Stacy Westfall Tells Us Why We Need Passion to “Get Good” with Horses

Stacy Westfall on Roxy. Photo courtesy of Stacy Westfall from HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD.

Stacy Westfall on Roxy. Photo courtesy of Stacy Westfall from HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson.

 

Stacy Westfall became the first woman to compete in—and win—the prestigious “Road to the Horse” colt-starting competition in 2006, the same year that she electrified the reining world with a bridleless and bareback championship Freestyle on her black mare “Roxy” (Whizards Baby Doll) at the Tulsa Reining Classic and the All American Quarter Horse Congress. While Stacy continues to compete, she loves to teach and share her knowledge, and tours the country regularly giving clinics and appearing at expos.

In Denny Emerson’s honest, on-target, guaranteed-to-rev-your-engines book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, Stacy shared a little about how she came to horses and why she thinks she “got good.” Here’s her advice as to how all of us can one day have the ride of our life (tack optional).

 

Stacy’s life circumstances:

“I grew up in South China, Maine. My mother had ridden as a girl and as soon as our family could afford an equine (when I was about six), a pony named Misty joined the household. This was the same pony on which my mother had learned to ride sixteen years earlier!”

 

She got hooked on horses when:

“From the very beginning, I was one of those kids who reads the Walter Farley Black Stallion books over and over. I would have given anything to be shipwrecked on a desert island with a horse.”

 

Stacy thinks she got good because:

1  “My parents got me a horse when I was about thirteen and from that time on I lived on my horse. I rode her seven miles to work. I took her to local open shows on the weekends and entered every class. That mare and I developed a deep connection.”

2  “My mom was my first teacher, but she didn’t just tell me what to do. She wanted me to figure it out. If my pony did something wrong, like stopping at one of the tiny jumps we had set up, Mom would say, ‘Why do you think Misty did that?’ Her approach got me thinking like a horse, which has really influenced my life. When you can figure out what the horse is thinking and how to communicate with the horse and mold that, you can do almost anything.”

3  “I attended the University of Findlay in Ohio. In its equestrian studies program, I learned traditional training techniques and fundamentals with top instructors, and got into reining with champion trainers. My famous bareback ride is an extension of taking the technical stuff I learned and wrapping it around what my childhood horses taught me about the relationship horses can have with people.”

 

Stacy’s advice to the rest of us:

“It all comes back to attitude and passion. If you go into this because you dream about getting famous on a horse or having a great marketing plan, you’ll never have that connection with the horse. This is something that, if it’s in you, you would do it even if you didn’t get paid—you do it because it’s you. When it’s really cold, or when it’s really hot, or when it’s really hard, do you still want to do it? A favorite quote of mine is: ‘Verily, the lust for comfort murders the passion in the soul, then walks grinning in the funeral.’ (From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.) If your passion gives way to the appeal of comfort, you will not succeed at a high level because at some point you’ll need to beat someone with passion—and people with passion who’re willing to work for it like that will be unstoppable.”

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Find out how 22 more of the best riders in the world “got good” and get their tips for “making it” in the horse industry in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

10 Great Quotes from Top Riders, Trainers, and Horsemen

great quotes image

Sometimes we make a real change in our habits, our lifestyle, the way we think or act, just because we heard someone say something or read a few lines somewhere that stuck with us. Whether four words or twenty-four, whether plain-spoken or clever, the best lessons from the best teachers fall like rain in monsoon season—at predictable times, sometimes pleasantly and gently, while others in a soaking deluge.

The horse world is filled with great teachers—those who are wordsmiths and those who cut to the chase; those who nurture and those who suffer no fools—and perhaps our most important lesson is that we can learn something from all of them.

Here are 10 great quotes from some of the amazingly talented, motivated, and successful riders, trainers, and equine experts who TSB is lucky to call their authors—a little something to do on a rainy day.

1  PHILLIP DUTTON, 12-Time USEA Leading Rider of the Year and 5-Time Olympian with Two Gold Medals

“The general thought now is, or should be, that there is always another day! The rider should understand that sometimes, more training for your horse is necessary, and retiring [pulling up/changing a lesson] before more damage is done is a much better course of action than pushing your and your horse’s limits.”

From MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON

2  LINDA TELLINGTON-JONES, Founder of the Tellington Method Approach to Training and Communicating

“I feel strongly that the tenets of classical riding are imperative and pure, and there is no moving forward without conscientious attention paid to all that has been learned and proven in horsemanship’s past. However, move forward we must, with the intent of achieving something better in the decades ahead and a common goal of alleviating the prevalence of pain, anxiety, and depression in the wonderful, talented sport horses with whom we are so lucky to pursue our dreams.”

From DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL

3  BUCK BRANNAMAN, Renowned Horseman and Clinician

“Working horses is a little like being married. Sometimes you need to adjust and change your plan.”

From 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN

4  DOUGLAS PUTERBAUGH, Dressage Trainer and Clinician

“Centered riders understand the harmonious relationship between knowledge and achievement. They’re active participants in their own education, reading the writings of the masters, observing other riders, and seizing opportunities to train with someone good.”

From THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE

5  CLINTON ANDERSON, Internationally Recognized Horseman and Clinician

“Horsemanship should be fun. By learning how to control your horse in any situation, your confidence will greatly increase. When you’re confident, you can relax and enjoy your partnership.”

From PHILOSOPHY

6  DENNY EMERSON, USEA Hall of Fame Inductee and “One of the 50 Most Influential Horseman of the 20th Century”

“The only thing that each of us can guarantee is that we are prepared to take advantage of opportunities if they happen to come our way. Even when opportunity doesn’t drop out of the sky into our lap, we still need to be ready. In other words, the preparedness part is up to us.”

From HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

7  KERRY THOMAS, Pioneering Researcher in Equine Athletic Psychology and Founder of the Thomas Herding Technique

“As equine caretakers, it is our responsibility to understand how the domestic environment affects the horse on all levels—physical and mental. As a social animal, the horse depends on daily interaction for mental growth. Striking a balance between the physical environment and the emotional requirement of the horse to survive within that environment is essential.”

From HORSE PROFILING

8 PAUL BELASIK, Rider, Trainer, Author, and Proponent of Classical Equestrian Ideals

“You can watch wild horses for a whole day and nothing astounding may happen. They graze, they drink, they seem to meander without obvious direction. It is all subtlety….When we do it right, there won’t be much drama. You learn to increase your attention and you train your mind to let more information to you….You learn to have more patience, you learn to watch, and you learn to let it come to you. To train horses well you have to learn to observe subtleties.”

From NATURE, NURTURE AND HORSES

9  SEAN PATRICK, Horseman and Clinician

“Never assume a horse remembers anything from one day to the next. Check his responses and use previous lessons as warm-up exercises before trying to advance to something new.”

From THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE

10 FREDERIC PIGNON and MAGALI DELGADO, Renowned Trainers and the Original Stars of Cavalia

“We all make mistakes and by doing so we discover something about our limitations, but if someone or some horse suffers from these mistakes, then we must do our utmost not to repeat them. May every rider strive for a better connection with his or her horse by observation, closer understanding, and patient groundwork. It matters not what discipline is pursued, only that there be a perfectly balanced union between the two—man and horse—so the two become one.”

From GALLOP TO FREEDOM

All these books and DVDs, and many more, are available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR BOOKSTORE

Is It a Kindle/iPad Kinda Christmas? Get These Bestselling TSB Horse Books in Kindle/ePub Format!

Check out the TSB horse books available in digital format!

Check out the TSB horse books available in digital format!

Is someone you know getting a Kindle or tablet for Christmas? Treat your horsey-and-tech-savvy friends right with a few of TSB’s bestselling books in digital format! The following titles are available in Kindle and ePub (ebooks.com)!

And don’t forget: ALL these titles and MORE are available in print format from the TSB online bookstore. If you order before midnight on December 16th, you can still get FREE SHIPPING in the US in time for Christmas!

