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PRINOFRIDING

THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING by the German Equestrian Federation (FN) was first published more than 50 years ago and now has 28 editions to date. Over 400,000 have been sold, translated into 11 languages.

The ideas expressed in THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING are based on “classical riding,” which is defined by the FN as:

“A vital and modern training system that builds on the basic principles of the ‘Old Masters,’ supplemented by new insights that serve the welfare of the horse and are purposeful for its training.”

In addition, classical riding:

  • Is oriented toward the nature of the horse–the horse’s needs and each horse’s natural, individual abilities.
  • Considers the physical precondition of the horse and the natural behavior of the horse.
  • Supports the horse’s welfare.
  • Aims toward a balanced gymnasticizing and strengthening of the horse.
  • Is diverse and versatile.
  • Develops and maintains a horse that performs willingly and confidently.
  • Demands from the rider an elastic, balanced seat, a sensitive, fine use of the aids, as well as an understanding of the nature of the horse and its correlation to training, thus leading to inner and outer balance of horse and rider.

So as horse people, why do we need to read the new edition of THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING? Because it provides a baseline foundation of understanding for ALL areas of equestrian sport and horse management. Because it provides practical guidance to all who want to learn how to ride and train a horse appropriately, as well as comprehend why certain methods have proved correct and indispensable over the years. And because this newest revised edition emphasizes the importance of harmony between horse and rider.

THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING are an important addition to any aspiring rider or trainer’s equestrian library, and are 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 based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Dare we ask whether the concept of equine hierarchy is indeed the primary means of understanding horses and the foundation upon which all training should be built?

In their new book EQUUS LOST? Francesco De Giorgio and Jose De Giorgio-Schoorl question the role of hierarchy within equine herds and suggest that our dependence upon perceived hierarchies in order to determine our interactions with horses is flawed.

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Photo courtesy of Francesco De Giorgio & Jose De Giorgio-Schoorl

“Due to the vicious circle of hierarchical focus and our anthropocentric views, there are many elements and details of equine behavior that we fail to see,” they write. “In fact, we still miss the essential part of the horse—that is, the horse as he is, a sentient and cognitive being, with his own social preferences.

“The first question horse people asks themselves when they go to see a new herd is likely to be, ‘Who is the dominant horse?’ Yet, by focusing on this aspect, we immediately create a filter and make it impossible to observe the more subtle social behaviors, all the small gestures, and less visible behaviors that nevertheless have an important cohesive function within the herd. These gestures can include: observing each other and being aware of the herd’s dynamics, looking from a distance while foraging, standing in proximity to each other, separating horses that tend to enter into conflict, smelling each other’s noses or flanks to understand certain situations better, and coming to stand close by. Further, horses softly nicker when there is tension between herd members. They are dedicated to all these interactions, which serve to demonstrate understanding and reassurance while reinforcing the role of dialogue within the group.

“We can see the impact of the dominance filter when looking at some of the methods used in groundwork, where a horse is in a round pen and a human is standing in the middle with, or without, a longe line, forcing a horse into movement by gesturing with his arms, believing he is using them as symbols of the leading mare and the pushing stallion. Not only is this not ethical because it doesn’t reflect the complex and sophisticated social herd dynamics, but it also brings people to believe that this is actually how horses create dialogue, causing a huge element for miscommunication in the horse-human relationship.

“Horses do not like conflict. They want to understand social dynamics, watch nuances, and support each other in order to have and preserve a calm environment. They do not busy themselves with ranking but with observing social relationships. In the horse-human relationship, tricks and treats cannot be used to smooth out and reduce tense behavior. They cannot make it disappear or create in its place an emotionally balanced animal. Our desire for obedience, surrender, and specific reactions makes us cover up behavior and doesn’t allow the horse to use his own social skills and inner intentions. Training methods focus on surrender, ignoring the essence of the horse and his social abilities.”

 

 

If you’re ready to consider that there might be better ways to coexist and work with horses, read EQUUS LOST? available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order now

 

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

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“A common problem with lateral flexion is that even when done correctly…it is simply practiced too much,” writes renowned horseman Mark Rashid in his new book FINDING THE MISSED PATH: THE ART OF RESTARTING HORSES. “Now I realize there are folks that teach who say that lateral flexion can never be done too much. Others will tell us to practice lateral flexion for hours at a time, and still others will tell us that we should never even think about riding our horse without first making sure the horse flexes laterally at least 25 or 30 times in each direction.

