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Posts Tagged ‘equestrian’

 

ManyBraveFools-horseandriderbooks

Switching trainers, moving from one barn to another, trying a new hairdresser…isn’t it amazing how all these things make us feel a sharp pang of guilt, like we are somehow being unfaithful? I mean, rarely is there a contract involved or even promises of fidelity, and yet…

Susan Conley’s new memoir MANY BRAVE FOOLS chronicles her discovery of riding and horses at the age of 42, and how her new passion helped her recover from years living in a codependent relationship with an addict. (Of course, horses introduced her to an addiction of her own.) In this excerpt, Conley shares the story of the first time she had a lesson barn affair and how ultimately, just like in her human relationships, her horse-life relationships were all about chemistry.

***

I had been riding exclusively at my first barn for one year and seven months when I decided to try a different stable, one that was on my side of town, for a private lesson.

I felt like I was having an affair.

Hermes was a strong, well-built cob. He had been brought in from the field just before my lesson, and he took a moment at the open door of the covered arena, every time we passed, to call for the friends he’d left behind. He was not in the least bit interested in me, and I wasn’t managing to engage his attention. He grudgingly trotted when I asked him to, and he refused to listen to my request for the canter at all, so the instructor waved a longe whip at him.

I got distracted by her whip. Hermes leaped to the left. I slid off to the right.

“You fell?” The instructor was incredulous.

You lashed the fucking whip at him, I thought. “Yeah, well,” I said.

I had landed in a damp patch on the ground. Let’s just say it was an aromatic bus ride home.

A couple of weeks later: same (new) barn, same horse, a group lesson this time, outside riding ring. A different instructor was busily chatting with some of her colleagues, leaving the riders to make their own decisions regarding rein changes and whatnot. I was once again trying to get Hermes to canter for me. The line of riders had halted at the M marker and would individually pick up canter between C and M before heading toward the fence, which was set up at B. (I could change barns but that crazy riding alphabet seemed to be following me.) We came around the corner and Hermes was motorbiking it, cutting it sharp/sharper/ sharpest. I leaned on the outside stirrup, off-effing-balance, and started to feel the saddle slip and slip…I went down. I fell softly onto the sand, and stood right back up.

No biggie. Except that the instructor came over, shaking her head, gesturing at the saddle, now completely over on Hermes’s offside.

“See that?” She put her hands on her hips and gestured at my horse and his gear, all askew. Everyone else, waiting for their turn to jump, stared.

Yes, I saw it. Cow. “Yeah,” I said.

LessonBarnPinterest-horseandriderbooksShe proceeded to lecture me on proper lesson preparation as she released the girth and righted the saddle. I was so pissed off my anger practically vaulted me off the ground and back in the tack. I was beneath her notice until we started to jump. She raised the rails on the fence to over two feet.

“Hermes—” She hadn’t even bothered to ask my name. “—you don’t have to do this.”

“I can do it,” I responded.

We trotted. Hermes still wouldn’t canter, not until we were a few strides away from the jump, anyway, but we took it perfectly.

Showed you, I thought. I certainly wouldn’t be coming back to this place anymore. Falls three and four were the height of ignominy; though the new barn was nominally closer to home, the affair was over. I went back to where I’d started.

I didn’t fall for Kilternan, my initial lesson barn, at first sight. Sure, I liked it right away, primarily because the place was laid back, the staff didn’t mind me hanging around (sometimes for a full hour before my lesson), and nobody passed comment, even though I was dressed like a complete fool for the first few weeks, wearing jeans and those silly boots and a borrowed helmet. I did strive to get my look increasingly right: jodhpurs, paddock boots, new headgear. I toughened up, abandoned the myriad layers and woolly scarf I initially swathed myself in, riding in just a T-shirt.

Horse owners asked me to do things like mind their mounts while they ran to get a hoof pick or hold their offside stirrup while they got on. I was becoming known, even if it was for being the crazy woman who took two busses all the way from the other side of town, a million miles away.

In the case of this love affair, distance was not an issue. I was learning that if a place gave off the right vibe, then I should be careful not to muck it up. There was a world of chemistry between horse and rider, rider and instructor, between the riders within a group lesson, and indeed, between the horses and the instructors. I wouldn’t ride Maverick when Angela was teaching the lesson. He adored her and always tried to show off, bucking more than usual, pelting for the perimeter after a jump, desperate to go fast, to show his favorite person what he was made of. When Emily was instructing us, Dancer would do everything in his power to stand by her. Once, we were waiting in the middle of the arena watching others take their turns over a jump, and when he heard Emily’s voice behind him, he turned a full one-hundred-and-eighty degrees to face her.