Trafalgar Square Books Titles Available in Digital Format:

7 Deadly Sins of Dressage by Douglas Puterbaugh with Lance Wills

Academic Equitation by General Decarpentry

Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship by Clinton Anderson with Ami Hendrickson

Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging by Anna Jane White-Mullin

Crown Prince (Book One of the Brookmeade Young Riders Series) by Linda Snow McLoon

Crown Prince Challenged (Book Two of the Brookmeade Young Riders Series by Linda Snow McLoon

Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse by Janet Foy with Nancy J. Jones

Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation by Geoff Teall with Ami Hendrickson

Getting in TTouch with Your Horse by Linda Tellington-Jones

Horse Economics by Catherine E. O’Brien, CPA

Horse Profiling by Kerry Thomas with Calvin Carter

How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson

Lessons Well Learned by Clinton Anderson with Melinda Folse

Nature, Nurture and Horses by Paul Belasik

Reflections on Riding and Jumping by William Steinkraus

The Rider’s Guide to Real Collection by Lynn Palm with Stacy Pigott

Riding on the Autism Spectrum by Claudine Pelletier-Milet

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse

Taking Up the Reins by Priscilla Endicott

That Winning Feeling! by Jane Savoie

The Ultimate Horseman’s English/Spanish Dictionary for Horsemen by Maria Belknap

The Way to Perfect Horsemanship by Udo Burger

What Horses Say by Anna Clemence Mews & Julie Dicker

Women Are from Venus and So Are Their Horses by Menno Kalmann

Happy Shopping! Our Horse Books and DVDs Are ON SALE!

Whatever you want to call it—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, CyberMonday—there’s no avoiding the fact the holiday shopping season kicks off this weekend. We hope you can all enjoy it just a little bit, whether you are standing in lines, sitting at your computer, or hitting “Order Now” on your phone from the back of your horse.

The TSB SITEWIDE SALE has begun! Now through Tuesday November 27th, get 15% off all books and DVDs at HorseandRiderBooks.com, excluding our sets and sale books, which are already discounted.

PLUS get FREE SHIPPING anywhere in the US!

Check out our newest titles from Buck Brannaman, Janet Foy, Gerd Heuschmann, Paul Belasik, and Christian Schacht, plus our bestsellers from Clinton Anderson, Denny Emerson, Linda Tellington-Jones, Anne Kursinski, Lynn Palm, Jim Masterson, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Jane Savoie, Sally Swift, and many more. There are books for English and Western riders; beginner and advanced riders; reiners, jumpers, ropers, and dressage riders. You’ll find how-to, practical advice on everything from training techniques to horse health care, PLUS check out our all-new fiction series for young horse lovers!

Happy Shopping!

What Do Denny Emerson, Janet Foy, and Templeton Thompson Have in Common? They’ve All Shared What They’re Grateful for This Thanksgiving…

Each year about this time I like to touch base with our authors and find out what they’re grateful for–what they feel are their blessings this Thanksgiving week. It’s so important that we don’t just go through the motions of dressing a turkey and opening a bottle of wine…most of us have many things, little things, that made us feel happy, loved, or lucky in 2012. It makes sense to share them.

We at Trafalgar Square have been very thankful to have come to know the wonderful, vibrant soul and talented singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson this year. Her music brought so much heart to the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD series, and we are thrilled to now offer her SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS CD for sale on our website. Tempy recorded her thanks so we could hear it right from her—check out the video below, which kicks off our list of “author thanks.” (And for a wonderful unplugged version of the song “Believe,” which is featured on SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS, check out the second video at the bottom of this post.)

