We are so excited that Equitana USA at the amazing and beautiful Kentucky Horse Park is right around the corner, and we are THRILLED that six of our amazing authors are featured presenters. Here’s what you have in store in Lexington this weekend.
Sally Batton, Founder and President of the Athletic Equestrian League and author of the forthcoming The Athletic Equestrian (coming January 2022)
With a dynamic combination of seminars, clinics, and trainings, the EQUITANA USA Education Program will broaden your understanding of all things related to horse care and riding, while opening doors to new disciplines and fun. It all starts on Friday, October 1! Get your tickets and plan your visit today!
From June 7 to 11, 2021, TSB author Janet Jones, PhD, whose HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN has become a runaway international bestseller since its release last year, was a featured presenter at HETI Seoul. Hosted by the Korea Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (KATH) and Korea Racing Authority (KRA), the 17th HETI International Congress was held as both an in-person and virtual event. Janet traveled to Seoul to speak to attendees in person.
The goal of HETI Seoul was to welcome experts and officials from all over the world to catch up on the latest trends taking place in the field of equine-assisted activity and therapy. In her presentation, Janet discussed what it is about equine brains that makes horses so good at equine-assisted therapy for humans. She introduced some of the reasons:
Horses have no prefrontal cortex and therefore cannot judge their human handlers.
Horse-and-human communication depends on nonverbal body language.
Horses learn and respond quickly in “pure” form with little emotional baggage.
Horses have little to no categorical perception and therefore notice small details.
The horse’s primary emotion is fear, as is common to wounded human psyches.
Methods that calm equine fear also help control human fear.
Successful horse-and-human interaction requires mutual trust built over time.
Horses’ size and power requires humans to abandon techniques involving force.
During her talk, Janet explained how each of these items affects human wellness and aids in many types of therapeutic intervention (read more in her official conference abstract HERE).
*Photos above: Janet presenting six neurological reasons for horses’ excellence at equine-assisted psychotherapy; the foreign speakers, organizers, the HETI Board, and leaders of the host organizations Korea Racing Authority and Korea Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship at the Presidential Dinner held at Seoul’s Floating Island on (on top of!) the water of the Han River; Janet presenting the Best Volunteer Award to a young Korean rider who worked tirelessly to help everyone.Photos courtesy of Janet Jones.
“I enjoyed the HETI Congress immensely,” says Janet. “The organizers managed every detail, the presentations were informative, and all the complex online hybrid and translation technology worked. I met lots of interesting new people and got to discuss global and local horse industries with many of them.The presentations had simultaneous translation into multiple languages–I think simultaneous translation is pretty cool, though perhaps it is more common nowadays than I was aware! Final convention counts showed 909 participants from 37 countries—remarkable given the global pandemic at this time.”
The 18th HETI International Congress is slated for 2024 in Budapest, Hungary.
In this excerpt from STILL HORSE CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, Olympian and tale-teller Jim Wofford shares a formative experience with an equestrian coach that told him all he needed to know about what it takes to be a good rider.
When I first came to Gladstone in 1965, Richard Wätjen was coaching the dressage team, and I audited his lessons whenever possible. Wätjen, German by birth, was classically trained at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna after WWI and had become a coach after WWII. Tall and portly, he was a legend in the dressage world, and must have been a tough old buzzard as well. In the winter of 1966–67, Nautical Hall, the indoor riding arena at Gladstone, was one of the coldest places on Earth, but no matter how cold it was, Wätjen taught in slacks and street shoes, wearing a dark green Loden greatcoat. He was not an inspiring instructor, and his comments were brief and pungent. “More,” was one of his favorites, along with “Again,” and “No.” I never knew if teaching in a second language was a problem for him, or if it was just his style, and I was too intimidated to ask.
He was dedicated to obtaining a correct response from his horses by establishing an inside leg to outside rein connection. One day a student remarked that he wanted to start work in half-pass. “No,” said Wätjen, in his heavy German accent. “Vee vill put him in shoulder-in for two years, und zen vee vill put him in half-pass in two days.” His point was that once the basic response was correctly established, the horse would put his forces completely at our disposal. In terms of my overall development as a horseman, I might have gotten as much from my auditing as from riding at the time.
Once Wätjen had finished his work with the Team horses, he taught occasional outside lessons for dressage riders. A woman showed up for one lesson with a very fancy, recently imported horse reputed to have set her back a princely sum. (Given the fur coat and diamonds she was sporting, I don’t think she noticed the cost a bit.) It was obvious after she careened around the ring for a few minutes that she couldn’t get this creature even close to being on the bit.
