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How do you think your horse feels about being mounted? Does he fidget? Throw his head up? Drop his back? Root at the bit? It is easy to unbalance your horse when you mount him, and you can also unbalance him when you dismount. Learning to take your time in the process of mounting and dismounting helps everybody stay balanced and neutral.

In the book HORSE SPEAK: THE EQUINE-HUMAN TRANSLATION GUIDE, Sharon Wilsie explains how her system of Horse Speak can help ease anxiety related to mounting, ensuring your rides start off on a positive note. Here are some of her recommendations:

First, really notice how your horse reacts to being mounted. (Consider asking someone to take a photo of your horse’s face while you get on.) A stoic horse may grimace while being mounted. A sensitive horse may raise his head and show anxiety. An energetic horse moves off when you step into the stirrup. There are many possible reactions. When looking at your horse, notice his ears, eyes, and in particular, his mouth. What you have long thought was acceptance, may instead have been be acquiescence.

Your core energy broadcasts from your “center” just behind your belly button. This can cause confusion when mounting, especially with a sensitive horse. When you face the saddle from the mounting block, you may put “sending” pressure from your belly button onto the horse. He will naturally swing his head toward you and his body away, in response to the sending message your body is conveying. To clarify your body language, practice mounting with your core energy turned toward the horse’s head.

You can also diffuse your horse’s anxiety about mounting with the following Horse Speak “Conversation”: 

Horse Speak Final Cover

Click image for more information.

1  Begin by leading your horse to the mounting block and position him as if you are going to mount, but instead just sit on the block for a few minutes (retreat) and breathe with him. Breathe long enough to see your horse visibly relax next to the block. This is a good exercise some evening when you don’t have time to ride but do want to have a Conversation with your horse. Tack up in your normal routine and have a Breath Conversation at the mounting block. Try to sync your breath to his. Observe the subtle language he shows. Take really deep breaths. 

2  Show your horse affection before you mount. Before getting up on the mounting block, check in with a Knuckle Touch. Reach up and lightly scratch the Friendly Button where the forelock meets the forehead. Most horses also appreciate having each front foot picked up and moved in a gentle circle at the mounting block—it releases tension.  Rock the Baby first on his bridle while standing in front of him, and then while standing on the mounting block with your horse in position in front of you, facing the same direction as your horse with your hand closest to him on his withers. Shift your weight from one foot to the other or from one hip to the other. Remember to sync your rocking to your breath, and breathe as slowly and deeply as you can. Your horse may take a step to rebalance himself. Many horses are taught to stand still no matter how awkward and unbalanced they feel. Letting him widen his stance may be a huge relief to him. Also some horses appreciate Rock the Baby at the mounting block with one hand on the withers and one behind the saddle. 

3  Now, once you mount, dismount again immediately, and walk your horse in a medium-size circle. Bring him back to the block, breathe, and mount again. Repeat this sequence three times, paying attention to your horse’s comfort and body language. If there is any tension stop and breathe with your horse, then resume the Conversation.

4  Try a Copycat Conversation with your horse about the mounting block. Lean over him slightly as if preparing to mount, and then lean back upright or away from the horse. Repeat, syncing your leaning toward and away from the horse to your own breathing. Do this at least three times before getting on and staying on. When you repeat this Copycat every time you mount, at some point your horse may simply lean toward you as you step in the stirrup. What a wonderful way to start a ride!

Learn more Conversations in HORSE SPEAK, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

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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Photo by Patti Bose from IS YOUR HORSE 100%? by Margret Henkels.

It’s a question we are all faced with, more often than not. Is my horse feeling his best? Is he free from aches, pains, tension, anxiety? It can be difficult for well-meaning owners, riders, and caretakers to pinpoint the real issue when a horse is “off,” “not himself,” or just unable to tap into his performance potential. Whether we are just pleasure riders or aiming for gold, a horse that is not 100% fit and able leaves us worried, frustrated, and searching for answers.

Enter equine bodywork practitioner Margret Henkels, who in her new book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? reveals a whole new world of possibility with her Conformation Balancing method, which works with the horse’s myofascia, or fascia, to release sources of physical and emotional strain and trauma, opening the doors wide open to long-term health and unparalleled fitness.

“Myofascia is the gossamer white tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems,” Henkels explains in her book. “Its unique properties are almost unknown to us, despite its central role in the healthy functioning of all bodies, including humans. As the ‘internet’ of the body, myofascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization.

“The elusive properties of fascia allow it to slip through the cracks of science, but it is now a health and fitness frontier. Myofascial work is one of the myriad holistic ways to progress body health and fitness, along with massage, chiropractic, meridian work, acupuncture, and acupressure. The unique internet-like structure of fascia means that your work with fascia is actually much easier, since you are not searching for tiny points or meridians, or other small areas on the horse. It is an ever-present, organizing tissue that connects all the parts.”

