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!
In her book HORSES IN TRANSLATION, TSB author Sharon Wilsie shares true stories of how she discovered Horse Speak® and the early horses and horse people who benefited from learning it, too. A lifelong horsewoman and animal lover, Sharon had to break down all that she had learned in a traditional sense about how to handle and ride horses in order to open herself to the possibility that there was a better way for our two species to communicate. Namely, she pinpointed ways we can learn to talk to horses in their language instead of expecting them to understand ours.
In this short piece from HORSES IN TRANSLATION, Sharon tests the body language she’d been trying with her own herd with a rescued Mustang. We are given a front-row seat to a breakthrough conversation that has now yielded an entire language that can be incorporated into any training method and used with any breed of horse, in any discipline, with unbelievable results. Horse Speak changes everything.
I received a phone call from the director of a local horse rescue. They had a Mustang no one could do anything with. She knew I was taking time off but asked if I could just come take a look and maybe offer some advice. I hadn’t worked with any horses outside my own herd for several months at this point. But the request didn’t feel like an intrusion. Perhaps I was ready to re-enter the bigger picture.
Sure, I thought. Why not?
The little Mustang stood stoically at the back of his pen, which was attached to the barn and gave him entry to his own stall. He had buddies in pens and stalls on either side of him, but they were all separated due to specific injuries and frailties, and for the time being, needed to stay that way.
The little guy took one look at me and turned his butt toward me, dramatically and as a warning. I got it loud and clear.
Well, I thought. Here goes nothing!
I started to walk back and forth about 10 feet away from his pen, showing him all sides of me. Then I stopped and did an “Aw-Shucks” (looked down and scuffed my foot, asking him to take the pressure off).
The Mustang turned around and dropped his nose to the dirt (the horse version of Aw-Shucks) in about two seconds!
At the time, I wasn’t totally sure about the protocols yet, so I just stood there, licking and chewing with my mouth and lips. He reached his nose in the air toward me and sniffed three huffing breaths. I copied him, figuring he knew better than I did what came next. He then dramatically turned his head to the side, and so did I. Sniffing at me again, the Mustang again lowered his head, muzzle to the ground. I took it as an invitation to come over.
I scuffed my way to him in a very “O” position (rounded shoulders, hands together in front of my belly), and extended my arm with my hand in a fist and my knuckles up when I got close. (This “fist bump” was what I had been using in lieu of a nose to greet my horses.) He touched them lightly with his nose, and turned away, walking into his stall. The conversation seemed to be over.
I walked away to visit some of the other horses and came back a few minutes later. The Mustang was waiting for me at the fence, and he reached to touch my knuckles again. I had the old urge to pat his forehead, but this caused him to pin his ears and turn away. Oops. I hastily backed up and scuffed the ground with my toe. He responded by sniffing the ground again.
Then he began to walk slowly to the left, so I did too. I stopped when he stopped, and he seemed pleased. I was curious to see what would happen if I turned to the right, so I took a step. The little horse paused a good, long moment and then swung around, also moving to the right. I didn’t know what to do next, so I exhaled loudly. He started to yawn. It felt like time to take a nap, so I sat down in the dirt outside his pen. He cocked a hind leg and closed his eyes.
What would my horse Rocky do now? I wondered. (Rocky had been teaching me many of the Horse Speak protocols.) I thought of Rocky flopping his ears sideways and wiggling his lips. I couldn’t flop my ears, but I could wiggle my lips, so I did. The Mustang came out of his reverie and then flopped his ears and wiggled his lips, too. This caused another round of yawning. I took a deep breath, opening my floating ribs to allow in more air, and his lower belly took a Shuddering Breath and expanded, making him look fatter for a minute.
Not sure of what else to do, I stood up. He seemed to know I was at a loss, so he swished his tail at me and headed back inside his stall. I swished my hand down by my thigh in response, and he paused, looking over his shoulder at me, and swished his tail again while blowing out his nose.
I wasn’t sure what good this did the little Mustang, but I was over the moon! The volunteers who had been watching were full of questions, so I agreed to come back for a teaching day to go over some of the movements I had used and why.
I got another call the very next day: The Mustang had met a volunteer at the door of his stall in the morning, for the first time since he had arrived. He allowed a handler to place his halter on so he could go out to the bigger field.
