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Posts Tagged ‘Better than Bombproof’

Whenever I take a moment to look back at the different ways horses have served us through time, I am once again reminded of how much we owe them. There’s no need to list them all here, I know…there are big, fat history books that can illustrate our intertwined existences quite thoroughly. But how often, as we watch a massive hook-and-ladder roar by or pull the car over for a fire engine to race past, do we remember that at one time horses were the means to firefighting? From around the Civil War until the 1920s, “fire engines” were truly horse-powered. It’s not surprising, perhaps, but when you think about the logistics, as a horse person, you might start to be amazed. Stabling in the firehouse? Harnessing and hitching at speed? Galloping through crowded city streets? Standing calmly beside a raging fire? What wouldn’t some of us give for a horse with the body and mind to withstand such pressures!

This short video gives you some idea as to how the fire horse lived and worked:

In his book BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF, TSB author Sgt. Rick Pelicano explains that the fire horses of our past are good examples of how important brave and “bombproof” horses are to humankind—even today. Here’s the story of one equine hero that Sgt. Pelicano shares:

Tom who was the last “fire horse” in Washington, DC. Tom’s heroic career demonstrates the importance of sane, dependable, responsive driving at a time when people depended upon horses to keep their homes intact and their loved ones safe. The story has great personal meaning to me, since Tom was named for my great-grandfather, Thomas Buckley, who was a member of the DC Fire Department.

Not every horse could serve as a fire horse. They had to live at the station, often stabled with bits in their mouths in order to be ready to run at the sound of the alarm. They had to be strong, swift, and agile, and yet quiet enough to stand in the face of a blaze while firefighters fought the flames and embers around them. They were remarkable examples of how brave and bombproof horses can improve the lives of humans—in more ways than one.

Horse-drawn fire engines were eventually replaced by the motorized sort we are familiar with today, and DC’s last fire horse and his “team”—Tom, Barney, and Gene—made their final ceremonial run in 1925. Tom was retired “to pasture” where he lived 12 more years. Upon his passing, a monument was erected in his memory, engraved with, “In Memory of Tom, Last Horse in the D.C.F.D.”

BetterThanBombproof-horseandriderbooks

The last run of Barney, Gene, and Tom, DC Fire Department horses, June 15, 1925. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, National Photo Company Collection

Thank you to all the horse heroes who have been brave, strong, patient souls we could rely on—our gratitude is deep and true.

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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Your horse can be a superhero, too!

Your horse can be a superhero, too!

No, it doesn’t mean your four-legged friend is indestructible, but it may make him a superhero! The bombproof horse is the one who safely packs around beginners and boyfriends and besties. He makes it easy on you at the end of the long, hard, work week, when you really and truly just want a quiet ride in the woods, sans fireworks. And while he may not win races or championships, he does a fair job winning our hearts.

Sgt. Rick Pelicano acquired his bombproofing skills as a mounted police officer with the Maryland National Park Police for over 25 years, and his two bestselling books BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE and BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF translate the techniques he used in preparing police horses and officers into easy-to-use lessons from which anyone can benefit. Here are the Top 10 ways Sgt. Pelicano recommends bombproofing your horse:

1  Teach your horse to round-pen, longe, and long-line—a horse that is obedient and manageable to your directions from the ground is more predictable and enjoyable to ride.

2  Learn the 7 “magic” under-saddle skills that install the controls you need to (almost!) always get the desired response from your horse: leg-yield, shoulder-in, rein-back, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, side-pass, and neck-reining.

3  Minimize “scary” obstacles—starting with a less-imposing version can help persuade your horse it isn’t so bad after all.

4  Begin potentially anxiety-producing activities on the ground—introduce your horse to a new situation or object before you climb aboard.

5  Perform repetitions—walk by the frightening bush, stump, mail box, or bike (whatever it may be) over and over and over, until your horse thinks nothing of it. Then walk by it again.

6  Divert your horse’s attention—when the loudspeaker at the show or the rustling in the bushes on the trail up ahead gives your horse the shakes, immediately give him a task, such as trotting a figure eight, so he pays attention to you and not what’s going on around him.

Get your horse moving—provide an outlet for his nervous energy to avoid evasion and conflict.

8  Change direction—approaching an unfamiliar object from a different angle can give your horse a fresh perspective.

Tell your horse everything is going to be all right—sometimes a little reassurance goes a long way.

10  Consistently and creatively school your horse in the bombproofing skills he should possess—cross water, walk on unusual surfaces, stand through loud noises and unknown odors, and cope with sudden disturbances.

For step-by-step instruction on how to bombproof your horse, check out: BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE and BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF by Sgt. Rick Pelicano, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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

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The last thing that ever crossed my mind when I was a kid riding my horse alone on the vast network of back roads and trails in central Vermont was the possibility of danger. Being out on the trail with my horse as my only companion was a happy place; a quiet place. It was a place for reflection and relaxation for both of us. Certainly, I wore a helmet. I told my parents where I was headed and gave them an estimated time of my return. But it was before cell phones (and they wouldn’t have worked where we lived, anyway), and really, other than the ever-present possibility of a fall from my horse, we didn’t think we had much to worry about.