That kind of chemistry took time to build, and I knew you didn’t just throw it away. 

***

MANY BRAVE FOOLS is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Watch the book trailer:

 

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

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RHME-RH-DENNY-2019-FB-2

On Thursday, February 28, 2019, TSB author Denny Emerson will be inducted into the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo Hall of Fame, during their first annual induction ceremony, taking place at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado. Other 2019 inductees include Julie Goodnight Horsemanship, Meredith Hodges, Pat Parelli Ranch, Richard Shrake, and Dr. Robert Miller.

“I spent lots of time in Colorado, off and on, during the years that my son, Rett, was a student at Colorado State University, and during the several years he stayed in Ft Collins, working, after graduation,” ” says Emerson. “I taught numerous clinics in Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, and developed a great appreciation for the quality of the horses and horsemanship in those western states.

“Some of my all time favorite horses were Epic Win, a Colorado-bred, Foxed Again, a Wyoming-bred,  King Oscar, another Wyoming-bred, and Jetting West, a Montana-bred. So to be honored in a part of the United States so noted for its tremendous riding and horse breeding traditions is a special privilege.”

DennyEmersonHallofFame-horseandriderbooksTickets for the induction ceremony are $25 and available HERE. (Pre-registration is required to guarantee entry.) In addition to the presentation of the awards, attendees will enjoy individual spotlights and stories of the inductees, and a chance to ask a question of a Hall-of-Famer! (Questions can be submitted in advance online: CLICK HERE.)

Details:

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Reception @ 6 pm
Awards Program @ 6:45
National Western Stock Show Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, Denver, Colorado

On Friday, March 1, 2019, Emerson will be on the grounds at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, signing copies of his new book KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER at The Right Horse truck and trailer located at the front entrance next to the Colorado State University booth. Come meet Emerson from 1:30-2:30 pm! 40% of proceeds from the sale of his book on Friday will go to support the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance.

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KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER is Emerson’s second bestselling book, and has been called “invaluable” by Bernie Traurig, President and founder of EquestrianCoach.com, and “a treasure”by Charlotte Kneeland, Executive Director of The American Riding Instructors Association.

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For more information about the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo and its 1st Annual Hall of Fame Awards and Reception, CLICK HERE.

For more information about The Right Horse and their mission to promote horse adoption, CLICK HERE.

For more information about KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER by Denny Emerson, CLICK HERE.

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

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InspireMe-horseandriderbooks

Photo by Venkat Narayanan

“Being coached” and “being a coach” are two of the topics examined in Eric Smiley’s new book TWO BRAINS, ONE AIM. “The aim of this book is twofold,” Eric says. “Firstly, to improve the relationship between coach (in all its guises) and rider and horse; in other words, help the rider learn how to learn, as well as guide those who help others in an instructional capacity make the way they communicate clearer. Secondly, to give those who do not have regular tutelage techniques and practical exercises to help develop riding and training skills.”

We at TSB know Eric best as a riding coach, clinician, instructor, and mentor, but we got to wondering about Eric’s own experiences as a student. Did he have a coach who influenced him in profound ways? How had he learned his craft through the years? Who did he credit for his equestrian successes? Eric was kind enough to share answers to these questions and more:

Being asked to share the story of my “best coach” has ended up becoming a reflection on who I have become and why. Trying to separate horse from person has become impossible. Surely in true horsemen and women the two become inseparable as we live our lives for and because of “the horse.”

Some of our greatest experiences in life are horse-related. Some of our moral dilemmas that have shaped us as people have their origins in equine situations. So for me to separate horse from person or to identify an individual coach is impossible.
 
Sport coaches are defined as follows:

Sport coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential. They are responsible for training athletes in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills, and by providing encouragement. But they are also responsible for the guidance of the athlete in life and their chosen sport.
 
