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Posts Tagged ‘horse agility’

DontLookDown-horseandriderbooks

We’ve all heard it over the years: “Don’t look down!” And maybe, “You look at the ground and that’s where you’ll end up!”

The real reason we shouldn’t look down while we’re riding doesn’t have as much to do with running into things or falling off as it does with the horse’s ability to perform.

You see, our eyes are heavy!

“Many of us have a habit of looking down while we are riding,” explains founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee in her book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES. “We look at the ears of our horse, or the ground, or we lean over to see if we are getting it right when learning to move the individual feet of the horse. But our eyes are heavy! Try the following experiment and you’ll begin to appreciate how difficult we  make it for our horses to move when we look down.”

1 Stand on a flat surface and balance your weight evenly through each foot.

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2 Look down at your right foot.

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3 Now lift your right foot off the ground. How easy does it feel?

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4 Now stand up again and balance your weight evenly through both feet.

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5 Look up to the right.

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6 Now lift your foot. Much easier, isn’t it?

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“If you were riding your horse and asking him to lift his right front foot off the ground, imagine how difficult it must be if you suddenly lean over and peer down to see if it is working,” Bee emphasizes. “So look up and feel that foot lifting. It’ll be so much easier for both of you.”

Over Under Through Cover FINAL-horseandriderbooksOVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES 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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24HoursKendraGale

Winter is not just coming…for those of us in many parts of North America, it is completely, frigidly, and snowily upon us. Any horse person knows that things just get a bit, well, harder when the temp dips below zero. It doesn’t matter what size the manure pile—it all freezes to the ground.

Kendra Gale has been breeding, raising, and training Miniature Horses in Alberta, Canada, for decades, so she’s no stranger to ice in the water trough. Gale is the author of THE BIG BOOK OF MINIATURE HORSES, where she shares sage advice for keeping Miniatures as best suits their equine nature, as well as competing them at the highest levels. Her book is the perfect primer for the horse lover new to Miniatures, or the first-time horse owner, period.

In this segment of TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” series, Gale gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to walk a long (but satisfying) day in her winter boots.

***

6:30 am It’s winter in Alberta, so while I usually get up about now, it’s not the “jump out of bed and get going” it might be on a summer day with lessons or workshops or competitions on the schedule. After all, the sun won’t be up for a couple hours yet!

First priority is, of course, to let my Chihuahua, Clara, out to pee. Depending on the amount of snow or degree of Arctic temperatures, sometimes I’m successful in convincing her, sometimes not. In the summer she spends a lot of the day at the barn with me. In the winter, she opts out of the outdoors as much as possible. To be fair, the snow is sometimes deeper than she is tall!

7:00 am Breakfast and I jump onto the computer for a bit. Check emails, Facebook, and any concerns with my online classroom (www.MiniatureHorsemanship.com). Depending on how it goes, I might get some work done, editing videos or building slideshows, or maybe some writing.

8:00 am The sun starts peeking up between now and 8:30 am this time of year, and I usually wait for it before I head out to start chores. I like being able to see my horses in the daylight. They’re Miniature Horses, and lots of them are black…on days when I have to feed in the dark, I’ve been known to literally trip over them.

Before I go outside, I fill my big pail of hay cubes and senior feed with hot water to make a breakfast of mush for my collection of geriatric Miniature Horses. Then it’s time to layer up to head out—the number of layers is directly proportional to the cold. We have a wide range of winter temperatures here, and it could be above freezing, or it could be 40 below, and those two extremes could be in pretty close proximity to each other. Layers are key!

Image, my blind, one-eyed, 28-year-old, is the first to greet me when I get to the barn, with a hungry nicker and a big “downward dog” stretch. Image, along with Robin (age 27, a retired broodmare) and Valdez (age 29, sire of many of the horses on my farm), spend their nights inside in the winter, and their days, too, in nasty weather. Miniature Horses handle the cold really well, but these old folks do better with some extra spoiling.

With warm mush in their bellies, I head outside to feed the rest of the mush to my pen of slightly-less-old geldings (Knight Rider, 26, Spook, 22, and Paco, 21) and dole out some complete feed for some hard-keepers and the two weanlings, eight-month-old Victor and Vodka.