“Even though there are some who will tell us that flexion can never be done too much, the truth is, horses often say something different. Over the years, I have run into hundreds, if not thousands of horses that show obvious signs of being overflexed,” says Rashid.

The signs he highlights in FINDING THE MISSED PATH include:

  • the inability of a horse to walk a straight line while being ridden.
  • the inability to follow his own nose in a turn.
  • the inability to stop when asked.
  • and even being unable to stand quietly with a rider on his back without feeling like he needs to mindlessly turn his head from side to side, even though he isn’t being asked to do so.

“Many overflexed horses will simply stand with their head turned and their nose all the way around to the rider’s boot,” Rashid goes on. “When the rider asks the horse to straighten his head, he often just turns and puts his nose on the other boot. In cases like these, lateral flexion has been done to the point where the action itself has become little more than a default movement for the horse. In other words, the horse will laterally flex himself regardless of the situation or circumstances, and whether or not he is even being asked.

“Another thing that happens when the horse is overflexed like this is the joint at C1 actually becomes what we might refer to as ‘hyper-mobile,'” he adds. “When this happens, the horse literally loses the connection between his head and the rest of his body while being ridden. There are a number of serious issues with a horse losing this connection—for both rider and horse—not the least of which is a total loss of overall control. But even more concerning is that losing this control can, and usually is, quite difficult and very time consuming to correct.”

 

 

So should we no longer practice lateral flexion in the way that so many trainers have advocated over the last decade or so? Rashid says not to be hasty—there are still benefits to be had from conscientious use of the exercise.

“Understanding proper lateral flexion is an important part of a horse’s education, whether we’re talking about a young horse that’s just starting out, or an older horse whose education has somehow gotten off track,” Rashid explains. “I prefer to practice things like this with a sort of ‘as we go’ attitude or mentality: Rather than getting on my horse and saying to myself, ‘Okay, now we’re going to do some lateral flexion,’ I’m more likely to spend time on it while I’m going about whatever business I’m doing with my horse on that particular day. If I’m doing clinics, for instance, I might ask him to flex laterally while I’m turning him as we get ready to move from one place to another. If I’m on the ground and we go through a gate, I might send my horse past me through the gate then ask him to flex when I bring him back to me as I close the gate. For me, putting a purpose behind the exercise eliminates the drilling aspect of it, which, in turn, allows the horse to stay mentally and emotionally engaged in the process.

“I understand there are folks that feel differently about this, people who feel that the road to perfection is through lengthy, nearly non-stop repetition of exercises like lateral flexion. And for them, perhaps that is the key to perfect behavior and flawless responses from a horse. After all, there is no question that many horses, when given no other option, will most certainly repeat behavior that has been relentlessly drilled into them. But there is always a cost for a quest of perfection through mechanical repetition. Usually, the cost is that we end up losing the essence and personality of the horse. And, at least for me, that is a cost that seems a bit too high to pay.”

FINDING THE MISSED PATH: THE ART OF RESTARTING HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order now.

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

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We all crave that special connection with our horses.

We all crave that special connection with our horses.

 

We all crave “connection” with our horses—you know, that special “something” that made The Black follow Alec Ramsay off the island and swim out to the ship that would “rescue” them both from the lonely beach that had borne their friendship. Perhaps you spend hours trailing your horse around his pasture. Maybe at night you fluff up the shavings in the back of the stall and make a pillow for your head (you figure you need to be up early to feed anyway).

Our best horsemen give us some rather more practical tools that really can help us attain this dream. And how do you know when you’ve done it? Here are 5 ways TSB authors say you can tell you’ve truly connected with your horse.

 

1  It takes the slightest shift of your weight in the saddle, or the most subtle variation of thought to get your horse to move his hind feet wherever you want them. 

In the DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN we see the very best example of this, demonstrated by Buck in front of a group of clinic attendees. “It’s not about training a horse,” says Buck. “It’s about getting a horse with you. It’s about becoming one mind and one body.”

