Check Out the Article About Horse Agility Featuring TSB Author Vanessa Bee in the August/September Issue of Holistic Horse Magazine!

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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.

Master a Simple Horse Agility Obstacle…and Meet Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club!

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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

The All-New Horse Agility DVD Is Coming!

theIHACHorse Agility is the hottest and fastest growing international equestrian sport! Based on the same concepts as the ever-popular Dog Agility competitions, Horse Agility offers horse lovers everywhere the opportunity to put all that groundwork they’re doing to good use, in a fun, active competitive sport. Beginning on a lead rope and progressing to working through and over obstacles “free,” or at liberty, Horse Agility engages the horse in an activity that helps him think and problem-solve while enjoying his training time—step away from all those repetitive longe and roundpen circles! Plus, Horse Agility is appropriate for people of any age or size, and allows those who may not want to ride to spend time with other like-minded individuals in an exciting setting.

HAwDVDNow, as a follow-up to her bestselling book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK: A STEP-BY-STEP INTRODUCTION TO THE SPORT, founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee brings us an all-new DVD. HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD provides the same sport fundamentals as THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, but with “real-time” action and visuals to help you further grasp the basic concepts and skills you and your horse need to get started, and get good!

Check out this video introduction to HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD:

HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD will be shipping February 1, 2013. You can preorder your copy now at the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER NOW

Hey! Did you know that the International Horse Agility Club is a finalist in the Equestrian Social Media Awards? CLICK HERE to check out the Club’s website and then please cast your vote for Best Equestrian Social Network!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HORSE AGILITY CLUB!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HORSE AGILITY CLUB!

A Look Back at the TSB Horse Books & DVDs of 2012

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Each year at this time I like to take a moment, as so many of us do, and look back over the events of 2012—at what made them special, or memorable, or exciting. I like to review time past and consider what maybe I wish I’d done differently…and also, and what makes me proud.

At Trafalgar Square Books, we always strive to provide the the best quality in educational equestrian literature and viewing we can. This year, I am particularly proud of our list of titles—if you haven’t had a chance to check them out, now is your chance to purchase them through the TSB online bookstore ON SALE, for a limited time.

So here they are, the TSB Books & DVDs of 2012:

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK

This fabulous guide by Vanessa Bee, the Founder of the International Horse Agility Club, gives you everything you need to get started in the hot new international sport of Horse Agility.

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE

With a title and a cover meant to stop you in your tracks and make you think, Douglas Puterbaugh’s exploration of how to counter our own human frailty in order to become better riders is a terrific read.

RIDING ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

It is no secret that riding has a very important place in helping those with autism spectrum disorders open to those around them in ways never thought possible. Claudine Pelletier-Milet shares her experiences in France, with a warmth and honest that is delivers both inspiration and hope.

HORSE PROFILING

Kerry Thomas has made a splash in the Thoroughbred racing industry with his form of profiling a horse’s performance tendencies and developing ways in which a horse can be mentally conditioned toward a given goal.

NATURE, NURTURE AND HORSES

Paul Belasik journal-type writing gives us an honest glimpse into the life of a horseman and the challenges he faces and joys he experiences as he brings along four very different sport horse prospects from birth.

DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE

FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy’s bestseller provides training tips and creative ways to improve the horse you have and bring him along through the levels despite his “faults” and imperfections.

HOW TO SPEAK HORSE

A red-hot bestseller, this terrific introduction to natural horsemanship just for kids is temporarily out of stock—order now to receive your copy as soon as more arrive!

CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED

A wonderful two-book introduction to the Brookmeade Young Riders Series by Linda Snow McLoon. With a focus on riding, good horsemanship, and hard work, these novels are appropriate for children ages 10 and up.

7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN

A 10-hour, 7-disc instructional series from the modern-day master of good horsemanship, created from the unused footage shot while creating the award-winning documentary BUCK.

BALANCING ACT

The follow-up to Dr. Gerd Heuschmann’s international bestseller TUG OF WAR, this new book takes his argument for the good of the horse further.

SPORT HORSE CONFORMATION

Veterinarian, judge, and sport horse breeding authority Christian Schacht provides methods for evaluating dressage, jumping and eventing prospects based on recognizing proportions and lines.

DANCING WITH HORSES PAPERBACK

A reissue of the international bestseller from Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling.