Then magic happened. Telling this unfortunate lady to ride in and “get down,” Wätjen turned toward the corner of the arena where Rick Eckhart and I were cowering. Pointing at us, he said, “Boys. Come here.”
Next thing we knew, we were holding the horse while, in street shoes and gabardine slacks, Wätjen laboriously stepped aboard. He would have been in his late seventies by this time, and his beer belly indicated he wasn’t much for exercise. I knew he had been a fabulous rider in his day—a long time ago. He walked off gathering his reins, then moved into working trot. By now the horse was starting to settle into the contact and produced a few transitions from working trot to collected trot, followed by extended trot across each diagonal. This happened with no discernable aids, as Wätjen sat bolt upright in the saddle. Some canter work followed, including several flying changes remarkable for their straightness and fluidity.
All this only took a few minutes, with no preparation or warm-up. In the meantime, the dressage rider was standing with a stupefied look on her face, and I was pretty impressed as well. Wätjen walked back to the center and gestured that we should hold the horse while he carefully stepped down, gave him a pat, and said, “Nice horse.” The owner began to babble about how grateful she was, and how impressed. “How ever did you do that?” she inquired.
Gesturing with his hand toward her shoulder, Wätjen said, “Vell, you must sit mit a straight line from shoulder, to hip, to heel.” She replied eagerly, “Yes, yes, I am doing that.” Wätjen continued, “… und zen you are riding mit a straight line from elbow to horse’s mouth.” The lady pounced on this statement with glee, “Yes, yes. I have been doing this.” “Goot!” said Wätjen. “Now you must practice for 30 years.” I started to crack up at what I thought was a masterful put-down, but I happened to take a look at Wätjen’s face. He wasn’t putting her down, or kidding. He was serious.
Eleven years ago, about a year after having my son, I gave Pilates a shot, and WOW! All I can say is it did amazing things for my body and my riding. I’m a fan.
TSB author Laura Reiman has been practicing Pilates since 2007. She completed her Comprehensive Teacher Training Course with BASI Pilates (Body Arts and Science International) in New York, then spent six months in Brisbane, Australia, teaching and continuing to learn from BASI faculty members before opening her own studio in Alexandria, Virginia. Well, Laura is also an eventer, and when her When her young horse was diagnosed with extreme back pain and a neurological disease, she turned to her knowledge of Pilates—the method she’d used to ease back pain in human clients for years—for help. She began to find ways to “bridge the gap” between the horse’s mind and body to help increase his body awareness and core engagement.
In Laura’s new book PILATES FOR HORSES, she shares the Pilates-inspired exercises she determined can offer the horse the same benefits they offer humans. They can be taken in parts or as a whole and seamlessly incorporated into an existing training program to be a preventive tool to increase the horse’s strength, balance, mobility, and stability, or a framework for a new program to help ease a horse back into work following an injury or time off.
Here, Laura shares one of the stretches from her program:
Human athletes know that stretching is an invaluable part of any training program to keep muscles elastic, and a tight muscle is more prone to injury. Stretching helps to improve circulation, range of motion, and overall health of your horse’s muscles, while also decreasing muscle soreness and fatigue. As an added benefit, spending a few minutes stretching your horse can help create a stronger bond.
Also known as “carrot stretches,” incentive stretches use treats or a clicker to ask your horse to stretch himself through flexion (rounding), lateral bending (side to side), and even extension (hollowing or reaching). Try this incentive stretch called “Chin to Chest” as an easy way to start incorporating stretches in your routine on a regular basis.
Ask your horse to bring his nose toward the center of his chest using a treat, creating flexion and stretch in the upper neck muscles.
l Increases mobility in the upper and middle neck muscles including the trapezius cervicis, cervical rhomboids, and splenius muscles.
1 Stand beside your horse, facing forward.
2 Offer a treat near the horse’s nose to get his attention.
3 Slowly move your hand back toward the center of the horse’s chest, covering the treat so he cannot grab it.
4 Make sure the horse’s neck is straight and his nose is pointing down.
5 When using a clicker, activate it right at the center of your horse’s chest.
6 Hold the stretch for 5 seconds to start, working up to 10–20 seconds over the course of several weeks.
7 Repeat 2–4 times, changing sides each time so your horse’s head doesn’t begin to tilt to one side in anticipation.
Every day, after your horse is warmed up. Hold for 10–20 seconds and repeat 2–4 times.
