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Posts Tagged ‘Arabian Nights’

Photo by Erika N. Walsh

Photo by Erika N. Walsh

 

Yvonne Barteau, author of THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, is a career horsewoman. And while perhaps that doesn’t make her unusual or particularly different from the other authors we have featured in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series, her varied experiences certainly do. She began as a groom, and later, a trainer, at racetracks along the East Coast, before becoming a horsewoman who specialized in restarting “problem horses.” Eventually, she entered the equine theater business, spending over five years as the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and Feature Performer at the Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida. Since then she has devoted herself to dressage and teaching students, training more than ten horses to the Grand Prix level and coaching many riders to year-end and Regional Championships. And she and her husband Kim continue to entertain audiences around the globe with stunning liberty work and theater shows featuring a variety of breeds and disciplines.

So what is the typical day in Yvonne’s life like?

“My life takes on different shapes throughout the year, depending on either the competition or exhibition dates we have on the calendar,” she says. “I have quite a few things I am preparing for now that occupy my hours.”

Here’s a glimpse behind the curtain at what it’s like to walk 24 hours in Yvonne Barteau’s boots.

Yvonne Barteau and her 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Indy.

Yvonne Barteau and her 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Indy.

5:00 a.m.  I’m usually up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. The good old days of the racetrack have stuck with me a long time. I’ll have one cup of coffee and a couple of cookies for breakfast and let my two dogs, Gimme and Weezer (one a Jack Russell and the other a Jack-Corgi mix) out in the yard to play. If my horse training abilities were judged on how well those two rascals are trained, I would likely go hungry. They kind of do what they want for most of their day and demand something from me every time they see me.

Early morning is my writing and business time, and I try to get done with it by sixish. I then get ready and head down to the barn before my crew gets there. I always visit my good buddy Ray first. He is the Holsteiner stallion I trained to Grand Prix and would let live in the house with me if I could! Sergio our barn manager is usually feeding at this time. Right now I am preparing Indy, my little Thoroughbred, for the Retired Racehorse Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge, so I often get him out and let him have his breakfast “picnic style,” lying down in the arena or the field.

7:00 a.m.  My crew arrives and we talk about the day’s schedules, lessons, and horses to work, deciding who will work what. This is also “meeting time” if we have an upcoming exhibition we are preparing for. Next on our schedule is the Denver Stock Show in January, and we are deciding how we will bring The Sound of Music and Chicago, to life, on horseback. I often put a first ride on Indy about this time so he can then go out for turnout before lunch.

 

Yvonne and her students put on fabulous equine theater productions at major events across the country throughout the year.

Yvonne and her students put on fabulous equine theater productions at major events across the country throughout the year.

8:00 a.m.  Usually Papi, the big 17-hand, 11-year-old Andalusion stallion who is converting from theater work to the dressage arena just this season and starting at the PSG level, gets a ride around now. We have many connection issues and lots of walk work to address, so I may spend over an hour on him, with over half of it at the walk.

9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  I may ride sale horses or teach my daughter Hudi during this time. I also have one regular Adult Amateur at 11:30 who is intent (and succeeding) in moving her horse up the levels with me only helping from the ground. She is fun and motivating to work with.

12:15 p.m.  I usually eat something while I catch up on computer work, which right now is movie editing. Our documentary on the making of an Equine Theater horse, called Into the Spotlight, is going to be in the Equus Film Festival in NYC and a few others this fall. It seems there is always “just one more edit” to do.

 

Yvonne made a name for herself as a horsewoman who can determine a horse's personality type and customize his training to suit.

Yvonne made a name for herself as a horsewoman who can determine a horse’s personality type and customize his training to suit.

1:00- 3:00 p.m. I have regular lessons to give here during this time, as well, and horses I ride or teach on that are in my five-day-a-week program.

3:00-5:00 p.m.  This is when the working students and apprentice trainers get their lessons, unless I have people who have shipped in for help. Right now, I usually get Indy out one more time to work on some Liberty or trick work before calling it a day with him. Project and sale horses are videoed if needed at this time and often it is more toward 7:00 p.m. before we all straggle up to the house.

8:00 p.m.  It is time for dinner, and I am the luckiest person in the world to have Kim, my husband, decide each day to make all of us a fabulous meal. We eat amazing and inventive meals each evening and many who have worked for us say the food and the home-cooked meals, are as much, or more, of an incentive, than the riding and training help they get!

Unless we have other guests over, after dinner we often watch a movie—or for me, part of one!

9-9:30 p.m. I am in bed because I love a good night’s sleep.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

You can read more about Yvonne Barteau and her dressage training philosophy in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO (which, by the way, is written from the horse’s point of view!), available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

JONATHAN FIELD

EMMA FORD

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

 

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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KYBManifesto

Grand Prix dressage rider and famed performer Yvonne Barteau has dedicated her life to discovering how to best communicate with horses.

“I have made understanding horses my life’s goal,” she says. “Growing up, I read every book about horses, training, and riding I could get my hands on, and during my teens I was willing to run seven miles beyond where the bus line ended so I could sit for hours and stare at horses, interacting with and riding them any time I had a chance.”

Before finding her way to dressage, Barteau spent years working at racetracks along the East Coast, first as a groom, then as a trainer.

“These young horses had lots to say, and I was someone who did listen,” explains Barteau. “I became the groom who could ‘tell’ when a horse was well, unwell, in a mood to win, or feeling off and likely to finish at the back of the pack. When one of my charges was off his feed, I figured out the reason. I paid extremely close attention because I wanted so badly to understand what each horse might say to me if he could talk.”

 

 

Barteau’s interest in understanding the horse led her to categorize horse personalities, eventually writing a book on the subject (Ride the Right Horse, Storey Publishing, 2007). These personality assessments helped as she began retraining problem horses and dealing with everything from bucking and rearing issues, to bolters and runaways.

“I eventually entered the equine theater business, and there I needed to pay close attention in order to be able to determine what would keep 67 horses working together in front of a live audience, night after night, while continuing to look agreeable and happy to do their jobs!” Barteau admits. “I was the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and a Feature Performer at the famous Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida, for over five years.”

Since her time in Florida, Barteau has devoted the bulk of her riding and teaching time to dressage.

“I believe it to be the best sport for a horse,” she asserts, “and I am ever so interested in anything that might make our equine friends more happy and comfortable doing their jobs.”

And this leads us to Barteau’s newest project: She’s written a book “from the horse’s mouth”—all the things a horse might say about the dressage training process if he could—called THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. From Training Level through Grand Prix, with Barteau’s help, 10 dressage horses tell us like it is: what feels good, what hurts, what they like, what they find boring, why you need more leg here and less rein there, and even how to ride a test, movement by movement, according to their training and tendencies.

“Hopefully, my words, which are based on reactions from horses I have met and worked with and strived to interpret over these many years, might help you in your journey,” says Barteau. “If they do, even in a small way, your horse will likely benefit…and that is my ultimate goal.”

THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free sample chapter!

 

“Because it is written from the horse’s perspective, this book is a different and valuable new guide to training dressage from start to finish. All the levels—and required movements and demands of each level—are clearly explained in great detail. Plentiful photos make clear the objectives of each training exercise. By developing an understanding of how horses mentally and physically react to their riders’ progression of training, we will be more likely to achieve the goal of harmony, which is so important in dressage. This is why THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is a must-read for all dressage enthusiasts.”

HILDA GURNEY

Two-Time Olympian, Six-Time National Grand Prix Dressage Champion, Three-Time USDF Dressage Breeder of the Year,  USEF “S” Dressage Judge, USDF Hall-of-Fame Inductee

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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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