The rescue director said he was much more relaxed—it seemed like he just suddenly “fit in.” I was thrilled—but surprised. How could one visit in which I hadn’t even touched him have caused such a change? Was I just lucky, or was this really happening?
The breakthroughs Sharon experienced with the rescued Mustang were only the beginning. Horse Speak is now practiced by thousands of horse people around the world, and Sharon’s third book ESSENTIAL HORSE SPEAK: CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION, is coming out this year.
We at TSB are simply thrilled to be the US publisher of Charlotte Dujardin’s autobiography THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE, which will be released in the States on Friday, March 16, 2018.
Charlotte Dujardin and her charismatic horse Valegro burst onto the international sports scene with their record–breaking performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The world was captivated by the young woman with the dazzling smile and her dancing horse. The YouTube clip of their Freestyle performance has since had over 1.7 million views, and Dujardin is considered the dominant dressage rider of her era. When Valegro (affectionately called “Blueberry”) retired from competition at the end of 2016, his farewell performance at the Olympia Grand Hall sold out and the dark bay gelding received a standing ovation.
Dujardin began riding horses at the age of two, but dressage was the domain of the rich–not the life a girl from a middleclass family was born into. Her parents sacrificed to give her as many opportunities as they could, and she left school at 16 to focus on equestrian competition. It was at 22, when she was invited to be a groom for British Olympian Carl Hester, that she met the equine partner that would change her fortune.
THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE shares this story, beginning with Charlotte’s early years restarting naughty ponies and following her equestrian evolution, which eventually led to the Olympic arena and gold medals, as she competed against the best in the world. Readers get an honest look at the road Charlotte took to reach the top, and along the way they gain an intimate understanding of who she is and why she and Valegro were able to connect with each other and develop such an unparalleled partnership.
There are many fascinating details readers learn in the pages of Charlotte’s autobiography. Here are 10 you probably (maybe) didn’t already know:
1 Charlotte grew up battling dyslexia, which led to anxiety at school. But as much as she feared a spelling test, as a child she was never nervous at a horse show. The bigger the crowd, the better. (That changed when she had to memorize dressage tests!)
2 Early in her development as a dressage rider, Charlotte struggled with her sitting trot. So she took up swimming to help develop her core strength, clocking in 50-70 lengths each morning before heading to the barn.
3 Charlotte wears false nails because she wants to disguise her “old lady hands” and arthritic knuckles from years of working and riding outside in the wet and cold.
4 At the barn where she rode with Carl Hester, there was a long concrete driveway that riders would walk the horses up before and after work, and when Charlotte first started at Carl’s, she would always try and finish schooling at the same time as him so they could ride up the driveway together and she could work up the courage to talk to him.
5 Charlotte never rode in a helmet at home and wore a top hat to show until she was bucked off into the wall of the arena one day and ended up in the hospital with a skull fracture. Now she schools and shows in a helmet.
6 Charlotte’s fiancé went to the horse show where they first met intending to find himself a girlfriend. He thought it a likely venue for available young women!
7 The first time Charlotte and Valegro competed against Carl was in a Prix St Georges class at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2009. Charlotte and Valegro won.
8 In 2010 Charlotte lost a bet (by winning a test with Valegro) and had to jump into a hot tub in her riding clothes.
9 Valegro loves performing. There are never monsters lurking in corners or waiting in the flowerpots to get him. He’s always focused and always reliable.
10 Before the Olympics in Rio, Charlotte had a feeling it should be Valegro’s final competition. She wanted him to finish at the top where everybody would remember him as the best horse there was. She didn’t want him to end his career as an older horse, not able to give what he once could. Retiring him while he was still at his best was what she felt was the right thing to do.
The first 100 people to order THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE from the Trafalgar Square Books online bookstore will receive an autographed copy! Plus, shipping in the US is FREE.
Olympian Ingrid Klimke is known for her positive horse training techniques, as well as her remarkable success in international competition. In this exercise from her forthcoming book TRAINING HORSES THE INGRID KLIMKE WAY, she provides a terrific challenge for the horse and rider who have mastered regular cavalletti work.
See if you are up to the challenge:
Position four trot cavalletti on one side of a circle and four canter cavalletti on the opposite side. Use cones to mark the point for two transitions: one upward to canter and one downward to trot.
