TSB Author and FEI Dressage Judge Anne Gribbons Admits to “An Affliction Called ‘Jack Russells'”

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COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons features original cartoons by dressage trainer and illustrator Karen Rohlf.

When I was nine and working my first “muck-for-lessons” detail, I had my earliest encounter with the Jack Russell Terrier. The young woman who ran the barn and gave me said lessons had a pair of crazed little dogs: The black-and-white one was “Pie” (short for Piebald) and the brown-and-white one was “Skew” (yes, as you might imagine, for Skewbald), and they happily spent their days torturing hoof trimmings out back by the manure pile or terrorizing my family’s cats, who occasionally made the mistake of tailing me up the hill in the back field that joined our properties.

Being young and a “first generation horse lover,” I didn’t know then what I know now—that Jack Russells are sought, bought, and traded on the horse show circuit like push-button ponies. In her new book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, FEI dressage judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons explains a little about this phenomenon—what she calls “An Affliction Called ‘Jack Russells.'”

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

 

Many of Us Suffer from an Affliction Called “Jack Russells”

Early on, our family always had dogs of “proper” size (at least knee-high) that displayed “normal” dog behavior. The Jack Russell terror in our house started with a phone call from friends who were at a terrier trial and saw these “adorable puppies” just desperate for a good home. At the time, neither my husband nor I had a clue about terrier trials or the fact that a Jack Russell is never desperate for anything.

With a lot of encouragement from people who were really just looking for partners in crime, we agreed to look at the puppy. It was a female, about fist-size. She looked harmless enough, and like all puppies, was irresistible. She moved in and immediately took over operations.

We named her Digger, and that stopped her from ever digging anything. Instead, she concentrated on climbing trees. Her great passion in life was squirrels, and in pursuit of her prey she would hurl herself into the trees and tear up the branches in complete oblivion to the fact that this was not a dog thing to do.

If she ever downed a squirrel, I’m sure it was from a heart attack, since the creatures certainly never expected the dog to follow them up the tree.

We were forever approached by visitors who would hesitantly ask us if we thought that there was a dog in the tree out front. We would once again drag out the ladder and get Digger down while the people sighed in relief (relief that they weren’t crazy).

 

Scary Jack

Don’t think for a minute that a Jack doesn’t know exactly what it is doing and why. They are truly scary.

One weekend, my mother informed me that she “had a surprise for me.” Strange things happen when Mother visits, and I sure was surprised when she showed up with another Jack Russell puppy. It was a present from my groom, who got a puppy from us for Christmas two years earlier.

Payback is a bitch, but in this case it was a dog, and we named him Chipper.

Chipper had eyes just like Lady in Lady and the Tramp—big, brown and sparkling—and Digger tolerated him, although she found his fascination with fetching balls, sticks, and anything people would throw a bit much. When we lost Digger to sudden heart failure, I thought a breather from the Jacks would be nice, but then our borrowed live-in kid wanted a puppy, and the circus was on again.

At a show in Tampa, Florida, I found Scooter. He was the opposite of the ugly duckling: As a puppy he was adorable, and every day he matured to become more splay-footed, cross-eyed, and long-backed. His final shape is odd, to say the least, but Mother Nature tries to keep things in balance, and Scooter is one of the smartest dogs I have ever met.

He is a hunter to the core. Left to his own devices, he will use the dawn’s early light to pile up half a dozen rats, who find themselves dead before they even wake up in the morning. He never barks, just strikes and kills without a sound—and goes on to the next victim.

Chipper loved to torture Scooter when he was a puppy. He would keep Scooter at bay by growling and snapping and generally demonstrating who was in charge at every opportunity. One day Scooter, now much heavier and certainly twice the length of Chipper, decided he’d had enough. He promptly bit Chipper’s ear off. As my husband dove for the half ear to rescue it, Scooter looked him squarely in the eye and swallowed hard. All gone!

After repeated fights, both dogs were neutered, a feature that only slightly tempered their urge to kill each other but in no way got rid of their basic aggressiveness. Both of them will stand up to a dog any size at the drop of a hat. I think the breed is missing the gene that helps evaluate size because it’s hard to imagine that every Jack Russell was born with a Napoleonic complex.

