention counts showed 909 participants from 37 countries—remarkable given the global pandemic at this time.”
The 18th HETI International Congress is slated for 2024 in Budapest, Hungary.
In her memoir DISTANT SKIES: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY ON HORSEBACK, a book reviewers rave is “uplifting, inspiring, poignant, and poetic,” Melissa Chapman shares the story of a remarkable journey she took when she was 23 years old—a young woman who had long dreamed of traveling solo across the United States on horseback, and who had the guts, and the faith, to go for it.
There are many ways her youthful adventure marked her life, and here Melissa shares with us one annual tradition that keeps her connected to all that transpired all those years ago.
We’ve all heard it’s not healthy to live in the past. But touching the past, re-visiting it, can stir our soul and remind us of lessons we learned and help us reconnect with things that are important to us.
Every May First, since 1982, I have traveled back over the beginning miles of my solo horseback journey of 39 years ago.
The First of May has had significant meaning to me ever since my animals and I set out on our cross-country trek. When the very first anniversary of that departure rolled around, I had only been home a few months since the completion of the trip. I felt like a lost soul. I didn’t really know where I belonged. The nomadic, outdoor life had grown into more than a journey, it had become a way of life for me. I understood that riding and living outdoors and on the road was not something I could or should do forever, but it was not clear to me where to go from there. So, I did the one thing that always seemed to give me balance and clarity. I saddled up my horse Rainy, and with my dog Gypsy, rode to a spot I knew called Gregory’s Flat—a clearing off a trail with flat land along the creek—where we camped for the night.
As time went on, I eventually adjusted and moved forward, as is usually the way. But that first anniversary ride and camp out steadied me. It reminded me that I always felt direction and solace around the animals and outdoors, and it was the furthering of the lessons I’d learned on our cross-country journey.
The following year, when May First came, I did the same thing, and again for several more years after that. It became my own tradition. I learned to surround myself with what I loved, and though my life eventually became far from wild or adventurous, I managed to keep one foot firmly planted in the world of nature.
As time went on, I had a family and no longer took Rainy and camped on May First, though he and I would always ride out. The tradition grew and became a part of my life like a holiday or any other long-honored ritual. In recent years, when that date rolls around, I ride in the morning, then go for a drive. Sometimes I go as far as Amish country and meet with old friends I met on my journey. Often, I roam the back roads and hike at some of the places we rode and camped all those years ago. I pay close attention to what is around me and how it makes me feel.
What it makes me feel is connected. It reminds me how beautiful it is to spend an entire May day (or several) free and wandering. When I see the steep winding roads where I started my trip with Rainy and Gypsy all those years ago, I am reminded once again how incredible Rainy was, and how blessed we were on that journey.
This year, 2021, has been an extra special time to revisit these places, as that horseback adventure has come to the forefront of my life again with the release of my book, DISTANT SKIES: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY ON HORSEBACK. It was also a timely reminder for me. Because though the farms and back roads I visited did not disappoint with their beauty, this May First, at certain spots along the way a memory would come back to me, and many of those early day’s memories are about how hard the beginning of my trip was, what a difficult adjustment it was for me to walk away from “normal life” and put myself out on a limb, both physically and emotionally. It’s good to be reminded that beginnings are not always easy, even when you are doing something of your own choosing. Maybe even more so when it’s following a dream. Because you’ve followed that dream for a reason and sometimes the reason can seem difficult or out of reach. I started out on that long ago horse trip to find freedom and joy and to ride and to be outside. I had all that, and it was still difficult.
Here’s why I am sharing this with other horse people. Because like normal life, our “horse lives” are full of all kinds of beginnings. Horse people seem to be kind of a forward-thinking bunch and are usually up to a new challenge. The first canter, the first jump, trying a new discipline, sitting on a young horse for the first time, returning to riding as an adult after a long time away. The list of how many new beginnings there are with horses could go on and on. I’m going through a version of that right now. I have a new horse and she’s proving to be a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.
Heading out on the old steps of our cross-country journey was a good reminder to me that though beginnings are not always easy, they are often worth the effort. If you believe in yourself and in the goal you are pursuing, if it’s the right time and place and the right challenge for you, you will adjust, and it will be worth it…whether it’s a new horse or a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Whenever I visit them, those Pennsylvania trails and hills remind me of important lessons I learned there: You can handle whatever comes up. You’re doing this because it’s the path to what you want. And that when things get hard, you just keep going.
So whether you find yourself facing a new challenge or if you just need a way to “center,” as they call it, consider taking a page from my little tradition and head outside. Whether it’s by foot or by horseback or driving on a country road, there’s something cleansing and clarifying about wandering. Even if it’s just to get out and think and appreciate where you are. Here in the Northeast, for a little while in May, the air smells like lilacs, the creeks are full and flowing, and the birdsong is incredible. No matter the reason, it’s just good to get out there. And maybe you’ll find in yourself a new resolve and new ideas for whatever challenge (horse life or otherwise) you are about to take on.