Canter over the canter cavalletti, transition down to the trot precisely at the cone, and ride over the trot cavalletti. Then transition to canter with precision at the next cone. This must be schooled in both directions. You must always be looking ahead to the next cone or cavalletti.
This exercise speaks to all the valuable elements of cavalletti work and trains the horse’s entire musculature. The transitions reinforce throughness with willing cooperation and precise transitions at a distinct point. Maintaining longitudinal bend and going over the eight cavalletti on the circle are real strength-builders.
See how you do!
Some of the overall advantages of cavalletti work for the horse:
· Improves rhythm and balance in movement
· Strengthens the musculature
· Loosens the muscles (especially over the back)
· Improves long-and-low stretch
· Increases suppleness
· Improves surefootedness
· Increases expressiveness in the gaits
· Encourages cadence
· Builds concentration
· Improves motivation through independent thought
For those interested in engaging cavalletti work more intensively, Klimke wrote a book with her father, the renowned Reiner Klimke, called CAVALLETTI: FOR DRESSAGE AND JUMPING, and she has also produced an accompanying DVD. Both are available HERE.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.
Click image to read the entire Street to Stable Review.
The first reviews of George Morris’s highly anticipated autobiography UNRELENTING are coming in, and WOW are we excited!
“What lies between the pages of UNRELENTING is very, very good reading,” says Street to Stable Lifestyle. “As we know him, he is still the strongest personality in modern American show jumping. In UNRELENTING, he reveals both the vulnerability and strength that made him into the icon he is today. It is perhaps his bravest move yet.” (Read the full review HERE.)
“This compelling portrait of one of America’s most renowned horsemen will appeal to anyone who is entranced with the horse-show circuit and high-society culture,” says Library Journal. “Even readers who are less familiar with horses may enjoy the glimpse into life with the rich and famous.”
Now is your chance to get a copy of UNRELENTINGbefore it is available in stores! Order from TSB (CLICK HERE) anytime before February 22, 2016, and you’ll not only get George’s autobiography first, you’ll save 15% on the cover price and get FREE SHIPPING in the US!
Watch the book trailer here:
And click the image below to order your copy of UNRELENTING by George H. Morris with Karen Robertson Terry.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.
We’re packed and ready to head to Springfield, Massachusetts, for EA 2015. Join TSB this Thursday-Sunday, November 12-15, at the Eastern States Exposition, for fabulous clinics from top trainers, riders, and equine experts, as well as a terrific pre-holiday shopping experience. Stop by the TSB booth #846-847 in the Better Living Center for our perennial bestsellers like CENTERED RIDING by Sally Swift (which we published 30 years ago!); brand new titles, such as THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE, COWBOY DRESSAGE, and THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE; and great show specials like contests, sales, and a limited supply of TSB exclusive Fergus the Horse coffee mugs!
We’re thrilled to be there, along with six of our authors who are featured clinicians:
Dan James, one half of the famous Double Dan Horsemanship training duo and co-author of the forthcoming LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP, has clinics Saturday, November 14, at 9:30 am (Mallary South) and 4:15 pm (Coliseum), plus Sunday, November 15, at 11:15 am and 3:45 pm (both in the Coliseum).
Phillip Dutton, five-time Olympian with two gold medals and author of MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON with Amber Heintzberger, has clinics Saturday at 9:30 am and 1:15 pm, and Sunday at 9:30 am and 1:00 pm (all in the Coliseum), plus an “Ask the Expert” session at 4:00 pm on Saturday on the Seminar Stage in the Better Living Center.
Meet Phillip Dutton in person at the TSB booth #846-847 in the Better Living Center on Sunday at 2:00 pm! He’ll be answering questions and signing books.
Bernie Traurig, celebrated jumper rider and horseman, and creator of THE AMERICAN HUNTER/JUMPER FORWARD RIDING SYSTEM DVD SERIES, has a talk Thursday, November 12, at 10:00 am (Equine Fundamentals Forum/Mallary South), and clinics Thursday at 1:15 pm and 5:15 pm, and Friday, November 13, at 9:30 am and 1:00 pm (all in the Coliseum), plus an “Ask the Expert” session at 5:00 pm on Friday on the Seminar Stage in the Better Living Center.
