Posts Tagged ‘Equestrian Life’



We at TSB are simply thrilled to be the US publisher of Charlotte Dujardin’s autobiography THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE, which will be released in the States on Friday, March 16, 2018.

Charlotte Dujardin and her charismatic horse Valegro burst onto the international sports scene with their record–breaking performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The world was captivated by the young woman with the dazzling smile and her dancing horse. The YouTube clip of their Freestyle performance has since had over 1.7 million views, and Dujardin is considered the dominant dressage rider of her era. When Valegro (affectionately called “Blueberry”) retired from competition at the end of 2016, his farewell performance at the Olympia Grand Hall sold out and the dark bay gelding received a standing ovation.

Dujardin began riding horses at the age of two, but dressage was the domain of the rich–not the life a girl from a middleclass family was born into. Her parents sacrificed to give her as many opportunities as they could, and she left school at 16 to focus on equestrian competition. It was at 22, when she was invited to be a groom for British Olympian Carl Hester, that she met the equine partner that would change her fortune.

THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE shares this story, beginning with Charlotte’s early years restarting naughty ponies and following her equestrian evolution, which eventually led to the Olympic arena and gold medals, as she competed against the best in the world. Readers get an honest look at the road Charlotte took to reach the top, and along the way they gain an intimate understanding of who she is and why she and Valegro were able to connect with each other and develop such an unparalleled partnership.

There are many fascinating details readers learn in the pages of Charlotte’s autobiography. Here are 10 you probably (maybe) didn’t already know:

1 Charlotte grew up battling dyslexia, which led to anxiety at school. But as much as she feared a spelling test, as a child she was never nervous at a horse show. The bigger the crowd, the better. (That changed when she had to memorize dressage tests!)

2 Early in her development as a dressage rider, Charlotte struggled with her sitting trot. So she took up swimming to help develop her core strength, clocking in 50-70 lengths each morning before heading to the barn.

3 Charlotte wears false nails because she wants to disguise her “old lady hands” and arthritic knuckles from years of working and riding outside in the wet and cold.

4 At the barn where she rode with Carl Hester, there was a long concrete driveway that riders would walk the horses up before and after work, and when Charlotte first started at Carl’s, she would always try and finish schooling at the same time as him so they could ride up the driveway together and she could work up the courage to talk to him.

5 Charlotte never rode in a helmet at home and wore a top hat to show until she was bucked off into the wall of the arena one day and ended up in the hospital with a skull fracture. Now she schools and shows in a helmet.

6 Charlotte’s fiancé went to the horse show where they first met intending to find himself a girlfriend. He thought it a likely venue for available young women!

7 The first time Charlotte and Valegro competed against Carl was in a Prix St Georges class at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2009. Charlotte and Valegro won.

8 In 2010 Charlotte lost a bet (by winning a test with Valegro) and had to jump into a hot tub in her riding clothes.

9 Valegro loves performing. There are never monsters lurking in corners or waiting in the flowerpots to get him. He’s always focused and always reliable.

10 Before the Olympics in Rio, Charlotte had a feeling it should be Valegro’s final competition. She wanted him to finish at the top where everybody would remember him as the best horse there was. She didn’t want him to end his career as an older horse, not able to give what he once could. Retiring him while he was still at his best was what she felt was the right thing to do.

Girl on Dancing HorseThe first 100 people to order THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE from the Trafalgar Square Books online bookstore will receive an autographed copy! Plus, shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order your copy now.

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


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Ah, Valentine’s Day! That Hallmark Holiday we all love to hate and hate to love. But we don’t have to sit around longing for some demonstration of adoration to appear in our mailbox or on our doorstep. Instead, why not treat that best of all faithful and true companions, your horse, to a DIY Spa Day.