NINE PILATES ESSENTIALS FOR THE BALANCED RIDER

Popular Pilates instructor and dressage rider Janice Dulak breaks down the body into nine essential “parts” and incorporates the “Magic Circle” exercise ring in a series of exercises specifically targeted to improve the muscles you need in riding.

Check out all of the books in our TSB BOOKS & DVDS OF 2012 SALE, going on now!

And Happy New Year, from all of us at Trafalgar Square Books.

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Celebrate July Fourth with Four Books & DVDs for Every Kind of Horse Lover

Happy Independence Day! Celebrate with our JULY FOURTH “FOURS”: four books and DVDs we recommend for riders, trainers, and horse lovers across the nation, and across equestrian disciplines.

FOUR BOOKS FOR HORSE LOVERS WHO’D RATHER NOT RIDE

The Horse Agility Handbook by Vanessa Bee

Horse Training In-Hand by Ellen Schuthof-Lesmeister & Kip Mistral

Trick Training for Horses by Bea Borelle with Gudrun Braun

Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up by Peggy Cummings

FOUR BOOKS & DVDS FOR A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER PERFORMANCE HORSE

Horse Profiling by Kerry Thomas with Calvin Carter

Where Does My Horse Hurt? by Renee Tucker, DVM

Beyond Horse Massage by Jim Masterson with Stefanie Reinhold BOOK and DVD

FOUR BOOKS & DVDS FOR THE WESTERN FAMILY

Tex by Dorie McCullough Lawson

Buck the Film from Cedar Creek Productions

The Modern Horseman’s Countdown to Broke by Sean Patrick the BOOK and the 4-DISC DVD SET

FOUR BOOKS & DVDS FOR THE CONSCIENTIOUS DRESSAGE COMPETITOR

The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage by Douglas Puterbaugh with Lance Wills

Meditation for Two by Dominique Barbier & Keron Psillas

Gallop to Freedom by Frederic Pignon & Magali Delgado

If Horses Could Speak DVD by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann

All these titles, and more, are available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

 

PLUS, stop by the TSB online bookstore to take advantage of our SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE, running July 3 through July 8, 2012, with special savings on select titles!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE

There’s Still Time! Sign Up to Be Part of the Horse Agility Summer of Sport Challenge by June 25th!

YOU AND YOUR HORSE can become world champions in Horse Agility! YOU AND YOUR HORSE can compete for your country to win medals and fabulous prizes and competitions for every level!

The International Horse Agility Club presents the 2012 Summer of Sport Challenge via the IHAC’s popular online video competition, allowing horses and handlers from around the globe to compete against each other…without leaving home!

Here’s how the competition works:

In June and July 2012 the IHAC is giving you the opportunity to compete against other teams from around the world for a chance to represent your country in the Horse Agility Summer of Sport World Championship Finals held in July. June 2012 is a qualifying month in which ten qualifying classes can be entered by competitors. The two highest scoring teams (combinations of horse and handler) from each country, in each class, will qualify for the Finals in July.

THERE’S STILL TIME TO ENTER! Sign up at the IHAC website before June 25 to be eligible for the Horse Agility Summer of Sport Challenge Finals and great prizes!

CLICK HERE for more information.

The International Horse Agility Club was founded by TSB author Vanessa Bee whose HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK was released earlier this year and became an instant hit. Horse people everywhere have long wanted an equestrian sport that provides a social and competitive atmosphere, while not requiring riding. Horse Agility, the industry’s newest sport, gives horses and handlers a wonderful way to spend constructive time together, in the arena and out.

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. Blog Bonus!!! Enter the coupon code TSBBLOG15 at checkout and receive 15% off your entire order!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK TODAY

I “Heart” My Horse–Top Riders,Trainers, and TSB Authors Show Their Love for Their Horse in These Great Pics

Happy Valentine’s Day from Trafalgar Square Books! In honor of the relationships with horses we all cherish, here are a few shots of TSB authors with the horses they love, and the horses who love them.

Enjoy today. Eat candy. Then ride it off…

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Trafalgar Square’s Top Ten Ways to Have Fun with Your Horse

Find ways to have fun with your horse in 2012! At TSB, we have 10 great ideas!

It is surprising how easily many riders and horse owners lose track of what’s so grand about horses in the midst of the pressure of competition, economic stresses, and time crunches. All too often we get caught up in the day-to-day “grind” of keeping horses a major part of our life—the ritual feeding, watering, and management that takes time and energy even when you have little; the lessons that don’t go quite right even when you pay a lot for them; the expensive visits from the farrier and (hopefully not often) the vet, even when you’re careful to maintain good foot care, optimal nutrition, and safe stabling and turnout.

