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The Opening Ceremonies for the FEI World Equestrian Games at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina, are set to begin this evening, Tuesday, September 11, at 6:00 pm EST. The World Equestrian Games, or WEG, are held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle. And here’s the thing…they are a REALLY BIG DEAL. Why? Because WEG combines eight World-Championship-caliber equestrian events in one place with competitions spanning 13 days: dressage, show jumping, eventing, reining, driving, endurance, para-dressage, and vaulting. We’re talking the VERY BEST equestrians in the world, and the top horses in all these disciplines, here, in the United States, for two weeks.

The importance of WEG to the equestrian industry, and the significance of it being held here in the US this year, rather than in Europe, makes it a little surprising that of all the press suddenly devoted to the Carolinas and a certain imposing Madame Hurricane, little has been mentioned of this major event and how Florence will likely impact it. The athletes from participating countries and their horses have already arrived and are preparing for competition to begin (with dressage, reining, and endurance on Wednesday, September 12), but hundreds of thousands of individuals planning to attend all or part of the competition as spectators have yet to head out by road, air, or rail. It’s like this big communal breath is held as we wait to see where Flo will track and how mean she plans to be. Mill Spring, North Carolina, is on the western side of the state, and the National Weather Service has a station on site at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, keeping close watch on the hurricane as she develops. All efforts are being made to keep the riders, their horses, and their support teams, safe, whatever the days ahead bring in terms of weather. Of course, the rest of us still have to ask if it makes any sense at all to fly toward a hurricane, when millions under mandatory evacuation order along the coastline are trying to get away?

With that pressing question set momentarily aside, we at TSB have been truly excited in the months leading up to WEG to not only attend, but to have the opportunity to support our many wonderful, talented authors who are judging, competing, performing, speaking, and signing books during the event, including: Anne Gribbons, Ingrid Klimke, Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Phillip Dutton, Doug Payne, Emma Ford, Dan James, George Morris, Yvonne Barteau, Tik Maynard, and Dr. Bob Grisel.

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TSB author and FEI 5* judge Anne Gribbons is President of the Ground Jury for the dressage competition at WEG 2018. Photo by Sharon Packer.

To find most of our books and related book signings at WEG, visit The Chronicle of the Horse (Booth C3-4 in the World Equine Expo Area). Book signings will be arranged as competitors’ schedules allow.

In addition, those visiting with children can find TSB children’s books to explore and enjoy in the BrookeUSA activity area, as well as for sale in the BrookeUSA Shop (Booth B8). 50% of the proceeds from the sales of these books will go to support the mission of BrookeUSA and its sister charity, Brooke, the official charity of the WEG. Brooke is the world’s largest international working equine welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of horses, donkeys, mules and the people who depend on those animals in the developing world.

Credit Brooke

TSB author and dressage competitor Charlotte Dujardin is a Brooke Ambassador. Her autobiography THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE will be available at The Chronicle of the Horse Shop at WEG. Photo courtesy of Brooke.

TSB author and former Chef d’Equipe of the US Show Jumping Team George H. Morris will be speaking on two occasions on the WEG grounds:

Saturday, September 15, at 10:00 am, at the Equus Theatre.

Saturday, September 22, at 12:00 pm, on the Coca-Cola® Stage.

George Morris will be signing copies of his book UNRELENTING following each talk, with 50% of the proceeds going to support Brooke.

Fans can also meet George at a special celebration of the George Morris Collection and book signing at Dover Saddlery in Mill Spring on Tuesday, September 18, from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm.

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TSB author George Morris will speak on two occasions at WEG, as well as participate in a meet-and-greet at Dover Saddlery in Mill Spring. Photo by Tyler Gourley Pictures.

And be sure to stop by the GetSound® Booth (B7-6) to meet Dr. Bob Grisel and hear about his new App to help diagnose lameness in horses, as well as get a copy of his amazing new book EQUINE LAMENESS FOR THE LAYMAN.

We plan to post updates about competition results, author events and signings, and other news here, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—so watch this space! Of course, all of this is pending a crazy-plane-ride toward a hurricane…

See you in Tryon…maybe?

