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Posts Tagged ‘Hilda Gurney’

KYBManifesto

Grand Prix dressage rider and famed performer Yvonne Barteau has dedicated her life to discovering how to best communicate with horses.

“I have made understanding horses my life’s goal,” she says. “Growing up, I read every book about horses, training, and riding I could get my hands on, and during my teens I was willing to run seven miles beyond where the bus line ended so I could sit for hours and stare at horses, interacting with and riding them any time I had a chance.”

Before finding her way to dressage, Barteau spent years working at racetracks along the East Coast, first as a groom, then as a trainer.

“These young horses had lots to say, and I was someone who did listen,” explains Barteau. “I became the groom who could ‘tell’ when a horse was well, unwell, in a mood to win, or feeling off and likely to finish at the back of the pack. When one of my charges was off his feed, I figured out the reason. I paid extremely close attention because I wanted so badly to understand what each horse might say to me if he could talk.”

 

 

Barteau’s interest in understanding the horse led her to categorize horse personalities, eventually writing a book on the subject (Ride the Right Horse, Storey Publishing, 2007). These personality assessments helped as she began retraining problem horses and dealing with everything from bucking and rearing issues, to bolters and runaways.

“I eventually entered the equine theater business, and there I needed to pay close attention in order to be able to determine what would keep 67 horses working together in front of a live audience, night after night, while continuing to look agreeable and happy to do their jobs!” Barteau admits. “I was the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and a Feature Performer at the famous Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida, for over five years.”

Since her time in Florida, Barteau has devoted the bulk of her riding and teaching time to dressage.

“I believe it to be the best sport for a horse,” she asserts, “and I am ever so interested in anything that might make our equine friends more happy and comfortable doing their jobs.”

And this leads us to Barteau’s newest project: She’s written a book “from the horse’s mouth”—all the things a horse might say about the dressage training process if he could—called THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. From Training Level through Grand Prix, with Barteau’s help, 10 dressage horses tell us like it is: what feels good, what hurts, what they like, what they find boring, why you need more leg here and less rein there, and even how to ride a test, movement by movement, according to their training and tendencies.

“Hopefully, my words, which are based on reactions from horses I have met and worked with and strived to interpret over these many years, might help you in your journey,” says Barteau. “If they do, even in a small way, your horse will likely benefit…and that is my ultimate goal.”

THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free sample chapter!

 

“Because it is written from the horse’s perspective, this book is a different and valuable new guide to training dressage from start to finish. All the levels—and required movements and demands of each level—are clearly explained in great detail. Plentiful photos make clear the objectives of each training exercise. By developing an understanding of how horses mentally and physically react to their riders’ progression of training, we will be more likely to achieve the goal of harmony, which is so important in dressage. This is why THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is a must-read for all dressage enthusiasts.”

HILDA GURNEY

Two-Time Olympian, Six-Time National Grand Prix Dressage Champion, Three-Time USDF Dressage Breeder of the Year,  USEF “S” Dressage Judge, USDF Hall-of-Fame Inductee

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fred & boys small

Frederic Pignon, co-author of the bestseller GALLOP TO FREEDOM, with his stallions on the beach in Malibu.

“I think Frédéric Pignon and [his wife] Magali Delgado have done a tremendous amount for equestrian sport in a way everyone can appreciate. The liberty work Frédéric does is just incredible. It really does take the beauty of the horse to everyone,” said Hilda Gurney, American dressage pioneer, Olympian, trainer, and judge after seeing the hit equestrian “spectacular” Cavalia when it took North America by storm.

The beauty of Frederic and Magali’s work on stage has moved and inspired many souls around the world, in stage shows, liberty exhibitions, and through Magali’s success in the dressage arena. Their philosophy has establishing a joyful and respectful union with the horse at its heart–something we all aspire to, no matter our favored discipline or breed, no matter our riding goals or competitive ambitions.

Gallop to FreedomFrederic and Magali shared much of what makes their work with horses so special in their book GALLOP TO FREEDOM, the international bestseller full of gorgeous color photos of these two masterful trainers and their stunning horses.  Check out this excerpt from the book, which is available to order from the TSB online bookstore:

Learning to Read Your Horse

The horse makes signals with every part of his body. I have to learn to read his thoughts by watching his nostrils, his ears, his eyes, and his general attitude. His eyes are particularly important to learn to read because they are like an opening through which I can see what is going on inside his head. He is telling me with subtle signals how he feels. Is he happy? Once we start working or playing, I ask myself, is he satisfied with what we have done together? I try to remember at what moment I was aware of progress and how I achieved it.

Misunderstanding produces an even greater barrier between us than ill treatment. Understanding will, on the other hand, begin to forge a link between the two of us. I will begin to feel that I am on the same wavelength as my horse and that he is accepting me. Even at rest, you can learn much from observing your horse. Take the ears for example: what might his ear movements mean? If a horse moves his weight from foot to foot, does this indicate something? And what about when he shakes his withers? How do you interpret the look of his eye? Is it a “soft” or a “hard” eye, and what does this mean about him? How does your horse stand in his stall when he is contented? If he is unhappy, does he stand differently? If he has an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach does he not show this by the way he stands?

It would be so simple if I could give you hard and fast answers to all these questions, but life is not so simple. You could not do such a thing in the analysis of human behavior.

What I can say to you is watch out for all these indications; allow your instincts to tell you what your senses observe. Very soon you will automatically take in the things you have learned to look for and you will have the ability to look for other more subtle signs. You will also see that the same signal does not have the same root cause for every horse or even for the same horse every day.

At this point, you may throw up your hands and say that this is all too ambiguous and too much to learn. But you have already learned to do all these things with other people. When you meet with someone you know well after you have been apart for a time, can’t you see in an instant when something is wrong? Why should “reading” a horse not be similar?

Frederic and his famous stallion Templado "at play."

Frederic and his famous stallion Templado “at play.”

The Importance of Concentration

I always watch the horse with every fiber of my being: I not only try to read him with my senses of sight, hearing, and smell, I concentrate my mind on communicating my own thoughts and listening to his. I concentrate so hard that other thoughts are excluded.

People understand that there are situations in everyday life demanding total concentration; mysteriously, it may not occur to the same people that, in dealing with a horse, there is the same requirement. Perhaps someone will allow himself and the horse to be interrupted by a phone call, which not only breaks the person’s own concentration, but that of the horse. When you work with a horse you ask him to leave whatever he is doing and pay attention to you. You are trying to reach the same wavelength as that of the horse and, if you allow an interruption on your end, you are being disrespectful to him. We humans may be able to switch on and off, or from one subject to another, at the drop of a hat but a horse is not so flexible. If he has decided to give you the benefit of his full concentration, and you lightly drop it because something more important to you crops up, he might not want to risk giving you the same degree of attention again.

I often use breathing to relax both the horse and myself, and to help develop concentration. I breathe out in a way the horse can understand and copy. All my horses learn to do this even if, like Guizo, it takes a long time. With him it took me a whole year but as soon as he understood and began to breathe with me he became much more relaxed. When I am doing this work, I like to be alone and not have other people present or watching me.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER GALLOP TO FREEDOM NOW AND HAVE IT IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

“Frédéric and Magali exemplify the art of humane training and illustrate the magical results of what is meant by the human-animal bond.” —Karen Rosa, Vice President, Film & Television Unit, American Humane

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