Next, it’s to the hay stack to collect a couple bales onto my calf sled. Currently I’m feeding about a bale and a half, morning and night, except when it’s colder than -20—then I feed more to help the horses stay warm. I distribute hay to the herd, checking everyone as I go to make sure no one is cold, or sick, or losing weight. I touch each horse every day—that’s 32 miniature equines in total.

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The herd. Photo by Kendra Gale.

8:30 am With all the beasties enjoying their breakfast, I love to stop and stand for a moment and enjoy the peace and morning light…unless it’s storming or something.

Next on the list I feed and water my birds. I keep Partridge Chantecler chickens and some mixed-breed ducks that never fail to make me laugh. The birds all do really well in the winter. I check to make sure their heated water dishes are all working and collect any (hopefully not-yet-frozen) eggs.

9:00 am Last week it was -36 and one of my heated, automatic waterers gave up the ghost. Of course, it was the one that the most horses drink from, and with the most run-in sheds in that pasture, I couldn’t move too many horses to other waterers. We got some heated pails to plug in for the herd so they all always had access to that all-important unfrozen water, but it means that next on my to-do list is hauling water: I do about six pails from the hydrant each morning to fill everything up for them.

9:30 am Some days I might head out to teach lessons at a client’s place, or spend the morning working on computer stuff, but today it’s farrier day. I see which horses are due for a trim and bring them into the barn. My farrier comes every two to three weeks and does six Miniatures at a time, which works out to a pretty good rotation. With a little luck, I get them in with enough time to dig the packed snow out of their feet and give them each a quick groom before the farrier arrives.

11:30 am It’s a trickier day for trims—most of the herd is easy, but we’ve got the weanlings on the list today. Victor is perfect, but Vodka used up all his “Good Boy” during treatment for an eye injury earlier this year and is going through a rebellious stage. We’re patient with him and he decides he’ll be a good citizen in the end. The big challenge today is Bentley, my new Miniature Mule: He’s only lived here a few months and is nervous of strangers, especially strangers who want to pick up his feet while holding tools. It takes some time, but it ultimately goes well. The farrier and I are pleased with his progress, and he gets lots of treats for his bravery. Luckily, the other three we trim today are old pros (that’s enough excitement for us for one day). They all get cookies and go back out with their friends to finish their breakfast. At this point, it doesn’t have to be very cold for me to still feel frozen solid—it’s definitely time to get back in the house for a bit!

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Clara and Victor. Photo by Kendra Gale.

12:00 pm I grab some lunch (and probably some hot tea!) and get back on the computer for a while. Time to get to work on whatever project I’m working on. Currently, I’m organizing a clinic/conference event, preparing for a clinic I’m teaching up north in a few weeks, and building a webinar and a couple promos for my online classroom.

1:30 pm I’m wrapped up in what I’m working on and would love keep at it, but the sun is shining so I head back outside. Time to clean stalls while the old folks are out enjoying some winter sun. Stall cleaning gets more complicated the colder it gets: frozen poop balls bounce away when they fall off the fork, and at times I take the pee spots out in one big frozen chunk, kind of like clumping cat litter. I also haul more water—another six pails midday (I’ll never take my automatic waterers for granted again after this…)

2:00 pm I want to get Rocky’s tail put back up—he’s my breeding stallion (Victor and Vodka’s daddy) and one of my favorite driving horses. I love his long tail and usually keep it up in a sock to protect it. This fall I let it down during fly season, and then I never got it put up again. After the last big snowfall I was laughing at the funny trail it left in the snow, but I’m sure that was pretty hard on it. Now that the weather has improved I’m going to get it up before the next snow and cold snap is scheduled. I set up my video camera so I can make a quick tutorial of the process for my YouTube channel.