One of our favorite things at TSB is when our amazing and inspiring authors connect. What better than to see the people we know, admire, learn from, and care about find common ground in their love for the horse? That’s what happened with our friend and author, Jane Savoie, who we lost to cancer in January this year, and our friend and author Lynn Palm. They appreciated and learned from each other over many years as they both wrote several books, taught thousands of people, and strove to teach riders how to be the equestrians they want to be–whether just riding at home or competing at the highest levels.
Lynn wrote this moving tribute to Jane, and we asked if we might share it with you:
We will all miss the spirit, talent, teaching ability, inspiration, honesty, and passion for horses that was Jane Savoie.
I first met Jane on the phone, and I was so impressed with her positive energy. An international “queen” of dressage (though she never acted like it), she reached out to interview me on classical training for a series of cross-training books she was writing. [Editors Note: These would later be bound together in what is today JANE SAVOIE’S DRESSAGE 101.] Jane had learned that I did hunters, Western riding, and driving (to produce “All-Around” horses) with my Quarter Horses. She was the first in the dressage world to recognize the I was using dressage training with my horses. She sent me her first book to read: THAT WINNING FEELING!, and I read it before my next Quarter Horse Congress competition. I was amazed how I could turn every negative thought in my mind before competition into a positive. I succeeded more than I expected that year and became a Jane Savoie follower from then on! When she asked me to write the foreword for her first cross-training book, I was honored!
As I collected all Jane’s books and always found new things to learn in them–for my horses or students or my own riding–I asked Jane to be a part of three events I created under the name Women Luv Horses. I hosted them in North Carolina, California, and Florida. I asked Jane, along with the top women trainers, competitors, and instructors in the dressage, reining, working cow horse, barrels, and English/Western All-Around disciplines to join me. Jane’s classes were always the best attended and always kept the audience mesmerized. Not only did Jane bring positive education to equine enthusiasts, she brought fun as she shared her passion of understanding the horse.
I will always remember my lessons on tempi changes with Jane as we prepared my Rugged Painted Lark for his bridleless exhibitions at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. She could articulate her teaching so that it was easy to understand, and she could always come up with an exercise to improve a goal. I remember that straightness of the forehand gives the perfect balance I needed for the tempi changes to be more consistent. I hear her in my mind many times when I ride!
We will all miss Jane. I know that she will continue to ride with all the thousands of people who followed her, as I know she rides with me nearly every day.
Love you Jane. Thanks for all you have done for people and horses!
I first met Jane Savoie when I was 19. I was home from college and looking for a horse job to counter the nights I spent waitressing. Jane needed a groom. She had Eastwood, aka “Woody,” then–a big chestnut with lots of chrome.
It was a long time ago but certain moments are still incredibly clear in my memory: Jane and I standing side by side outside Woody’s stall, watching him, curled up like a big dog, napping. Jane, all business, firmly correcting my mistakes as I learned to meet her high standards for her horse’s care and turnout. Jane, with her sweet dog, Emma, power-walking along the trail that ran behind the barn as I bathed Woody in the sunny wash stall.
By that summer of 1997, Jane had already competed as a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team and written a book, THAT WINNING FEELING!, which was published by Trafalgar Square Books in 1992. She was hard at work on a new project–what would become Cross-Train Your Horse: Books One and Two (and later JANE SAVOIE’S DRESSAGE 101)–writing and rewriting her words with the help of publisher Caroline Robbins, striving to provide a truly clear how-to description of every basic dressage movement. Her aim to empower the amateur rider would become a driving force later in her life as the educational materials she was moved to create multiplied.
More recent memories of Jane are clear, too: Laughing with her and her husband, Rhett, as she related stories from the road over dinner in Wellington. Watching her dance lesson in a slick Florida studio, sensing her absolute commitment to every step. Visiting her when she first got sick, walking with her and our Managing Director Martha Cook, and brainstorming “what’s next?”
During an early treatment for her rare form of blood cancer, Jane had to stay in isolation. Never one to be idle, she decided to finish recording the audio version of her sport psychology book IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS from her hospital bed. “It is so easy to lose yourself in the physically excruciating process of battling back from illness or injury,” she said in her introduction to the audiobook. “I realized, as I forced myself to walk, IV rattling beside me, the 40 laps around the nurse’s station that would mean I’d gone a mile, that it was techniques I talk about in this book—those habits formed over a lifetime—that got me out of bed and placing one foot in front of the other, determined to get strong enough to go home.”
That was in 2016. We were all incredibly lucky she was so determined. Jane’s fight and drive, the building blocks of “her” that helped her attain her riding goals, against the odds, gave her the strength to stay with us another four years, against the odds. We had a chance to share more laughs; we had a chance to watch her dance.
Receiving the call last week, being told she was gone, was an unbelievable blow to all of us at Trafalgar. THAT WINNING FEELING! was one of the first horse books published by Caroline; it was one of the first books Martha worked on when she came to TSB after college. Jane and her passionate, innovative ideas are an integral part of the foundation for what our small company has become. But more profound is the vast impact a friendship of 30 years has–how Jane’s evolution, my evolution, and Martha’s and Caroline’s, were all interwoven. Losing a piece of that is losing a piece of ourselves.
When I first met Jane, at 19, I had no idea she would become such a force in my life. I guess we can never know that about the people we meet. But aren’t we lucky when it happens.
–Rebecca Didier, Managing Editor
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.
