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The dressage warm-up arena can be a crowded place. Photo by Amber Heintzberger from MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON.

Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event 2017 starts today with the first horse inspection, and the dressage phase kicks off tomorrow morning. To make sure everyone’s ready to go, here are five tips for warming up prior to your dressage test from MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON:

1  Start in walk on a 20-meter circle if the warm-up area is large enough. Introduce “inside leg to outside rein.” I usually start on the left rein, because most horses go better to the left and it starts them off well mentally. Get the horse walking nicely forward, slightly bent around your inside leg, and encourage him to reach softly down and forward.

2  Use some leg-yielding exercises to reaffirm your training and get the horse listening to your leg in both directions, left and right. Once you have his attention at the walk, go to rising trot. Rather than thinking about the the test, focus more on the correctness of the horse: You want him reaching for the bit softly; obedient to inside leg to outside rein; and with flexion to the inside.

3  Do lots of changes of direction and transitions within the trot to keep your horse’s attention and prevent him from getting “stuck.” Once his back is supple and loose, do a little bit of sitting trot, then ask for the canter. 

4  Do canter-trot-canter transitions on each rein. This is a great way of testing how well the horse is on the aids. I don’t want him to run or hollow out, and he should stay obedient through the transition.

5  You can practice specific parts of the test a few times, but when there is one horse to go before you, go back and work on your horse’s correctness–getting him in tune with your aids. Do lots of transitions, keeping the horse listening and thinking. Also, vary the horse’s frame. This last part of the warm-up is really to reinforce his attention on you.

Find more eventing advice in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

We’re thrilled to have two TSB authors competing at RK3DE this year: Phillip Dutton and Doug Payne. In addition, professional grooms Emma Ford and Cat Hill, and horseman Dan James, are involved in this exciting equestrian event.

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Here’s a quick tip to take you into your weekend when you’ll be puttering around the barn and hanging out with your horses:

“A blanket should always be folded neatly and hung up,” say pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford in their bestselling book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES. “Blankets chucked over the wall or railing are not only not very nice to look at but potentially dangerous. Belly and leg straps hanging down can get tripped over or get caught on a horse; then suddenly, you have a loose blanket attached to a horse! A blanket touching the ground can host mice overnight; as a consequence it gets holes or stains in it.”

In their book, Cat and Emma show us several ways to fold a blanket properly. In this 30-second video, you’ll learn the one likely to be of most use this time of year—best for lightweight coolers and sheets:

 

 

You can order a copy of the book Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton calls “unparalleled” and Grand Prix dressage rider Lisa Wilcox says “demonstrates impeccable horsemanship” from TSB’s online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs for over 30 years, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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In the bestselling WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford show us dozens of horsemanship tips and top techniques to give our horses at home the same conscientious and correct level of care the world’s best riders and trainers give theirs. It’s the little things that make the difference and set your horsemanship above the rest.

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Here are 6 steps to rolling a leather lead shank for a neat look and to keep your horse safe when not in use. (All photos by Jessica Dailey.)

1 Thread the end of the leather through the connection at the base of the chain.

2 Create a circle.

3 Follow the leather to the end and roll the lead rope tight, making sure you are rolling toward the inside of the circle you created.

4 Keep rolling; make sure it is quite tight.

5 When you get to the circle, tuck the roll inside it. It should be a little tough to push in.

6 Snap the chain to the opposite side of the roll. Nice and neat!

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

For more professional grooming tips and how-tos, check out WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by Cat Hill and Emma Ford, with over 1200 color photos by Jessica Dailey, 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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Each year, as we flip the last pages of December in anticipation for the beginning of January, we at TSB take some time to pause and consider the books we published over the past months. Not only does this process provide an important review of content in preparation for future titles, it also gets us excited, all over again, about the new riding, training, and horse-care skills and techniques our fabulous equestrian authors have shared. In 2015, we tapped the deep well of mindfulness, honed our grooming abilities, and viewed the dressage horse from the inside-out. We found new ways to improve our horses’ confidence and attention, in and out of the ring, had burning questions answered by top judges, and discovered new pursuits that make kindness with our horses and others the goal and guiding principle. We found reasons to ride light, think deeply, laugh, and be thankful for our lives with horses.

We look forward to bring you more top-notch horse books and DVDs in the New Year—until then, here’s the roll-call of TSB equestrian titles for 2015:

 

TrainRidewConesPoles-300TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES (March) by Sigrid Schope is a spiral-bound handbook with over 40 exercises intended to improve your horse’s focus and response to the aids while sharpening your timing and accuracy. Who hasn’t looked for ways to spice up ringwork and keep his/her horse interested in schooling circles? Here’s the answer, whether you’re practicing on your own in the ring or teaching lessons.