Learn more stretches, in-hand exercises, and ridden lessons to help build and maintain a solid foundation of strength and comfort for your horse in the book PILATES FOR HORSES by Laura Reiman.
CLICK HERE for more information and to download a free chapter.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.
There are some authors who inspire us, even out of the saddle. Jen Marsden Hamilton is one of those. She always seems to reach out just when we at TSB need a shot in the arm and encouragement to keep on, keeping on. We connected with Jen recently to talk about her book STRIDE CONTROL, what’s it’s like to own a field of sunflowers, and what Mark Twain has to teach all of us.
TSB: Your book STRIDE CONTROL provides exercises and advice for practicing striding at home so you can perform your best. Why is stride control integral to jumping success, both in the ring and cross-country?
JMH: The average hunter course is about 100 strides and 8 jumps. Jumper courses, depending on the size of the arena, could be 150+ strides and up to maybe 16 jumps. The cross-country count can be 12 to over 30 over several miles, with lots of jumps and combinations.
Obviously, on a course the rider/horse spend more time on the ground than in the air. Best to spend that time wisely.
The ability to control the horse’s stride to a jump and within lines enables the horse to do his job—jump!
TSB: In your book, you describe yourself as a “watcher” who copied her heroes when you first rode and competed in the fifties. What is the benefit of being a “watcher”? Should young riders learn in this way today?
JMH: In the old days, riding lessons taught a very basic position, how to post to the trot, and how to canter. Basically how to “go” and “whoa” and not fall off.
One of the best ways to learn is to watch the best of the time. Your choice is to do that or remain stagnant.
Of course I think young riders should watch the best. Watching the best inspires! But one must never forget the progression of skill development to greatness.
TSB: You use the word “strategy” in your book to describe the plan you provide for each of your exercises. How does one devise a strategy for developing new skills and practicing new exercises without the benefit of a coach and when working on one’s own?
JMH: Read STRIDE CONTROL! Anyone can have a plan: Find exercises to take you toward your goals and follow the strategies to promote learning. Over time, your exercise strategies can be fine-tuned to your personal needs.
TSB: One of your catch phrases is “Be a star!” When did you first start saying this to your students and what does it mean to you?
JMH: I can’t remember when “Be a star” became my thing, but it has lasted over time and is so meaningful to so many in different ways.
Rapport allows for personal interpretation and positive affirmations.
TSB: What is one lesson you hope readers will take away from your book?
JMH: Teacher-directed lessons are great and at times essential when introducing new skills, but nothing replaces personal practice time to develop your feel and how to read a situation.
When the in-gate closes, you’re on your own. Internalized skills need to kick in. Take responsibility for the ride.
The exercises in STRIDE CONTROL promote self-directed positive learning in a non-threatening situation. It’s more than okay to self-train over valid exercises that promote correct and safe learning.
TSB: You are based in beautiful part of Nova Scotia and have your own field of sunflowers that blooms in the summer. Why sunflowers? And how did that field come to be?
JMH: My husband Brian is a fixer not a “throw-it-outer.” During the COVID lockdown, he refurbished a 100-year-old seed spreader.
Lots of land + working seeder + 2 bags of sunflower seed = a lovely field of yellow.
Being on the top of a hill the yellow could be seen from a distance. People enjoyed our field and many came for a big handful.
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?
JMH:Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: My favorite book, and it’d take a long time to read.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: The story of true friendship.
Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne: I could entertain myself and talk to myself, reciting the lovely stories and rhymes.
No horse. I’m taking a cat!
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
JMH: Go swimming bareback in the ocean.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
JMH: Truthfulness to help me maintain personal balance and someone to laugh and cry with. A tall friend to reach the top shelf is also useful.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
JMH: I love honest horses. Horses who try their best based on ability. The horse that would be the McDonald’s “Employee of the Month.”
TSB: What is your greatest fear?
JMH: The loss of hope.
TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?
JMH: I have a retro 2002 Inspiration-Yellow Thunderbird. Whenever I’m at a stoplight next to some young pups and they look over and think, “What a waste!” I gun it and leave ‘em in my dust!
TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
JMH: Since I can remember, I’ve asked for both my birthday and Christmas to wake up TALL and THIN. I’ve always been disappointed! I’ve learned to embrace/accept terms like RUGGED and STURDY, but really it is body shaming.
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
JMH: Milk, peanut butter, and red jam.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
JMH: I think the lyrics of “Happiness—You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” sums up happiness beautifully. If you don’t know the song, have a listen, then sing along, and enjoy. It will bring back memories and help you enjoy the present.