One of the things we have been incredibly thankful for during this strange year is the contact we have been able to maintain, albeit virtually, with the TSB authors with whom we are so lucky to work. But in the midst of editorial, production, or the initial marketing push for a new book, we don’t often have time to trade details about our daily lives. So when Dr. Stacie Boswell, author of THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR HORSES IN NEED, shared 24 hours of her life as a vet in 2020, we loved getting this chance to peek into her typical day on the job as a rural vet. And OH MY GOSH we learned so much!
5:00 am I’m trying hard to be awake.
Even my dogs are not awake yet. Peso El Guapo is still cuddled under his blanket on the bed. He doesn’t move when I get up, but Tia gets up off her dog bed and follows me. We found Peso while out trail riding, and I kept him because he has a severe heart problem that will shorten his lifespan considerably. Tia is pathologically attached to me. I acquired her as a job hazard from working in mixed animal practice. She was morbidly obese, weighing in at 30.8 lbs. Her previous owner brought her in to be euthanized because she couldn’t walk. For a year we worked on diet and exercise, and she now stays a much healthier 11 lbs. She has lots of extra skin, but also significantly more pep in her step.
It’s early dawn gray right now, and while I make some coffee, I watch my two yearling mules chase a mule deer doe and fawn across our pasture. This morning, I have three recommendations to write for capable young women applying for admission to veterinary school. Like many people who write, this early time of day is my best time. My brain isn’t crowded yet, and the quiet in the house is advantageous for my focus. I want my recommendees to succeed, so I definitely want to write the best possible letters that I can.
6:30 am The other dogs are finally up. It’s exciting — breakfast!! I also wake my husband, Sid, and get ready for work.
7:30 am And we’re off!!!! My appointments begin. During COVID-19, veterinary practices have been extremely busy. We aren’t sure why this is the case, but it may be that people are home observing their pets (or stressing them out), or that veterinarians are more welcoming and feel safer than human hospitals. The New York Times wrote about this topic in August.
Most of my morning appointments are vaccines or minor problems, but I feel like I’m early in the marathon of the day and I’m already trying to catch my breath. We are doing curbside service to reduce client and staff possible exposure to COVID-19, and that also adds a layer of challenge to communication, and an additional time commitment to each appointment.
10:30 am Yep, now we begin to rearrange the day to accommodate true emergencies. A very nice but worried mom drops off her seven-year-old daughter’s cat, Princess Jingles. Princess Jingles has been vomiting for about a week, and although she is still eating, she has lost a significant amount of weight. About a year ago, she vomited some hair ties, but recently it’s been mostly food and bile. Princess Jingles is a cute, long-haired calico cat. I palpate her, and in the cranial (forward) portion of her abdomen, I can feel a lump that shouldn’t be there. The cat mews—she’s uncomfortable. Apparently, I make a face that’s obvious even with my mask on; my assistant asks, “What are you feeling?” I’m worried that it’s hair ties (again) in Princess Jingles’s stomach. I call her owner and discuss doing X-rays.
11:30 am X-rays are done. For sure there is something in the cat’s stomach that shouldn’t be there. There is also a small area in the colon that is suspicious. These are outlined in the yellow arrows on the X-ray below.
I’m a large-animal surgeon but really love all surgery. An abdominal exploratory will be necessary for Princess Jingles. I always think of this procedure like it is a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get.” That makes it fun for me. This time, I’m pretty sure it will be hair ties. I call my afternoon appointments and rearrange my day to accommodate the procedure. One of my colleagues is gracious enough to take over an overlapping early afternoon appointment.
12:30 pm I finish my morning appointments, and our wonderful technicians get everything set up and ready for surgery.
1:00 pm Princess Jingles is anesthetized and “on the table.” My practice has a visiting fourth-year veterinary student, Alyssa, getting some hands-on real-world experience. She scrubs in with me, and it is so nice having an extra set of capable hands who can retract the stomach as I cut it open and extract tenhair ties and two pieces of yarn. After removing the foreign objects, I close the cat’s stomach. All the other bowel and internal organs are evaluated. There is another hair tie in the colon, but I avoid opening the dirty, bacteria-filled colon during surgery and instead massage the hair tie as far toward the “exit” as I can.
1:40 pm I close the deepest layer of the incision, and then pass the finish off to capable Alyssa. I call Princess Jingles’s people with an update. They are relieved and happy to hear that surgery went smoothly.
Post-operatively, we take two more X-rays to make sure we removed everything. I know from surgery that I did, but I also want to show Alyssa and our other future veterinarians what a “pneumoabdomen” (air in the abdominal cavity) looks like, so the X-rays are a learning opportunity.
We give Princess Jingles an enema to remove that final hair tie. It’s the pink one!
2:30 pm I work on finishing a little paperwork while scarfing cheese and crackers for lunch.
3:00 pm I start my afternoon with horses. Today, I am seeing Bronwynn, a Warmblood mare I’ve seen since she was a foal. She is now six years old. I see her about twice a year, and every time she has grown larger. I think she is about 17 hands at this point. I really love getting to know my clients and their animals over time.