 

The Trials

Recently, we hosted a regional championship Jack Russell trials, complete with agility, go-to-ground, races, conformation, and some other classes. A glaring omission in the prize list was a class for obedience—what a surprise! The Jacks are the nightmare of every dog school instructor, and perhaps the accepted fact that they “don’t train well” is one of the reasons for the popularity that they enjoy with horse people.

After all, when you spend all day schooling horses, you have little energy left to train the dog. If the dog is known to be virtually untrainable, you can shrug, sigh, and apologize for his unruly behavior while feeling confident that everyone understands that things are beyond your control.

One positive feature is the “easy handling,” which allows you to carry, transport, wash, and hide in hotel rooms this little dog, which will wake up the whole hotel with his sharp barking if the spirit moves him.

The Jacks always stray where they aren’t supposed to be at horse shows, but they rarely get in trouble (although you do). They have a sixth sense about horses and appear to know from birth how to avoid being flattened by their hooves, even while in hot pursuit of game.

A good hunting Jack—which is 99 percent of them—is far better than a cat as a deterrent for rats, since they waste no time playing games. They just carry on like little killing machines, displaying the most ardent bloodthirst and pure joy in hunting. They may look sweet and innocent curled up on the couch, but you can see your little pooch get up, stretch, yawn and say to himself, “Well, I think I’ll go kill something.”

 

Everything but Boring

A few years ago, I ran into a man at Dressage at Devon in Pennsylvania who was posted next to a cage with four Jack Russell puppies. All our relatives and friends had at least one by then, so I wasn’t interested, but I had a German girl with me who went all aflame and ran to call her parents about the possibilities of becoming owned by a Jack Russell.

While she was away, the man with the puppies asked me, “Don’t you want a puppy?”

“Absolutely not,” I said, “I can’t stand them.”

The man hesitated, then leaned closer to me and whispered, “Neither can I. These belong to my wife.”

We then commiserated about the horrors of the breed until we ran out of breath.

“So,” he asked when we were finally through, “how many Jacks do you have?”

I reluctantly admitted to two. He also had two, in addition to the puppies. We each confessed we probably would always have at least one around.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because,” said the man, “all other dogs bore me.”

 

In COLLECTIVE REMARKS: A Journey through the American Dressage Evolution: Where It’s Been, Where We Are, and Where We Need to Be, Anne Gribbons shares the best (and in some cases, the worst!) of her personal experiences over the last 40 years as a rider, trainer, breeder, facility owner, sponsor, competitor, instructor, coach, and judge. With almost 70 chapters based on Anne’s popular “Between Rounds” column in The Chronicle of the Horse, readers essentially experience “time travel,” reliving challenges and celebrations alike, with the opportunity to critically ponder the changing face of dressage in the United States over two decades.

Anyone with an interest in dressage, its controversies, its most famous names, and its future in the United States will enjoy Anne’s stories, but the true value is in her ideas for improving our horses, our riders, and our ability to compete on the international scene with success and integrity in the years to come.

Download another FREE excerpt from COLLECTIVE REMARKS by CLICKING HERE.

 

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11 Things Learned at the 2014 Dressage Festival of Champions

TSB had a great time at the Dressage Festival of Champions this weekend! Here Tina Konyot congratulates Calecto V on a job well done.

TSB had a great time at the Dressage Festival of Champions this weekend! Here Tina Konyot congratulates Calecto V on a job well done.

 

Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com) is just back from a weekend on the hallowed ground of the United States Equestrian Team’s (USET) headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey. There some of our nation’s best dressage riders, horses, judges, and luminaries gathered to award our national championships, and to select the short list of rider-horse combinations who will represent the US at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, August 23 through September 7, 2014.

It was a great weekend of dressage, from the ponies to the Grand Prix. And between ogling the Welsh cobs and their immense cuteness and admiring the unbelievable mirror-like gleam of Lisa Wilcox’s riding boots, we also learned a thing or two.

 

1  Even on the hottest days, metal bleachers are cold on your rear. And they are the hardest thing you’ve ever sat on—especially after five hours of freestyles. Note to self: Bring stadium seating next time.

2  All-wheel drive is as important in New Jersey as it is in Vermont. After thunderstorms and heavy rainfall on Friday, Saturday morning dawned wet and muddy. The romance of parking in the same fields de Nemethy and Chapot once rode through evaporates fairly quickly when your tires sink a good 4 inches and the convertible next to you looks like it spent the weekend on a class-4 road in New England in April.

3  Even dressage riders rock out to Eminem. Case in point: Chris Hickey’s I1 freestyle on Ronaldo.

4  It is entirely possible to kick butt at Grand Prix in your twenties! Go Laura Graves! Yeah Caroline Roffman!

5  You should come to these events willing to ingest multiple orders of french fries at various times throughout the day. Note to self: Bring Tums next time.

6  Dressage judges work incredibly long days. The Festival’s jury, which included TSB authors Janet Foy and Anne Gribbons, left their assigned posts only during scheduled 15-minute breaks, breaks between classes, and when the last score had been tallied each evening. I have a newfound respect for dressage judges (and scribes, and runners, and other show staff) for their focus, attention, and the great care they give their own performance in “grading” the riders and horses appearing before them. Not to mention their appearance…all the judges looked great, all weekend long. Bravo! And in case we all don’t say it often enough: THANK YOU.

Seriously, how DOES Lisa Wilcox get her boots to shine like that?

8  It helps the riders get through their pirouettes if all the spectators in the stands cluck together under their breath.

9  Spectators at events own big dogs. Spectators at dressage shows own small dogs. I don’t know why, it’s just a thing.

10  It still feels pretty darn special to wander through the Rotunda at Gladstone and imagine training with our country’s past greats in the USET headquarters’ heyday back in the 1960s. If you ever harbored a fantasy, however momentary, of riding for the US in the Olympics one day, make the pilgrimage to the old Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey. Although time has surely changed it, you can still tick it off your horsey bucket list.

11  Buy yourself a USEF hat or jacket emblazoned with USA and support our equestrian athletes. It looks like it will be an exciting year!

 

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The USEF named the following short list for WEG 2014 following the weekend’s dressage competition:

 

Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) and Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92

Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own Verdades

Jan Ebeling (Moorpark, Calif.) and Beth Meyer, Ann Romney, and Amy Ebeling’s Rafalca

Adrienne Lyle (Ketchum, Idaho) and Peggy Thomas’ Wizard

Tina Konyot (Palm City, Fla.) and her own Calecto V

Caroline Roffman (Wellington, Fla.) and her own Her Highness O

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Patricia Stempel’s Doktor

Lisa Wilcox (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Betty Wells’ Denzello

 

FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy is the author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE. For more about her book, CLICK HERE.

FEI/USEF dressage judge Anne Gribbons is the author of COLLECTIVE REMARKS, which is due to be released in August and is available for PREORDER HERE.

Head Groom for Former Technical Advisor of the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons Shares Her Thoughts on Learning to Hear What Our Horses Have to Say

Kristen McDonald speaks with Anne Gribbons, who she has groomed for since

Kristen McDonald speaks with FEI dressage judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons.

Kristen McDonald, groom for former Technical Advisor of the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons, grew up a member of the US Pony Club, competing in amateur eventing, dressage, and hunter shows. She began at Anne’s training facility, Knoll Dressage outside of Orlando, Florida, as a working student before working her way up to becoming Anne’s personal groom. In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, the exciting new book from renowned animal behaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones, Kristen shares her thoughts on the role of the groom in the dressage horse’s life:

“There is an old Irish tale that depicts the island of Inishnills, where unicorns run free. Only those who believe in the magic power of the unicorns could ever be lucky enough to witness their purity and beauty, and perhaps earn their companionship. The man who acknowledges the unicorn as sacred and treats him with love and respect will have an ever-faithful friend and partner of unparalleled magnificence.

“A good partnership works both ways. Like the unicorn who devotes himself to the man who believes in his magic, the horse will willingly carry his rider safely if, in return, the rider does everything within his means to make the experience as comfortable and safe as possible.

“As riders, we must listen to the horse and learn his language, just as the horse strives to learn ours. I believe that learning to hear what the horse is telling you starts long before you are ready to get on his back.

“As a professional groom the very best advice I can give is to know your horse and his body. Not only does this ensure you catch small physical problems (strains or injuries) before they become bigger, more painful, and more expensive to deal with, but it also helps you discover the methods of handling the horse that keep him happy and sound.

“For example, the stallion I ride loves a metal curry rubbed gently but firmly all over his back. How do I know he loves it? When I begin to use the curry in slow, circular motions, he sighs, drops his head, and sticks out his nose, indicating I found ‘The Spot.’

“Another horse in my care is incredibly sensitive to any grooming. I must move really slowly, using only the softest brushes in my kit as I try to find the places he enjoys being touched before I move on to the areas that cause him anxiety—his back and underbelly. This horse is an excellent example of one who directs me to potential health problems by using body language—he now receives chiropractic treatment for his lower back, which is sometimes sore, and is on a special diet and medication for a mild tendency to develop stomach ulcers. As I am his only groom, I am very in tune to when his ailments may be flaring up: his behavior changes in his stall, on the cross-ties, and under saddle.

“When I ride, I like to use lots of praise to reward good work. I want the horse to know he has performed well so he is happy to do it again in the future. Once mounted, I always begin by giving the horse a sugar cube before he steps off. This helps teach your horse to stand still while you mount (he’s waiting for the sugar cube!), but I also have a friend who calls the practice ‘putting a quarter in’—I’m setting my horse up for an enjoyable ride by beginning with a positive moment.

“Working for Anne Gribbons has been the experience of a lifetime. She is one of my best friends, as well as my boss and trainer, because she knows that I love her horses as much as she does and will stop at nothing to care for and protect them. I feel we owe it to our horses to treat them fairly and provide for them. We expect them to grant us a ride on their back, pull a heavy load, or breed with another horse of our choosing. More often than not, they are willing and compliant to do our bidding. Only when we have attempted to learn the language of the horse can we even begin to repay him for his service and obedience.”

You can read more about grooming for optimal dressage performance in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, which is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

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It’s a Wrap: Schooling with Anne Gribbons and an Afternoon with Sean Patrick

Anne Gribbons schooling a young horse at Knoll Farm.

Anne Gribbons schooling a young horse at Knoll Farm.

TSB’s “on the road” experience wrapped up today, first with a follow-up to Knoll Farm to watch former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons school horses and give lessons, and then with a trip out to New Smyrna to visit TSB author Sean Patrick and his wife Alisha on their farm. It was another great day, and in fact, it was the finest day weather-wise that we’ve seen since we’ve been in the South—mid-seventies and clear skies. We were over the moon when we found we could shed our jackets for a few hours and soak up some sun before our flight back to the hinterlands early tomorrow.

We just love Sean Patrick’s bestselling book, as well as his DVD series, both named THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE. But in spending time with him, and with Alisha, who is also a horse person, we were further convinced of his ability to create a soft, responsive mount with a great foundation, ready to perform in any number of disciplines. Not only did we get to handle one of the new “babies” on Sean’s property, I also got to have a bit of a jog around the massive covered arena on a horse Sean started and that has only been going under saddle for three weeks. This Quarter Horse, formerly a stud, was such a joy that TSB Managing Director Martha Cook and I found ourselves discussing ways to purchase him and ship him back home to Vermont! We loved his sanity, the beginnings of a soft feel that were already apparent, and his general willingness. With these building blocks in place, there’s no doubt this horse can go on to be whatever his owner dreams he could be.

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It has been a super trip, with much seen and much learned. We hope it can go toward strengthening our intention to provide educational books “for the good of the horse.”

Knoll Farm, Arabian Nights, and the Horse Tales Literacy Project

After one night in Vero Beach, where we did indeed lay our eyes on the ocean (just before promptly proclaiming it was “darned cold”), we ventured out to former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons’ Knoll Farm in Chuluota. (“Chuluota” means “Isle of Pines”—just a little Florida trivia for you.) It was a terrific afternoon spent looking at Anne’s amazing collection of photographs taken over the years and talking dressage, as well as visiting the barns and meeting some of the horses in residence.

We capped off the day by taking in the Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Orlando, where we were impressed by the quality of the riding and the general appreciation the performers showed their horses, with the occasional pat or stroke after a job well done, even while in the spotlight. The evening ends with a terrific “act,” where the “horse performers” are turned out loose in the arena, and the audience is invited to venture down to watch their antics and meet the riders. We so enjoyed seeing the equine crew having a good roll, a little tussle, and just basically being allowed to be “horses.”

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Mark Miller, owner and CEO of Arabian Nights, was kind enough to introduce himself and tell us a little about his family’s breeding business—Al-Marah Arabians—as well as the Horse Tales Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Project), which he formed with his friend Tim Farley (son of author Walter Farley). Horse Tales Literacy Project is composed of both school-based and community programs where activities are developed around Walter Farley’s books and other classic horse literature, and since its inception in 1999 has inspired 600,000 first and fourth-fifth grade children to read—obviously, a cause we whole-heartedly support! Visit horsetalesliteracy.org to find out more about the program and how you can become involved.