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GALLOP TO FREEDOM (Paperback reprint—March) by training superstars Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado. TSB was the first to bring you thoughts on training and working with the original stars of the international hit show Cavalia, publishing their book back in 2009. The continued value in this storied couple’s work meant that six years later, it was time to release the bestseller anew in paperback.

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WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES (April) by professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford with over 1200 color photographs by professional photographer Jessica Dailey. A bestseller before it was released, this unparalleled photo reference gives every horse owner the tips and tools he/she needs to keep horses in tip-top condition, looking and feeling their best, in and out of the show ring.

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THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN (May) by renowned veterinarian and author Dr. Allen Schoen and trainer Susan Gordon provides 25 principles each of us should live by when caring for and working with horses. Using personal stories and current scientific research, the two write convincingly of the need for an industry-wide movement to develop deeper compassion for not only the horses, but the people, as well.

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THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED (June) by Masterson Method founder and author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE Jim Masterson and dressage rider Coralie Hughes. Jim and Coralie team up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of Anatomy in Motion Visible Horse and Visible Rider Susan Harris to demonstrate how the muscular and skeletal structure of the horse work in dressage movements. Then Jim provides specific techniques from his popular form of bodywork to alleviate stress and improve performance.

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DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY (July) by FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy. This easy-to-use reference is a follow-up to Janet’s incredibly popular DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, featuring the most common questions she has received over the years. Janet tells it how it is, and includes plenty of her own stories from the road to keep us laughing while learning.

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OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES (September) by Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP. Vanessa has made a name for herself as a terrific educator, delivering superior and thoughtful training techniques in bite-size chunks. OVER, UNDER, THROUGH doesn’t disappoint, with loads of step-by-step photographs and useful lessons for meeting everyday challenges with your horse in a positive manner that guarantees success.

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COWBOY DRESSAGE (September) by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. Jessica teams up with the founders of Cowboy Dressage to trace the origin of the movement to the present day, then taps Eitan’s expertise to provide readers the basics they need to get started in the pursuit of “kindness as the goal and guiding principle.” Eitan and Debbie describe Cowboy Dressage as a lifestyle rather than a sport, and the book mirrors that mission, inspiring us with beautiful photographs and honest ideals.

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THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE (October) by artist Jean Abernethy. Fergus the Horse is a social media celebrity with well over 300,000 Facebook fans. This treasury of his greatest hits features comics from past print publications as well as those that have made the rounds online—and in addition, 25 never-seen-before cartoons. Jean also shares a little about her rise as an illustrator and the backstory that explains the birth of her famous cartoon horse.

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THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE (October) by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. The world knows Klaus from his bestselling books and DVDs, including DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. Over 10 years ago, he detailed his own story in the form of an autobiographical narrative, detailing his discovery of how to be with and learn from horses, as well as how to apply what they teach him to his life as a whole. Now this story is in English for the first time.

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BALANCE IN MOVEMENT (Paperback reprint—November) by Susanne von Dietze. A perennial bestseller, demand for the book led to us bringing it out in a fresh format, ready to introduce a new generation of riders to Susanne’s sensible lessons in horse and rider biomechanics.

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RIDING THROUGH THICK AND THIN (November) by Melinda Folse. Melinda’s last book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES gained her an enthusiastic following of readers who appreciate her big-sisterly swagger and humor. This new book is the culmination of years of research, providing us all guideposts for riding and being with horses, whatever we look like. Melinda’s goal is to give our body image a boost, and she provides countless proactive ways for us to take a good look in the mirror and finally like what we see.

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BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE (Third Edition—December) by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke. It’s the Klimkes’ classic text, refreshed with new photos of Ingrid on her top horses. Need we say more?

 

For more about these 2015 horse books, and our complete list of top equestrian books and DVDs, visit our website www.horseandriderbooks.com.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Cat Hill grew up in upstate New York on a working farm. Her earliest memory is of the day her parents got her a pony for her birthday. She grew up on that pony, which was followed by a series of Arabian show horses. In college, she started riding show hunters through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Team at the University of Geneseo. After receiving her degree, she followed her love of horses to Ireland to be a working student at Mullingar Equestrian Center, where she became barn manager before returning to the States. Hill has been a working student for a Grand Prix dressage rider, worked the Winter Equestrian Festival for a Grand Prix jumper rider, managed a AA hunter barn, and managed top eventer Mara DePuy’s barn. She now freelances as a groom, as well as teaching lower level riders in dressage, jumping, and eventing. Hill co-authored the bestselling TSB book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES with Emma Ford, who runs Phillip Dutton’s barn.

“After three years of struggling with my balance and struggling to find myself and being told I would never make it in the horse world,” Hill says, remembering when she first learned of Sally Swift’s methods, “I was just about read to quit when somebody handed me [CENTERED RIDING].”