Bronwynn’s person, Joella, really wanted a lovely Warmblood for dressage, and so she bred the mare she had (Bronwynn’s dam). A caretaker was looking after her pregnant mare, but something went wrong, and when Bronwynn was born, the filly was found stuck and frozen in the mud shortly after birth, and was severely hypothermic with a core body temperature of 87oF (normal foal body temperature should be 100oF to 102oF).
The areas of skin injury from the frostbite Bronwynn suffered are now scars. Because of her injury, her right hind leg is somewhat weaker and not as conformationally correct as her left hind, so keeping her foot balanced is challenging. Today I am taking X-rays of her feet to help optimize her hoof trims and keep her foot as straight and balanced as possible.
4:30 pm My next appointment is Jennifer, who is bringing in her new off-the-track Thoroughbred, Mike. She was able to come in now instead of her originally scheduled time of 2:00 pm. Jennifer runs a boarding facility and has quite a few horses of her own. She ended up with Mike after his racing-career-ending injury. He’s a sweet horse, and she hopes to make a trail horse out of him.
Mike’s left front foot is more upright, with a small scar and marks from freeze-firing. This information tells me that the left forelimb has some chronic pain and lameness problems.
Freeze-firing has replaced pin-firing (which used heat) as a treatment for bowed tendons, bucked shins, or splint problems. The use of pins makes scars, which can be seen on the skin overlying the injury. Advocates for the procedure use a different depth and pattern of firing for different primary injuries.
The theory is that the counter-irritation of the firing speeds the healing of the primary problem. It was first used in about 500 AD, and even then there were doubts about its efficacy. Now, 1,500 years later, there is very little science-based evidence for it, and it is not taught in veterinary curricula in the United States. Many veterinarians frown upon its use as a treatment.
But back to Mike… although someone at the track took X-rays of his more recent injury, Jennifer doesn’t have access to them, and she wants to know if there is any healing. She knows the injury involves a right front sesamoid (the small bones at the back of the ankle or fetlock). She has managed Mike on stall rest for the last six to seven weeks.
I examine Mike, and he is baseline lame on his right forelimb. His range of motion of his fetlock is reduced by at least 50 percent. The X-rays show a fractured sesamoid bone. This bone serves as an attachment for the suspensory branches and is part of the boundary for the fetlock joint.
Small bones in the body are also generally termed “sesamoids.” They are located at joints and are embedded within a ligament, tendon, or muscle, and serve as a fulcrum over a joint. These include the navicular bone in horses’ feet, and the patella (also known as the “kneecap” in people). Humans have sesamoids in the joints of our knuckles and feet. When horses’ sesamoid bones are fractured, healing will not be apparent on X-rays because the bone fragments are always pulled apart by the stress of the suspensory ligament, which basically continually pulls the two bone pieces apart. This concept of healing holds true for the navicular and the patella as well, as they also get pulled in two directions.
Most likely, Mike had an injury of his left forelimb. He then compensated by over-using his right forelimb, which resulted in his right forelimb not holding up. A fractured sesamoid with concurrent damage to the suspensory ligament is one stage of breakdown injury in racehorses. Jennifer and I talk at length about a variety of treatment options and costs. Ideally, the smaller bone fragment at the top of the sesamoid should be removed arthroscopically. It sounds like a previous veterinarian had also talked to Jennifer about trying to repair the facture (which could involve a screw or a wire and would be much more difficult and expensive), or simply resting (which she has already done, and won’t actually repair the primary damage).
6:00 pm I started my day helping future veterinary students with recommendation letters. As my day begins to wind down, I will say goodbye to Kayla—she is starting veterinary school on Monday. We are sad to see her go but already so proud of her future.
7:30 pm At the end of the day, I have a euthanasia at home for a 31-year-old horse whose people are also aging out of horses and horse care. Montana has some tough weather in the winter, making it extremely difficult for an older horse with dysfunctional knees to make it through the snow. He also has dysfunctional teeth, and making wet mashes to feed him in the winter here, as you can imagine, quickly ends up as popsicles. It’s not winter yet, but these nice folks have re-homed their two younger horses and don’t want their beloved old man to be alone when the others leave the farm this weekend.
I have a 35-minute drive from my office, so I take my dear husband, Sid, as my technician. It’s been busy, so I haven’t seen him much this week, and I’d like a chance to talk to him and catch up. Sid only knows how to tech for nighttime emergencies such as down horses, colics, and euthanasias. Lacerations are tougher…the blood makes him queasy.
I pick him up and call to coordinate with the local company that takes care of burial and cremation options for pets.
Sid and I arrive just before the person who will pick up the old horse’s body. I hug the wife and console the husband. I then sedate their horse. When I give the final injection, he goes down quietly. I then cut his tail to wash and braid with ribbon so his people can remember his long life and the good times they had together. They really loved him.
10:00 pm We arrive back home. Tia is ecstatic to see us. After a quick dinner, I fall into bed. Peso is already there underneath his blanket.
I hope I can get some writing done tomorrow morning!