Dr. Joyce Harman, veterinarian and saddle-fitting expert, and author of THE HORSE’S PAIN-FREE BACK AND SADDLE-FIT BOOK, is presenting Thursday at 2:00 pm (Seminar Stage/Better Living Center) and 5:00 pm (Demo Ring/Mallary North), and on Friday at 1:00 pm (Demo Ring/Mallary North) and 11:00 am and 6:00 pm (both on the Seminar Stage/Better Living Center). On Saturday she speaks at 10:00 am at the Equine Fundamentals Forum (Mallary South).
Dr. Allen Schoen, pioneer in integrative veterinary medicine and co-author of THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN with Susan Gordon, speaks on Saturday at 1:00 pm (Demo Ring/Mallary North) and on Sunday at 10:00 am (Seminar Stage/Better Living Center).
Meet Dr. Allen Schoen in person at the TSB booth #846-847 in the Better Living Center on Saturday at 2:00 pm and Sunday at 11:00 am! He’ll be answering questions and signing books.
We look forward to seeing you at Equine Affaire this weekend!
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.
“I have long been impressed with Yvonne Barteau,” writes Irene Michaels for the Huff Post. “Being over 50, she has inspired me to keep working hard on my horsemanship and has humbled me by the knowledge she is able to share. I am impressed by her dedication to her craft and also to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. She has built both a career and a loving home.”
Like Michaels and Redmond, we at TSB love the sense of fun Yvonne Barteau brings to the dressage ring, as well as her honest and heartfelt concern for the horses she works with. When in her company, her energy and positivity is tangible and contagious. And Barteau’s desire to share the beauty of the horse’s form and movement with others is apparent both in the competitive arena and in the creative exhibitions she performs with her family.
And enjoy this charming video of Barteau and her Grand Prix stallion “Ray”—you’ll see how they enjoy their time together, in and out of the ring, in front of an audience, or just out for a graze or a roll.
We’re happy to have TSB author, translator, and Masterson Method Practitioner Coralie Hughes discuss the idea of “balance” in the horse, providing insight and ideas from her experiences at a clinic with Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, as well as in her work with Jim Masterson and the Masterson Method of Equine Bodywork. Coralie and Jim’s new book THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED is due out in June 2015. CLICK HERE to add your name to the wait list to be notified as soon as its available!
Coralie Hughes and Jim Masterson discussing the painted horse from their new book THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED.
Having translated his book BALANCING ACT from German to English, I felt I understood Gerd Heuschmann’s equestrian philosophy pretty well. Attending a recent riding clinic of his and listening as he taught dressage riders of all levels to Grand Prix was still an extraordinary experience for me, both from the perspective of being a dressage rider myself and being a Masterson Method practitioner.
If you haven’t yet encountered Dr. Heuschmann of Germany, he is an accomplished dressage rider and trainer, a veterinarian and the individual who led the international charge against Rollkur (a flawed training practice used in all disciplines, English and Western, that brings the horse’s nose to the chest in the mistaken notion that the poll and the back will release, while actually accomplishing the opposite). Dr. Heuschmann is also a fan of the Masterson Method and loves to watch the horses release as Jim works.
To Dr. Heuschmann, what he does in his clinics is balance horses. He teaches the riders to ride with the sensitivity of seat and hand that allows the horse to free his back and poll. If the horse is ridden at the tempo and rhythm that is most comfortable for that horse (“Every horse is a song and we must find the melody”) and the back is free, full utilization of the hind end in his work is possible. If hand, seat, or leg transmits negative tension to the horse, then tension develops in the poll and transfers to the back and to the hindquarters.
During the clinic, Dr. Heuschmann identified common riding errors, especially in the use of the hands, that cause increased poll tension, inhibit the movement of the corresponding hind leg, and negatively impact the back. Such a horse is imbalanced in his movement and the dressage goals of impulsion, straightness, and “throughness” are impossible to achieve. There is a kink or block in the energy transfer through the body of the horse.
But even the best-ridden horse is going to develop negative tension in his body as a result of his efforts to please his rider and just simply as a result of repetitive motion. Over time, the muscles lose the ability to fully contract and fully relax, and the muscle chains of the body become unbalanced. As a Masterson Method practitioner, it is commonplace to feel the tight and locked poll, the stiff back, and the shoulders and haunches that have only limited range of motion. It is also commonplace to be able to restore range of motion and release restriction in the body of the horse through Masterson Method bodywork.