Hear what else she has to say about CENTERED RIDING as she helps us celebrate our 30th Anniversary in this short video:

 

 

Share your own CENTERED RIDING  memories and “aha” moments online and tag them #CenteredRiding30! And remember, all CENTERED RIDING books and DVDs are 30% off, the entire month of November.

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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My first digital camera changed my recorded equestrian life. Gone were the awkward, ginormous-head-tiny-rump photos I’d so often caught on film years prior. Now, when my horse moved from where I’d placed him (which he usually did) or when I got the light all wrong (which I usually did) or when the devilish red “barn eyes” were more than a clumsy editing tool could conquer, I just pressed delete and hurrah! The bad photo was no-more, vanquished, erased. All it took was another “click,” and I could try again, ensuring the pictures-for-keeps showed only my horse’s good side.

"The light shining in through the barn on this day was spectacular," says Jessica. "I love interesting light. I got very low to the ground and let the light shine directly into my phone camera. This is what created the rays of light. I then edited it with a warm filter, so you can almost feel the sunlight touching your face."

“The light shining in through the barn on this day was spectacular,” says Jessica. “I love interesting light. I got very low to the ground and let the light shine directly into my phone camera. This is what created the rays of light. I then edited it with a warm filter, so you can almost feel the sunlight touching your face.”

Of course, to most casual photo-takers today, the very idea of a digital camera sounds dated. We’re all pretty much bound to our smartphones and the ease with which we can snap and share every horsey adventure instantly. But just because we all have quality cameras literally in our pockets and at our fingertips, at all times, doesn’t mean the pictures are all that great. And of course, if we want to share our pics on social, we want them to be fab!

With horses and smartphones in mind, TSB reached out to professional photographer Jessica Dailey for guidance. Jessica recently provided over 1,200 (yes, you read that right) color photographs for the bestselling TSB book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford. Many of the excellent images in the book are step-by-step, although Jessica took pains to include a number of “beauty shots,” as well. With that kind of in-depth “horse-flavored” work on her resume (on top of her usual commercial art, fine art, event photography, and portraits, which she takes on a freelance basis) we figured Jessica could give us some great tips for taking sensational photos with our phones.

“I have loved art since I was a kid,” she says, “and that evolved into a love for photography as I got older. As a kid I remember being fascinated with my father’s old film camera. The weight of the lenses in my hands, and the way the world looked through the viewfinder.”

Jessica went to college for accounting (she’s a CPA), but in her late twenties, she says she began to feel “out of balance.”

“I felt like the beauty of the world was passing me by,” she remembers, “so I picked up a camera, and the rest is history! I can feel something deep in my heart when I’m behind the camera. When there is a lump in my throat, or tears streaming down my face, I know it’s a good subject.”

Jessica, who is largely self-taught, usually shoots with a Canon Mark III, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, 100 2.8 Macro, 50 1.4, and 85 1.8.

“There are a few more tricks in my bag,” she admits, “but those are the ones most frequently used.”

Of course, we’re not here to talk about serious camera equipment! So what kind of phone does Jessica have? And does she use it to take some of those gorgeous photos you can see on her website?

This shot and edit reminded Jessica of a vintage Polaroid. "I tried to get a little bit of the tree in the background, but not at an angle where it looks like the tree is growing out of the horse's back."

This shot and edit reminded Jessica of a vintage Polaroid. “I tried to get a little bit of the tree in the background, but not at an angle where it looks like the tree is growing out of the horse’s back.”

“I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S5,” she says. “I actually don’t like the aspect ratio—the photos are very wide. It also distorts the images a bit near the edges, so sometimes people’s heads look out of whack. It over-sharpens the images, making them look a little ‘crunchy.’ (You’ll notice this is in the images I’ve included here.) I really do love the photos that the iPhone takes. The shutter is fast; there’s not a lot of waiting around for the phone to focus.

“Believe it or not, I find taking pictures with a phone much more difficult than my camera, because adjustments are more tedious to make! I can make changes to any aspect I want within seconds on the camera, but if I want to change the ISO, or flash, on my phone, I have to click what feels like 16 times to get to the menus I need. That might actually be a function of not having found the best camera app yet. (Sometimes searching for new apps falls to the bottom of the list when life gets hectic…)

“Lately, my favorite seems to be VSCO Cam. This app does have a pretty decent camera function with advanced camera controls, including manual focus, shutter speed, white balance, and exposure compensation. As far as editing, the VSCO Cam film presets are absolutely stunning. You can edit and tweak them very easily, and the app comes with lots of free presets. Most of the photos here were shot with my Samsung S5 camera app, edited with VSCO Cam, then tweaked just a bit within VSCO Cam app. Instagram photo editing is pretty great too. They’ve updated the features that allow you to customize their presets.”