We have to take a moment to remember that, more than anything else, being with horses is FUN. Most of us came to horses because we love them, and because riding and working with them brings us joy, peace, and fulfillment in ways that little else in life can. It is important as we begin 2012 to remind ourselves not to take horses and riding JUST seriously. Sure, we can be great riders, we can be competitors (serious ones), and we can make a living breeding and training horses—all of this requires a certain level of gravitas. BUT, horses are social creatures, and they thrive on interaction, diversion, and play, just as we do from time to time.

Here are TSB’s Top Ten Ways to Have Fun with Your Horse—whatever your discipline, whatever your experience, whatever your age. All TSB books are available to order from our online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE and where you can save 15% off select titles this month.

TOP TEN WAYS TO HAVE FUN WITH YOUR HORSE

1  Spend “non-work” time with him. In the stall, in the pasture, just hang out, observe, and be present without making demands. This can teach you about your horse’s personality, and the way he moves, as well as improving his ability to trust in you, and you in him. It is easier to be someone’s friend if they aren’t always putting you to work! And as horse trainer Ryan Gingerich explains in his book BEYOND A WHISPER, “just watching” is the first step in building a reliable communication system you can use in training your horse, whatever your discipline.

2  Experiment with bodywork. You know how good it feels when your husband, wife, or partner scratches your back or rubs your shoulders after a long week or a hard day. In a moment, your tense parts relax and your mind quiets. Think of how this kind of interaction could benefit your horse, especially if he is in serious training or participating in a rigorous performance schedule. Again, physical touch that seeks to ease his pain and tension is different from the practical day-to-day steps of grooming and tacking up, and helps to build a special relationship with your horse. Check out Jim Masterson’s new book and DVD by the same name BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE, which introduce the Masterson Method—a new kind of bodywork that goes beyond typical massage modalities.

3  Work in hand instead of riding. By incorporating obstacles as well as schooling exercises in a work session from the ground, you can reinvigorate your horse’s interest in the ring while improving his ability to handle distractions and potentially scary situations. Linda Tellington-Jones offers terrific options for this kind of practical, yet fun, exercise in THE ULTIMATE HORSE BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING BOOK, and her methods are packaged for horse-crazy kids in MY HORSE, MY FRIEND.

4  Ride in a group. In his forthcoming book HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES, horse herd dynamics expert Kerry Thomas explains the myriad benefits of using group work, in and out of the ring, to improve your horse’s focus ability and increase his interest in performing. We forget that by nature horses are herd animals, and working alone, drill after drill, in a riding arena, is a lonely existence. Time your practice sessions to match a friend’s, or go for a group trail ride. Not only is it a chance for your horse to socialize, it’s an opportunity for you to build better friendships, as well.

Horse Agility is HOT right now! Check out the new book by Vanessa Bee to help you get started: THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK.

5  Ride bitless or bareback…or both! The novelty of going for a ride without metal in his mouth or a tight girth around his middle can perk up any bored schoolmaster—and it will fire you up, too! You’ll have to turn on all your senses and concentrate on your seat to communicate without the usual “crutches” the bit and saddle provide. This exercise is not only refreshing for your horse and good for improving your riding ability, it can be perfectly safe. Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain just how to prepare your horse for daily or weekly excursions without a bit, saddle, or even a bridle, in their joyful new book RIDING FREE. If you plan for it from the ground and learn the proper reflexes when on board, you’ll find you can be at home on a horse without tack—and he’ll love you for it.

6  Cross-train. That’s right—variety is the spice of life, even for a horse. Get crazy and try something different, just for fun, and just to keep your horse interested in the next adventure! In THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES, author Melinda Folse describes a broad sampling of the vast array of horsey activities out there. And many of them don’t require a specific saddle or outfit—you can show up in what you got and get busy. Melinda is a fan of ranch sorting on the occasional weekend, although her horses are primarily for trail riding; perhaps your dressage horse would enjoy a day of simple gridwork and small jumps; maybe your tuned-up event horse would like to try some gymkhana events; your hunter or equitation mount would surely like an afternoon amble down a woodsy trail. Go wild when no one’s judging you, and just toy with the possibilities.