Click the image to join the wait list.
With the Masterson Method, we have recently taken it a huge step further. With the painted horse project that yielded the DRESSAGE MOVEMENTS REVEALED DVD SET and now the book THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED, we studied the biomechanics of the dressage horse so that dressage riders, and we Masterson Method practitioners, would be better able to understand how the horse uses his body in his work. The better we understand how the horse must use his body to perform movements of upper level dressage, the better a rider understands how to be in sync with the horse and not against his motion, and the better a Masterson Method practitioner understands why certain muscle groups are involved when a dressage trainer is having given training issues. Bodywork can often feel like a “hide-and-go-seek” effort. Through the work we did with DRESSAGE MOVEMENTS REVEALED and THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED, we have gained an understanding that removes a lot of the mystery when horses can’t perform as well as they used to, barring a frank veterinary cause.
Since completing the research and work related to this new book, co-authored with Jim Masterson, I find in my Masterson Method practice that I better understand horses of all equestrian disciplines. The reiner that is having trouble in a spin reminds me of the front end of the dressage horse’s half-pass. The jumper that can’t use his back or flex his lumbosacral joint or use his gluteals in a good push off, is a dressage horse that is too locked up to collect properly or has lost his extended trot.
The musculoskeletal system of the horse allows for a limited set of movements of his body parts. Because the dressage horse is asked to perform the greatest range of different movements, understanding how the dressage horse uses his body can be a springboard for understanding any equestrian discipline as a bodyworker.
Betsy Steiner on Bacchus from THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED.
Most equestrians are trying their best to be good riders. But as one of the old dressage masters said, “A lifetime isn’t long enough to learn to ride a horse.” With the Masterson Method we can help the aspiring rider travel the long, often frustrating but also joyous journey of learning to ride by rebalancing the musculoskeletal system of the horse through regular bodywork. In essence, we are giving the rider a new “blank slate” for his or her continued efforts to learn to ride this most noble of creatures.
It’s all about balance… from Dr. Heuschmann’s ground-breaking work about how to ride a horse in balance, to the Masterson Method’s rebalancing of muscle systems through release of tension. For every horse of any discipline, it is a question of balance in how the horse is using his body, or the lack thereof.
“Ability to make deadlines.” This is the kind of positive review we might expect to receive from a supervisor, or it’s a bulleted point we add to a resume. As a society, we value an individual’s commitment to doing what he or she says he or she will do “on time”—we schedule meetings we expect others to attend; our children have homework assignments we expect them to complete.
But when it comes to horses, deadlines are a recipe for disaster.
“In our world, everyone is obsessed with deadlines and speed,” says Magali Delgado in the bestselling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM, which she wrote with her husband Frederic Pignon. “In the horse’s world, you have to forget these. If you tug on a carrot, hoping to speed its growth, you will loosen the roots and achieve the opposite effect.”
Goals are different than deadlines, in that we can move the “achieved-by date” as necessary. We want our young horse to load into a trailer quietly and consistently? That’s a good goal. But a bad idea is to decide you need to reach that goal by the end of the week. Maybe you will accomplish it in that amount of time–or even less. But, few things scuttle your ability to work with horses in a rational, fair, and flexible way than stress and urgency brought on by—you guessed it—a deadline.
“When there are difficulties, I try to divide them up into manageable parts. I wait until the horse feels ready to take the next step, and I am convinced that in the end I save time by this approach,” says Magali. “When it comes to work, I try never to overdo it. Deciding on the correct length of a working session is vitally important. What is more, a horse must feel that if he does really well he will be rewarded with a shorter session. If he is forced to go on too long it not only tires him, it also ‘demotivates’ him—a great mistake.
“In horse training, inevitably, you will make mistakes. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ My horse shies: Is that wheelbarrow the reason? I remove it; he shies again. Is it because he doesn’t like being away from his friends? And so on. I spend my life trying to get to the bottom of enigmas.”
But one thing, say Magali and Frederic, remains very clear:
“Always be patient and never push too fast or too insistently.”