“I am thankful to my students whose continual desire to improve allows me to be creative and innovative in my approach to riding. I’m thankful that they also desire to understand how they can better communicate through their mind and body rather than demand unquestionable obedience from their horse. And I am thankful to the horses that sense my own desire to help both them and their riders.” –Wendy Murdoch, author of 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING and the RIDE LIKE A NATURAL DVD series

“I am thankful for my horse-crazy girls, my wife Alisha and my daughter Madilyn.”  –Sean Patrick, author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE BOOK and DVD set

“2012 has been a really great year for me! But I am most thankful for my great employees, wonderful clients, supportive family and friends, and my Kerig coffee maker, which I could not function without.  I am also thankful for all of the support from Trafalgar Square on my first book project and I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves in 2013.” –Susan Tinder, author of JUMP COURSE DESIGN MANUAL and owner of Tolland Falls Equestrian Facility

“I’m thankful for many things, including many wonderful friends, a career that I love, and a life complete with horses. But more than anything, I’m thankful for the love of my wife and children. They are what make every day worth living, and I feel blessed to have them in my life.” –Daniel Stewart, author of RIDE RIGHT WITH DANIEL STEWART

“Oh my, I am thankful for so much! My family, my faith, living in a country where I can worship God openly, my friends, and my good fortune to share my life with so many of God’s furry creations.  I’m thankful I live out in the country and can ride my horse in so many beautiful places across the United States. I’m also very thankful to have a new book coming out in 2013!” –Eunice Rush, co-author of KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE

“I am thankful for my family, good friends, and my companion Brad who listens to me ‘talk horses’ for hours and hours. I am thankful for the horses I have met in my life. There are no better teachers in this world than the equines who inspire us to enjoy life, who encourage us to learn more, and who let us know, if we listen, how well we are doing as humans.”  –Marry Morrow, co-author of KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE

“I am most thankful for my wonderful husband and my great friends. Many of my friends have faced health issues this past year, so I am also thankful at this time for my own good health.”  –Janet Foy, author of DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE

“I am thankful for so many things, but mostly I am thankful for having the privilege of helping put smiles on children’s faces, many of whom otherwise would know them not.”  –Kerry Thomas, co-author of HORSE PROFILING

“While I am thankful for so many things in my life, like my family, my husband, my horses, and my work, the most precious gift that I have in life is the gift of learning. To always be able to grow and understand more about my family, my husband, my horses, and my work…….for that I am VERY thankful!” –Janice Dulak, author of NINE PILATES ESSENTIALS FOR THE BALANCED RIDER and PILATES FOR THE DRESSAGE RIDER BOOK and DVD

“Here’s one author who’s thankful for the usual – family, friends, good health – and also thanks for all those in-foal mares that carry our dreams for the future.”  –Linda McLoon, author of CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED

“Several in my family have had major health issues this month. I’m glad I can say we will all be present and healthy to celebrate the holidays. Also, I get to welcome a new niece to the festivities this year. As for my horses, I am thankful I have gotten to start my colt (the TSB catalog cover model last year), and I can’t wait to send him to the trainer soon!” –Kayla Starnes, author of TEAM ROPING 101

“Apart from the usual thankfulness for freedom from sickness and loss, I do think very often how lucky I am to live in a place like Vermont that hasn`t been run over by the terrible version of prosperity that equates growth with progress. Under that dreary scenario, more houses and more businesses are better than more fields and woods. I`m thankful that many Vermonters don`t buy into that vision, and I still have trails to explore and open spaces in which to ride.”  –Denny Emerson, author of HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

“I’m thankful to wake each morning able and eager to continue the wonderful practice of horse training. Like anything, it has it’s difficult sides, but I can’t think of a more creative and exciting way to spend my time. Also, I’m thankful for the many students who share my passion. My idols, legends who will never die. The works of the past masters, the teachers I have had the pleasure to work with, and my treasured mentors. My colleagues and friends, and my wife who loves me. I’m even, somehow thankful for the winds of adversity that assail me on this intrepid journey. I’m thankful to all whom I owe many debts of gratitude, those who have also spent their lives, and have cared enough to share, who I can never fully repay.” —Douglas Puterbaugh, author of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE

“Let’s see… I want a pony, an’ a submarine… an’ a… oh wait, that’s Christmas…This year Conley and I are extremely grateful and cognizant of the fact that we are so fortunate to be able to make our living doing what we love to do, and to be surrounded and supported by people who are so passionate about what they do. We are thankful to all of you who have felt inspired to do just that little bit more for your horses, and we are thankful of course for horses—the ultimate silent teachers of life. We hope you all feel as blessed. (But I also want a pony an’ a submarine.)” —Jim Masterson, author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE the BOOK and DVD