2:30 pm Since I have Rocky in, I set up some of the obstacles for the January online Horse Agility competition. Rocky’s been off for a while, so it’s a good refresher for him. I set up the obstacles inside the barn. My barn is a good-sized tent building so I’m able to squeeze in a full agility course if I’m creative. It’s nice to work in out of the wind, and I’m paranoid about my horses slipping on poor footing outside in the winter. I also never drive in the winter, unless there is no snow or ice at all. Luckily, while driving is my favorite discipline, there are lots of other fun things to do with my Miniature Horses, and agility is one of my preferred wintertime activities.

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Rocky with a frosty forelock. Photo by Kendra Gale.

3:00 pm  Now I’ve got the obstacles set up, and I let Johnnie in to play. He does his agility at liberty. Johnnie is coming four, and while he’s one of my tiniest in stature at not quite 31 inches, he’s the biggest personality. I don’t dare practice any obstacle too many times, or he gets bored and invents new ways to do them. We work on standing and waiting until I ask him to come toward me, practice his sidepassing, and then move on to something else. Johnnie has been trained using positive reinforcement. I also want to start him in harness, so today I have a sidepull I’m going to use on him—I’ve driven Rocky bitless some, but I’m really looking forward to starting Johnnie bitless right front the start. We practice giving to pressure on the sidepull, first using a target to help him understand. It’s a fun new game for both of us! I’ve got the video camera running again, as one of my online courses is on starting your Miniature Horse in harness, and I want to add the bitless training process to the content. The toughest part with Johnnie is always convincing him to leave when I’m done playing with him…after demonstrating all kinds of skills at liberty, I actually have to put a halter on him to lead him back out to be with his friends!

3:45 pm I’m cold again, so it’s back in for more tea (Earl Grey with milk and a dribble of maple syrup—my friend named it a “Canadian Fog”) and to download my videos onto the computer. I get started on video editing and laugh at Johnnie’s antics. The bloopers are always my favorite, and if I don’t leave them in, I save them for future amusement.

4:45 pm I haven’t quite warmed up, but it’s getting dark, so I’m back out to start the evening chores. I bring in the old folks and and feed everyone just like in the morning. It’s supposed to extra cold overnight, so I give everybody some additional hay to help them stay warm. I turn on a podcast while I work: I like to listen to Horses In The Morning or Star Trek: The Next Conversation.

5:30 pm The sunset over the mountains is my favorite. I often pause my chores to take photos if it’s particularly spectacular.

I give Robin and Image their medication (Cushings medication for both, and anti-inflammatory for Robin) and haul another six or eight pails of water (I really can’t wait til that waterer is fixed…) before I say goodnight to everyone, close up the coops for the night, and head for the house. I check that the security camera is working in the barn—if anything seems amiss, I can see the stalls from my phone. It’s especially handy during foaling season.

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Another day done. Photo by Kendra Gale.

6:00 pm It’s back to the house for the evening. A couple times a month I teach a live webinar in the evenings, but most of the time I curl up on the couch with my laptop, enjoying some TV while I keep working away on my current projects. Or I might head over to my grandparents house to watch the game on TV…Go Flames Go!

10:00 pm I let Clara out one last time and we head for bed—a Chihuahua’s favorite time of day!

Kendra Gale’s book THE BIG BOOK OF MINIATURE HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Click below to watch the trailer:

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

JEANNE ABERNETHY

YVONNE BARTEAU

JONATHAN FIELD

EMMA FORD

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

 

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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Each year, as we flip the last pages of December in anticipation for the beginning of January, we at TSB take some time to pause and consider the books we published over the past months. Not only does this process provide an important review of content in preparation for future titles, it also gets us excited, all over again, about the new riding, training, and horse-care skills and techniques our fabulous equestrian authors have shared. In 2015, we tapped the deep well of mindfulness, honed our grooming abilities, and viewed the dressage horse from the inside-out. We found new ways to improve our horses’ confidence and attention, in and out of the ring, had burning questions answered by top judges, and discovered new pursuits that make kindness with our horses and others the goal and guiding principle. We found reasons to ride light, think deeply, laugh, and be thankful for our lives with horses.