So when we’re taking pictures of horses on our phones, what are some rules of thumb in terms of composition, handling still shots, handling action shots, and getting perspective right (avoiding the ginormous-head-tiny-rump problem of my film-camera years)? Here are Jessica’s top tips for all the ringside snapping you plan to do:

 

Ÿ1  Try not to cut off feet/ears/tails (Editor’s note: As book publishers, we wholeheartedly endorse this! Nothing is as aesthetically displeasing as horse toes and hat tops disappearing at the edges of a photograph…)

Ÿ2  Keep the horizon level. (You wouldn’t believe the number of photos we have to rotate prior to publication so it doesn’t appear that every horse is stabled on a downhill slant…)

Ÿ3  Tap the phone screen to refocus on your subject (not the background).

 

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Ÿ4  When shooting from the side, always watch out for big-butt-little-head syndrome (you are standing closer to the horse’s rear so it looks disproportionately larger than the head) and vice-versa.

Ÿ5  Most importantly, if you are using a flash, stand back and take a few test shots to see what kind of reaction you’re going to get from the horse.

Ÿ6  If it’s dark, your phone will keep its camera shutter open longer in order to let more light in. The built-in flash on most phones is not powerful enough to compensate for dark conditions, so it’s best to stick to shots of horses standing very still when the light is not bright.

Ÿ7  If you are shooting outside and it’s a bright sunny day, you should have no trouble getting some jumping or galloping shots. Your best bet for capturing non-blurry fast-moving subjects is bright light. (“And I mean full-sun type-of-bright,” Jessica emphasizes.)  If there are heavy clouds, or you are indoors, it can be difficult to get a smartphone camera to ​capture motion, although some phones have a sports mode meant for capturing fast-moving subjects, which can help. (Some apps can add sports mode to your phone.)  Try turning off “image stabilization” if you are having trouble focusing quickly. You shouldn’t need it in bright sun anyway.

 

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8  To get a great portrait shot of your horse (posed), it’s best to enlist the help of a friend with a candy wrapper or a mint. (Jessica says this can take some patience, but it proved to be VERY effective when she was shooting images for WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.) Have your friend stand just out of view of your photo and crinkle the wrapper after you have everyone else in place and ready to go. The wrapper will usually get eyes and ears perky and forward.

Ÿ9  To get a more candid, natural picture, you have to have the photo on your mind and be looking through your phone camera, ready to snap at the right moment. If you wait to pull out your phone until the moment is happening, you will undoubtedly miss it.

Ÿ10  Don’t be afraid to look at things from a different perspective. Get really low, or go behind the bushes and peer through. This new viewpoint can produce some really interesting shots.

Ÿ11  Although it’s not ideal, you can also crop down an image after you capture it to make it more interesting. Sometimes there is a part of a photo you might not like or that is blurry.  Try getting creative with your crop before deleting it all together.

 

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You can see more of Jessica’s photography by clicking here. And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, check it out! Here’s what the experts are saying about it:

 

 

 

WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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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In WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford provide much-needed horsemanship guidance—it’s like having an internationally renowned equine care expert by your side, in the barn, ensuring your horse is given the same top-level management as our Olympic competitors! Along with lots of ways to care for horses the right way, Cat and Emma also point out common mistakes.

For example, as many of us know, some horses lose respect for a normal halter and lead rope. “If your horse doesn’t stop when you stop, drags you faster than you want to walk, or bumps into you with his shoulders, he is being rude!” they write. “Horses should should walk next to your shoulder on a loose, relaxed lead. When your horse is ‘rude,’ a lead chain might be necessary to remind him to pay attention.

“However, many lead ropes are sold with a short chain, and this can be quite dangerous. There are two issues: First, the chain needs slack to be properly used. When it is held tight, the horse will quickly lose respect for it. A quick, tug-then-release is the correct action for using a chain. Second, a short chain that only reaches across the noseband of the halter is unsafe.

“It is common to see chains hooked to the noseband of the halter, as shown in the photograph. This can lead to two problems: The chain can slip below the horse’s chin, and when the horse pulls tight, scare him into rearing. Also, the long end of the snap can jam into a nasal passage if pulled too sharply and break the delicate bones there.

“Instead, ensure your chain is long enough to thread through the noseband of the halter, wrap once over the noseband, thread through the other side, and snap to the top of the cheekpiece. If you have a bit more chain, cross it under the horse’s jaw, and snap the chain to the top of the cheekpiece on the other side. This prevents the halter from twisting when you need to use the chain.”

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

You can find photographs demonstrating how to correctly attach a lead chain, as well as over 1200 other photographs by Jessica Dailey and hundreds of other tips from the pros, in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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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