7  Train your horse tricks. Serious riders might lift their noses at this, but as very serious classical dressage rider Philippe Karl said in his foreword to TRICK TRAINING FOR HORSES by Bea Borelle, “Trick training is one of the best ways to make your horse your friend.” You don’t have to teach your horse to sit or lie down, but simple little tricks, such as bowing, doing a curtsy, or stepping onto a podium can be great fun for the horse—not to mention crowd-pleasing! Incorporating a little trick lesson in your schooling regimen keeps your horse interested and keen to learn. Open your mind and give it a shot. You never know, you and your horse might have a future in film.

8  Try Horse Agility. That’s right, this exciting new horse sport is sweeping its way across several continents! Led by the International Horse Agility Club, founded by Vanessa Bee, author of the new book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, this new discipline finally gives us the option to train and compete our horses from the ground, just as done in the extremely popular dog agility classes found all over the world. If you don’t have a Horse Agility Club near you, it is time to start one! The book gives you great ways to train your horse, construct safe agility obstacles, and hold playdates.

9  Cultivate your horse’s sense of humor. Invent little exchanges that become ritual, just between you and your horse, that make you laugh and him “smile.” Perhaps he nudges you in one pocket, but the carrots are in another, and you move them around every time you visit him in the barn. Maybe you run the water from the hose right into his mouth when you fill his water bucket, then let him shake his head and give you a bit of a “shower” as the spray flies. Allow him time to be a comic, and don’t hesitate to enjoy the joke. In GALLOP TO FREEDOM, Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon share stories of the some of the funny games they play with their beautiful performance horses. “I have a special game with [my horse] Dao,” says Magali. “He wants me to touch his ear so he looks around and then stares at me. If I don’t react he pushes his head toward me, still staring intently. I touch his face and he pushes more. I touch his leg and so on…then I touch his ear and we have had our little intimate exchange.”

10  Go for a Sunday drive. Load up, pack up, back up, and drive away—away from the training ring and home barn and usual suspects in the neighboring fields and paddocks. Truck off to someplace altogether different, a wide open plain or quiet winding trail that can serve as the space where you can commune with your horse, the ground below, and the heavens above. As Dominique Barbier and Keron Psillas write in MEDITATION FOR TWO, “When man communicates with the horse, it is on so many levels, but the most important is the spiritual. Because above all, the horses are spiritual creatures. Who is closer to God than the horse? Who flies without wings, who speaks so eloquently without words, who imparts such true knowledge without avarice?”

Who is closer to God than a horse? Get in touch with the spirituality of riding in MEDITATION FOR TWO by Dominique Barbier and Keron Psillas.

TSB Talks to International Horse Agility Club Founder Vanessa Bee about Equestrian “Street Sports,” My Friend Flicka, and Olympic Dreams

The official book of the International Horse Agility Club is available from the TSB online bookstore http://www.HorseandRiderBooks.com.

This month TSB caught up with Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club (www.thehorseagilityclub.com), and asked her about the inspiration behind the sport and its future. You may have seen the excerpt from Vanessa’s brand new book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK in the January issue of EQUUS Magazine. It seems everyone is talking about this exciting new horse sport and where it could lead–Vanessa is thinking big! She dreams of international Horse Agility competition and one day, the Olympics!

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK is the official book of the International Horse Agility Club, and it is available for PREORDER this month from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK TODAY.

TSB:  Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea for the International Horse Agility Club?

VB: I was teaching a frightened young girl and her big frightened horse and suddenly realized all they had to focus on was their fear. So I set up a little obstacle course and gave them a job to do. Very quickly not only were they too busy negotiating the obstacles to be afraid but ALSO they had gathered an audience!

A thought popped in to my head: “I wonder if there’s a competitive sport like dog agility for horses?” I asked myself. I came home, searched on the Internet and there was NOTHING! That was on the 13th of December, 2009, and the rest is history!

 

TSB: You have a fabulous website featuring an international online video competition. Can you tell us a little about the OLHA Video League, how it works, and how popular it is proving?

VB: I had the idea for online competitions because we were getting a lot of interest from some quite remote places in the world. These people would never be able to ship their horses thousands of miles to the competitions that were currently available, so I decided we’d run an online video competition. I have been staggered by the popularity!

Every month I design a course for each of the four levels of Horse Agility. People build the simple courses in their garden, backyard, field, or arena and practice until they are the best they can be.

Then they get someone to video them going round the course. That video is then posted online for me to judge at the end of the month. It’s very simple and it means that anyone, anywhere can join in the fun and be part of this wonderful global community.