Really, it’s all about smiles and laughter. Smiles of greeting, love, safety, and personal and shared accomplishments. Laughter related to joy and memories, and just shared laughter with family and friends.
I can’t wait to have our whole family back together again! The smiles and laughter will be wonderful!
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
JMH: Mark Twain. He was the ultimate watcher and commentator on society. I love his quotes. In fact, I’m living by one of his quotes: “I have achieved my 70 years (74 now) in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else.”
TSB: If you could go back to December 2019 and go one place anywhere in the world with as many or as few people as you would like, where would you go, who would you bring, and what would you do?
JMH: In December 2019, I was planning and booking a trip to Kenya for Brian and me, our daughter, her husband, and our three grandchildren. I have been lucky to teach in Kenya several times and make friends there. I wanted to take everyone on safari and meet our friends before the “grand-ones” were too old and grumpy.
Hopefully, by the time the world opens our family will still want to travel with us and we won’t be too lame or jaded.
TSB: What is your motto?
JMH: Whatever you do, do it with total conviction and be a star!
Jen Marsden Hamilton’s book STRIDE CONTROL is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
One of our favorite things at TSB is when our amazing and inspiring authors connect. What better than to see the people we know, admire, learn from, and care about find common ground in their love for the horse? That’s what happened with our friend and author, Jane Savoie, who we lost to cancer in January this year, and our friend and author Lynn Palm. They appreciated and learned from each other over many years as they both wrote several books, taught thousands of people, and strove to teach riders how to be the equestrians they want to be–whether just riding at home or competing at the highest levels.
Lynn wrote this moving tribute to Jane, and we asked if we might share it with you:
We will all miss the spirit, talent, teaching ability, inspiration, honesty, and passion for horses that was Jane Savoie.
I first met Jane on the phone, and I was so impressed with her positive energy. An international “queen” of dressage (though she never acted like it), she reached out to interview me on classical training for a series of cross-training books she was writing. [Editors Note: These would later be bound together in what is today JANE SAVOIE’S DRESSAGE 101.] Jane had learned that I did hunters, Western riding, and driving (to produce “All-Around” horses) with my Quarter Horses. She was the first in the dressage world to recognize the I was using dressage training with my horses. She sent me her first book to read: THAT WINNING FEELING!, and I read it before my next Quarter Horse Congress competition. I was amazed how I could turn every negative thought in my mind before competition into a positive. I succeeded more than I expected that year and became a Jane Savoie follower from then on! When she asked me to write the foreword for her first cross-training book, I was honored!
As I collected all Jane’s books and always found new things to learn in them–for my horses or students or my own riding–I asked Jane to be a part of three events I created under the name Women Luv Horses. I hosted them in North Carolina, California, and Florida. I asked Jane, along with the top women trainers, competitors, and instructors in the dressage, reining, working cow horse, barrels, and English/Western All-Around disciplines to join me. Jane’s classes were always the best attended and always kept the audience mesmerized. Not only did Jane bring positive education to equine enthusiasts, she brought fun as she shared her passion of understanding the horse.
I will always remember my lessons on tempi changes with Jane as we prepared my Rugged Painted Lark for his bridleless exhibitions at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. She could articulate her teaching so that it was easy to understand, and she could always come up with an exercise to improve a goal. I remember that straightness of the forehand gives the perfect balance I needed for the tempi changes to be more consistent. I hear her in my mind many times when I ride!
We will all miss Jane. I know that she will continue to ride with all the thousands of people who followed her, as I know she rides with me nearly every day.
Love you Jane. Thanks for all you have done for people and horses!
The TSB 2021 Horse Books & Videos Catalog is now available to download (see below link) or request by mail from our website (click here for a print copy). Our cover model this year is the stunning Eddie–some of you have already heard his amazing story, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share a little about his new family, because it is a love story of a special nature.
In 2018, TSB author Yvonne Barteau’s rescue Horses Without Humans in Bell, Florida, received in 19 horses in devastating condition. Dubbed “The Bone Yard” by volunteers and followers on social media, this remarkable group of animals defied dire predictions that it was unlikely they would all find their way to health.