We look forward to bring you more top-notch horse books and DVDs in the New Year—until then, here’s the roll-call of TSB equestrian titles for 2015:

 

TrainRidewConesPoles-300TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES (March) by Sigrid Schope is a spiral-bound handbook with over 40 exercises intended to improve your horse’s focus and response to the aids while sharpening your timing and accuracy. Who hasn’t looked for ways to spice up ringwork and keep his/her horse interested in schooling circles? Here’s the answer, whether you’re practicing on your own in the ring or teaching lessons.

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GALLOP TO FREEDOM (Paperback reprint—March) by training superstars Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado. TSB was the first to bring you thoughts on training and working with the original stars of the international hit show Cavalia, publishing their book back in 2009. The continued value in this storied couple’s work meant that six years later, it was time to release the bestseller anew in paperback.

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WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES (April) by professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford with over 1200 color photographs by professional photographer Jessica Dailey. A bestseller before it was released, this unparalleled photo reference gives every horse owner the tips and tools he/she needs to keep horses in tip-top condition, looking and feeling their best, in and out of the show ring.

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THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN (May) by renowned veterinarian and author Dr. Allen Schoen and trainer Susan Gordon provides 25 principles each of us should live by when caring for and working with horses. Using personal stories and current scientific research, the two write convincingly of the need for an industry-wide movement to develop deeper compassion for not only the horses, but the people, as well.

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THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED (June) by Masterson Method founder and author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE Jim Masterson and dressage rider Coralie Hughes. Jim and Coralie team up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of Anatomy in Motion Visible Horse and Visible Rider Susan Harris to demonstrate how the muscular and skeletal structure of the horse work in dressage movements. Then Jim provides specific techniques from his popular form of bodywork to alleviate stress and improve performance.

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DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY (July) by FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy. This easy-to-use reference is a follow-up to Janet’s incredibly popular DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, featuring the most common questions she has received over the years. Janet tells it how it is, and includes plenty of her own stories from the road to keep us laughing while learning.

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OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES (September) by Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP. Vanessa has made a name for herself as a terrific educator, delivering superior and thoughtful training techniques in bite-size chunks. OVER, UNDER, THROUGH doesn’t disappoint, with loads of step-by-step photographs and useful lessons for meeting everyday challenges with your horse in a positive manner that guarantees success.

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COWBOY DRESSAGE (September) by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. Jessica teams up with the founders of Cowboy Dressage to trace the origin of the movement to the present day, then taps Eitan’s expertise to provide readers the basics they need to get started in the pursuit of “kindness as the goal and guiding principle.” Eitan and Debbie describe Cowboy Dressage as a lifestyle rather than a sport, and the book mirrors that mission, inspiring us with beautiful photographs and honest ideals.

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THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE (October) by artist Jean Abernethy. Fergus the Horse is a social media celebrity with well over 300,000 Facebook fans. This treasury of his greatest hits features comics from past print publications as well as those that have made the rounds online—and in addition, 25 never-seen-before cartoons. Jean also shares a little about her rise as an illustrator and the backstory that explains the birth of her famous cartoon horse.

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THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE (October) by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. The world knows Klaus from his bestselling books and DVDs, including DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. Over 10 years ago, he detailed his own story in the form of an autobiographical narrative, detailing his discovery of how to be with and learn from horses, as well as how to apply what they teach him to his life as a whole. Now this story is in English for the first time.

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BALANCE IN MOVEMENT (Paperback reprint—November) by Susanne von Dietze. A perennial bestseller, demand for the book led to us bringing it out in a fresh format, ready to introduce a new generation of riders to Susanne’s sensible lessons in horse and rider biomechanics.

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RIDING THROUGH THICK AND THIN (November) by Melinda Folse. Melinda’s last book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES gained her an enthusiastic following of readers who appreciate her big-sisterly swagger and humor. This new book is the culmination of years of research, providing us all guideposts for riding and being with horses, whatever we look like. Melinda’s goal is to give our body image a boost, and she provides countless proactive ways for us to take a good look in the mirror and finally like what we see.

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BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE (Third Edition—December) by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke. It’s the Klimkes’ classic text, refreshed with new photos of Ingrid on her top horses. Need we say more?

 

For more about these 2015 horse books, and our complete list of top equestrian books and DVDs, visit our website www.horseandriderbooks.com.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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3-minutesGood horsemanship is as easy as 1-2-3!