And what am I thankful for as 2012 nears its end? I am thankful for my bright and shining son, who I love with all my heart; for a country that although populated by very different people with very different beliefs can still hold free elections and collectively determine a way forward; for my brother’s safety during Sandy and now his resilience as his town battles back after the devastation of the storm; and for finally finishing the book I’ve been working on with Linda Tellington-Jones for four years, entitled DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL. I honestly and fervently believe it can make a difference in the way we ride and train dressage horses.

As you move through your week and rev up for the holiday, as you welcome family into your home or travel elsewhere to meet friends, remember to take a moment to be thankful in your daily interactions with your horse. As Linda says in our book, “The horse deserves to be thanked when he performs well, when he does as you bid, when he controls his innate and natural impulses to fight, flee, or freeze. This self-control on his part is a small miracle, and you should not take it for granted.”

Happy Thanksgiving to All from the TSB crew.

—Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor at Trafalgar Square Books and co-author of DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL

p.s. Thanks so much for reading our blog! Treat yourself to this sweet video from Templeton Thompson and stay tuned for news about our big holiday sales…

Happy Halloween! Four Ways to Conquer FEAR On and Around Your Horse

“From time without beginning,” writes Douglas Puterbaugh in his chapter on FEAR in THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE, “man and horse have shared something in common: an ancient and deeply rooted emotion called fear.”

Interestingly, although mankind evolved as a predator and horse hung on in the role of prey, both rely on fear to save them via fight or flight. It is this natural and powerful response that can divide horse and rider, that can cause the horse to jig, shy, and bolt, and the rider to quake, tense, and fall off.

And while fluttering white ghostly figures and things that go “bump” will surely send many a horse (and rider) into a whirling, spinning, tizzy, it isn’t just Halloween that gets us spooked. We come face to face with outer and inner demons every day, and our fear response holds us back as we strive to achieve partnership and higher levels of performance with our horse.

How can we conquer our own anxieties and our own fears, so we can help instill a greater sense of confidence in our horse? Here are four tips from top riders and trainers for saying, “BOO!” right back:

1  Practice, Practice, Practice

“There’s a direct correlation between study and test performance,” says dressage trainer Douglas Puterbaugh in THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE. “There’s a direct correlation between practice and performance in competition. The only way to perform at the best of your ability is to practice diligently…when you’ve practiced so thoroughly that your movements have become almost automatic, that old nervousness won’t the fear it once was.”

2  Scare Yourself…a Little

“If you are trying to build your self-confidence,” writes USEA Hall-of-Famer Denny Emerson in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, “don’t hurt yourself, and don’t scare yourself—too much. You have to scare yourself a little to give yourself something to build on, but only a little. Keep doing the slightly scary thing until you have had so much success that you know success is inevitable. Then make whatever it is that you are trying to do a little harder…You can be timid, or shy, or indecisive, or reticent. You can be burdened by any one of many afflictions that result from a lack of self-confidence, and you can improve every one of them if you can figure out a way to scare yourself just a little bit. Too big a scare, and you will find your self-confidence in pieces on the ground.”

3  Employ “Thought Stopping”

“When you find yourself visualizing imminent disaster,” says Olympic coach, dressage rider, and popular motivational speaker Jane Savoie in IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS, “break your pattern by doing some ‘thought stopping’ right away. As soon as the alarming picture pops into your head, use an action word to quiet your mind and erase it. Your action word might be something like: ‘Clear,’ ‘Focus,’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Relax,’ or ‘Breathe.’ Replace the negative thought with a positive one. This is an important step, because if you don’t fill your mind with a positive thought, the negative picture will creep right back in.”