 

2  You can ride “by the tips of your fingers.”

In THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS, authors Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis say that when true “lightness” is achieved, the horse moves as if on his own, without the rider interfering. “I use the idea of holding the reins only with the ‘tips of the fingers’ because it makes it impossible for the rider to be strong, to pull, or to force,” they write. “Holding the reins, like they are ‘dirty,’ like something we do not want to touch…The reins should be something we don’t want to touch unless we have to….If we ride the horse lightly, he will be light with us—as light as we want him.”

 

3  You can just “be still” around each other.

In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP, author Vanessa Bee says,”Horses seek quiet thoughtful people…Most of us are so busy planning the future we don’t give the horse our undivided attention…Just ‘being’ with a horse can be very relaxing and enjoyable.”

 

4  When you walk away, your horse follows you.

In the wonderful introduction to natural horsemanship for kids HOW TO SPEAK HORSE, authors Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain that through basic groundwork, you can teach your horse to understand that when your back turns toward him, it means you want him to follow you. “When the horse chooses to come to you at your invitation,” they say,”he has accepted you as his leader…You will realize how much fun it is to play with and train your horse as the invisible connection of your partnership becomes stronger and stronger.”

 

5  You sense how your horse is feeling—you just “know” what he needs or wants.

In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado talk about how in the company of horses, we learn to listen to our intuition because our intellect and human experience do not always supply the answers. “When Templado [the famous white stallion, seen by millions of people in the hit show Cavalia] was near the end of his life, Magali and I both had the strongest feeling on the same evening that we should bring him home,” says Frederic. “As soon as he got into his stall, he began to recover his energy and his love of life. I know we were right in what we did.”

 

Find books and DVDs with the best ways to find the connection you want with your horse at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR STORE

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July4 2014

 

No matter our favorite breed of horse or chosen discipline; whatever our age or skill level, if we ride horses, we yearn for a balanced, stable, and independent seat that allows us to move with the horse and direct him using subtle aids without interfering with his ability to perform.

In honor of July 4, 2014, we at TSB are sharing four of our favorite exercises to help develop a little seat independence in all of us:

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

The Teeter-Totter from Centered Riding 2 by Sally Swift

  • Stand quietly and comfortably erect, feet slightly apart.
  • With your whole body straight, tip forward as far as you can without having to take a step to catch yourself.
  • Hold yourself in this extreme position with your feet quiet. Notice how much tension there is in your body, your feet, legs, torso, and neck.
  • Come back to a balanced position in the center and relax.
  • Now lean backward and notice again the degree of tension in your whole body, especially up the front of your thighs and torso.
  • Come back to the center and feel the freedom and ease of being in what I call “pure balance.”
  • Now imagine you are on your horse–you need to be in “pure balance” with your center directly over your feet to ensure you are not unconsciously transferring tension to the horse. This “pure balance” applies to all seats and disciplines. Practice the Teeter-Totter exercise regularly to build and maintain awareness of your balance and center.

 

 

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2  Push Hands from A Gymnastic Riding System Using Mind, Body, & Spirit by Betsy Steiner

  • Stand squarely facing a partner, hands at your sides.
  • Reach out to your partner, and have your partner reach out to you, and place your hands palm to palm. You should be close enough that your elbows, and your partner’s elbows, are slightly bent. Your knees should also be slightly bent.
  • Have your partner give you a vigorous push with her left hand while you try to keep your right hand and shoulder from moving. As you resist the push, you’ll feel tension and resistance in your entire body and maybe lose your balance and have to take a step back.
  • Now have your partner again give you a push with her left hand. This time, release your right hand and shoulder and allow them to go where your partner moves them.  When you “release” in this way, allowing your shoulder to move backward and your partner’s had to go forward, the tension of the push is dissipated and there is no resistance in your body.
  • Repeat the exercise with the opposite hands.
  • Push Hands shows us how the horse and rider must “give” to each other, and how the rider must be able to receive pressure as well as apply it by being supple and centered. When you’re relaxed in your arms and shoulders, for example, you are able to maintain your balance and center. Try to achieve the same “give-and-take” of pressure with the horse when you ride.