“It’s simple, really,” explains educator, horse trainer, and author of 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP Vanessa Bee. “When the teaching session is short and ends on a positive note, horses learn more quickly…and so do we.”

For all those riders and trainers suffering from the same bout of good ol’ January freeze that we are in Vermont, the idea of “short” training sessions probably comes as a welcome alternative to numb toes and frigid fingers. Try this simple exercise from Vanessa’s fantastically straightforward 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP for starters, and be sure to check out the entire book for other achievable, digestible lessons that ultimately produce significant gains in horse and human.

 

SHAKE HANDS

This simple exercise is actually extremely powerful for both horse and handler. When people shake hands, they offer each other their right hand, clasp and shake. Watch two horses meeting, nose to nose, as they introduce themselves, thus ensuring that they each have the other’s permission to reach into his personal space. This exercise begins with you going into the horse’s personal space to say “Hello” and ends when you receive acknowledgment in return.

1  Begin with your horse in a halter and lead rope.

2  Hold your open hand up to the horse’s forehead but do not touch him. Your hand should remain about 12 inches away from his head.

3  Wait.

Some horses immediately look away, refusing to acknowledge the hand. Just wait. Wait for the horse to turn his head and brush your hand. Remember, the horse is touching your hand—you are not touching the horse.

5  When he brushes his head against your hand, drop your hand and relax.

6  Repeat until the horse is comfortable touching your offered hand, whenever and wherever you offer it.

NOTE: You are offering the hand for him to “shake” it. This cannot be forced so don’t be tempted to put your hand onto your horse’s face. This would be like a person forcing you to shake hands with him by grabbing you! You must be prepared to wait.

The "Shake Hands" lesson in 3-Minute Horsemanship lays the groundwork for entering your horse's personal space.

The “Shake Hands” lesson in 3-Minute Horsemanship lays the groundwork for entering your horse’s personal space.

 

 

3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP by Vanessa Bee is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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When "stretching" a horse's comfort zone, introduce new or scary objects gradually.

When “stretching” a horse’s comfort zone, introduce new or scary objects gradually.

When training your horse to become comfortable with new objects and in new places and situations, the goal, says Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling books 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP and THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, is to get him just outside his comfort zone when introducing slightly scary scenarios (note the emphasis on slightly!), but not so far out that he’d rather leave than stay with you.

“Once the horse is frightened to the point where he is leaping about, you’ve done too much,” Vanessa says. “Never push the horse to the point where he has to flee.”

Once the horse’s flight instinct is involved, all he can think about is survival, and he is no longer in a state where he can learn.

Never push the horse to the point at which he wants to flee rather than stay with you. Here, Secret trots through a maze of scary objects, remaining by Vanessa even without a lead rope.

Never push the horse to the point at which he wants to flee rather than stay with you. Here, Secret trots through a maze of scary objects, remaining by Vanessa even without a lead rope.

Vanessa explains that the psychology of this is easy to understand if you pretend you are a tourist on a trip to a foreign land. Here’s how she describes it using a human analogy in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK:

 

THE STORY OF A TOURIST IN A FOREIGN LAND

On Day One, the plane lands at the airport and you manage to get a taxi to your hotel (something you’ve done before on other trips); there a porter takes you to your room. Once in your room, you immediately create a “home away from home” by unpacking and putting your bits and pieces around. You feel safe in that space and it becomes part of your comfort zone; however, you will not learn anything about this place you have never been before from the safety of that room. You now need to leave it to learn.

So, after unpacking you head down to the bar and dining room for a bit of refreshment. You leave your new comfort zone and weave through the unknown corridors of the hotel—you are now in your learning zone but feel fairly confident because at any time you can return to your room.

After a good meal and maybe a glass of wine you soon feel relaxed in the dining room, too: You return to your room quite confident that venturing out to find breakfast in the morning will be easy. Your comfort zone has “stretched.”

After breakfast you decide to go for a swim. Again you leave the comfort zone to find the pool and figure out how it all works. (Do you need to put a towel on one of the lounge chairs at daybreak to reserve it?) By the end of Day Two you are totally at home within the hotel environs—your comfort zone has “stretched” to include the whole area.