In June of 2020, TSB released a book that, as lifelong horse people, we feel is a game-changer. In HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN, brain scientist and horsewoman Janet Jones uses plain language to explore the differences and similarities between equine and human ways of negotiating the world. Mental abilities—like seeing, learning, fearing, trusting, and focusing—are discussed from both human and horse perspectives. Things you might have intuitively understood about your horse, like the fact that he’ll spook at a garden hose (as one example), are now examined through the lens of how the equine brain functions. Other things you might have long puzzled over, like why he spooks at the same garden hose every time he sees it, are finally broken down into understandable reasons for behavior you can address in fair and safe ways.
HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN is changing horsemanship, worldwide. Rights have already been sold to Germany, Japan, and Poland, as more people are hearing about the knowledge of brain science that can be easily applied to their equine activities, immensely improving their handling, training, and riding, whatever their skill level, whatever their discipline.
“The book the horse world has been waiting for.” TIK MAYNARD, author of In the Middle Are the Horsemen
We recently caught up with author Janet Jones and asked her a little about her book, as well as what she hopes equestrians will gain from it.
TSB: Your book HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN uses plain language to explain the differences in how the horse’s brain functions versus the human brain. When did it become clear to you that understanding equine perception and brain function was integral to sound horsemanship?
JJ: It became most clear during the unplanned dismounts, especially in that moment between leaving the saddle and hitting the ground.
TSB: You relate a story of a fall as a teenage rider that resulted in bouts of amnesia that lasted for years, noting that this experience is what led you to the world of brain science. What was it about that period following the fall that made you want to know more, so much so that you eventually taught the subject at the collegiate level?
JJ: Wow, I must have banged my head really hard to have set brain science as my teenage goal.
TSB: You share many eye-opening realities related to the horse’s senses in your book. Which is the one that you or your horsemanship was most changed by once you had learned it?
JJ: The horse’s amazing double-sense of smell, which we humans tend to ignore completely because we don’t have one.
TSB: You speak convincingly of what the term “horsemanship” should mean in your book. It has long been called “the art of horsemanship,” and many would argue or acknowledge that emotion and intuition play a significant role in our day-to-day dealings with our horses. How should this traditional view of horsemanship be changed by the science you explore?
JJ: Emotion and intuition are still very important; we just need to add brain science to them. Science helps to drive the desire to put the horse first, which is my definition of true horsemanship. Once we realize the huge differences in how horses and humans experience the world, we can feel empathy for our animals and try to help them understand how the human world works.
TSB: What is one lesson you hope readers will take away from your book?
JJ: Don’t poke the bear!
TSB: Just before your book was published, you acquired a three-year-old Dutch Warmblood, who you are starting using brain-based training methods (and blogging about on your website). What inspired you to starting a young horse now, and what are your goals with this new and exciting project?
JJ: Working with young green horses is my version of taking a nap on a rainy day; it’s pure pleasure. I’m fascinated by the way they think. My primary goals are to 1) stay on, 2) avoid spins, bolts, and bucks, 3) earn the horse’s trust, and 4) did I mention stay on?
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?
JJ: Oh, such a hard question! If forced, I guess I’d have to choose a tall hot leggy Thoroughbred and a blank book so I could write about him in it.
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
JJ: Find the invisible “Perfect” button.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
TSB: What is your greatest fear?
JJ: That someone will make me choose only one horse and one book on a desert island.
TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?
JJ: That’s easy: $$$horses$$$. Books are a close second, but they cost less to feed.
TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
JJ: I’m full of faults and flaws, but I am me. For that reason only, I wouldn’t change a thing.
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
JJ: Ice wraps.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
JJ: To be with the people and animals who love me and whom I love. Also, not to have to decide between “who” and “whom.”
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
JJ: Secretariat. Okay, he’s not a person, but what a story he could tell.
TSB: If you could go back to December 2019 and go one place anywhere in the world with as many or as few people as you would like, where would you go, who would you bring, and what would you do?
JJ: I would go to a warm ocean with my best friend. We would ride beautiful horses and swim the waves every morning, laugh all afternoon (between reading and naps), and enjoy good dinners together every evening. After a week of that, I’d be ready to go home and write more books.
TSB: What is your motto?
JJ: If your Nerve deny you— Go above your Nerve—” (Emily Dickinson, 1862)
We’re celebrating fathers this weekend. Thank you to eventer, trainer, horseman, and author of IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN Tik Maynard for this original essay.
God, I’m turning into my dad. I forget where I put the car keys, my wallet. I wear riding pants to the grocery store. I can’t find the milk—it’s right in front of me! I only listen to music I know the words to. My wife has to repeat herself.
Every year my dad hears my mum less and less. Recently she spent weeks deliberating how to tactfully suggest he go in for a hearing test. “Maybe he just needs a hearing aid?” she said. “It’s his happiness I’m worried about,” she explained.
After the test, the doctor sat my dad down.
“So your wife says you don’t hear her anymore?”
Dad, a little embarrassed: “That’s what she says.”
Doctor: “Well, Rick, I don’t know what you’re going to tell her…. Your hearing is fine.”
My parents met in 1957. My mother was eleven. My dad was fifteen. They both grew up in Southlands, a neighborhood in Vancouver. They both loved horses. My mother took lessons at his grandparents’ farm. (His parents, and grandparents, rode; hers did not.) Recently I asked my mother about how they met:
“Rick was getting into trouble (rolling cars with his girlfriend, amongst other things) so he and his parents [Rick is an only child] moved back in with his grandparents. That’s when I started getting to know Rick better, but as I was fourteen and he was eighteen, and he had a steady girlfriend, there were no expectations on my part. But we used to go up the UBC trails a lot, and at one point, as we were galloping along the beach at Spanish banks, he said, ‘You are so much more fun than Sally!’ So I guess that is when I started getting a bit of a crush.