Give His Fascia Some Love

Ear Release Photo by Patti Bose-horseandriderbooksUmm…what was that? Don’t worry, as equine bodyworker Margret Henkels explains in her book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? the fascia (or myofascia) is tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems. As the “internet” of the body, fascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization. But this remarkable tissue changes under strain and accidental injury. It immediately builds many cross-hatching fibers in all directions around the area of strain, as well as faraway areas that help hide the strain for the horse. At first, these areas are warmer and larger as the fascia adds support. Eventually, they return to a more normal size and temperature, but the composition of the fascia changes. Over time, instead of flowing easily, it hardens into stiff fibers and lumps called “adhesions.” Strategic placement of your hands brings precisely the correct heat for fascia changes—that is, “melting” of adhesions and release of related emotional baggage. Henkels’ Conformation Balancing method, explained in her book and DVD, give us this easy technique to make our horses happy:

The ears are a “miracle area” for helping horses. Many have experienced trauma around the base of the ear as well as the entire ear, up to the tip. This can be caused by tight-fitting tack, or head strain. A gentle and effective technique is to hold the ear very softly. Once the horse understands you aren’t squeezing or grabbing at his ear, he relaxes and enjoys the changes. As your thumb sinks into the base of the ear, head changes occur. These releases often last many minutes and bring great relief from anxiety. One ear usually needs much more attention than the other. When you offer these often, the emotional progress for the horse is rapid.


Get Down…and Back

Hind End Release Photo by Deb Kalas-horseandriderbooksPositioning and movement of the hind limbs down and back can release tension in the muscles and structure of the hind end, including the hamstrings, the lower back, the gluteal muscles and the psoas. This can improve movements that require adduction and abduction of the hind limbs (think half-pass). Jim Masterson’s Masterson Method® Hind Leg Releases in THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED include this easy exercise:

Pick up the hind foot as if you are going to clean it. While supporting the fetlock with your hands, guide the hoof down and back so it rests on the toe. A couple inches farther back than the opposite planted hind foot is plenty. Keep your hand gently on the hoof, or slightly wiggling the hock, to help the horse relax. With the toe resting back, the hamstrings are fully relaxed. Gently stroke or lightly massage the area to further break up any tension.


The Eyes Have It

Acupressure for Horses-horseandriderbooksThere are many points around the horse’s eyes that can be accessed with acupressure. And, as Dr. Ina Gösmeier explains in her bestselling ACUPRESSURE FOR HORSES, acupressure is simple and safe for any of us to apply. All the meridians and organs meet in connection in and around the eye, so through acupressure there, disturbances in other parts of the body can be influenced and rebalanced. This technique also relaxes the horse greatly.

First, touch the Jingming acupressure point (at the corner of the eye) lightly, then slowly increase the pressure, using a clockwise, circular motion. Watch the horse’s reaction. When you see the corners of the mouth relax, the ears go sideways, the eyes begin to close, you know you are applying an optimal amount of pressure. Maintain pressure for one minute. Work you way all the way around the eye, working back to your starting point.


Tail Envy

WCG Grooming for Horses Photo by Jessica Dailey-horseandriderbooksGive your horse’s tail a proper wash and conditioning so he can parade his silky swisher around the barn. Professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford give us their tips for primping your horse’s hind end in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Wet the tail, then use a gentle conditioning shampoo like Motions® Lavish Conditioning Shampoo to ensure the tail gets clean without becoming dry. Use a sponge to get the entire dock wet, paying special attention to the bottom of the dock where the hair gets really thick and oil can collect. Scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Run your sponge down the entire tail, then scrub the hair between your hands. Rinse the tail until the water runs clear. NEVER comb a wet tail! Use a non-silicone-based detangler such as eZall® Shine & Detangler and comb when dry.


Have a wonderful, relaxing, DIY Spa Day with your horse…and don’t forget his favorite treats for afterward! Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own: TSB’s Fun, Easy Valentine’s Day Horse Treats.

For more information about any of the books or experts mentioned, visit www.horseandriderbooks.com.

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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“We humans like to view ourselves as rational creatures who make reasoned, logical decisions and choices,” says Andrea Waldo in her bestselling book BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS. A former psychotherapist who now focuses on her training business and riding students, Waldo tells it how it is when it comes to managing our brain and stress.

“Ideally, we want our choices to support our long-term goals,” she explains. “But as much as we know that an apple is better than a cookie and that paying the electric bill is more important than the tack shop’s clearance sale, our Lizard Brain couldn’t care less about ‘long-term health’ or ‘financial stability.’ It thinks only about the immediate moment, and it cares about only one thing in this moment: survival.