4 Create Safe Habits

“Learn what you need to do to be safe on the ground and in the saddle, and then do those things the same way every time you work with your horse until they are as automatic as the safety habits you use when driving a car,” says Melinda Folse, author of the bestselling THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES. “Even experienced horse handlers can unwittingly grow careless over the years, so it never hurts to take a good look at your habits to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself safe to ride another day.”

Melinda gives us a few ideas of the kind of “safe habits” we all should employ on and around horses:

-Teach your horse to respect your space.

– Pay attention to where you’re standing.

-Wear a helmet.

-Practice the one-rein stop and the emergency dismount.

“Fear is a conquerable thing,” Melinda reminds us—and indeed, all the featured authors remind us in their respective books, “and being safe around horses is something we can be proactive about.”

So don’t stay scared. Get busy!

And Happy Happy Halloween!

Be sure to see what Buck Brannaman says about fear in yesterday’s post CLICK HERE

How Horse Fiction Leaves an Indelible Mark—Top Riders, Trainers, and Judges Weigh in on The Favorite Titles from Their Childhood

Some of the horse books from my childhood remaining in my collection.

My “grownup” bookshelf still holds the tattered remnants of what once were my favorite books. I was a voracious reader as a child, and though the topics of interest were many and varied, you could always sell me a horse book. The story lines were usually familiar—there was often a young boy or girl with a dream of a horse of his or her own; a plot that highlighted ambition in the show ring or on the racetrack; there might also be a challenge to conquer a jealous rival or a need to overcome an injury that threatened tragic loss.

One of my all-time favorite horse books.

Whatever the formula, horse fiction was a winner, and I especially liked the books that rang true to my young equestrian ear. An old favorite of mine was called The Horsemasters by Don Stanford—there’s a scene where the main character has to ride through a grid with no reins and no stirrups, and my heart still speeds up as I think about facing the daunting exercise! When I first started at Trafalgar Square Books, Managing Director Martha Cook and I bonded over a common love of this particular book.

As TSB now releases an all-new fiction series for young horse lovers, beginning with CROWN PRINCE and its exciting followup CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED, it seems a good moment to ask the other horse people in my life which books they remember reading as horse-crazy kids.

“That’s easy for me,” responded TSB Promotions Director Julie Beaulieu. “I loved the ‘Billy and Blaze’ books [by CW Anderson] and a book named Moorland Mousie [by Golden Gorse].”

FEI and USEF dressage judge Janet Foy, author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, was also prompt in her reply.

“I had two favorites that I read over and over,” she said. “Afraid to Ride by C.W. Anderson was a great story about a girl who had a horse accident and was afraid to ride, until she found the perfect horse, and then King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry.”

Janet wasn’t the only one to give Henry’s book about Arabians the nod.

“My favorite book growing up was King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry,” said Cindy Meehl, director of the award-winning documentary BUCK and the new instructional series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN. “I loved it, and it made me cry.”

I also asked Denny Emerson, USEA Hall-of-Fame Inductee and author of the phenomenal HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, his thoughts on the subject.

“Early on, the whole Black Stallion series,” replied Denny. “Then the Mary O`Hara trilogy: My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming.”

“When I was 10 I read My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara and became addicted!” agreed Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK. “I now read the trilogy at least once a year; they are my soul food. Although I must have read My Friend Flicka a hundred times, I still hope that Flicka survives, and I cry at the end when she calls to Ken as he runs to her in the pasture! (I’m welling up now…) This deep love that Ken found in his relationship with Flicka, it’s what I look for every time I reach out to a horse.”

Flicka was a horse that left an indelible mark on many of us. Melinda Folse, author of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES counts herself as one of them. When I asked her which books meant the most to her in her early years, she replied, “Well, My Friend Flicka, of course…and The Black Stallion, of course…and the rest of each series. And there was a kind of obscure one that I read so many times it fell apart…” Melinda went on. “It was called A Horse Called Bonnie, and its sequel, The Sweet Running Filly [by Barbara van Tuyl and Pat Johnson].” 

Well wouldn’t you know it, I loved both those books, too. The “Bonnie Books,” as we used to call them, were rereleased in 2010.