WhyWeNeedtoBeInspired-horseandriderbooksAs a child I used to watch my father come home from a stressful and exhausting day as a consultant thoracic surgeon. None of his surgeries were normal—all were life-threatening and in the midst of the Northern Ireland troubles. I would watch him go to the stables on his way from the car to our house. He would spend some time in the company of his beloved hunter “Bob.” By the time he arrived in the house and joined our family, a semblance of peace had returned to his overstressed mind.
 
Non-commissioned officers in the army have a tendency to be direct and explicit when getting things done. There is little ambiguity or doubt in the minds of those who are at the receiving end of the order. I used to watch Ben Jones ride his army remount horse “Custer.” At the time he had been promoted from Sergeant  to Captain to Chief Instructor at Melton Mowbray. He had previously been an Olympic Rider. I was doing a six-week riding course there. Ben Jones was direct with us and his horses. Always fair, but clear what was required. I watched him school Custer on the flat and over jumps, the clarity of where responsibility lay was clear for all to see. I was left with a certainty of “be clear and fair, but make it happen.”
 
“Now, Eric , what’s your question?” Mrs. Sivewright would ask at the beginning of every riding lesson. After an embarrassing first lesson (no one had told me to be prepared), I made sure I had a question ready to ask at subsequent sessions. This sparked my curiosity forevermore. This was at the beginning of my formative nine months at the Talland School of Equitation as I embarked on my chosen career with horses. My curiosity has continued to make me look and listen to any coaching of any sport that I can and then think about how they are going about fulfilling the definition I shared above and what I can learn about about their method and delivery.
 
Two Brains, One Aim“Enterprise” was not an easy horse. Maybe that was why he was cheap and not really wanted by his previous owner! He was, however, very talented but very misunderstood. I was asked if I would like a lesson with Dr. Reiner Klimke on one of his rare visits to Ireland. What a revelation that turned out to be. Day One was disastrous. Enterprise was SO spooky as to not go anywhere near corners , doors, mirrors, spectators, or Dr. Klimke. Day Two was unbelievably wonderful. With quiet, skillful instruction, Dr. Klimke got into the mind of Enterprise and assured him that it was okay. The work was beyond the expectation of anyone present, especially me. I learned to seek excellence and to be creative in doing so.
 
The joy of living in Ireland is the people one meets and gets to know. While being part of a team setting up a coaching structure in Ireland, I got to know someone called Liam Moggan. At the time he was one of the lecturers at the Sport Coach Development Department of Limerick University. I listened, watched, and was in awe of his unerring positivity and communication skills, and his humanity. It was impossible not to come away from every encounter enriched as a person.
 
As you read this you will begin to see that I have not talked much about many riding instructors that have influenced me. At the ripe old age of (??) I believe that most people today will have had more lessons by the age of twenty than I have had in my whole life. Yes, I have been in clinics, and I have learned from those instructors. But my interest has been largely self-taught. I loved the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It poses the “nature/nurture” question of talent, but it also gives a method of achievement. Much resonated with how I saw coaching and had been plying my trade for many years. It gives one huge encouragement in what your doing when you read such a well accepted book, saying much the same.
 
However, none of all this really has much meaning or practical use unless we are inspired in some way to make it happen. Inspiration comes from many sources. I would implore you to watch a TED talk given by Dame Ellen MacArthur in 2015 (CLICK HERE).

I’m not making any political statement by recommending it, but listening to her it is impossible not to be inspired.

Eric Smiley’s book TWO BRAINS, ONE AIM is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

 

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

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BeyondtheTrack-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track by Anna Ford with Amber Heintzberger and Sarah Coleman.

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate those oh-so-special loves in our lives. For some of us, that means extra hours at the barn with you-know-who. But others might still be looking for Mr. Right. If an OTTB has ever caught your fancy, you’re not alone…off-track Thoroughbreds are a fabulous way to do right by a horse while getting incredible athleticism in an affordable package. And OTTBs can be a great fit for whatever kind of riding you like best. Just check out our OTTB Matchmaker tips below from Anna Ford, Thoroughbred Program Director at New Vocations Racehorse Adoption. Her book BEYOND THE TRACK has been called “breakthrough racehorse literature,” “superior,” “a winner,” and “the ultimate in training manuals.”

Here are Ford’s recommendations for finding your OTTB match:

If you intend to purchase a horse off the track or adopt one through a program, I recommend you engage the assistance of an experienced friend or trainer to help ascertain the horse’s suitability for you and your discipline. Even if you buy and sell horses all the time, a second opinion is always of value.