“That was how we met. How he proposed is funny, too. I was about eighteen, and he was twenty-two. We did a lot of fun stuff together: riding up trails; hikes; swimming; flying around the province in the two-seater Luscombe that was provided by Pitt Meadows Flying Club. It was Valentine’s Day, I forget the year, probably 1965 or ’66, and we went canoeing on the Squamish River. It was kind of cold and rainy and neither of us really had canoeing skills. We started to go sideways and hit a bridge overpass and capsized. The river was shallow enough that we could stand up and drag the canoe to shore. Rick’s movie camera got soaked. We aborted the trip and went home. He lit a fire and we got warmed up. At that point he produced the ring which had been in his pocket the whole day waiting for the romantic moment! But that was years before we actually got married, in 1968. We picked the date of August 29 because Gramps was the official photographer at the Pacific National Exhibition Horse Show, and in those days the PNE was divided into three sections. Your horse had to stay for the whole section, and in between there was a ‘changeover day’ where the horses went out, and the next section of horses came in. On that day there was no photographer needed, so Gramps had the day off. August 29, 1968, was changeover day at the PNE. And Gramps was the official photographer at our wedding.”
This August that will be fifty-two years.
My parents, like most couples I assume, but don’t know for sure, argued. Sometimes with my mother losing her patience. Often with my father leaving the room. But never once in my entire life did I hear the words “breakup” or “divorce.” Their relationship gave me a powerful faith in marriage, loyalty, and family.
My faith in our “family unit” was so strong it might be called blind—and this ability to weather any storm, together, is what I want to give my own family and son.
Photo courtesy of Tik Maynard
My dad also gave me a love for animals. Far beyond that, he gave me an empathy for animals. He became a vegetarian in 1959, before it became a big fad in Vancouver. And I was born a vegetarian. I eat dairy and fish, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have tried red meat. (What we are doing to the oceans has convinced me to be more careful about fish now, too.)
I can’t imagine it was easy for my dad to tell his parents and his friends he had given up meat. Today he is just as strong in his convictions. This is how it began, again in my mother’s words:
“In 1959 Rick was living in Maple Ridge on a farm. He was in Pony Club and was selected for the Inter-Pacific Rally in Australia. The other two team members were Tom Gayford, and I think Jim Elder, but I’m not sure about that. They both flew to Australia, but the Maynards had no money, so Rick got passage on a freighter. [The MV King Arthur, carrying lumber, on the way there. The SS Suva, with a load of Sugar from Fiji, on the way back]. I think it took six weeks to get there. Anyhow, some time before he left they got a couple of piglets. Higgledy and Wiggles. ‘Large Pink’ or ‘Yorkshire’ animals. When Rick came back from Australia they were in the freezer! Trauma!”
So my Dad was seventeen when he made this seemingly small decision to act on his own beliefs rather than those of the society around him. But that decision has caused me, and many others that have met my dad, to question their own beliefs. My dad still remembers those pigs. They were intelligent. Each had a character unique to them. And both were “pink with lovely floppy ears.”
For my father to imagine an animal suffering is for him to suffer as well.
I try to carry that thoughtfulness into my career with horses. This started me down the road of learning “natural horsemanship,” and then to understanding “positive reinforcement,” and now to new ideas where I see the similarities between horses, dogs, children, even myself.
My dad taught me to ride; now it is my lifestyle and career, the same as it is for him. And my dad taught me all that by never telling me what to do.
My dad always speaks to me as if I understand. He always listens to my opinion. He lets me make mistakes. He taught me at home but always encouraged me to take lessons and clinics from other professionals. My dad has attended over 250 clinics, and he has gotten “…at least one very useful idea out of every one.”
I cannot imagine a more humble student of equestrianism than my father. He has coached riders that have gone on to Grand Prix and the Olympics. Recently he has been approached about coaching show jumping for the Canadian Modern Pentathlon Team at the next Olympics. (He has already coached that team at the Olympics twice!) Yet still, at every clinic, he makes notes. Lately he has come to some of my clinics, and he watches and asks questions.
In the words of Canadian show jumping team rider Brian Morton: “ Rick has been the most incredible mentor and father figure in my life. He is a man that first and foremost leads by example. Rick is one of the most naturally talented riders I’ve ever seen. He had and has the ability to win in great style on every type of horse, in every type of event. I got the pleasure to watch Rick win many times, however I’m not sure I can ever recall a boastful moment from him. He is always the first person to give credit to the horse, or to the groom or to whoever it may be that he felt contributed to his success on that day. Rick was my coach and mentor for many years, and if I won a class he was very happy for me. However, if managed to demonstrate the values of humility, perseverance, sportsmanship and patience that he holds so dear, those were the moments that I felt he was the proudest of me”
Dad, I have learned empathy, and commitment to my family from you. You have instilled in me an unrelenting-thirst-for-improvement. Sinead says I am still working on humility.