 

 

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Find Your Flat Back from 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes by Wendy Murdoch

  • Sit on the edge of a flat bench or chair. If possible, do so beside a mirror so you can see what your back looks like when it is flat.
  • Place the back of one hand on your lower back. Make sure your hand is on the waist area, not the sacrum.
  • Place your other hand palm up under one seat bone and rest on your hand. Feel how your lower back and seat bones change position in relation to each other when you hollow, round, or flatten your lower back.
  • Gradually change from one position to the other making smaller and lower movements until you have a definite feeling that your back is flat and broad. Notice what happens to your weight on the bench or chair. Do your buttocks muscles soften? Can you sink back into your hips as if to sit more deeply? When your back is flat, the seat bones will follow the line of the your back.
  • Repeat the exercise in the saddle. As your back hollows, your seat bones point back toward your horse’s tail; as your back rounds, your seat bones point forward toward your horse’s head; when your back is flat, your seat bones follow the line of your back, straight from head to seat. A flat back stabilizes your pelvis and upper body so that you feel more secure in the saddle.

 

 

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Plank on Mat: Knees from The Riding Doctor by Beth Glosten, MD

  • Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them by your sides, placing your forearms on the mat. Bend your knees so your lower legs are off the floor.
  • While keeping your shoulders stable, lift yourself onto your knees and forearms into a suspended plank position. Seek a long and neutral spine position, and avoid pulling your shoulders up around your ears. Try to keep your pelvis level–it shouldn’t be pushed up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • This is a fantastic integrating exercise for core muscle function and shoulder and leg support, stabilizing spine alignment. In the saddle, you want stability of the spine–that is, despite changes in forward or sideways energy, you want to keep your body in a balanced upright position.

 

Happy Independence Day from Trafalgar Square Books!

Visit our online bookstore at www.HorseandRiderBooks.com, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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WPTZ Channel 5 News Anchor George Mallet and his OTTB Brahma Fear.

WPTZ Channel 5 News Anchor George Mallet and his OTTB Brahma Fear.

George Mallet is something of a local celebrity to those of us who live and work in Vermont. Our WPTZ News Channel 5 anchor offers a familiar and comforting presence as he counsels us on the day’s occurrences from our television, computer, or mobile device.

But for those of us at TSB, there’s something important that sets George apart from other news personalities: He’s a horseman. And his horse of choice is an off-the-track Thoroughbred.

In 2005, George was working as a television reporter in Philadelphia when he heard that a grandson of Secretariat had been born in Pennsylvania’s Chester County, and he decided to chronicle the little colt’s arrival. While George’s crew took photographs for the story, the colt—named Brahma Fear—pressed up against George’s leg.

“I scratched the distinctive Secretariat white star on his forehead,” George writes in his October 2010 article in the Journal Sentinel. “…A paternal instinct overtook me as I stood in that lush Pennsylvania paddock. I was a goner.”

George followed the trajectory of Brahma Fear’s racing career, and as is the case with so many young Thoroughbreds, by the summer of 2009, Brahma was losing cheap claiming races. In August that same year, George found himself writing a check and handing it to the colt’s trainer.

“I paid more for my laptop computer than I paid for a grandson of the legendary Secretariat,” he writes.

It isn’t often we can so clearly see how a single, fleeting moment can change the course of a life—or of lives—forever. But in the now intertwined stories of George and Brahma, there’s nowhere else to look but at that tender exchange of touch and pressure, the briefest of communications between species, in a spring pasture.

We love that George rediscovered a childhood interest in horses late in his life, taking up riding only after he traced the faint pattern of hair on an as yet unknown colt’s forehead. It speaks to the most romantic of hearts that he then kept tabs on the young Thoroughbred’s whereabouts…the horse’s starts and finishes, his victories and losses. And we can’t help but fall a little bit in love with how it all turned out.

“Sometimes I marvel at how lucky I was to end up with Brahma,” says George. “I really knew nothing when I grabbed him off the track. I only had the memory of meeting him as a foal and just ‘melting’ when he pressed up against me. When I did that story on his birth, I wasn’t even riding yet. I broke all the rules. Green riders aren’t supposed to adopt green-broke thoroughbred racehorses. Yet somehow I ended up with a remarkably calm, smart, and appreciative thoroughbred pal!”