“Winning the evolution game is about surviving long enough to reproduce and pass on your DNA to the next generation. Up until very recently, humans lived in an environment with lethal threats all around: saber-toothed tigers, poisonous snakes, enemy tribes. Our ancestors that survived long enough to reproduce didn’t survive because they avoided fast food and gluten and balanced their checkbooks every week; they survived because their brains developed a mechanism to get them out of danger as fast as possible. This mechanism is known as the Fight-or-Flight Response (FOFR). Here’s how it works: Imagine you’re grooming your horse and you’re leaning over to brush mud off his belly. Suddenly he kicks up at a fly and you jump out of the way just in time to avoid being kicked yourself. You realize he came dangerously close to nailing you right in the head! Now imagine how you feel: your stomach is quivering, your heart is pounding, your hands are shaking a little, and every muscle is tense. You’ve just been protected by your FOFR.

“When your brain perceives a threat in the environment, the amygdala signals the brain to engage the FOFR. A surge of stress hormones, primarily adrenaline and cortisol, are released into your bloodstream and trigger a rapid series of physiological changes. Your heart beats faster to get more blood to the major muscle groups in your arms and legs, which tense up to prepare to fight or run. You breathe faster to get more oxygen into your bloodstream. You start to perspire. Blood is channeled away from your extremities and momentarily unnecessary organs such as your stomach. This is why you may get cold hands and butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, and why you have such a hard time relaxing your muscles enough to deepen your seat and stay tall in the saddle. An important point to note here is that the FOFR can activate when it perceives any threat. It responds whether that threat is physical, such as a kick from a horse, or psychological, such as the worry that you’ll forget your reining pattern. It also gets activated whether the perceived threat is real or imagined. This is why you can feel jittery just picturing your horse bucking you off.

60465_lizard-face“The Lizard Brain can’t tell the difference between something you imagine vividly and something that’s actually happening. On the positive side, you can feel great when you imagine something wonderful; on the down side, you can panic your Lizard Brain by picturing something terrible happening. You can also make your Lizard Brain angry (the fight in Fight or Flight) by imagining a conflict. (Ever re-live an argument with your significant other in your mind and find yourself angry all over again? Hello, Lizard Brain!) One more interesting thing happens during the FOFR. The prefrontal cortex— the Rational Brain that thinks things through logically—shuts down. It’s never even consulted in the Fight-or-Flight process. It’s as if you were flying over southern California at night, and all of a sudden, Los Angeles went totally dark. The FOFR flips a switch, and off goes your Rational Brain. At first glance, this may seem like an evolutionary design flaw. Why on earth would you want your logical thinking capacity disconnected? However, it makes sense when you look at it from a survival perspective: Imagine you’re a caveman a hundred thousand years ago. One morning, you stroll out of your cave and spy a saber-toothed tiger stalking in the bushes. Your Rational prefrontal cortex might say something like this: ‘Oh, hey, a tiger. Or is it a lion? Nope, it has saber teeth, definitely a tiger. What should I do? I could hit it with my club—no, that’s in the cave. I could climb that tree or hide behind that rock, but it might find me. I guess I’d better run—’ CHOMP! By now, the tiger has finished his delightful lunch of cave-human. In life-or-death situations, reasoning and logic simply take too much time. Instead, the amygdala hollers, ‘TIGER! RUN!’ and you live to see another day.

Brain Train for Riders Final

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“This, dear rider, is why you can’t think straight when you’re extremely nervous: your amygdala has hijacked your Rational Brain. You’re not stupid or inept; you’ve just allowed your Lizard Brain to run the show. It thinks you’re being attacked by a tiger, so it tries to get you to safety.”

You can find out how to tame your Lizard Brain in Waldo’s BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.


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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Do you remember the first time you saw a Fergus the Horse Cartoon? Was he trading super clever commentary with the ever-cynical Grace? Was he stepping slickly and not-so-innocently to one side, away from the mounting block where his brave rider (alas) was attempting to climb astride? Was he pulling a laden sleigh in the company of a joyfully mismatched team? Was he photobombing a famous landmark or equestrian event?

