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“Horse Agility fosters clear positive communication,” writes Horse Agility Accredited Trainer Heidi Potter in the August/September Holistic Horse cover feature article, “[as well as] improved confidence, and healthy emotional interactions between horses and their handlers.”

Horse trainer Vanessa Bee,, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, has developed not only a progressive system of training that moves horse and handler from work together on the lead rope to free work through, around, and over obstacles, it lays the foundation for the new equestrian sport that is taking the world by storm. Whether you dream of competing your horse and earning points and championship awards, or you simply wish to spend time with other horse people in a fun, exciting, social setting, Horse Agility competitions and “play days” offer an all-shapes-ages-sizes-and-abilities option in a world that has long excluded those who love and own horses, but don’t necessarily want to ride.

“We need to change the way we think about horses and the sports and activities we so often pursue with them,” says Vanessa. She sees no reason the horse cannot enjoy your time together so much, he will choose to “play” with you—over, under, and through obstacles, without a lead rope, even when loose in a large, grassy pasture.

Vanessa Bee has helped spread Horse Agility as an fun and safe horse sport that anyone can learn to enjoy around the world.

Vanessa Bee has helped spread Horse Agility as an fun and safe horse sport that anyone can learn to enjoy around the world.

Hard to believe? Check out the article in the August/September issue of HOLISTIC HORSE (CLICK HERE to view the digital edition) and try Horse Agility for yourself! THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY: THE DVD by Vanessa Bee have all you need to get started in the sport, including lessons in handling and body language, directions for obstacle and course construction, and information for managing competitions and “play days.”

Be sure to visit thehorseagilityclub.com for information about Horse Agility events in your area.

Live in New England? There’s a Horse Agility Training & Live Competition at the New England Center for Horsemanship in Guilford, Vermont, on August 24th, 2013. CLICK HERE for details.

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Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY: THE DVD, is in the United States beginning her North American clinic tour (see our previous post for dates and locations). Part of her reason for making the cross-Atlantic trek was to see Buck Brannaman teach, in person!

“I absolutely love the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDs and have watched them over and over,” said Vanessa when she announced her tour in February. “They are completely addictive. I am so impressed, but I do have questions…and there’s only one way to find the answers—ask the man himself! So I’m flying over from the UK to watch him work in Colorado…that’s how good I think this man is!”

Vanessa was kind enough to share some of her observations from the time she spent this past weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Hayden, Colorado—it is always so interesting to hear one trainer’s observations of another! Check it out:

“We flew from England to Denver and drove over the mountains in blizzard conditions to get here, but I knew it was worth it. I had already watched the excellent 7 Clinics DVDs many times and of course had a few questions. I was hoping that by watching everything in real time I would be able to see the techniques and changes in the horse more clearly.

“Fortunately, I brought my binoculars. I know some people thought this was a bit strange, but I’m an eccentric English woman so can get away with most things! Those binoculars made all the difference—I could really see the man work, when he quit as the horse got the answer—MAGIC!

“The first day was split into two parts: The morning was Colt Starting and the afternoon was Horsemanship 1. The colts were all shapes and sizes with handlers of varying ability, so Buck had his work cut out keeping everyone moving forward. First he made sure everyone could move their horse’s feet and retain a safety bubble that the horse would respect. He gave a nice demonstration of teaching a horse where the boundary was and commented that you have to learn how much to do that says STOP!

“You have to mean it but not by being mean to the horse.

“I had my first question answered on when to use the flag and how the horse knows when it means something to him and when he has to ignore it. It’s all in the hand position, which transmits the intention of the handler. I invested in my own BB Flag, and somehow I have to get it into my suitcase for the journey home!

“At the end of the session Buck gave everyone homework: They had to practice flexion, backing up, picking the rider up from the fence, lowering the head, and putting the bridle on. And they had to practice because, as he said, he would know in the morning if they hadn’t!

“It was going to be interesting to see if all the colt starters had done their homework, and they did look pretty good as they lead their horses into the arena. Buck was warming up his horse first thing. He talked about how he was looking for ’weightlessness’ as he was working. It was quiet and precise, the way he worked. Disengaging the hind end, moving the front over, backing up just seeking the moment when there was no weight and he instantly quit.

“I used my binoculars zoomed in on every move. I don’t know how anyone could see the finer details and understand when the quit was valid without being close up. That’s why the 7 Clinics DVDs are so good. I shall certainly be studying these in even more depth on my return home.

We're lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

We’re lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

“Buck is direct, I like that. He made a few choice comments, including: ‘If I could get my students to spend less time on ’Wastebook’ and more time with horses they’d have a stable full of bridle horses.’