Miraculously, all of them survived, and one by one, they are being rehabilitated and retrained prior to finding them caring homes. Our cover boy, Eddie, was one of The Bone Yard herd in the worst condition when he was surrendered. Today he shines with health and contentment…and, maybe best of all, he has found a new home with a loving family:
“We moved to Florida from New York in 2016 for work,” says Dr. Dan Dickinson, who along with his wife, Theresa, adopted Eddie in 2020. “At that time, if you had asked me what my wife was really passionate about besides nursing (now she is a nurse practitioner), I would not have been able to tell you. We sent my eight-year-old daughter, Paris, to a horseback-riding camp, locally, and my wife just started spending time with the other horses and learning about them. Then she started taking riding lessons on her own (even when Paris lost interest!).
“Theresa’s passion grew and grew, so in October of 2019, we adopted Dolly, a Gypsy Vanner that Theresa fell in love with. Unfortunately, where Dolly was, the farm hands were scared of her and didn’t give her great care, so we relocated Dolly, boarding her at Yvonne’s place in Bell.
“It was there that we learned Eddie’s story and saw the pictures of him before Yvonne and her awesome team rescued him. My wife fell in love with Eddie, (and soon after, we all did, very very easily!), and so we adopted him! We actually moved out of our house into a slightly smaller house with more acreage so we could have our horses on our own property–we now live on a 9.9-acre horse ranch in northern Gainesville. We love it. Eddie has a voracious appetite, and loves carrots, apples, and just about any horse treats from our local store, Bits & Spurs. He and his sister, Dolly, chase each other and run around like mad in their pasture. And if you ask Paris, Eddie is her horse!
“The story of Eddie’s new life comes largely from the story of Theresa–the most hardworking, compassionate nurse, who I met, fell in love with, and married ten years ago this month. Now everyone knows what her passion and her hobby is. (We adopted an 18-year-old mare named Neigh Neigh this past Christmas season!) I can say it adds to our marriage, as we both take care of and ride these three amazing horses. We have two small kids…and three very very large kids to take care of, too.”
We are over-the-moon happy for Eddie…and Dolly and Neigh Neigh and their amazing human family. The Dickinsons and their herd are providing an inspiring example of how every horse deserves a second chance…and the love of a family.
Horses Without Humans (HorsesWithoutHumans.org) partners with The Right Horse (TheRightHorse.org). TSB is proud to support both of these worthy organizations and invites you to learn more about their efforts to help horses in transition.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.
In her new book, HOW TWO MINDS MEET: THE MENTAL DYNAMICS OF DRESSAGE, Beth Baumert explains how to optimize the use of your “thinking mind” in order to become a better learner in the saddle and provides techniques for maximizing mental and emotional harmony with your horse. Here she tells us why we need to have “the will” to achieve every task, every movement:
Horses don’t understand negatives. They do not understand I hope she doesn’t…, I wish she wouldn’t…, Don’t do this…, I’m afraid that…. They don’t understand mental or emotional garbage—for example, I hope he doesn’t refuse the fence, because I want to get out of this alive and I’m afraid I’ll fall off like I did last week. This is a message that is negative, emotional, and convoluted. It’s usually accompanied by a dreadful mental image that the horse has no trouble reading, and we all know how that story ends.
Since the horse doesn’t understand the negative aspect of the message, he gets a message that goes like this: Refuse the fence as I have in the past. Do it eagerly. My rider may end up on the ground. Even the boldest, most willing jumper would, at least, become distracted or confused by his rider’s message.
The rider must think positively.
German trainer Conrad Schumacher often told his dressage students, “You must have the WILL.” He was usually referring to a line of tempi changes, and he often asked his rider to verbally call out “I WILL” when riding each change. The rider must know what she wants and have a very clear plan for achieving it. Horses train people to think clearly and positively.
For example, to jump a vertical fence or to ride a lengthened stride on the diagonal, the rider might go through these steps:
• Half-halt before the turn and balance through it.
• Half-halt again after the turn to straighten.
• Establish the length of stride you want and ride the line.
• Half-halt to rebalance after the lengthening or the fence.
What saved us in 2020? We had books to publish. The ever-present routine that is our (often overwhelming) publication schedule actually kept us sane: In March, while some titles idled at printers when the world shut down, we were deep in editorial for books that would (hopefully) come out later in the year, designing covers for those already in the proofreading stage, and brainstorming marketing plans for the titles we expected to arrive in our warehouse in the coming weeks. As the months opened and closed, each marked by challenging events and difficult news, we focused on the books in our care and the hope and excitement that each new one always brings.