 

There’s a whole generation of young readers out there who deserve stories about horses, good horsemanship, the value of hard work, and dreams that come true. We hope the characters from THE BROOKMEADE YOUNG RIDERS SERIES by Linda Snow McLoon—beginning with CROWN PRINCE and its followup CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED—both entertain and teach lessons, with a healthy dose of “horse” along the way.

CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

—Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

“Out-of-the-Tack Skills and Characteristics That Can Take Your Riding to the Next Level”

USEA Hall-of-Famer Denny Emerson’s book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD is one of the key ingredients to your ultimate riding success. Here’s what the Hudson Valley Horse Source has to say about the book:

“Lifelong horseman Denny Emerson fills an important gap in equestrian literature with his new book,” says the Hudson Valley Horse Source. “Regardless of your riding discipline or skill level, the wisdom presented in Emerson’s book is relevant to all branches of horsemanship…HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD doesn’t teach riding technique, rather it is about the out-of-the-tack skills and characteristics that can take your riding to the next level and help you attain your riding goals.

“The scope of this beautifully designed book is broadened with interviews from 23 of the world’s top riders. Equestrian luminaries, such as Beezie Madden (show jumping), Larry Poulin (carriage driving), Clinton Anderson (natural horsemanship), Stacy Westfall (reining), Buck Davidson (eventing), and Courtney King-Dye (dressage) are among those interviewed. In these concise interviews, the riders explain why they think they got good and share their most important pieces of advice.”

A sample of some of the advice from the pros in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD:

Dressage

JANE SAVOIE

“Make sure you get a solid foundation by working with someone really good, and riding everything you can sit on.”

Eventing

MARY KING

“First, get as much riding experience as possible. Second, follow your dreams, even if they don’t seem possible.”

Endurance

MEG SLEEPER

“Never stop trying to get better and to learn…if you keep your eyes open, you can learn useful information in the most unexpected places.”

Eventing

BUCK DAVIDSON

“I talk to everyone I can and try to learn a little from them all.”

Hunter/Jumper

GEOFF TEALL

“Pay attention to yourself, be willing to work hard, put one foot in front of the other, and do the very best you can every day.”

Dressage

COURTNEY KING-DYE

“Be brave and believe in yourself.”

You can order your copy of the bestselling book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD TODAY

Discovering What’s SO GOOD About Denny Emerson’s HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

TSB author Denny Emerson is great about sending along the notes and messages he’s received since we published his bestselling book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD. Some of the letters he has received reveal an older rider’s regret of past decisions made, perhaps those that made a competitive riding career difficult or impossible. Some of the emails show that, thankfully, hope to achieve one’s dreams rarely dies, and all many of us are waiting and wishing for is a sign, a mentor, or a bend in the road that very clearly points us in the direction we’d most like to travel.

We at TSB are thrilled that Denny’s book has reached so many riders, young and old, experienced and not, already. We know, from our own collective past with horses, that the desire to improve, to ride better, to “get good,” is a universal and eternal one. With the right self-examination, with a little instruction, with direction and drive, a career with horses is not only possible, it can be a means of making a living and making a happy life.

If you are 12 and dream of riding for the United States in the Olympics one day, read Denny’s book. If you’re 45 and finally picking up the reins again now that your kids are grown, don’t wait–get a copy today. HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD doesn’t have an expiration date: If you’re at the beginning, the middle, or the end of your equestrian career, find out how Denny’s advice and stories, tips and experiences, can make the difference in your own performance today and tomorrow, and discover all the ways it can help you improve your students’ chances of achieving their dreams, too.

Here’s what one new reader shared on her blog, Horses Are Our Lives, today:

“You MUST get this book. I sat down tonight (really, I did), after chores, with an ice tea, and outside on the lounge chair. I thought, ok… I’ll read the book cover and intro to see what this book is about. An hour later, I did NOT want to put the book down. The first chapter even had me leafing through the book to check out the other chapters. I especially checked out the chapter on personal characteristics! LOL It is a nuts and bolts book. Real Life. Tell it how it is. It sounds very familiar to how I used to be, and somewhere along the way, I’ve lost something. This is what the book makes me think, already! I need to get back to my true self, how I really am, and go for what I really want.  I am anxious to read more tomorrow!”