But let’s say on Day Three you decide to catch a bus outside the hotel and go to the beach. After a while you become aware that you are not on the right bus and that it is heading for the “wrong” side of town. Perhaps there are some fairly tough-looking individuals on the bus. You are now not only out of your comfort zone, you’re also headed out of the learning zone and entering the fear zone. You do not learn anything when you are in the fear zone—you are in flight mode, and your sole aim is survival.

Where do you want to get back to? The comfort zone, of course, and once there you will quickly calm down and feel safe again. The further you perceive yourself to be from your comfort zone (in other words, the greater the pressure), the greater the wish to return to it. You may well reach a point of being ready to do just about anything to get back there.

Keep this story in mind when working with your horse and introducing him to new or challenging situations:

  • Make new introductions gradually—think taxi, to hotel room, to hotel restaurant, to hotel pool before catching public transportation and trying to find the beach.
  • And, if you do sense you and your horse are on the wrong bus and he is on his way to the fear zone, calmly and quickly get him back to where he’s comfortable. And take some downtime poolside before trying to get to the beach again!

Vanessa Bee’s books 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP and THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, and her HORSE AGILITY DVD are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

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We like to think we have all the time in the world to spend with our horses...but the reality is, we have lists of things to do and an alarm waiting to tell us it's time to do them.

We like to think we have all the time in the world to spend with our horses…but the reality is, we have lists of things to do and an alarm waiting to tell us it’s time to do them.

 

TSB is THRILLED to introduce two new books that provide easy-to-do lessons that will improve your riding, your horsemanship, and your horse…and hold your horses, folks…all it takes is 3 to 5 minutes a day!

How can this be? If there is any “one thing” the great horsemanship mentors preach en masse it is to be patient, to give your horse time, to avoid rushing, ignore deadlines, and blow off dinner dates in order to ensure you end on a “positive note.” Okay, so that all reads like more than “one thing,” but in our technologically tick-tocking modern-day existence, it all boils down to the little alarm on our phones, and I’m willing to bet that when it comes to most of us, that alarm is reminding us that we don’t actually have all the time in the world to play with our horses.

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Rest easy, folks! We can, in fact, still work with horses in a safe and conscientious manner, even when time sure ain’t on our side. And Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, is back to tell us how with a whole new concept for achieving big changes in your horsemanship and your horse by starting very small.

In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP: 60 Amazingly Achievable Lessons to Improve Your Horse (and Yourself) When Time Is Short Vanessa shows how it really is possible to carry out good quality, progressive training with a horse in only three minutes a day. She gives readers groundwork and ridden exercises, with each lesson intended to need only three minutes to be effective. Then Vanessa links together her 3-Minute Exercises to demonstrate how all the “small lessons” come together when you need them to, so you and your horse are fully prepared to deal with all kinds of “real life scenarios” in a safe and sane way.

Intrigued? Check out the excerpt from 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP in the February issue of Equus Magazine to find out more, or CLICK HERE NOW to order.

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And wait, there’s more! Wendy Murdoch’s 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES: Simple Solutions to Better Jumping Performance—In No Time is the follow-up to her wildly popular bestseller 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING. In her new book, Wendy provides more of her cleverly conceived and uniquely effective “Fixes” so that readers can achieve better balance in the saddle, improve their body control from head to toe, and increase their influence with their seat. These tips and tricks can make a difference for any rider, whether you simply trot cavalletti in the schooling ring and hop small logs on the trail, or train to compete in the hunter, jumper, or equitation ring.

You can read a featured lesson from 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES in the February issue of Practical Horseman Magazine, or CLICK HERE NOW to order.

Equus and Practical Horseman are available wherever quality equestrian magazines are sold.

 

Trafalgar Square Books is the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs. Visit our online bookstore www.HorseandRiderBooks.com where shipping in the US is FREE.

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In this lesson from THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, trainer and founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee helps us learn not to pull on our horse (so he, in turn, doesn’t pull on us!) with an easy exercise to try with a friend at home or at the barn.