Of course, the impact of the pandemic affected all stages of a book’s usual evolution. Authors’ lives were upended and so manuscripts were delivered late. Photo shoots had to be rescheduled. Printers were shut down and shipping delays became the norm. Events were canceled, book and tack shops were closed, and publicity and sales efforts moved almost entirely online. And so, the year has been a course in both “steady as she goes” and “think outside the box.”
As we turn the page on 2020 and head into our 36th year as equestrian book publishers, we want to take a look back at the titles we released in the past 12 months. In a year marked by turmoil, the publication of each of these reminded us that, no matter what, we could still count on books to keep us going.
Andrea Waldo reads her bestselling book, teaching you how to handle uncomfortable emotions, such as fear, anger, anxiety, and embarrassment; hone your mental game, focus your riding time to get the most out of your hours in the saddle; and care for your emotional injuries.
After coaching countless riders and horses around the world in the striding techniques that brought her success during her own impressive competitive career, Jen Marsden Hamilton has compiled her knowledge in a concise book of exercises and insightful strategies.
Dr. Stacie Boswell details proactive methods of handling common medical problems and health issues in horses in transition, from nutrition and dentistry to deworming and hoofcare to traumatic injury and emergency rescue scenarios.
Brain scientist and horsewoman Janet Jones describes human and equine brains working together. Using plain language, she explores the differences and similarities between equine and human ways of negotiating the world.
Yoga teacher and horsewoman Cathy Woods shows you how to achieve present moment awareness; find body, breath, and energy awareness; breathe through challenges; listen to your inner voice; slow down; and develop balance and symmetry in the saddle.
Olympian Anne Kursinski’s acclaimed book on riding horses over fences delivers on-target counsel and the kind of sophisticated, quality instruction you can only get in top barns around the world. Updated with over 300 full-color photos.
Master motivator Jane Savoie breaks down the six most common problem areas she sees when horses jump, then fills the rider’s toolbox with targeted exercises on the flat—simple solutions to the nagging problems that prevent riders and horses from doing their best over all kinds of obstacles.
When she was 23, carrying a puppy named Gypsy, Melissa Chapman climbed aboard a horse and rode away from everything, heading west. Part American road trip, part coming-of-age adventure, and part uncommon love story—a remarkable memoir that explores the evolution of the human-animal relationship, along with the raw beauty of a life lived outdoors.
Fergus the Horse, the creation of artist Jean Abernethy, has been entertaining audiences—young and old, in print and online—with his comedic adventures for the past 20 years. Abernethy celebrates his age—and the wisdom that should come with it—with an all-new selection of horsey humor, including many cartoons fans have never seen before.
Canine and equine physiotherapist Katja Bredlau-Morich, author of Kinesiology Taping for Horses, is a pioneer in bringing the method to the dog world. She believes that dogs can benefit hugely from taping techniques, and even better, dog owners and trainers can learn practical steps to using kinesiology tape themselves.
Dr. Ina Gösmeier is a veterinarian who supports her Western medical practice with knowledge gained through the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This handbook provides a basic introduction to the guiding principle of determining a horse’s TCM type before making decisions about handling, care, training, or treatment.
In the follow-up to her bestselling WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN, Beth Baumert explains how to optimize the use of the “thinking mind” in order to become a better learner in the saddle and provides techniques for maximizing mental and emotional harmony with the horse.
We are so grateful for all our authors, and for the readers and viewers whose support is essential to our company’s survival. Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful New Year.
The TSB Staff
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.
One of the things we have been incredibly thankful for during this strange year is the contact we have been able to maintain, albeit virtually, with the TSB authors with whom we are so lucky to work. But in the midst of editorial, production, or the initial marketing push for a new book, we don’t often have time to trade details about our daily lives. So when Dr. Stacie Boswell, author of THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR HORSES IN NEED, shared 24 hours of her life as a vet in 2020, we loved getting this chance to peek into her typical day on the job as a rural vet. And OH MY GOSH we learned so much!
5:00 am I’m trying hard to be awake.
Even my dogs are not awake yet. Peso El Guapo is still cuddled under his blanket on the bed. He doesn’t move when I get up, but Tia gets up off her dog bed and follows me. We found Peso while out trail riding, and I kept him because he has a severe heart problem that will shorten his lifespan considerably. Tia is pathologically attached to me. I acquired her as a job hazard from working in mixed animal practice. She was morbidly obese, weighing in at 30.8 lbs. Her previous owner brought her in to be euthanized because she couldn’t walk. For a year we worked on diet and exercise, and she now stays a much healthier 11 lbs. She has lots of extra skin, but also significantly more pep in her step.