I judge entries from the Outback deserts of Australia, the paddy fields of Taiwan, the grandeur of North America, and the snows of Scandinavia. It’s a great way to “see the world”!

TSB: You explain in your new book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK the idea of “Wild Agility,” which takes you out of the arena and cross-country. Do you see Wild Agility becoming competitive, much like the cross-country leg of eventing?

VB: Yes I do! I would like to have a three phase event with “dressage” on the ground (perhaps to music!), an obstacle course in an enclosed space, then the “cross-country” phase or “Wild Agility,”—although I might have to get a bit fitter to do that bit!

TSB:  What do you see in the future for the sport of Horse Agility and the International Horse Agility Club?

VB: In the far future I see Horse Agility becoming as popular as dog agility. I see Horse Agility as valid as any equestrian sport with the added bonus that it’s affordable and anyone can do it. That is how I would like it to be.

Consider the sport of football/soccer (the most popular sport in the world): Kids of any financial and cultural background can play it. It’s cheap, it’s easy for them to set up a couple of goal posts and kick a ball around. Now consider most horse sports: They are expensive, you need to be physically fit, and you need to have the means to move your horse around via horsebox or trailer.

I want Horse Agility to become a “street sport”—something anyone who loves horses can become involved in. You don’t even need to own a horse to compete and participate…just borrow one and get involved!

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

VB: I like all horses—I am not breed-specific, but I do love my Exmoor ponies…so it would have to be an Exmoor. They are so hardy they can live anywhere…so they’d be fine on a desert island.

You will think I’m making this up but the book I would take is My Friend Flicka. I first read it when I was 10 years old and I still read it at least once a year. I get totally lost in it and always cry at the end, even though I know what’s going to happen!

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

VB: Champagne, I’m always celebrating!

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

VB: Lying in my horses’ field on a hot summer’s day listening to the horses grazing round me.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

VB: I was two-and-half. The horse was called Silver, and he was 16.2hh and dark gray. The owner made him trot—I was completely terrified but immediately hooked!

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

VB: I must have fallen off before this first memory, but I remember being 10 and on my cousin’s farm in the Blue Mountains in Australia. We were trying to get her pony to canter so broke a stick off a bush and gave her a tap on the shoulder. She bucked me off and I learned a valuable lesson!

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

VB: Honesty.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

VB: Honesty. The feedback given by a horse has no agenda…and sometimes that’s hard to take! Horses always tell you the absolute truth.

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

VB: I would love to fly! A horse with huge wings would be just so fabulous! Can you imagine the sound of those wings moving through the air?

Okay, dream over!

I would like to enter the Olympic stadium with a horse freely moving beside me as I lead the Horse Agility Teams from every country in the world to the competition arena. No bits, no saddles, no whips—just horses and humans in harmony.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

VB: Good bread, good cheese, fine wine, good company.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

VB: Riding through African Savannah looking for cheetah!

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

VB: Gandhi. He didn’t say much but what he said was worth hearing.

TSB: What is your motto?

VB: LIVE!

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A Look Back at the Best Horse Books and DVDs of 2011

Last year I drafted a similar retrospective of the year’s accomplishments in print, and I remember at that time feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles Trafalgar Square Books had managed to release in 2010. This year I’m similarly impressed (albeit admittedly biased, seeing as I’m heavily involved in the production of our list!), and perhaps even a little prouder, as I do honestly believe 2011 saw some of our best content, by our best authors, come to life in very exciting ways.

In case you missed them, here is a look back at TSB’s year in books and DVDs—there’s a little something here for everyone! All our books and DVDs are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE!

February 2011

CONNECT WITH YOUR HORSE FROM THE GROUND UP by Peggy Cummings with Bobbie Jo Liebermann

Peggy really does have a very different way of handling and working the horse from the ground that can have a significant impact on his way of going under saddle. The before-and-after case studies featured in the book are astounding proof of just how much good her work can do.

March 2011

HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson

I don’t know that I can find sufficient words to describe the value of this fantastic book. Denny’s brilliant, no-nonsense advice is what we all wish we had when we were just starting our competitive riding careers. For some, his book will jumpstart a faltering riding habit. For others, his writing will inspire true dedication to the sport they love. Whoever you are, whatever your state of equestrian latency or possibility, this book is the Magic Mirror sure to tell you whether you really are giving it all you’ve got. And, Denny’s truths are easily applied to more than just riding and horsemanship.