“I’ve watched a lot of horse clinics and horsemen and I can tell you that Buck is the only person I’ve seen whose feet are the horse’s feet. He just moves those feet like they were their own. It’s smooth and you never feel a wince or a jar as you watch him work. His timing is fantastic.

“He was very honest and direct and I really enjoyed his style of teaching. Buck said, ‘Everything I do with a horse is incremental that’s why I’m successful with them.’ In other words, he tries never to overwhelm the horse and give him too much to think about.

“Buck told us that Ray Hunt was always saying to him: ‘Do less sooner, then you won’t need to do more later.’

“I and my binoculars are beginning to see that now.”

Thanks, Vanessa, for making it feel like we were at the clinic with you!

Click image to order!

Click image to order!

You can order the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD SERIES, plus Vanessa Bee’s HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY DVD at the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDS

CLICK HERE FOR THE HORSE AGILITY BOOK/DVD

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horseagilitygrowing

Over the past few decades, an evolution in how we go about training horses has encouraged horse owners to spend more time handling their horse on the ground in order to achieve good behavior, mutual trust, and a healthy partnership—before they ever think about getting in the saddle. This has created a generation of horsemen and women perfectly poised to pursue the competitive and social benefits of the sport of Horse Agility.

Thanks to the International Horse Agility Club and its founder, Vanessa Bee, Horse Agility is now the fastest-growing new equestrian sport in the world. Horse lovers from North America, Europe, Great Britain, Australia, and indeed, all over, are discovering the joys and benefits of competing their horse from the ground, over obstacles. The sport is a natural evolution in today’s age of natural horsemanship: fun, exciting, competitive sport with the well-being of the horse in mind.

Vanessa Bee is working tirelessly to bring Horse Agility as an organized sport to new heights, and with her bestselling book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and brand new HORSE AGILITY DVD, she provides clear, step-by-step instruction on how to get started with your horse.

Ready to give Horse Agility a try? Here’s how to practice one simple obstacle at home—and as an added benefit, this obstacle helps “bombproof” your horse so you have a more enjoyable and safe partnership, whatever you choose to do together!

Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.

Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.

Passing Through a Curtain

From THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee

The goal of this Horse Agility obstacle is that the horse trusts the handler enough to pass through a curtain of plastic or fabric ribbons.

 

Equipment

You will need a “curtain” of ribbons at least 4 feet (1.5m) wide supported on a frame at least 7 feet (2m) high. The archway I use is made of push-together plastic plumbing pipe with straight lengths and elbows to create a frame about 7 feet (2m) high by 5 feet (1.5m) wide. Ribbons can be made of plastic or fabric—I’ve used butcher’s shop fly curtains and also had great success with an old shower curtain cut into strips. Be inventive, as long as it is safe. Make each ribbon between 3/4 in and 1 1/2 in (2cm and 4cm) in width and long enough to reach to within 18 inches (30cm) off the ground.

 

How to Do It

 

1. The principles of leading your horse through a narrow gap really come into play here (I teach you the steps to doing this well and safely in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Always start by leading the horse on a lead rope.Begin by making the curtain really easy to walk through: Tie the ribbons back out of the way at first, and as he gains confidence, drop down one or two lengths of ribbon at a time so he slowly gets used to it.

 

2. When the horse is confident about going through the curtain on the lead rope, go right back to the beginning by tying the curtain back and ask him to go through “free” (I teach you how to work with your horse over obstacles at liberty—without a lead rope—in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Again, drop one or two ribbons down at a time. Don’t be tempted to ask your free horse to go through the full curtain straight from doing it on a lead rope. One of the keys to being successful in free work is to make it easy for the horse to do what you ask and build on his success.

 

Common Problems

The main thing that causes issues here is the “solid” look of the curtain, so be sure to work with the curtain open before dropping the ribbons down.

One of the things I’ve found is that a lot of horses don’t like the feel of the ribbons running over their sides and back as they run through the curtain, so you must be careful and keep yourself out of the way when you feel your horse is going to rush. Spend some time away from the curtain touching him with plastic, bags, or ribbons—anything—although be sure you don’t annoy him. You’re getting him used to the fact that the feel of such things isn’t dangerous.

 

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Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club, is touring North America in May and June 2013! Check out the International Horse Agility Club website for details. Here’s a current list of scheduled events.

USA

17th-19 May

Horse Agility Training Sessions and Mini Competitions – Colorado with Vanessa Bee

17th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

18th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

25th May

Horse Agility Fun Day in Arizona, USA with Vanessa Bee

26th -27th May

Get Really Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee, Arizona

1st -2nd June

International Horse Agility Clinic in Washington, USA with Vanessa Bee

Canada

7th – 8th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

9th – 10th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

HorseAgility SetTHE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and the new HORSE AGILITY DVD are available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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