A true OTTB success story! Check out more about George and Brahma in this great video from Seven Days:

 

 

Trafalgar Square Books is proud of its own OTTB success story: In the books CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED, young Sarah Wagner rescues a rogue racehorse and then must find a way to keep him, against all odds. Here’s an excerpt from the first book in the exciting new Brookmeade Young Riders Series:

For several moments Sarah and the horse stood looking at each other. Then she lifted the stall door’s latch and let herself inside. As Crown Prince retreated to the corner, she reached back over the door to lower the latch back into position. Slowly she approached the horse, all the while talking softly. “Good boy, good Prince,” she repeated. Once by his side, she reached to touch his long neck and stroke it gently. His coat felt like sleek satin. He turned his head toward her, seeming to know she meant him no harm…

“You beautiful Prince,” she murmured. As Sarah stroked his neck and continued to speak in hushed tones, she felt the horse become more relaxed. His head dropped down to her and gradually his eyes softened, as he clearly enjoyed her touch and gentle voice. He offered no resistance as she gently pulled his head closer and rested her cheek on his muzzle. It was so soft. With his head lowered, she caressed his forehead, tracing the white star, and gently tugged his ears. She felt like she’d known this horse forever.

CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

You can meet Linda Snow McLoon, the author of the Brookmeade Young Riders Series, on Saturday, March 29, 2014, at a special presentation sponsored by the Granby Public Library and the Granby Pony Club, in Granby, Connecticut. Click here for more information on this event.

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Take the TSB Quiz to figure out a great gift for the horse lover on YOUR list!

Take the TSB Quiz to figure out a great gift for the horse lover on YOUR list!

 

If you’ve been uninspired, stumped, lost in the virtual shopping aisles, and wandering the for-real malls and stores without purpose or reason, there’s no need to panic…there’s still time to score great gifts for the horse lovers in your life—and if you order before midnight tomorrow, Tuesday, December 17, 2013, you can still get FREE SHIPPING in the US in time for Christmas!

So who is still on your list? What is it about horses and riding that they love most? Take this quick quiz to get a few topnotch book and DVD recommendations from the TSB staff…we’ve got something just right for horse lovers of every age, area of interest, and ability.

 

Click image to shop now!

Click image above to shop now!

 

THE TSB GREAT GIFTS FOR HORSE LOVERS QUIZ

 

1  The horse lover on my list loves to…

a  Play games and have fun on the ground.

Trail ride, go “horse camping,” and hack out.

c  Compete regularly and earn awards and prizes.

d  Train horses and improve their trust in their handler, way of going, and overall performance.

 

If you answered “a” check out:

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK

HORSE AGILITY THE DVD

TRICK TRAINING FOR HORSES

 

If you answered “b” we recommend:

RIDING BARRANCA

KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE

BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF

 

If you answered “c” how about:

PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS

 

If you answered “d” go with:

7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD SERIES

CLINTON ANDERSON’S PHILOSOPHY

THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE

 

2  The horse lover on my list is totally into:

Classical riding and the well-being of the dressage horse.

Groundwork and schooling in-hand.

c  Jumping jumping jumping.

d  Hoots, hollers, and high speeds.

 

If you answered “a” check out:

DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL

THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS

RIDDEN

THE JOY OF DRESSAGE DVDS

 

If you answered “b” how about:

HORSE TRAINING IN-HAND

CONNECT WITH YOUR HORSE FROM THE GROUND UP

DANCING WITH HORSES DVD

 

If you answered “c” we recommend:

THE AMERICAN HUNTER/JUMPER FORWARD RIDING SYSTEM DVD SERIES

JUMP COURSE DESIGN MANUAL

MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON

 

If you answered “d” go with:

TEAM ROPING 101

REINING ESSENTIALS

ROOKIE REINER

 

3 The horse lover on my list prefers:

a  Watching DVDs.

Using practical, step by step instructions to learn a new skill.

c  Reading for pleasure.

 

If you answered “a” check out:

GEORGE MORRIS: TEACHING AND TRAINING THE AMERICAN WAY DVD

DRESSAGE MOVEMENTS REVEALED DVD

WESTERN SADDLES DVD

 

If you answered “b” how about:

WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE

BEYOND THE TRACK

 

If you answered “c” we recommend:

THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES

CROWN PRINCE

CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED

 

Still need ideas? Trafalgar Square is the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, and we have hundreds of titles in our online store–so go ahead and CLICK HERE to find something just right for the horse lover on your list, just in time for the holiday!

 

Have fun and Happy Holidays from the TSB Staff!

Photo by Donna DeMari from RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester.

Photo by Donna DeMari from RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester.

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