 

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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TSB caught up with Anne Gribbons, FEI/USEF dressage judge, former Technical Director of the US Dressage Team, and author of the wonderful book of “dressage time travel” COLLECTIVE REMARKS, and we asked for her thoughts on the 2016 Olympic Dressage competition, underway now in Rio de Janeiro. Here are her insights as we begin Day 2. (For Anne’s refreshingly honest and brutally funny perspective on past Olympics and other international competitions, as well as all manner of dressage-related subjects, check out COLLECTIVE REMARKS!)

 

ANNE & STEFAN

Anne Gribbons with Steffen Peters in 2010.

 

After all the misgivings about Brazil not being able to handle the Olympics, it has come out of the starting box with flair. The eventing coverage was fabulous, the cross-country course beautiful and challenging, and the surprises many. Perhaps that is why I will always love combined training the most, because things can change in a heartbeat and each second can present a different landscape. And you can actually be competing, driving home without a ribbon, and still completely elated because the horse jumped so well it made your heart sing. Obviously, this is not the feeling you would have if something  goes awry on the Olympic course, and I am sure both Phillip Dutton and Ingrid Klimke were less than amused after brilliant dressage rides with the odd mishaps they had, which completely changed their standings at the top. 

Now the dressage is on, where the risk is limited and the element of surprise is a rarity. At this level, we expect each equipage to know its lessons well, and few mishaps to occur in the test. What we look for and revel in is the finely tuned communication between horse and rider. We search for  the balance, the self-carriage, the connection between the hand of the rider and the mouth of the horse. Harmony and yet full power when horse  and rider together reach for their ultimate best is what thrills us and keeps us glued to the screen. Watching it at home is a miracle, until it is not. When the streaming  momentarily shuts off, you get rudely pulled back to reality. With impeccable timing, this happens just as your country’s horse enters the ring. 

And I mentioned no surprises? Well, not true the first day when the Dutch star Parzival was retired by his rider who felt he was not quite up to the task. Good horsemanship, but a blow to the Dutch team, while it gave an opening to the Americans. We are talking fractions of a point here, and with no drop score left, the Dutch are more vulnerable. Since Kasey Perry-Glass had a very solid ride once she got past the first five movements when Dublet was busy in the mouth and Kasey was a bit tense, our chances looked even better after her ride. The Germans are powering on, and nobody expects any other team to catch up with them. In spite of one imploding pirouette and another weak one, Dorothee Schneider showed such strength in the rest of her work on Showtime that they gathered over 80%. And the 21-year-old Sönke Rothenberger who went first in the German team on his 10-year-old horse shows all the signs of growing up in a horse family. He admits he gets help from his father, Olympic rider Sven Rothenberger, but insists that his true calling is actually jumping. Well, if dressage is only his sideline, wait until he focuses on it! 

Riding for England, Fiona Bigwood had a very impressive ride on a wonderfully elastic and submissive mare named Orthilia. Imagine coming back from an injury that robs you of sight in one eye and putting on such a spot-on performance where balance and accuracy is of essence. Hats off to this lady who received a well-earned 77-plus% as a forerunner to more great scores expected by the remaining Brits, who are expected to finish in at least silver position. 

And then there is the US with four great quality horses and well prepared riders. Over the last two years all these combinations have gradually become more seasoned. Except for Roosevelt, I know all the team horses very well, and I am well aware of  the capacity of each. We already saw what Dublet was able to do, and believe me, there is so much more in that horse! Verdades is becoming seasoned and stronger and should have no trouble staying as focused on Laura Graves as he usually is in this comparatively quiet atmosphere. I can understand why the Chef D’ Equipe would make that combination the anchor by putting them last, because Legolas can, at times, be a little too fired up and lose concentration. However, Steffen Peters’ masterly riding has overcome that tendency in his shows as lately, and when they are on, he and Legolas can gather many valuable points. 

So, when I am writing this I am, like all of you, keeping my fingers crossed and hopes high for our team. Go USA!

–Anne Gribbons

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COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

 

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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The right coach can make all the difference, whatever level you ride. Illustration by Karen Rohlf.

The right coach can make all the difference, whatever level you ride. Illustration by Karen Rohlf.

 

You hear about it all the time: How so-and-so used to ride with him, but now she’s riding with her. How Up-and-Coming-Rider left Fancy-Trainer-One’s barn and is now working with Fancy-Trainer-Two. How your friend used to go to all of that horseman’s clinics, but now she goes to all this horseman’s clinics.

Riders notoriously have a wandering eye–admit it, most of us at one time or another thought someone else could help us reach our equestrian goals a little bit sooner…or had a disagreement that felt like a deal-breaker and sent us scouring trainer websites in search of the one who is really, truly, our perfect match. The thing is, riding with a coach or instructor is a relationship like any other, and sure to come with its arguments, frustrations, and boring bits. The trick is knowing when you just need to work a little harder at it, and when it is time to call it a day.

In COLLECTIVE REMARKS: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE AMERICAN DRESSAGE EVOLUTION, FEI/USEF judge and former technical advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons discusses the ins and outs of rider-coach matchmaking…and how to tame that wandering eye.

 

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The Problem with “Teacher-Hopping”

If you manage to locate an instructor who is a wonderful rider and who also has the ability to make you understand how to accomplish your goals, you can “have your cake and eat it, too.” In the case when you cannot have it all, you are definitely better off with the competent teach­er than with the “big name” who cannot teach. Unless you are a person who can learn by watching and has years to spend doing it, you need someone who can explain why and how to make you and your horse perform.

Your first dressage instructor is likely to become the most profound in­fluence on your riding because he or she will responsible for laying the foundation of your riding and creating your “basic system.” The longer you spend with this teacher, the firmer your base, upon which you will later build by receiving additional help and advice from other sources. The lack of a basic system is one of the problems in American dressage, created by a tendency to enjoy a “smorgasbord education”: The minute something goes wrong in training we look for another instructor, and of course we also have to ride in every clinic offered within reach. God forbid we miss any of the action!

For the novice rider, “teacher-hopping” is confusing at best and dam­aging at worst, and for the horse it will eventually prove detrimental. A horse cannot absorb and adjust to a different method of training every two weeks without losing his confidence and perhaps his mind, as well. It does not matter if the various clinicians the novice works with are all excellent trainers, they are still not going to teach exactly the same way, and at this stage, more is not better. It takes many years of training and riding before a rider can truly profit from a clinic by incorporating the useful parts into his or her program while discarding the ideas that do not work for the horse. You have to be experienced enough to know the difference. The best way to make use of clinics while you are still a novice is to attend tas an auditor, then discuss the experience with your regular instructor, and perhaps try some of the ideas you are interested in during a lesson.

 

A Healthy Relationship

To get the most out of your relationship with an instructor it is important that there is a mutual feeling of commitment, respect, and trust. A teach­er shows his or her commitment, first and foremost, by giving exclusive attention to the student who is paying for the lesson. Conversations on the side and phone calls with others should be avoided if possible. This applies also to a clinic situation, when the temptation of playing to the audience at the expense of the student may be great. At shows the serious instructor is available to school and advise the student before each ride, and will observe the ride and comment on it afterward. For a teacher with many students at the show, this may be impossible due to conflicting ride times, but a schedule can be made up ahead that divides his or her time and gives everyone an opportunity to get some help. However the test goes, a teacher of the right kind stands by his or her student in tragedy as well as triumph, and all post-test corrections and negative criticism that may be necessary are done one on one. A respectful instructor does not harass, make fun of, or belittle a student, never mind how frustrating the lesson or situation may be. There are times when a harsh command—even screaming—is called for, because the student is not reacting fast enough, but if the rider does not understand the command, raising the volume creates nothing but ten­sion and further confusion.

The student has responsibilities as well. The first and perhaps most im­portant is to shut up and ride! A lesson is no time for dialogue, and it is incredibly irritating to have someone contradicting every order or constantly explaining why whatever you ask for cannot be done. This kind of behavior also interferes with the flow of information between the horse and the rider, since the horse senses that the rider is not tuned in to the effort. Questions and explanations should wait until a break or rest period, unless there is some emergency the instructor needs to be made aware of. Complete concentration throughout the lesson, a commitment to practicing what is being taught (even outside of the teaching sessions), and consistency in pursuing the lesson program are all virtues belonging to the “good student.”

 

When to Move On

There may come a time after a long relationship when the student feels there is no progress being made. Before placing the blame on the teacher (always the easy out), take a long hard look at yourself and ask: “How talented, how persistent, and how hard-working am I as a student?” And, “Do I have the right ‘vehicle,’ or is my horse not right for the job?” If, after some soul-searching, you are absolutely certain that the problem is not of your own making, talk to your instructor. There may well be a mutual feeling of frustration and stagnation. If the problems cannot be worked out and you decide to look for help elsewhere, you owe it to your pres­ent instructor to inform him or her about your decision, before he or she hears it from somebody else.

Wherever you go with your riding, remember, when success comes your way, give credit to each person who contributed to your progress. Not just the famous “final polisher” of your now wonderful self, but also the people who put up with you when you and everybody else thought you were hopeless!

 

Read more humorous insight from Anne Gribbons in COLLECTIVE REMARKS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

 

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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FutureLast year we shared the best “Santa, Please Bring Me a Pony” Christmas videos (CLICK HERE), and in further support of the More Ponies = More Happiness Movement (there are a still a few shopping days left!), here’s FEI/USEF Dressage Judge Anne Gribbons’ pro-pony take on how to improve US dressage on the international scene in the years ahead (read more from Anne in her fabulously fun book COLLECTIVE REMARKS):

 

The most confounding subject in US dressage is the fact that we have no “pony culture.” I have harped on this subject for years, but the absence of ponies that are ridden and shown in dressage is still a huge hole in our system. As with the lack of public riding schools, it hurts the very roots of our growth.

Kids and ponies belong together; they foster each other, and every child who likes riding ought to be brought up by a pony. They are very good at putting a kid in his or her place without being as large and potentially dangerous as horses, and the whole family can get involved with the “pony scene” at an early stage.

Parents who have “pony kids” are already educated and on board with the equine scene when the time comes for the Junior and Young Rider divisions. When it’s time to move to a horse, they aren’t stunned at the idea of having an equine in the family; it’s just a natural progression. There aren’t enough opportunities available for ponies to shine at our shows, and there aren’t enough ponies out there competing to fill the classes that do exist.

Many countries outside Europe have the same dilemma, and I’ve asked for the question to be discussed in regard to global development at the FEI Sports Forum. Perhaps we can brainstorm some ideas about possible solutions. All I know is that when I judged a CDI in France a couple of years ago, and they had more than forty ponies competing at the show, I was green with envy!

Many ponies bring up several generations of children. Ponies are normally sounder and tougher than horses, they are less demanding to keep and they live and serve a long time. An important aspect of riding, especially for kids, is the socializing. Ponies are easier to kid around with and take for romps in the woods, races in the snow, and swims in the lake. They eat birthday cake and refrain from colicking, they have enough sense not to run into the campfire, and they will find their way back to the barn in the dark. In short: They have some self-preservation. The fun has to be kept in the work, even when dressage is on the agenda, and ponies help with that detail.

 

Anne Gribbons’ COLLECTIVE REMARKS is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to read more.

 

Wishing You a Peaceful Holiday, from the TSB Farm to Yours

Wishing You a Peaceful Holiday, from the TSB Farm to Yours

 

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Judging and Being Judged copy

Over the past decade, on numerous occasions, both top dressage riders and international judges have come under heavy critical fire regarding the treatment and training of competitive dressage horses. The internet is alight with related controversy, and print articles have not been afraid to label judges around the world as “cowards and ignoramuses who are incapable of telling the difference between a horse that is correctly and humanely trained and one that has been forced to perform with dubious methods,” says FEI/USEF dressage judge and former US Dressage Team Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons in her book COLLECTIVE REMARKS.

“How are we supposed to react to this?” Gribbons, who is judging the European Championships this summer in Aachen, Germany, writes. “Ignoring the subject is not an option for anybody involved in the sport. Shrugging it off because we are not personally ‘guilty’ of any sort of deliberate cruelty to our horses is not going to make the problem go away. These kinds of allegations tend to put a dark cloud over the entire dressage community, whatever your position within it happens to be.

“Taking a step back to view dressage objectively is not so easy when you are submerged in the game up to your eyeballs. Still, with some effort, I can see all three sides of this argument, because I wear all the hats at different times.

“To be successful as an international competitor you have to be determined, brave, and incredibly focused on those few minutes in the arena that are the culmination of all your work. If you find and can develop a method that works for you and your horses and gets consistently rewarded by the judges, why should you give it up? In every sport, the pressure is tremendous at the top level, and winning is the object. Since our sport involves a silent partner, the horse, the situation is more complicated. Add to this that the kind of animal that takes the honors in today’s fierce competition is a very sophisticated and high-powered equine, both physically and mentally. Dealing with some of these equine Ferraris, it has been my experience as a trainer, competitor, and judge that anything that is forced or unfair in the training does not come out well in the show ring. It is difficult for me to imagine that training that is one long torture session for the horse could lead to something beautiful to watch in the arena.

“Nevertheless, I know there are some unavoidable conflicts on the road from green-broke to Grand Prix that need to be worked out. Anyone who thinks that a competitive Grand Prix horse offers every movement he has to learn without occasionally questioning the rider has never trained one. The journey from green horse to Grand Prix is a long, sometimes rocky, but mostly inspiring enterprise. It should be a trip horse and rider take together, and they ought to arrive at their destination both proud of their achievements and eager to strut their stuff. Not all horses are comfortable in the show ring—they may have stage fright, or they may not like being in unfamiliar surroundings—but some really enjoy showing off, and those horses are always fun to watch and to ride!

“Being an international judge is a great responsibility and, especially at major events, the pressure can be quite strong to ‘get it right’ according to the riders, the organizers, the audience, and your colleagues. You cannot please all of them all the time. The decision about each score has to be immediate, correct, and fair, and there are thousands to be made in a weekend. The job description of a judge is limited to what occurs in the arena in front of him or her, and it is impossible for him or her to assess what goes on in the warm-up ring. Naturally, most judges can tell if a horse is tense, unhappy, and appears uncomfortable, and there are ways to express your displeasure about that throughout the score sheet. Remember, however, that there is sometimes a fine line between ‘tension’ and ‘brilliance,’ and that a breathtaking performance almost always has to include a certain measure of electricity and tension to become exciting. On this issue, judges tend to disagree more than on the technical aspects, and often it is the amount of tension versus brilliance that makes the judges come out differently in the scoring. Diversity in scores is not usually appreciated by competitors, audiences, or organizers, who want to see all their ducks in a row—even the press will sometimes attack a judge who stands out. It is assumed that this judge is incorrect, while it is quite possible that this was the judge who, at that particular competition, was the only one who had a truly sharp eye and the confidence to honestly express what he or she saw.

“The observer/journalist is the watchdog of the sport, and although neither competitors nor judges cherish criticism, checks and balances are of importance. If the process of reaching the pinnacle of our sport appears to be harmful to our horses, we need to clean up our act. Unfortunately, ‘perception is truth’ to a great extent, and if our equine athletes appear ‘unhappy’ it does us no good to protest and proclaim how much we love and appreciate them. Instead of indignation and lawsuits, riders and judges have to invite both the press and the public to be part of discussion, dialogue, and participation.

“We need to show the world that we are not involved in dressage to make our equine partners miserable but to build strong and proud athletes, which, while they may not be ecstatic all the time, are reasonably pleased with their lot in life as healthy and performing stars.”

 

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For more insight into and history of the sport of dressage, check out COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons, available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

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

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The winter sun rises over the TSB warehouse in Vermont.

The winter sun rises over the TSB warehouse in Vermont.

As we wrap another year in the Trafalgar Square Books offices here in Vermont, it feels good to pause and look back at the results of our hard work, as well as ponder the things we learned about horses and horsemanship over the last 12 months.

We take great pride in our authors and in the horse books and DVDs we have published and released over the years—now over 600 titles. Here, at a glance, are the new books and DVDs we added in 2014:

 

Click the image above to get a quick review of the TSB 2014 books and DVDs.

Click the image above to get a quick review of the TSB 2014 books and DVDs.