Thanks for inspiring me, Dad. Happy Fathers Day!
Rick and Brooks Maynard, photo courtesy of Tik Maynard.
Horseman Tik Maynard is the author of the bestselling IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN, available in print and digital formats from the TSB online bookstore.
We’re celebrating moms this weekend. Thank you to eventer, trainer, horseman, and author of IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN Tik Maynard for this original essay.
Tik and his mother Jen. Photo courtesy of Rick Maynard.
My mother walks into the bank, where she has banked since she was six years old. She waits in line, shuffling her feet. She studies the patrons, alert for gossip. The teller is frowning at a young girl who keeps repeating, “I don’t think so,” and then scrolls through her phone.
My mother huffs at cars that drive too fast, puffs at cars that drive too slow. She can’t teach riding, like my dad and I do, because she doesn’t “understand why they just don’t get it.” And if you are not a Democrat (in Canada a Green or NDP, or maybe a Liberal, if it is a year to vote strategically), you don’t have a prayer.
After ten minutes Mum walks up to the counter. The teller wears wire-rimmed glasses and is nearing retirement. She takes a deep breath then looks up at my mother. As Mum opens her mouth to say something, the teller speaks first. “Piss off,” she hisses.
My mother rocks back. Her eyes widen. And then she laughs. The teller smiles. They giggle. She feels honored that she is the kind of woman who can take a joke.
Mum will give it, but she can take it too. She loves that kind of thing. My mother teaches me to not take myself too seriously.
Photo courtesy of Rick Maynard.
When I’m home in Canada we play Scrabble. Mum usually wins, which is frustrating because I want to win more than she does. She just likes getting a lot of points—the 50-point bonus for using all seven letters in her hand, or putting an X or a J on a triple-letter score. She is an expert at the small words: ZUZ, QAT, XI, XU, QI, KA, ZA, AA.
I lay down “LIB” across, which adds an “L” to “AB” to make ”LAB.”
“Great words, Tik!”
She does the math. “You’re only 85 points behind,” she says sincerely.
My mother reminds me to keep enjoying things for their own sake.
I wonderwho else banters. It drives my dad crazy. It pushes my wife to the edge. But my mother and I can’t get enough of it.
“You shouldn’t talk on the phone while you drive.”
“It’s legal in Florida.”
“Legality is not the same as intelligence.”
“Are you calling me stupid? Because stupidly is mostly genetic.”
Photo courtesy of Rick Maynard.
“If you are going 60 miles an hour and look down at your phone for two seconds, that is like going the length of a football field without looking up.”
“Did you know 80 percent of statistics are made up on the spot?”
My mother looks at me.
“Mum, I’m just saying, did you do the math on that?”
“We can figure it out right now…”
“And have you ever compared the reaction times of someone in their thirties to some in their eighties?”
“I was born in 1946.”
“So you haven’t?”
It’s like eating potato chips. We can’t stop.
My wife Sinead and I have a little joke where we like to give each other backhanded compliments. We decided to let my mum in on the game this year and sent her a gift with this written on the card:
What some might call stubborn and overbearing we see as strong-willed and filled with love. Happy Mother’s Day, from Tik, Sinead, and Brooks
My mother taught me to appreciate stories and literature. She taught me the names of constellations and how to grow tomatoes and that science is a method and not a discipline.
She taught me to question authority. (Entirely by example.)
My mother made me realize that we are all paradoxes. We are all hypocritical. She taught me that loving someone and understanding someone are not the same thing. My mother drives me crazy.
My mother taught me to love strong women.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Photo by Patricia Dileo.
You don’t have to be from a different generation to be a strong woman. Take Sinead, for example. This will be her second Mother’s Day as a mother. Our son Brooks, about 20 months old, asked me to write a few words for him:
I watch Mummy make me breakfast. I watch her make me lunch. I watch her make me dinner. When my diaper needs to be changed she can make that happen too: She says “Oh, Daddy. Your turn for a bit…”
Sometimes I cry, but when I see Mummy, I know it will be okay.
Mummy teaches me things: “Dogs go ‘Woof-woof.’ Cows go ‘Moooo.’ Auntie Meg goes ‘Ca-caw, Ca-caw.’”
Brooks and Sinead. Photo by Patricia Dileo.
Mummy reads me books like Giraffes Can’t Dance. She makes a joke about Daddy, but I think he is a good dancer. “Well, he is enthusiastic,” Mummy says. I don’t understand most of the book, but I point at the things I recognize and make noises.
When Mummy sits with me on the couch I feel like a prince. Sitting with Mummy is special; not everyone gets to sit with Mummy.
Mummy rides horses. I see her with them, and she is focused and calm. It is difficult to be focused and calm.
I like hugging Mummy. Mostly I just hug her legs, but when she picks me up and hugs me that is the best.
Dads. What a marvelous invention. My own repaired fence, stacked hay, held horses, and drove the antique trailer he’d found for next to nothing to countless 4-H shows, all so I could be a horse girl. Pretty sure, looking back, there were plenty of other things he would have rather been doing, and better ways he probably could have spent his hard-earned money, but I don’t remember him ever complaining.