The sad truth is that now homes and seasonal residences line many of those old roads, and where we once knew every family in a 20-mile radius, there are now mostly strangers. The shrinking of our “open” lands makes it far more likely I’ll run into other people using the roads and trails for other purposes. And without my pre-teen bravado casting a rosy veil over reality, I suddenly find myself wary of the individual hiker and leery of the lone car pulled over by the side of the road up ahead.

A fear-monger I am not, but I am an advocate for preparedness, and whether you are walking, running, or riding alone, it makes sense to know some basic defensive tactics that can help keep you safe, and instill the confidence that ensures you can continue to enjoy solitary rides along the path less traveled.

In his book BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF, Sgt. Rick Pelicano of the Maryland National Park Police, provides simple and effective techniques for staying safe on the trail. BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

4 Defensive Tactics for Riders

1  Stay Alert

The best line of defense, of course, is to avoid confrontation in the first place. As you ride, don’t allow yourself to grow complacent. Don’t develop “tunnel vision,” even if you sense something is amiss and are bent on your escape strategy. You may focus on one person in front of you while others are hidden somewhere close by. Look behind you every once in a while, as well, and don’t ever wear headphones or chat on your cell phone. With music or a conversation added to the sound of your horse’s hoof beats, you can be taken unaware very easily. Stay tuned in to your surroundings as you ride along.

 

Stay alert and keep your distance when you meet an unknown individual while out alone on the trail.

Stay alert and keep your distance when you meet an unknown individual while out alone on the trail.

 

2  Keep Your Distance

If you see someone who seems suspicious or you get that “wary” feeling, obey your instincts. The easiest deterrent is to put distance between yourself and possible trouble. Move away quickly or maneuver so there is an obstacle between you—a tree, bush, rock, or creek will work fine. And remember: You’re on horseback. If the person making you uncomfortable is on foot, you have the immediate advantage of being able to trot or canter away, and gain that safe distance far more quickly than you could if you were on foot.

When you are out alone and start to feel uncomfortable about a person approaching, do not—under any circumstances—allow him to pat your horse. When close enough to stroke your horse, he can easily pull the bridle off. Then, you really have a problem. We never allow a suspect to pat our horses, even during a standard traffic stop.

 

 

You can practice using your horse's hind end with the help of a friend and a martial arts training shield.

You can practice using your horse’s hind end with the help of a friend and a martial arts training shield.

 

3  Use Your Horse’s Hind End

Let’s imagine a scenario: An initially harmless looking jogger passes you, then turns and suddenly attacks. What should you do? You need to use your horse to “push” into the suspect, then get as far away as you can. Remember, every horse seems dauntingly powerful to a non-horseperson, and you have a number of options for self-defense with a well-bombproofed horse.

When thinking about how to use your horse as part of your self-defense strategy, visualize your vulnerable areas by imagining a heart-shaped barrier surrounding your horse’s body. His head is at the top of the heart and his hind end at the bottom. The rider is most vulnerable if she allows a suspect into the heart area because both sides of the horse’s head and neck are open to a grab for the bridle or reins. The heart-shaped barrier tapers at the rider’s sides and the horse’s hind end, indicating areas where the rider is again at advantage.

It is always preferable to move the horse’s hind end into the attacker; this reduces the chance of the suspect grabbing your reins or bridle and then controlling your horse. You can leg-yield, side-pass, perform a turn on the forehand, or simply ride a small semi-circle in order to use the hindquarters as a deterrent. In the process, the suspect can be pushed away, stepped on, or struck by various parts of the horse, and then you are free to make your getaway as rapidly as you can.

 

 

Drive your horse directly at an assailant to knock him off balance.

Drive your horse directly at an assailant to knock him off balance.

 

4  Drive Your Horse Forward

When an attacker attempts to take control of your reins from the front, put your legs on your horse and drive him forward directly into the assailant. Then, using your aids, you can immediately follow up by:

 

·      Leg-yielding the horse’s hind end into the person.

·      Neck-reining the horse’s front end toward the person.

·      Side-passing into the person.

·      Neck-reining the horse into a turn on the forehand toward the person, so he is suddenly faced with your horse’s rear end and hind legs coming toward him in a threatening manner.

 

Once your attacker is off balance and moving to avoid being run over by your horse, you can get away.

 

BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF offers you the tools you need to take your bombproof training to a whole new level so that you and your horse can be safe and have fun, whatever your age, ability, or discipline. Sgt. Pelicano’s first book BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE was the first book on mounted-police-tested bombproof training for horses. Both bestselling titles are available from the TSB online bookstore.