The most important step is to ask yourself what level of riding or competition you aspire to, as many OTTBs are athletic enough to pursue any discipline at the lower levels, and most minor injuries will hold up after proper time off. With this in mind, here are a few additional guidelines to consider when evaluating OTTBs. These are generalized suggestions—there is a lot more to consider when choosing a horse for a specific discipline. And note, the examples pictured here are right off the track. Appearance changes with added weight and muscle.

The Event Horse or Jumper* 

BeyondtheTrack1-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ High shoulder point (the front of the shoulder is high, with a steeply angled humerus from there to the elbow; this ensures scope over large jumps).

▶ Uphill build.

▶ Medium bone structure (extremely fine bone structure is less likely to hold up).

▶ Short- to medium-length back.

▶ Short- to medium-length pasterns (long pasterns tend to break down).

▶ Well-set knees (horses that have knees that bend slightly forward or back, instead of straight, can place increased strain on tendons and ligaments).

▶ Event horses can range in height. Note that larger horses (in height and mass) can be more difficult to keep sound as they are harder on their legs and feet.

 

OTTBMatchmaker-horseandriderbooksMovement

Event horses need to be very athletic with fluid gaits. Prospects should have more action at all three gaits than, say, a hunter (see below). This often indicates it will be easier for them to move with impulsion in the dressage ring and that they will pick up their knees better over fences.

 

Personality

▶ Brave ∙ Athletic ∙ Hard-Working

Event prospects need to be bold, brave, and forward-going horses that have good endurance. Many of these horses could also be described as “proud” or “arrogant.” More energetic horses are often possibilities—as long as they are mentally sane and have a good work ethic, the extra energy is beneficial on the cross-country course.

*A jumper prospect will be very similar in build, action, and personality to an event horse. When looking for a jumper, put more emphasis on a stronger hind end and shoulder. A jumper does not necessarily need to be built uphill, but he should have a high shoulder point.

 

The Hunter 

BeyondtheTrack2-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ Long, sloping shoulder.

▶ Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder.

▶ Small, attractive head.

▶ Flat topline.

 

Movement

Hunters should be light on their feet and have as little action in their legs as possible. A long, low, rhythmic stride that easily covers a lot of ground is desirable. The horse’s head carriage should be long and low.

 

Personality

▶ Easygoing ∙ Consistent ∙ Stylish

Hunters are judged on rhythm, style, and manners. They need to be calm in nature and consistent in gait and attitude as they move around the ring and over fences.

 

The Dressage Horse 

BeyondtheTrack3-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ Withers set back from the shoulder.

▶ Short back.

▶ Uphill build.

▶ Strong, well-built hindquarters.

▶ Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder (avoid ewe-necked horses).

▶ Neck should be medium to long.

 

Movement

The horse should naturally engage and drive from his hind end. A regular, even, four-beat walk is ideal. At the trot he should demonstrate natural impulsion and extension while remaining light on his feet. Look for a canter that is not overly “large”—a shorter stride is easier to maneuver around the dressage arena and eventually teach clean flying lead changes.

 

Personality

▶ Hard-Working ∙ Sensitive ∙ Sensible

A dressage prospect should be a sensitive yet sensible horse. He needs to be very responsive to leg, seat, and rein aids rather than dead-sided or hard-mouthed. He cannot become overwrought every time he is confronted with a new task—the ideal horse likes to work and accepts new challenges eagerly.

 

 

Beyond the Track NE REVFor more guidance in how to choose the right OTTB and transition him from the track to the ideal riding partner, check out BEYOND THE TRACK, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information 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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KNOWBETTERDOBETTER-horseandriderbooks

Photo by Heidi Osgood-Metcalf

In his newest book KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER, horseman, Tevis-Cup-Buckle-winner, and gold medalist in eventing Denny Emerson examines the question of whether or not you keep the horse that is the love of your life…but is completely wrong for you. Read on:

Hesnogoodbutilovehimsoicantgetridofhim

If your mental machete is sharp enough to hack through the verbiage of this heading, you can probably also understand and maybe even empathize with the dilemma it implies. Most of us have found ourselves possessed of or possessed by the wrong horse. Wrong for any of a thousand valid and invalid reasons: too hot to ride, too unsound, too poor a mover, too limited over a fence, too unpleasant in the barn, too old, too young, too big, too small—too unsuitable for what we actually need to have.