 

I can lead my horse Secret with a loose lead rope—she “reads” me for direction rather than relying on a tug of the lead rope.

I can lead my horse Secret with a loose lead rope—she “reads” me for direction rather than relying on a tug of the lead rope.

 

Have you ever tried to pull a horse along by the lead rope? Hard work, isn’t it? That’s because when you pull on a horse, he pulls back against you. However, it’s very easy to train a horse to stop pulling on you—just stop pulling on him. It takes two to pull! When you ask the horse to walk with you, it should feel as if he’s “floating along” on the end of the lead rope. However, he’ll never do this if you pull on him because he will always look for the lead rope to “guide” him rather than “read” the handler for direction.

By starting off with a polite request and increasing the pressure very slightly until the horse gives to that pressure—and then rewarding him by releasing instantly—you can train the horse to move quietly and softly on a loose lead.

 

The “Learning Not to Pull” Game: Human to Human

1  Find a friend and hold a lead rope between you. The person holding the clip end is the “horse” and the person at the other end is the “handler.” (It doesn’t matter who is the “horse” first because you can swap positions later.) The “horse” may find it easier to close her eyes in order to feel communication traveling down the rope.

2  The rope should be slack with no feeling of a connection between “handler” and “horse.” The “handler” then lifts and shortens the rope slowly until the “horse” can feel a connection.

 

Lucy (left) is the horse and Vanessa (right) is the handler. Vanessa "invites" her "horse" to walk toward her.

Lucy (left) is the horse and Vanessa (right) is the handler. Vanessa “invites” her “horse” to walk toward her with a little squeeze on the rope.

 

3  The “handler” then puts a tiny squeeze on the rope, inviting the “horse” to walk towards her. The aim is for the human players to see how little pressure is needed to communicate the human request to the horse. (You will be amazed how tiny this feel can be—when a real horse is trained to look for these tiny signals, communication between horse and handler becomes almost invisible.)

4  The willing “horse” feels the squeeze and walks. As soon as the “handler” feels the “horse” give to the pressure, the “handler” must release, too. If she doesn’t, there is no reward for the “horse,” who may well just pull back.

5  You can enact various real-life scenarios: a pulling horse, a “stuck” horse, an easy horse. Start the game again, but this time the “horse” doesn’t immediately walk but pulls back a tiny bit. The “handler” must hold on without pulling harder because that may well cause the “horse” to pull harder, and I can tell you, a real horse will win!

 

Lucy and Vanessa switch roles. Vanessa, the "horse," closes her eyes to really feel Lucy communicating with her through the lead rope.

Lucy and Vanessa switch roles. Vanessa, the “horse,” closes her eyes to really feel Lucy communicating with her through the lead rope.

 

6  Try that next: Start the game again, only this time when the “horse” answers the squeeze and walks forward, the “handler” just goes on pulling. Ask the “horse” how she felt about it. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the “horse” will say she wanted to pull back. Whenever the horse gives to pressure, the handler must release instantly.

7  Take turns watching each other as the “handler,” and notice what you do before you squeeze the rope. This is the beginning of the “horse” reading the “handler’s” body language instead of being guided by the rope.

 

Now Take What You Learned and Play with a Real Horse!

To prepare the horse to walk forward on the lead:

1  Raise your energy level (to get his attention), run your hand down the rope to set up a vibration, lean forward into the direction of the movement, lift the rope, and point in the direction you want him to go. Using very little pressure on the rope, ask him to walk with you.

2  When he takes the first step, release the pressure on the rope and take a step, too. You will find that you are walking together with a loose rope. Stay relaxed but focus on the speed and direction of the walk while remaining aware of the horse. The lead rope between you and the horse should remain loose—it is only there as a “safety belt”—it is not for dragging the horse. Walk with intention, looking forward to where you want to go.

 

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

And watch for the NEW BOOK coming from Vanessa Bee! 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP: 60 AMAZINGLY ACHIEVABLE LESSONS TO IMPROVE YOUR HORSE (AND YOURSELF) WHEN TIME IS SHORT will be released in February 2014.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP NOW

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