We tracked down some of our authors and asked them to share their memories of their fathers…or their own experiences being “Dad.” We’ll let them tell their own stories.
“When you are a child, ‘Dad’ is just that person who is always there to support and nurture you, to amuse and annoy you. He’s someone to turn to…and someone to stop you doing what you really want to do.
“When he is gone, you can put his life in perspective and see how important he was to you and what he was as a person. I am grateful for everything my father did for me and my sister, and now I can understand his legacy and achievements.
“I was lucky—as long as I can remember my dad worked from home, so he was always around, and I could see what work he was doing in the studio. I thought, how great to spend your life drawing and painting, doing something that you enjoy. As I appreciate now, he gave joy and laughter to so many people, for so long. That is something few people ever achieve.”
Norman Thelwell at work in his studio. Photo courtesy of David Thelwell.
“My dad was 99 when he passed away last year. He served in the Second World War, was a stockman, and loved the Outback. He had a lot of very funny statements. One of my favorites was, whenever we complained about working outside in the heat, ‘Well, if you worked a little faster, you would create your own breeze.’
“This Father’s Day, I will be thinking about my hero. He is a chinook helicopter pilot flying regular nightly missions in Afghanistan. He is not there to cause anyone harm, but rather is there to help his comrades of all nationalities and provide cultural stability to a torn country. He is the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate ‘warrior’ that I have ever known. He is my hero as well as my son. How can Father’s Day get better than that?”
Ben Grisel is second from right. Photo courtesy of Dr. Bob Grisel.
“When I was a young girl my father and I would enjoy fishing together on his boat. A day on the Essex River was full of fish (and sometimes eels and rays!), lobster retrieval, and driving the boat while he gave you a lesson on ‘red right return.’ Much like our riding sessions, he was a humoristic drill sergeant! He was a master at enlisting you to help launch the boat on the ramp, pull up the lobster pots, and be his ‘Number Two.'”
Jack Le Goff fishing with friends. Photo by Florence Le Goff.
“Being a father is the priority in my life right now. I aim to lead as an example for my boys to go forward as strong young men, to hold themselves with integrity, and to value others.
“I was so proud of my son Weston the other day when the hockey arena maintenance man told me he had never had a boy come up to him, shake his hand, and thank him after every ice time (which is at least four days a week). I was particularly touched because I never suggested to Weston that he should do this specifically, but just, in a general sense, to look out for the people around you who help you in some way…and thank them.
“This also made me begin to realize that in some ways my work as the guiding hand for a young man is coming to an end…soon we will stand alongside each other, and I will be in a new role as a father.”
“Several years ago I was teaching a 12-day clinic tour of Alaska and asked my father to join me for the trip. I’d work from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and then he and I would spend the rest of the day together, acting like tourists. At some point toward the middle of our trip, he asked if he could read my book RIDE RIGHT; he spent the next few days reading it from cover to cover. When finished I asked him what he thought. While I was expecting something along the lines of ‘Wonderful,’ or ‘Great,’ or ‘I’m so proud of you…’ he simply said, ‘So when are you going to write another?’ When I replied that I didn’t really plan on writing another book, he said I was crazy and that I had much more to teach than what he had read.
“So, long story short, I went straight home and started work on my second book. When I look back on that father-son trip, many memories come to mind, but none of them as inspirational as when he told me that I was crazy for not writing another book!”
“I often wonder what makes or forms our thoughts; why we feel what we feel, or why we do something for someone else instead of just for ourselves. This year I lost my dad, and although he is not with us anymore, he will always be in my heart. I am his legacy, in so many ways. From the the day I was born he was there for me. He taught me values that I passed on to my children. As a child I often thought, ‘Why is my dad so strict with me?’ only to realize many years later that he did what he did because he loved me and wanted me to be ready for this fast-moving world.
“I believe this should be the job of all of the fathers of this world. Love, protect, and teach your children what is right and what is wrong. Be role models to teach your children love and respect, and teach them to earn trust with fairness and kindness. It should be in each father’s instinct, to protect and provide, to teach and take care of their children and family, so they can survive when they someday lose their father.
“My dad taught us to try to always understand the ‘why’; to be independent with our thoughts; to become leaders and not lemmings; to understand that the person who knows the ‘how’ will always follow the person who understands the ‘why.’
“I am so lucky and happy to have such beautiful children with my wife. My children are truly beautiful—not only outside but more importantly, inside. I always spent as much time as I could with them in their early years—as much as my business travels allowed. Besides the evenings and weekends, I also took Tuesdays off. We called this ‘Family Day’ and spent it doing things together: skiing, swimming, playing board games, reading. In hindsight, children grow up so fast, I feel I should have spent way more time with them. I guess my dad and I are really alike…we live and breathe each day for our family. Nothing makes me more happy than to see such healthy, wonderful, and successful children, and to enjoy the wonderful memories of the time I have had with them. It’s a tribute to the way we brought them up that my kids still love to spend time with us, go on vacations with us, and call us from wherever they are in the world—almost daily.
“One of my many wishes I have as a dad is that my children will always have as wonderful a memory of me as I have of my dad. This year will be my first Father’s Day without him, and although he was just ‘buried’ at sea in the Baltic, I will never lose his love and guidance.”
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.