 

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

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Halloween2013

 

When you work with or ride horses for long enough, there’s bound to be at least one moment where you find yourself with your heart pounding, your stomach in knots, and all-out fear pulsing through your body.

Scary incidents are an unfortunate byproduct of working with such large, powerful animals. Sometimes, a frightening scenario plays out because of human error. A person (often out of ignorance) may startle a horse or push him too hard or too fast. Horses are our athletic partners, and rider decisions made in training and competition can cause dangerous scenarios to unfold. Sometimes, the horse’s instinct for flight or fight is the source of danger. It does not matter how much you love your horse or how much you think he loves you—the fact remains that horses are hardwired for survival, and they possess teeth, hooves, speed, and size to make that possible.

The good thing is that we can educate ourselves to limit the number of scary incidents and keep riding and working with horses safe. The more we know about the horse and his instincts, the more we respect his power and teach him to respect our presence, the better we are at our chosen discipline, and the more secure our seat, the safer we will be. And, when we feel safe (not scared!) we can have more fun doing what we love to do.

Here’s what Buck Brannaman says about fear and how we can defeat it with knowledge in 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN:

 

 

Riding in Real Life: The Runaway

When I was ten years old I went on a hack with my riding instructor. She was on a green training project and I was on an older OTTB mare. I’d ridden since I was five and was a confident kid. I’d also ridden the mare before in lessons.

We crossed the main road and headed up a fairly steep ascent. I don’t really remember how far we had traveled when the mare I was on decided she’d just had enough. She spun, and I stuck on, but then she was off, galloping downhill on a gravel road, faster than I’d ever gone in my life. Sitting here, typing this now, I can feel my heart racing at the memory of it…of how I couldn’t stop her…how I pulled back with all my strength and seesawed the reins, but the mare just pulled back harder and ran faster.

At the time, the only answer I had to the situation was to get off. At the time, hitting the ground hard seemed less scary than plummeting downhill toward a busy road on an out-of-control horse. I’d learned the emergency dismount when I’d started riding and managed some skewed form of it, flinging myself out of the saddle and then rolling, as I remembered being taught, away from my horse’s flying hooves.

I had a helmet on (thankfully). I didn’t break anything (thankfully). I was sprained and bruised and shaken, but other than that I was okay. The mare, too, survived her skidding, sliding navigation across the road and back to the barn, where we found her with lathered chest and heaving sides, reins dangerously looped loose up near her ears.

The tool I had needed when my horse ran away with me, but didn’t have yet, was the “pulley rein” or “one-rein stop.” I needed to know how to redirect my horse’s energy. Sergeant Rick Pelicano, author of BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE and BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF describes it this way:

 

The Pulley Rein

1  Hold one rein tightly, braced on the neck and grabbing mane if you can.

2  Pull the other rein straight up and toward you.

3  Lean back, push your legs forward, and sit deep in the saddle.

Training Tip: Clinton Anderson has a great One-Rein Stop exercise to help train your horse to immediately stop and soften at any gait when you pick up one rein. Check out CLINTON ANDERSON’S DOWNUNDER HORSEMANSHIP.

 

But what about my instructor? What could she have done in my runaway scenario? Caroline Robbins, Publisher at Trafalgar Square Books, says that some of her scariest experiences riding were out on the trail with others, watching as a horse bolted and took off, and not knowing what to do or how to help.

Sean Patrick, author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE and one of this year’s Road to the Horse Wild Card Contestants, began his career as a high-country guide in the rugged mountains of British Columbia. I asked him about his experiences in groups and what onlookers should do when a fellow rider is in trouble.

 

Sean says:

1  Avoid reacting yourself. When a horse is pulling a tree out of the ground, jumping sideways or bolting off, remain still and quiet. When a handler rushes toward a reacting horse or yells, “Whoa!” the result is rarely helpful. A runaway does not need another horse to run behind it as well. The fleeing reaction might continue.

2  When in the saddle, the sound of thundering hooves can initiate a startle reflex with your own mount. When you feel this anxiety building, it might be best to simply take one rein and turn your horse to face the opposite direction. A well-trained mount will be able to stand quietly, but a more-novice horse may feel influenced by the other horse’s fear.

3  When a group is together in a pasture, and one rider is having great trouble, there is very little to do except keep yourself safe. This way the runaway horse is more likely to relax, slow down, and come back to the group. If a fall happens, at least you will be in control and able to come to the rider’s aid. When in such situations, I’ve learned to sit quietly and respond after it’s over.

 

Horses can bring us joy, peace, companionship with other people and other creatures, and they can bring us closer to the land that surrounds us. As long as we keep learning and strive to better understand the horse and react in more appropriate ways to his own reactions, as long as we seek instruction from others with more experience so we are prepared to handle whatever happens in the saddle, then we are on our way to keeping the “scared” out of riding and working with horses, and the joy in it.

Stay safe. Have fun. Happy Halloween

–Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

 

All the books and DVDs mentioned in this post are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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