It’s early dawn gray right now, and while I make some coffee, I watch my two yearling mules chase a mule deer doe and fawn across our pasture. This morning, I have three recommendations to write for capable young women applying for admission to veterinary school. Like many people who write, this early time of day is my best time. My brain isn’t crowded yet, and the quiet in the house is advantageous for my focus. I want my recommendees to succeed, so I definitely want to write the best possible letters that I can.
6:30 am The other dogs are finally up. It’s exciting — breakfast!! I also wake my husband, Sid, and get ready for work.
7:30 am And we’re off!!!! My appointments begin. During COVID-19, veterinary practices have been extremely busy. We aren’t sure why this is the case, but it may be that people are home observing their pets (or stressing them out), or that veterinarians are more welcoming and feel safer than human hospitals. The New York Times wrote about this topic in August.
Most of my morning appointments are vaccines or minor problems, but I feel like I’m early in the marathon of the day and I’m already trying to catch my breath. We are doing curbside service to reduce client and staff possible exposure to COVID-19, and that also adds a layer of challenge to communication, and an additional time commitment to each appointment.
10:30 am Yep, now we begin to rearrange the day to accommodate true emergencies. A very nice but worried mom drops off her seven-year-old daughter’s cat, Princess Jingles. Princess Jingles has been vomiting for about a week, and although she is still eating, she has lost a significant amount of weight. About a year ago, she vomited some hair ties, but recently it’s been mostly food and bile. Princess Jingles is a cute, long-haired calico cat. I palpate her, and in the cranial (forward) portion of her abdomen, I can feel a lump that shouldn’t be there. The cat mews—she’s uncomfortable. Apparently, I make a face that’s obvious even with my mask on; my assistant asks, “What are you feeling?” I’m worried that it’s hair ties (again) in Princess Jingles’s stomach. I call her owner and discuss doing X-rays.
11:30 am X-rays are done. For sure there is something in the cat’s stomach that shouldn’t be there. There is also a small area in the colon that is suspicious. These are outlined in the yellow arrows on the X-ray below.
I’m a large-animal surgeon but really love all surgery. An abdominal exploratory will be necessary for Princess Jingles. I always think of this procedure like it is a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get.” That makes it fun for me. This time, I’m pretty sure it will be hair ties. I call my afternoon appointments and rearrange my day to accommodate the procedure. One of my colleagues is gracious enough to take over an overlapping early afternoon appointment.
12:30 pm I finish my morning appointments, and our wonderful technicians get everything set up and ready for surgery.
1:00 pm Princess Jingles is anesthetized and “on the table.” My practice has a visiting fourth-year veterinary student, Alyssa, getting some hands-on real-world experience. She scrubs in with me, and it is so nice having an extra set of capable hands who can retract the stomach as I cut it open and extract tenhair ties and two pieces of yarn. After removing the foreign objects, I close the cat’s stomach. All the other bowel and internal organs are evaluated. There is another hair tie in the colon, but I avoid opening the dirty, bacteria-filled colon during surgery and instead massage the hair tie as far toward the “exit” as I can.
1:40 pm I close the deepest layer of the incision, and then pass the finish off to capable Alyssa. I call Princess Jingles’s people with an update. They are relieved and happy to hear that surgery went smoothly.
Post-operatively, we take two more X-rays to make sure we removed everything. I know from surgery that I did, but I also want to show Alyssa and our other future veterinarians what a “pneumoabdomen” (air in the abdominal cavity) looks like, so the X-rays are a learning opportunity.
We give Princess Jingles an enema to remove that final hair tie. It’s the pink one!
2:30 pm I work on finishing a little paperwork while scarfing cheese and crackers for lunch.
3:00 pm I start my afternoon with horses. Today, I am seeing Bronwynn, a Warmblood mare I’ve seen since she was a foal. She is now six years old. I see her about twice a year, and every time she has grown larger. I think she is about 17 hands at this point. I really love getting to know my clients and their animals over time.
Bronwynn’s person, Joella, really wanted a lovely Warmblood for dressage, and so she bred the mare she had (Bronwynn’s dam). A caretaker was looking after her pregnant mare, but something went wrong, and when Bronwynn was born, the filly was found stuck and frozen in the mud shortly after birth, and was severely hypothermic with a core body temperature of 87oF (normal foal body temperature should be 100oF to 102oF).
The areas of skin injury from the frostbite Bronwynn suffered are now scars. Because of her injury, her right hind leg is somewhat weaker and not as conformationally correct as her left hind, so keeping her foot balanced is challenging. Today I am taking X-rays of her feet to help optimize her hoof trims and keep her foot as straight and balanced as possible.