The Unsuitability Game

Sometimes the unsuitability has come in the flash of an eye. He hobbles in from the field one morning with a non-life-threatening but athletic-career-ending injury. Or, as with incipient navicular disease, it has been sneaking up, month by month. Or we’ve had one too many spin-and-fall-off episodes. Or too many refusals at too many events or shows. Whatever and however the cause or reason, deep down we know that this is not the horse that can take us to places we want to go.

Now What?

If the horse is a pet, and you don’t care if you actually ride or not, and if the unsuitability only renders the horse unfit for riding, you can just keep on keeping on. Or if you are rich enough to turn him into a pasture ornament and still get one or more other horses that you can ride, you are also just fine. You aren’t the person I’m addressing.

KnowBetterDoBetterPIN-horseandriderbooksBut what if you do love to ride, don’t have extra cash under your mattress, can’t successfully ride this one, but can’t bear to part with him? This is a real dilemma that thousands of riders face every day and there’s no easy, one-size-fits-all answer. In the case of long-term unsoundness, there’s the euthanasia issue. In the “old days,” when horses were utilitarian and there was little cash for luxuries, this was done all the time out of sheer economic necessity.

Hard Answers

I know lots of people who basically look at the issue like this: This horse is lame. It’s not a question of whether he will be put down, but when. If I can’t give him away, and can’t afford to keep him and another, then now is better than later since it’s unavoidable anyway, and just a matter of when. For those who aren’t able to face this, I guess they just have to stop riding while they wait for the horse to get old enough to die.

There are plenty of sound horses, though, but wrong for other reasons, like some I mentioned. Just because a horse might be a bad jumper or not have a fancy enough trot to make it in dressage might not mean he can’t make a nice trail or pleasure horse. The rider has to choose. “Do I want a horse that’s a round peg that I’m trying to force into the square hole, or would he be happier in a more fitting job, and would I be happier with one that seems suited to my ambitions?”

The One Key

There is one key in all of this. The right choice has to be your choice. You  are not a bad person if you put down a lame horse now rather than four years from now, unless you think you are. You don’t have to be well mounted, but you probably should be if your main aim is to get ahead in your riding.

So, look at the horse you have. Look at your real goals. Then decide a best course of action. Or not. (Since putting this off is what you’ve been doing anyway!)

KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER by Denny Emerson is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information 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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fitandfocusedin52-horseandriderbooks

In January, it always feels like everyone is at the gym or on a cleanse or giving up sugar and alcohol in order to meet one resolution or another. For those of you interested in improving your inside as much as your outside, check out these recommendations for learning to tell the difference between a good mistake and a bad mistake from Coach Daniel Stewart’s book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52:

No one’s perfect (nope, not you either) so it’s just a matter of time before you’re going to mess up or throw your horse under the bus. Saying sorry to your horse, trainer, opponent, friend, or family member while riding—called an athletic apology—is a necessary stage in learning from mistakes and can be wonderfully empowering because it has an amazing way of shifting your focus away from blame and disappointment, to self-respect and confidence.

The difference between a good mistake and a bad mistake is that you own and learn from the good ones. Teach yourself to turn bad mistakes (the ones you feel bad about or try blaming away) into good ones by:

(1) saying you’re sorry,

(2) owning it, and

(3) letting yourself off the hook by committing to be better.

It might sound something like this:

(1) “I’m sorry.”

(2) “It was totally my fault.”

(3) “I promise to be on time in the future so it doesn’t happen again.”

howtoshrinkthesizeofyourbut-horseandriderbooksOwning your mistakes and vowing to be better as a result of them is one of the quickest ways to go from being a good rider to a great one. You should know, however, that not all athletic apologies are created equal. When making yours, always avoid using the word “but” because it has the nasty habit of trying to justify a mistake or erase blame. For this reason, the word but is called a verbal eraser. For example, “I’m sorry, but you really made me mad.”

It’s not all about you!

Athletic apologies should also never contain “you” statements because they unintentionally attempt to shift the blame from you to someone else. When you apologize by saying something like, “I’m sorry you got mad,” you place the blame on that person instead of owning it yourself.