As horse lovers, we feel pretty darn lucky to have Fergus in our lives. His antics, and those of his equine friends, ring beautifully true—he is truly “everyone’s” horse. And sometimes, when things are tough at the barn or at work or in the world, it just feels good to indulge in that which makes us laugh.


In the past four years, Fergus has starred in three books of his own. The first, THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE, is a compilation of popular Fergus comics, plus the history of how his cartoon self came to be. The second and third books are shorter and tell silly stories of particular Fergus adventures: FERGUS: A HORSE TO BE RECKONED WITH pairs our favorite cartoon horse with a young lad bent on starting a reticent Fergus the right way, with groundwork and thoughtful horsemanship. FERGUS AND THE GREENER GRASS is this year’s release—a delightfully surprising comic adventure in which Fergus leaves his life of comfort behind and sets off on a hilarious journey. His exploits lead him over, under, and through all manner of obstacles as he strives to reach the bigger, better prize that beckons, always just a little farther away…and on the other side.


Whether you’re 5 or 95, whether you just “like” horses or have had them your entire life, Fergus will make you smile. And this time of year, there’s nothing better than that.

THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE, FERGUS: A HORSE TO BE RECKONED WITH, and FERGUS AND THE GREENER GRASS are all available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Watch as famous trainers read Fergus the Horse:

Here’s what people are saying about Fergus and his books:

“My family loves the Fergus comics and this book will make it even easier to share his wisdom and humor with others. I know what I’m buying for Christmas presents this year!”—Stacy Westfall, Clinician, Freestyle Reining Champion, Winner of the 2006 Road to the Horse Colt-Starting Competition, and 2012 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee

“If Sgt. Reckless were alive today, she and Fergus would be the best of friends! Fergus brings a smile to my face every time I read his cartoon.”—Robin Hutton, Author of the New York Times Bestseller Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse

“How cool to have Fergus and his buddies corralled in one spot! I’ve enjoyed his escapades so much over the years. This book will be a great way to enjoy them again and share them with others.”—Christine Hamilton, Editor, Western Horseman Magazine

“Fergus is that rare example of a horse with his hooves in two communities: He speaks for horses, and he speaks for people who love them. When I read a Fergus comic panel, I always chuckle, first loudly and then ruefully because the comic is funny—and I’ve been in that situation before.”—Larri Jo Starkey, Editor, The American Quarter Horse Journal

“Jean Abernethy has an artistic gift and a comic wit that makes us all grin. I am thrilled that so many of Fergus’s adventures can now be viewed together in a book.”—Lisa Wysocky, Author of My Horse My Partner and the Cat Enright Equestrian Mystery Series

“I’ve only recently become acquainted with Fergus, but we immediately hit it off. He’s just the kind of horse I like to get to know and figure out—not afraid to speak his mind, a great sense of humor, and he can teach us all a thing or two. Horses have always been my greatest teachers…but Fergus is the first animated one!”—Jonathan Field, Trainer, Clinician, and Author of The Art of Liberty Training for Horses

“Just as Snoopy is cool and Calvin and Hobbes is imaginative, Fergus the Horse is gen-u-ine equine.”—Saddle Seeks Horse

“Have you seen Fergus the Horse? If not, you’re in for a treat. … Abernethy portrays Fergus with bright, colorful illustrations that will enthrall readers of all ages. You’ll likely recognize your own horse in his amusing predicaments.”—Trail Rider Magazine

Want more Fergus? Find him on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM!

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business located on a farm in rural Vermont.


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On the left: That’s me at five years old. On the right: My son at eight.


I had my son in front of me on the back of a horse before he was three, hoping—like any formerly horse-mad woman who did little else than muck, groom, and ride throughout her childhood might—that maybe, just maybe, he’d have a little “horsiness” rub off on him. But it was more than five years and many wheeled vehicles later when he finally, out of the blue (although admittedly after rewatching A Knight’s Tale for the thousandth time) asked if he could ride a horse.

I jumped at the chance to see my kid in the saddle at long last. Luckily, while I currently do not own a horse of my own, TSB Managing Director Martha Cook has a Morgan who draws children to him like moths to a porch light.

We arranged for an evening introduction to the ritual of riding…the cross-ties, the currycomb, the names of the different brushes (are the bristles hard or soft?), the order of go when it comes to tack. And while I stood back and allowed my son to learn from another, I felt an intense rush of pleasure, tinged as it so often is, with a distinct sadness.

Gone are my long days of dirty fingernails and face and boots as I passed the time raking aisleways, shoveling the track smooth in the indoor, bringing horses in and turning them out. Oh, and how I used to love to clean tack! The community of the warm room filled with steaming buckets and leather things on a cold day, as I rinsed and wiped and polished alongside others. The satisfaction of the bridles neatly wrapped and hung evenly along the wall, the saddles oiled and covered for another night.

Time used to pass slowly then. Whether it was the slower rhythms of barn life or merely the fact that I was literally counting down the minutes between the horses I’d get to ride, it is a pulse I can barely imagine now, when I sit down at my desk early each morning and suddenly look up to find that it is already time to make dinner.

But for an hour that evening last week, I tasted it again: time slowing. I allowed myself to imagine that I was five again, my first brush strokes on a pony’s side, my first steps beside him, leading him to a mounting block, my first attempts to direct him with a pull of the reins right and left. For that hour, all my worries about the world and our places in it fell away, and I felt, in all its simplicity, happy.



Then…and now.


Why should little boys ride horses?

Because it will, even if only for a moment, make their mothers very, very happy.


Rebecca Didier, Managing Editor

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When it came time to write a follow-up to her bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy knew what she wanted to do.

“I thought it would be a great way to answer all the questions I have from my dressage friends,” she says. “It is my hope it will help readers on their dressage journey…making learning easier and more fun.”

So far, from Janet’s reports, the release of DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY has inspired fun—for all involved!

“We sold out at the Madison book signing last week!” says Janet. “The WDCTA chapter of USDF is a very active group, and Mary Hanneman is the best organizer in the world! I always enjoy doing clinics for them, as they are well attended with good riders and also many auditors.”


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And how do the horses get in on this?

“Since attending Janet’s USEF Dressage Judge clinic in Colorado last September, I have been reading her first [DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE] and now her second book [DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY],” says USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold-medal rider Michell Combs (she’s also an L Graduate with Distinction). “The other night I pulled a chair into Cosmo’s stall expecting to hang out with him and read while it was raining, but he kept coming over to snuggle and get attention.”


Cosmopolitan is an eight-year-old Dutch/TB cross that is schooling First/Second Level dressage. He's in his second career. "I was looking for a new project horse to lease and train while Cosmo's eventing trainer (Barb Crabo) and owner (Paige Hipsley) were looking for someone to train him full time in dressage," explains Michell Combs. "I've been riding 'Cosmo' for four months so far."

Cosmopolitan is an eight-year-old Dutch/TB cross that is schooling First/Second Level dressage. He’s in his second career. “I was looking for a new project horse to lease and train while Cosmo’s eventing trainer (Barb Crabo) and owner (Paige Hipsley) were looking for someone to train him full time in dressage,” explains Michell Combs. “I’ve been riding ‘Cosmo’ for four months so far.”


What was it about DRESSAGE Q&A that had Cosmo so interested? Perhaps it was the chapter on how horses learn (or perhaps, more importantly, the one on how riders do!)

“Remember that each horse will teach you something,” Janet writes in her new book. “Sometimes, the horse will also teach you what not to do. Take these lessons in stride, and keep learning and questioning. With dressage we are never really a ‘finished’ product! When you think you know it all, you will fail.”

If you and your horse have been so busy this summer you haven’t spent an evening just snuggling and reading together, take a tip from Janet, Michell, and Cosmo. It’s essential to keep learning and educating yourself…but even more important to spend quality “friend time” with your horse.

After all, he’s the most important “dressage friend” you have.




DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information and to download a free sample chapter.


Check out the article about Janet judging at the upcoming Australian Dressage Championships on EquestrianLife.com!

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