April 2011

JANE SAVOIE’S DRESSAGE 101 by Jane Savoie

A special new edition of Jane’s phenomenal CROSS-TRAIN YOUR HORSE and MORE CROSS-TRAINING, which are no longer in print. The only book you need on dressage basics and flatwork, whatever your equestrian discipline.

May 2011

WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? by Dr. Renee Tucker

Spiral-bound, fabulously illustrated, Dr. Tucker’s guide to 27 body checkups YOU can do to determine if your horse hurts, where he hurts, and whether you need to call the veterinarian, farrier, chiropractor, or saddle-fitting expert is one of the most useful books I’ve seen in my years at TSB. You can do your horse a lot of good with this book.

June 2011

MY HORSE, MY FRIEND by Bibi Degn

A terrific kids’ starter book, offering a guide to cultivating a gentle awareness when handling and riding horses through world-renowned bahaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones’ TTouch and TTEAM methods. Absolutely fantasic photos in this book.

TEAM ROPING 101 by Kayla Starnes

Endorsed by the USTRC and featuring tips from champion ropers Speed Williams, Rickey Green, and horse trainer Clinton Anderson, this book has all you need to get started in this fast-growing, family friendly sport.

July 2011

THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES by Melinda Folse

People always say they can come back to horses, and when women hit 40, or around there, give or take, it seems they are finally finding the time to invest their money wisely…in a horse of their own. Melinda’s bestselling book provides all the returnee or first-timer needs to find her way to the barn at last, with lots of laughs along the way. Melinda’s book is a huge e-book seller (available in both Kindle and ePub formats via Amazon.com and ebooks.com).

September 2011

RIDER & HORSE BACK TO BACK by Susanne von Dietze

Susanne made a name for herself with her terrific bestselling book and DVD BALANCE IN MOVEMENT. Now she’s back in a big way, with this new book, the DVD by the same name, as well as BALANCE IN MOVEMENT 2 on DVD. Susanne presented at the USDF Symposium in San Diego at the end of 2011.

RIDER FITNESS: BODY & BRAIN by Eckart Meyners

This book is about REAL rider fitness—this isn’t some generic workout packaged to look equestrian-specific. The exercises are deceptively easy, and hugely rewarding when it comes to improving your ability to ride well and communicate with your horse in an accurate and efficient manner he can understand.

October 2011

TEX by Dorie McCullough Lawson

A personal favorite, this completely adorable kids’ picture book brings the mystique of the cowboy and the hard-work-equals-good-work mentality to life for the under-five set. Authentic photos make it a crowd-pleaser, and the main character falling asleep at the end make it a parent-pleaser. You can’t go wrong with this one.

ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC by Anne Kursinski with Miranda Lorraine

We’ve brought this great classic back in print, this time in paperback. Anne’s exercises on the flat and over fences, introductory and advanced, are beautifully spelled out. This book promises to be used well, and used often.

November 2011

MEDITATION FOR TWO by Dominique Barbier with Keron Psillas

A lovely book—gorgeous photos and deep thoughts for the thinking rider. Certain to appeal to the dressage rider, the classicist, or the city-dwelling horse lover with a nice coffee table and a little time for reading on quiet evenings…

RIDING FREE by Andrea and Markus Eschbach

As proponents for riding horses with minimal tack, Andrea and Markus do a marvelous job explaining how to prepare your horse with proper training so you can ride him safely without a bit, without a bridle, without a saddle, or even without all three! Inspiring reading with practical applications for those who dream of being with their horse in as natural a way as possible.

BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE by Jim Masterson with Stefanie Reinhold

Jim’s groundbreaking Masterson Method, now explained in this spiral-bound book and the DVD by the same name, has people talking. The pictures of the horses he’s worked say it all–they are obviously more comfortable after he has worked on them. Now, he tells you how YOU can give your horse the same level of comfort and release he can.

December 2011

THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee

This introduction to this exciting new horse sport is by the founder of the International Horse Agility Club. You may have seen the recent excerpt in EQUUS Magazine—we are all really looking forward to seeing Horse Agility take off as a super-fun alternative to riding competitions!

THE ULTIMATE ENGLISH/SPANISH DICTIONARY FOR HORSEMEN by Maria Belknap

A terrifically useful resource with over 10,000 common words and phrases.

Here’s to a great year ahead, with dreams chased and dreams fulfilled, in horses and in life.

–Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor