Horse-Lover’s Gift Idea: A Great Western Dressage Primer from Western Dressage Association Advisory Director Lynn Palm

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Since the early 1990s, Lynn Palm has been a major proponent for showing the American Quarter Horse in the dressage discipline. After nearly 20 years, on January 1, 2010, the AQHA agreed to recognize dressage as a event in which points could be earned. That same year, nationally known trainers Eitan Beth-Halachmy and Jack Brainard spurred formation of the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA), an organization that now has seven recognized state associations and is growing at astounding speed.

Dressage is simply the french word for “training.” By building a dressage foundation, a horse can gain suppleness, flexibility, and balance, all while strengthening the rider-and-horse partnership. Through the standardized progressive training methods of dressage, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform is maximized. Horses trained correctly are able to perform various maneuvers while remaining relaxed and giving the illusion of effortlessness.

AnnMarie Brockhouse, who serves as WDAA executive assistant and is a co-founder of the Western Dressage Association of Minnesota, explains that the nonprofit WDAA developed from knowledge of the importance of dressage “regardless of the tack it was being utilized in.” And TSB author Lynn Palm, winner of four Superhorse titles, is one of the leading proponents for good training, regardless of your tack or your outfit. Her fun, easy-to-use book THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION provides 26 dressage exercises, separated into basic, intermediate, and advanced sections. With terrific full-color photos and clear diagrams, its a terrific book for anyone looking to get a start in the new and exciting sport of Western dressage.

“Lynn understands that good training is just good training. She uses basic dressage principles as the foundation for all her work,” says US Olympic Dressage Team Alternate Jane Savoie. “Lynn’s book THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION explains the what, why, and ‘how-to’ of teaching your horse to collect. It discusses a number of factors that affect a horse’s ability to shift his weight back and lighten the forehand. And probably most importantly, Lynn explains the ingredients that go into laying the correct foundation to achieve true collection so you don’t resort to shortcuts that only create an artificial headset.”

THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Singer/Songwriter Templeton Thompson Talks About Choosing Nashville Over Law School, Making Music with Heart and Horse Sense, and 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman

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We at TSB were thrilled to steal a little of singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson’s time, giving us a chance to ask her a little about her new album—a collection of the music inspired by and featured in the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD series—as well as the opportunity to ask her a little about her past with horses and her path to Nashville. SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS is available now on the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

TSB: How long have you been writing and singing and how did you know it was what you wanted to do with your life?

TT: Well, I started getting paid to write professionally in 1995. I had moved to Nashville, or “Nashvegas” as some of us call it, in 1992, right after I graduated from the University of Virginia. I had a gig as an intern at Arista Records when I got to town. I waited a lot of tables and tended bar to pay my rent and basically spent my “free time” learning how to write songs. I was “green as grass,” really clueless about singing, writing, the music biz, but I feel like those three years I spent in Nashville before I landed my first publishing deal were “grad school” for me. I think from a very young age, I knew in my heart and soul that I wanted to make music my career, but I had a lot of people in my life telling me to take the safe path, so, those were my plans for a while. I went to college with the intention of going to law school, I even took the LSATs (and promptly cancelled my scores after taking the test!) I knew to my soul that that wasn’t my path. I literally decided right then and there, “I’m going to Nashville!!” I am SO glad I followed my heart and not my head on that one.

Templeton Thomposon and her horses, Jane and Beau.

Templeton Thomposon and her horses, Jane and Beau.

TSB: Horses are often a feature in your songs. How long have you had horses in your life and how have they become a source of creative inspiration?

TT: I’ve had horses in my life even before I was born! My sweet horse crazy mommacita was riding while she was preggers with yours truly…I came into this world horse crazy!! I’ve had my big, “beauty~full” ROCKSTAR horses Jane and Beau for what feels like forever now. Sam and I met them when they were yearlings, and they came to live with us in Tennessee (and officially became our babies) when they were around two.

I’ve been writing songs with the “wonder~full” horses in my life since I was a kid. Now, who knows what kind of songs—I’m certainly not sayin’ they were any good but nonetheless, I’ve been singin’ from my horses’ backs since I was a kid. Jane and Beau are AMAZIN’ co-writers; they’re my horsey muses. They keep me honest and in the moment and are great at helping me “turn the editor OFF!!”

TSB: Your songs are featured on albums by country music superstars, including Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, and Little Texas. What is it like to hear a song you wrote sung by someone else?

TT: AWESOME!! Truly AWESOME!!:) I’ll never forget going through the drive thru at Taco Bell a while back now and hearing Reba singing the song of mine that she recorded…AND I was singing background with her on the record! I still can’t BELIEVE that!! she’s an AMAZING lady and cowgirl and I’m dreamin’ BIG that one day she’ll record another of my tunes. Maybe I’ll even get to sing with her again…

TSB: Your wonderful music adds so much to the new DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN, and you now have an album available for purchase and download called SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS. How did you come to be involved in the project?

TT: Our ROCKSTAR COWGIRL dear friend and angel Patti Hall, who first introduced me and Sam to Buck Brannaman, is who introduced us to another ROCKSTAR COWGIRL, Cindy Meehl [the director of BUCK the documentary and 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN]!! While Cindy was filming the BUCK documentary, Patti kept trying to figure out ways for me and Sam to meet her. It never could come together while the documentary was being filmed BUT one “beauty~full” and life-changing April day, back when BUCK the film was being shown at the Nashville Film Festival, Patti made that meeting happen, and well, as they say, the rest is 7 CLINICS history!! We gave Cindy some music that day, stayed in touch and became buds. About a year later, she asked us to be a musical part of the 7 CLINICS series. We were SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity, and we feel INCREDIBLY BLESSED to be a part of the project, it is FANTABULOUS!!!!

TSB: You have had the wonderful opportunity to ride with Buck Brannaman, and you have said that 7 CLINICS “feels like being at a Buck clinic.” If you could be sure that viewers take away one lesson from the 7 CLINICS series, what would you hope it would be?

TT: I had to REALLY think about this question, and I had a REALLY hard time narrowing it down to just one thing…it’s ALL SO GREAT, and I know I may sound biased since I’m such a BIG FAN of both Buck and Cindy, but I mean it. This series has set the bar on a whole new level in the world of horsemanship DVDs. Even if I’d never ridden with Buck before, I’d be able to “get” what he’s talking about. I LOVE that the DVDs really get a point across, so if you missed something and you’re thinking, “Wow, I wish he’d explain that again,” well, he does, right at that exact moment when you need and want him to. It’s perfect!! The series is put together beautifully—not only am I learning every moment, I’m also entertained and drawn in, like I’m watching a continuation of, oh, I don’t know, the multi-award-winning documentary, BUCK! Like I said, this DVD series has set the bar HIGH.

I’ll say for me, that until I watched the series, I wasn’t aware of where my horses’ feet were. Now I find myself really paying attention and wanting to know where they are and finally starting to FEEL where they are. YEE HA!! Little light bulbs…I LOVE those moments!! I hope this series will help folks to slow down, to breathe, and to always, always CELEBRATE the TRY. It’s helped me SO MUCH and continues to help me be a better cowgirl for my horses and to ultimately just be BETTER. I’m a work in progress, but I’m gettin’ there.

CLICK HERE to order the music inspired by and written for 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN.

CLICK HERE to order the music inspired by and written for 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN.

TSB: Cindy Meehl, director of the award-winning documentary BUCK and 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN, is directing your new music video. Can you tell us a little about the song from the video and what it has been like putting the video together?

TT: The song’s called “When I Get That Pony Rode,” and it is one of the songs we re-recorded exclusively for the 7 CLINICS project. It was inspired by Buck’s book, The Faraway Horses. At a point in the book, Buck talks about “the consequences of a fast turn,” and we actually tried writing a song with that title with our co-writer on the song, but it just wasn’t working. Then, magically, like they often tend to do, the title “When I Get That Pony Rode” appeared…the song is for everyone out there working their tails off doing what they LOVE and what they’re passionate about and knowing, really knowing, that they really are going to have somethin’ to show when they “get that pony rode.” The song is a metaphor for that journey and everything that goes with it—the joy and the pain of it all, what ya gotta go through to get there.

Making the video with Cindy and the whole ROCKSTAR team was AMAZING!! It was an absolute honor to work with Cindy, Jen, and the crème de la crème of the music video world…I am forever GRATEFUL to some of our ROCKSTAR friends in the business who helped us put together an over-the-top INCREDIBLE team. And, I am such a PROUD mama cowgirl of my BIG “beauty~full” horses Jane & Beau…they shined like the diamonds they are on the screen. I can’t wait for everyone to see them doin’ their thang.

I’ll be forever grateful to Cindy for her AMAZING kindness, friendship, belief, and generosity…getting to make the video was a dream come true for me. I’ve only ever been a fly on the wall on a music video set like that…I’m plannin’ on doin’ MORE of THAT…I like it A LOT!

Dreamin’ BIG!!

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

TT: For some reason I remember sitting bareback on an AWESOME horse named “Shorty” who belonged to my Godpapa, Charlie, in Texas. What a great horse and what an AWESOME cowboy. Even though he did try and convince a very naïve little girl that ropes actually grew in the ground! He got a kick out of pulling ropes out of the ground and acting as if it was their latest ranch “crop.” He thought he had me fooled but I knew what was goin’ on! Makes me grin BIG thinkin’ about him and sweet Shorty.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

TT: You know, for the life of me I can’t remember but what IS coming to mind is me as a kid in Texas, probably 8 or 10, leadin’ my “beauty~full” sorrel mare, Anna, and not payin’ attention. I tripped and fell right in front of her and she did everything in her power not to step on me. She protected me. I’ll never forget that. She taught me so much.

Just thinkin’ about her and recalling that memory, I DO remember one time when we lived in Virginia, years later, loping through a pasture. Anna would jump everything—twigs, bushes, you name it—and she’d jump everything BIG too. I remember getting the giggles while we were running and suddenly Anna Banana shot me like a cannon straight up and out. I swear I was up in the wild blue yonder for what seemed like a lifetime! I remember bracing for impact and it hurting since I came down like, what does Buck say, “a lawn dart”! Oh yeah, it hurt, but I didn’t get hurt. That was back when I was young and I BOUNCED!!

Funny, I suddenly do recall a really, REALLY black eye somewhere around my year 16…shoot, that was nothin’ compared to the bumps and breaks I wound up with down the road, but “what doesn’t kill ya, only makes you stronger…there’s always a “lesson in there somewhere,” which reminds me of a little song:

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

TT: An AQHA mare named Jane and an AQHA appendix gelding named Beau…we’d read Seabiscuit and have too much fun playin’ on the beach and in the surf…we’d be like Alex Farley and the Black Stallion (oh yeah, we’d have that book too!!)

TSB: If your desert island had an iphone, WiFi, and 10 free song downloads, what would be on your playlist?

TT: Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Pink, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt, Sara Bareilles, Dan Fogelberg, Kenny Edwards, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, Sheryl Crow…dang, that’s more than 10!

It’s too hard and there are too many other artists I’d LOVE to be listening to and too many songs to name, ughhh!!

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

TT: Canned cat food and carrots!

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

TT: Where I am right now. I am so, SO BLESSED and over the moon HAPPY and GRATEFUL. My “beauty~full” two- and four-legged family is happy and healthy, and I’m married to THE MOST AMAZIN’ COWBOY on the PLANET!! We have INCREDIBLE people in our lives who are family to us:) I know I keep usin’ the word but I mean it, we’re so dang BLESSED!!

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

TT: Loyalty, authenticity, honesty, communication.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

TT: EVERYTHING I mentioned above! I LOVE how honest horses are and how they keep us two-leggeds honest and accountable. They will NOT let us lie, to ourselves or to ANYONE. I LOVE that. I swear this world would be such a better place if everyone spent some time with a horse.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

TT: Four-cheese pizza, Greek salad, and LOTS of CHOCOLATE!!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

TT: What’s a vacation? HOME with my man and my babies!

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

TT: Man, y’all ask really hard, REALLY cool questions, hmmmm…Shakespeare, I’d LOVE to talk to him about his craft. I LOVED my Shakespeare class in college. I had an AMAZING Shakespeare professor at UVA. I can still see and hear him teaching with SO much JOY and PASSION; he obviously loved teaching and that love washed over his classroom. He was like a big kid talkin’ about Shakespeare. You know, for the life of me I can’t think of that “wonder~full” professor’s name, but just this moment, i’m realizing he played a really BIG part in me wanting to make a career in doing something I LOVED.

I reckon I owe that sweet man a BIG thank you and a BIG HUG!!

Here’s to doin’ what you LOVE and LOVIN’ what you do!

TSB: What is your motto?

TT: My hippie chic cowgirl philosophy pretty much sums it up…dream big * work hard * have faith!

The hippie chic cowgirl philosophy:

it’s a way of thinkin,’ livin’ and lovin’

it’s dreamin’ and doin,’
 always reachin’ and never quittin’

it’s jumpin’ in with both feet without worryin’ too much if your boots get wet

runnin’ wide open with the wind in your mane
 and havin’ it made in the shade of the tallest tree

it’s seein’ through kind and loving eyes 
and knowin’ who you are clear down to your soul

it’s sittin’ down when you need to rest
and standin’ up for what you believe in

it’s followin’ your heart, hangin’ on by your fingernails and learnin’ to let go

it’s seein’ a beauty~full blue sky beyond the clouds, even if it’s rainin’
and always keepin’ a little sunshine in your pocket, saved up for that rainy day

it’s takin’ the trail less traveled even if it’s a bumpy road 
and bein’ in the here and now and right at home in the company of dreamers, colorin’ way outside the lines

and it’s always sayin, “now, bring on that horizon, i am not afraid, ’cause i know who i am…
for I am a hippie chic cowgirl, proud to call this planet cowgirl home!!!!!!!!!

dream big 
work hard 
have faith 

©templeton thompson

CLICK HERE TO ORDER TEMPLETON THOMPSON’S SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS TODAY

TSB Author Lynn Palm Shares Liberty Training Tips in AMERICA’S HORSE Excerpt

THE RIDER'S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is featured in the September 2011 issue of America's Horse, the official magazine of the AQHA.

An excerpt from Lynn Palm’s newest book THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is featured in the September 2011 issue of America’s Horse–the official magazine of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Lynn gives tips for using your body and voice when working a horse at liberty—one of the ways she likes to exercise her horses in preparation for work that demands a particular “frame” or “collection,” in both Western and English tack.

Interested in Western Dressage? Check out the Western Dressage Association of America (westerndressageassociation.org), of which Lynn is an Advisory Director. And, get a copy of THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION—it was recently reviewed in USDF Connection (the official magazine of the United States Dressage Federation), and here’s what they said:

“What hasn’t Lynn Palm done? From bridleless demonstrations and AQHA Superhorse titles to ribbons in hunters and dressage, this versatile horsewoman has a vast wealth of practical experience, all rooted in solid dressage basics. Palm brings her sensible, cross-discipline approach to THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION, in which she leads the reader through easy-to-follow ABCs of dressage principles that can be applied to any horse in any type of program. Emphasizing the universality of dressage, it’s particularly fun to see the photos of Palm demonstrating shoulder-in and other dressage moves aboard various breeds and in Western, hunter seat, and dressage saddles.” —USDF CONNECTION

THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is available at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Don’t Miss TSB Author Lynn Palm on HRTV This Season!

Lynn Palm—2007 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Horsewoman of the Year and the Women’s Athletic Association Female Equestrian of the Year, with over 34 AQHA World and Reserve World Championships to her name—has announced what will be featured on the new season of her HRTV® show. HRTV, the “Network for Horse Sports,” regularly features Lynn’s show “Palm Training,” which promises upcoming episodes that include two series: Successfully Traveling with Horses and the Trail Ability Training Series, focusing on natural obstacles both in hand and under saddle.

By popular demand, Lynn’s upcoming shows will feature Unforgettable Rugged Lark, AQHA Hall of Fame inductee, and his owner/breeder and AQHA Hall of Fame member, Carol Harris. “Palm Training” airs on HRTV Dish 404 Tuesday evenings, with additional airings throughout the week and on demand at HRTVlive.com.Visit HRTV on the web, or Lynn’s website (see our links on the right-hand side of the page) for information.

Lynn’s new book THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is a masterful mix of down-to-earth instruction and legitimate exercises to attain collection with any horse—and especially stock-type horses, whose conformation can often make reaching the goal of collection more of a challenge.

THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION is available from the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.