4:30 pm My next appointment is Jennifer, who is bringing in her new off-the-track Thoroughbred, Mike. She was able to come in now instead of her originally scheduled time of 2:00 pm. Jennifer runs a boarding facility and has quite a few horses of her own. She ended up with Mike after his racing-career-ending injury. He’s a sweet horse, and she hopes to make a trail horse out of him.
Mike’s left front foot is more upright, with a small scar and marks from freeze-firing. This information tells me that the left forelimb has some chronic pain and lameness problems.
Freeze-firing has replaced pin-firing (which used heat) as a treatment for bowed tendons, bucked shins, or splint problems. The use of pins makes scars, which can be seen on the skin overlying the injury. Advocates for the procedure use a different depth and pattern of firing for different primary injuries.
The theory is that the counter-irritation of the firing speeds the healing of the primary problem. It was first used in about 500 AD, and even then there were doubts about its efficacy. Now, 1,500 years later, there is very little science-based evidence for it, and it is not taught in veterinary curricula in the United States. Many veterinarians frown upon its use as a treatment.
But back to Mike… although someone at the track took X-rays of his more recent injury, Jennifer doesn’t have access to them, and she wants to know if there is any healing. She knows the injury involves a right front sesamoid (the small bones at the back of the ankle or fetlock). She has managed Mike on stall rest for the last six to seven weeks.
I examine Mike, and he is baseline lame on his right forelimb. His range of motion of his fetlock is reduced by at least 50 percent. The X-rays show a fractured sesamoid bone. This bone serves as an attachment for the suspensory branches and is part of the boundary for the fetlock joint.
Small bones in the body are also generally termed “sesamoids.” They are located at joints and are embedded within a ligament, tendon, or muscle, and serve as a fulcrum over a joint. These include the navicular bone in horses’ feet, and the patella (also known as the “kneecap” in people). Humans have sesamoids in the joints of our knuckles and feet. When horses’ sesamoid bones are fractured, healing will not be apparent on X-rays because the bone fragments are always pulled apart by the stress of the suspensory ligament, which basically continually pulls the two bone pieces apart. This concept of healing holds true for the navicular and the patella as well, as they also get pulled in two directions.
Most likely, Mike had an injury of his left forelimb. He then compensated by over-using his right forelimb, which resulted in his right forelimb not holding up. A fractured sesamoid with concurrent damage to the suspensory ligament is one stage of breakdown injury in racehorses. Jennifer and I talk at length about a variety of treatment options and costs. Ideally, the smaller bone fragment at the top of the sesamoid should be removed arthroscopically. It sounds like a previous veterinarian had also talked to Jennifer about trying to repair the facture (which could involve a screw or a wire and would be much more difficult and expensive), or simply resting (which she has already done, and won’t actually repair the primary damage).
6:00 pm I started my day helping future veterinary students with recommendation letters. As my day begins to wind down, I will say goodbye to Kayla—she is starting veterinary school on Monday. We are sad to see her go but already so proud of her future.
7:30 pm At the end of the day, I have a euthanasia at home for a 31-year-old horse whose people are also aging out of horses and horse care. Montana has some tough weather in the winter, making it extremely difficult for an older horse with dysfunctional knees to make it through the snow. He also has dysfunctional teeth, and making wet mashes to feed him in the winter here, as you can imagine, quickly ends up as popsicles. It’s not winter yet, but these nice folks have re-homed their two younger horses and don’t want their beloved old man to be alone when the others leave the farm this weekend.
I have a 35-minute drive from my office, so I take my dear husband, Sid, as my technician. It’s been busy, so I haven’t seen him much this week, and I’d like a chance to talk to him and catch up. Sid only knows how to tech for nighttime emergencies such as down horses, colics, and euthanasias. Lacerations are tougher…the blood makes him queasy.
I pick him up and call to coordinate with the local company that takes care of burial and cremation options for pets.
Sid and I arrive just before the person who will pick up the old horse’s body. I hug the wife and console the husband. I then sedate their horse. When I give the final injection, he goes down quietly. I then cut his tail to wash and braid with ribbon so his people can remember his long life and the good times they had together. They really loved him.
10:00 pm We arrive back home. Tia is ecstatic to see us. After a quick dinner, I fall into bed. Peso is already there underneath his blanket.
I hope I can get some writing done tomorrow morning!