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Astounding 2011 Pan Am Games Results Prove There Are “Predictable Paths to ‘Making It,’” Says Denny Emerson

Buck Davidson, featured in Denny Emerson's book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, won the Team Gold and Individual Bronze in eventing at the 2011 Pan Am Games.

You know how a good agent can pick a raw manuscript and know it will be a bestseller? How a professional gambler knows where to place his bets? We like to say luck plays a part—which it certainly does—but the agent and gambler have something else in common. They both know their “business” and do a lot of research before making a choice or making a play. Whether luck is on their side or not, both the agent and the gambler KNOW what it takes to make a winner.

If Denny Emerson made book deals with top riders, it is clear after the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico that he would have several bestsellers on his hands.

If Denny Emerson placed bets on the results of the Pan Am Games, chances are, he would have made some money over the past week.

If you haven’t heard, the US Eventing Team took home the Team Gold in an unprecedented effort (all five team members added nothing to their dressage scores, a feat never before achieved in team eventing championships). Terrific performances by Buck Davidson and Michael Pollard provided the foundation of the effort—and both Buck and Michael are featured in Denny’s bestselling book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD as examples of riders doing what it takes to get to the top, and stay there.

Michael Pollard, another member of the Gold-Medal-winning eventing team, is also a featured "good rider" in Denny's book.

Did Denny know that Buck and Michael would find such success when he determined that their stories were worth including in the pages of his recent book? Well, in the world of horse sports, no one can ever know for sure. But Denny does know what it takes to make a winner. And he knew both Buck and Michael had the right stuff—the work ethic, the support system, the “true grit” that he writes about in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD—to propel them to the top.

Anne Gribbons, technical advisor to the US Dressage Team and another contributor to HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, helped lead the way to Team Gold in dressage.

They also both have the right horse, another integral factor on the path to achieving your riding dreams, according to Denny. And in Buck’s case, even his mount Absolute Liberty (owned by Sharon Will), has a connection to HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD—her sire, Aberjack, is pictured with New Zealander Mark Todd, named by the FEI “Horseman of the Century,” in the chapter where Denny examines what it takes to choose the right horse for the riding job and the riding dream.

It’s no secret that the US Dressage Team dominated the Games, as well, with a “dream team” of sorts on horseback, coached by technical advisor Anne Gribbons.

And yep, Denny featured Anne in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, too.

“This is it,” says Denny. “The Pan Am results validate the message I am trying to get across in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD. There are predictable paths to ‘making it.’ Buck and Michael’s successes are evidence of how it works.”

Denny Emerson's book is said to be "as close to a blueprint for success as we've ever seen."

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, the book John Strassburger (Performance Editor, Horse Journal) calls “as close to a blueprint for success as we’ve ever seen” is available now at Trafalgar Square Books’ online bookstore www.HorseandRiderBooks.com, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Don’t wait. Get good NOW.

Denny Emerson’s New Book–What Will It Do for YOU?

I’d say 8 out of 10 of my New Year’s Resolutions this year were inspired by Olympic eventer and Tevis Cup buckle-winner Denny Emerson’s new book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD (one of the perks of my job is getting to read fantastic material before everyone else…) The ideas he shares are hands-down some of the best I’ve come across, not only in terms of determining the course of your own riding career, but also in terms of deciding who you are going to be in this life–and by this I mean “in general,” whether your actions involve horses or not.

Denny’s theories, stories, and advice are reinforced by some of the top names in equestrian sport, from all kinds of disciplines, including eventing, reining, dressage, endurance, show jumping, driving, and hunters. His book includes “how I did it” profiles and photos from Beezie Madden, James Stierhoff, Anne Gribbons, Gina Miles, Sandy Collier, Georgina Bloomberg, Larry Poulin, Michael Pollard, Clinton Anderson, Laura Kraut, Jane Savoie, Mary King, Havens Schatt, Meg Sleeper, Stacy Westfall, Buck Davidson, Geoff Teall, Callan Solem, Robin Groves, Leslie Law, Louise Serio, Peter Wylde, and Courtney King-Dye.

RIGHT NOW we’re offering a special book release discount to our Facebook friends and visitors. Pop by our Facebook page for the limited offer coupon code and order your copy of HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD today!