Here’s a little homework: 

Think about a recent mistake you’ve made involving your horse, trainer, friend, or family member, and then make a three-part athletic apology for them. Remember, you’re not perfect, so go on and prove that you have the courage to admit it. 

fit&focusedin52-2-horseandriderbooks

fit & focused in 52-horseandriderbooksFIT & FOCUSED IN 52 is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information 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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ribbonsaudiobookavailablenow-horseanriderbooks

TSB is proud to release our first audiobook with one of our original bestselling authors: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS, written and read by renowned rider, coach, and motivational speaker Jane Savoie, is now available from the TSB online bookstore!

We know horse people lead busy lives, often juggling work, family, and riding, so we want to make it easy to listen to some of our top authors’ best advice while commuting, or during your morning walk, or while sweeping the barn aisle or raking the arena track. There’s no better place to start than with Jane Savoie’s contagious enthusiasm, which couldn’t be better highlighted than in an audiobook read by Jane herself.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS was the followup to Jane’s breakout bestseller THAT WINNING FEELING!the first book ever to recognize the importance of training the mind and shaping attitude in order to achieve higher levels of riding skill. In RIBBONS, Jane shares the tools and ideas for self-improvement that she has used, not only to help herself deal with challenges, but her students—who range from Olympic contenders to intermediate riders—as well. Full of shining examples of the success of her methods of dealing with riding’s—and life’s—challenges, this book is essential for anyone who is passionate about horses but may be struggling, at some level or other, with negative emotions and frustration from slow development of riding skills.

Want to know how much Jane’s techniques can help you in both riding and life? While recording her audiobook, Jane was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Here, in her own words (the introduction she reads at the beginning of the RIBBONS audiobook), she shares how pieces of her book gave her tools she could use in her day-to-day struggle to combat her illness:

***

Sometimes it is hard to believe that my first book about riding and sport psychology—THAT WINNING FEELING!—was published over a quarter of a century ago. Its follow-up was this book: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS. Time has indeed flown, as they say it should when you’re having fun.

And I have, for the most part, been having fun! In addition to teaching and mentoring riders through my clinics and online courses, I discovered ballroom dancing…a pursuit that demands the same kind of relentless attention to detail and patience in the mundane practice of basics as dressage. The two “Ds”—dressage and dancing—have over time given me what my mind and body crave most: achievable short- and long-term goals, small successes to be celebrated every day, and the chance to connect with a skilled and motivated partner, as well as evolve with that partner over time.

But then, in 2015, just as I had begun recording the audio version of this book, I found out I have multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. 

My life as I knew it went on hold as I spent the winter going through a round of high-dose chemotherapy, and I actually finished recording the IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS audiobook you are about to listen to while I was in the hospital, recovering from a stem cell transplant.

It is so easy to lose yourself in the physically excruciating process of battling back from illness or injury. I realized, as I forced myself to walk, IV rattling beside me, the 40 laps around the nurse’s station that would mean I’d gone a mile, that it was techniques I talk about in this book—those habits formed over a lifetime—that got me out of bed and placing one foot in front of the other, determined to get strong enough to go home.

My positive self-talk mantras became, “I’m going to breeze through this transplant,” and “I’m as tough as nails.” I desperately craved activity, but was often too tired to do more than my laps of the nurse’s station, so I filled that void within by making myself busy with visualization. I looked up pictures of myeloma cells, and when I discovered they looked like sunny-side up eggs, I reveled in the hours I could spend mentally smashing yolk after yolk. The “As If” Principle became my go-to …when I was scared, I acted as ifI was brave. When I felt depressed, I acted as ifI was bursting with optimism. The chemistry of fake emotion is the same as the chemistry of real emotion, so I changed my physiology on my bad days—smiling at nurses and doctors when they greeted me, replying, “I’m great!” when they asked how I was feeling.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t discouraged when my blood counts didn’t improve on a particular day, but I always remembered what I wrote in this book about resilience, and the importance of being able to bounce back in the face of challenges—because that is what makes sure you stay in the game.

My wish for you is to not only learn how the tools in the chapters ahead can better your riding and improve your ability to meet your equestrian goals, but also that you find yourself, like me, better equipped to handle the kinds of trials, small and large, that prove themselves the bumps in the roads we travel.

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Jane Savoie’s strategies can help you chart your course to success. Art by Beth Preston from It’s Not Just About the Ribbons.

 

The IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS audiobook is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Want to read more about Jane Savoie’s dancing career? CLICK HERE

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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