 

3-Minute Horsemanship

by Vanessa Bee (January)

The Riding Horse Repair Manual

by Doug Payne (March)

Games for Kids on Horseback

by Gabriele Karcher (April)

Centered Riding 2 Paperback Edition

by Sally Swift (April)

Good Horse, Bad Habits

by Heather Smith Thomas (April)

Dressage Solutions

by Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg (May)

The Riding Doctor

by Dr. Beth Glosten (June)

Building a Life Together—You and Your Horse

by Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon (June)

Collective Remarks

by Anne Gribbons (July)

Creative Dressage Schooling

by Julia Kohl (September)

When Two Spines Align:Dressage Dynamics 

by Beth Baumert (September)

Kids Riding with Confidence

by Andrea and Markus Eschbach (October)

Success through Cavaletti-Training DVD 

by Ingrid Klimke (November)

5-Minute Fixes to Improve Your Riding DVD

by Wendy Murdoch (November)

5-Minute Jumping Fixes DVD

by Wendy Murdoch (November)

Beyond Horse Massage Wall Charts

by Jim Masterson (November)

The Art of Liberty Training for Horses

by Jonathan Field (December)

Rider+Horse=1

by Eckart Meyners, Hannes Muller, and Kerstin Niemann (December)

 

Trafalgar Square Books (www.HorseandRiderBooks.com) is the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs. CLICK HERE to visit our online storefront or DOWNLOAD OUR NEWEST CATALOG.

 

Have a wonderful, safe, joy-filled New Year!

–The TSB Staff, North Pomfret, Vermont

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pool

The year winding to its close in a flurry of parties and family and (at least here in Vermont) snow often inspires nostalgic glances back while perhaps ambitious resolutions are cast forward. It is a time when those of us who ride or work with horses on a regular basis may evaluate goals met (or not), consider the steps gained with a particular project and where they’ll lead in the months ahead, or perhaps ponder the role that horses play in our lives now, and the one we’d wish for them in the future.

In her book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, FEI and USEF dressage judge Anne Gribbons shares how competing on horseback eventually came to hold less importance, as the satisfaction of figuring out each individual horse while adding to her own “pool of knowledge” gained significance. At TSB, we aim to support those who spend their lives striving to learn more about horses, to appreciate different approaches from different disciplines and schools of philosophy, and to consider new ideas while respecting the tried-and-true of classical equestrianism. As we add to our own “pool of knowledge,” we hope we have a chance to add to yours, too.

All orders from the TSB online bookstore placed before noon on Thursday, December 18, ship FREE in the US in time for Christmas.

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“Full Circle” from COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons

When I was a kid and started riding, competition was the farthest thing from my mind. All I wanted was to be around horses, to breathe in their wonderful sweet smell—to me more exhilarating than any other fragrance on earth—and to touch their velvety coat, to look into their sad and all-knowing eyes. Riding them was a privilege and a joy beyond anything else I could desire. In short, I was just like any other horse-crazy kid in the world. Years later, my whole life became involved with horses, and with serious training arrived the need for competition; the fire it lit in my blood was a whole new aspect of riding. Jumping and eventing keeps you on your toes, but even dressage can be exciting when there is a good class and you have a long-term goal in mind.

Today, after many years of competing and after obtaining some of those goals, I must admit that I look at showing differently. The few minutes in the ring still makes my blood run faster (although the reasons may vary from joy to alarm), but the rest of the scene can appear as just “more of the same.” The planning, packing, traveling, loading, fussing, waiting, re-packing, and traveling again is a lot of work, and when I think of all the weekends in my life that were absorbed by horse shows, I sometimes wonder about my sanity….

After all this time, I have almost returned to base. Although, thankfully, more experienced, I am back in the mode where I am totally satisfied staying at home with my horses. The training, which has always been the true motivation for diligently showing up at the barn every day, is the constant that never becomes monotonous, uninteresting, or exactly the same two days in a row. It would be impossible to stay inspired while training horses but for the fact that every single horse has something new to offer, which gives you reason to add to your pool of knowledge and meet the challenge of dealing with that specific individual.

My triumphs today are not measured in ribbons and scores, but in the satisfaction of having a day when a horse who had a problem suddenly catches on and performs a movement with ease, or a particular sequence of exercises feel just like you know they should: no tension, no resistance, and no effort, just horse and rider gliding together. The ultimate satisfac­tion is to look at a horse you have known from the time he was broken and watch him grow more beautiful every year because of the building of his muscles and strength. The finished, happy, and sound Grand Prix horse is a work of art, and all the time it took to bring him there is well worth it. Things of quality take time, and your trained horse does not have to go to the Olympics to give you an enormous amount of pride and joy in your accomplishments together.

 

COLLECTIVE REMARKS is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

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