You can read the complete post about HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by clicking HERE

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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Riding Bareback and Bitless–BLISS That’s NOT Just for Kids Anymore!

The release of the new TSB book RIDING FREE got me reminiscing…the cover alone reminds me of carefree days in my youth when I was long on confidence and short on fear. From my earliest days on a horse, I was just as likely to clamber on board without a saddle as I was to stick my foot in the stirrup. I was just as comfortable steering my horse with a couple lead ropes tied to the halter as I was with leather reins and a bit in his mouth.

RIDING FREE is actually for REAL horse people. Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain that with correct training and preparation, a piece of metal across the tongue isn’t necessary to control a horse, and a piece of leather over the back isn’t needed to keep your seat. If you have spent any time asking yourself why it takes so much equipment between you and your horse in order to get close to him, then this book will speak to you. Our horses can be happier and more comfortable if we take the steps to communicate with them at the most elemental level, and the riding relationship that can arise from that can defy your expectations.

On my beloved first pony Misty, at age nine, with just a halter and lead rope (and yes, I should have been wearing a helmet).

Besides, it can be good for YOU as a rider to gain the seat necessary to control your horse’s direction and speed without a bit, and to stay in place without a saddle. In his bestselling book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, USEA Hall-of-Fame Inductee Denny Emerson asks us if it is “possible to be a centaur in the suburbs.” He describes what it may have taken for young Plains Indians to become “part” of a horse in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries: “They learned naturally, by simply letting their body accommodate to the movements of the horse, and they didn’t have a saddle between them and the animal to use as a crutch, or in any way to impede their total feel of the living entity beneath them.” Denny says that today you can still learn to ride as well as the Plains Indians, “but only if you recreate those same conditions.”

Pretty much the only time I got my little brother on a horse---bareback (just halters and lead ropes) on Asil and Katrina. This was our favorite way to hit the trail.

“I’ve always been thankful that I had all those bareback years, galloping over the hills on [my first horse] Paint with only a halter and a lead rope,” writes Denny, “because I think even now, fifty years later, hip replacement and all, I could still gallop around bareback comfortably and confidently.”

So that security gained by dealing with, perhaps, the momentary insecurity you might feel riding without a bit or without a saddle, is a feeling of being able to really ride that never leaves you. But it isn’t just about being able to “stick” that appeals, it is indeed the “centaur” sensation that is more likely to be achieved when the saddle is shed. Bareback is about as close to being “one” with the horse as we can really get.

There were actually bareback equitation classes at the 4-H shows I attended as a kid--here I'm on Asil (the gray) at the Midstate Riding Club in Randolph, Vermont.

“I’ve never spent a lot of time on a horse bareback,” says TSB Managing Director Martha Cook, “but a winter doesn’t pass (at least not yet), when I don’t indulge in a few short rides without a saddle. There’s something wonderful about slipping onto a shaggy, warm horse on a cold, snowy day. The heat that radiates through my seat on a cold day is like putting on pants fresh from the dryer. It feels good!”

In this day and age of merchandising and marketing it is so easy to think the trappings are what riding is all about. It might actually be difficult for many people to imagine taking a lesson bareback, or riding their horse on the trail with a bitless bridle, or bringing their horse in from the pasture, on board, with nothing but a lead rope looped around his neck. The thing is, really, truly, this shouldn’t be hard to imagine. It should be what we all dream about constantly—is it not the epitome of all that a horse-and-rider partnership should embody?

Misty was in her late twenties when this picture was taken...an all-out gallop across the field below my house, no saddle, no bridle. Nothing better.

I would never have thought twice about hopping on my horses without tack when I was a kid. It wasn’t just youthful bravado, it was that I could think of absolutely nothing better in the world. Bare legs on warm coat, muscle on muscle, and no ulterior motives…just friendship in a common space and time.

Bliss.