In IS YOUR HORSE 100%? Henkels provides basic steps to not only analyzing and tracking the horse’s conformation, but also to using your hands in a series of simple, noninvasive placements and movements, to “melt” adhesions in the fascia, correct compensations, and direct the horse’s body in positive releases that allow healing from the inside out.

This is a whole new way of looking at our horses’ fitness and health, and our own ability to play an integral role in enhancing it.

 

Is Your Horse 100

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IS YOUR HORSE 100%? is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

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

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Photo by Keron Psillas from The Alchemy of Dressage by Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis

In almost every book we publish, we invite our authors to include a page of acknowledgments; this is their chance to thank those who may have had a hand in their careers or the making of their books. While it isn’t every day that we look back through to see who they’ve thanked over the years, it seems appropriate on this blustery, cold, Vermont afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving 2016. As might be imagined, there is one resounding theme that emerges…have a look at some of the words of gratitude TSB authors have put in print. If your book was about to be published, who would YOU thank?

 

“They say success has a thousand fathers—I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have taken an extra minute out of their day to help me down my path.” Jonathan Field in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES

“Thanks go out to every horse I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege of riding…they’ve taught me the importance of caring, patience, understanding, selflessness, and hard work.” Daniel Stewart in PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING

 

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and "Hal."

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and “Hal.”

 

“Most of all my greatest thanks go to Secret, the horse who has taught me so much—she is a horse in a million.” Vanessa Bee in 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP

“We owe the greatest depths of gratitude to the horses.” Phillip Dutton in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON

“Thank you, Santa, for bringing the pony when I was little.” Jean Abernethy in THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE

“Thank you to my partner and wife Conley, without whose moral support and inspiration I would be sitting on a tailgate by the side of the road holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Will work on horses for food.'” Jim Masterson in BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE

 

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

 

“Thank you to my beloved parents. You were so wonderful to let me chart a path with horses, which you knew nothing about.” Lynn Palm in THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION

“I thank my beloved equine partners—my most important teachers.” Dr. Beth Glosten in THE RIDING DOCTOR

“Thank you to all my wonderful students and friends for always being there.” Jane Savoie in IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS

“I really need to honor the people who have invited me to work with them and the horses that have allowed me to be with, ride, and train them over the decades. I have learned some things from books, but most from the people and horses I train.” Heather Sansom in FIT TO RIDE IN 9 WEEKS!

“I give thanks for all the horses over the years who have taught me so much.” Linda Tellington-Jones in THE ULTIMATE HORSE BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING BOOK

“I am grateful for all my teachers, two-legged, four-legged, and winged, for all they have taught me through their own journeys.” Dr. Allen Schoen in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“Thank you to every horse that came my way over the past 45 years. Each one had lessons to teach me.” Susan Gordon in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“I want to thank my parents who finally gave in to the passionate desire of a small child who wanted a horse.” Heather Smith Thomas in GOOD HORSE, BAD HABITS

“Most of all, thank you to all the horses.” Sharon Wilsie in HORSE SPEAK

 

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

 

“I am extremely thankful to all of the horses in my life. I would not have accomplished so much without them. The horses have been my greatest teachers!” Anne Kursinski in ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC

“I need to thank all the horses.” Sgt. Rick Pelicano in BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF

“Thank you to students and riders who share my passion in looking deeper into the horse and into themselves.” Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS

“Thanks go to the many horses that have come into my life. You give me great happiness, humility, and sometimes peace; you always challenge me to become more than I am, and you make my life whole.” Andrea Monsarrat Waldo in BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS

 

And thank YOU, our readers and fellow horsemen, who are always striving to learn and grow in and out of the saddle, for the good of the horse.

Wishing a very happy and safe Thanksgiving to all!

The Trafalgar Square Books Staff

 

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

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In the bestselling WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford show us dozens of horsemanship tips and top techniques to give our horses at home the same conscientious and correct level of care the world’s best riders and trainers give theirs. It’s the little things that make the difference and set your horsemanship above the rest.

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Here are 6 steps to rolling a leather lead shank for a neat look and to keep your horse safe when not in use. (All photos by Jessica Dailey.)

1 Thread the end of the leather through the connection at the base of the chain.

2 Create a circle.

3 Follow the leather to the end and roll the lead rope tight, making sure you are rolling toward the inside of the circle you created.

4 Keep rolling; make sure it is quite tight.

5 When you get to the circle, tuck the roll inside it. It should be a little tough to push in.

6 Snap the chain to the opposite side of the roll. Nice and neat!

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

For more professional grooming tips and how-tos, check out WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by Cat Hill and Emma Ford, with over 1200 color photos by Jessica Dailey, available from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter 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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In her bestselling book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? Dr. Renee Tucker provides 27 simple body checkups you can do on your horse—a DIY method of determining when and where your horse hurts, and the best professional to call to help him feel better. Here’s how you might be able to pinpoint the cause of a subtle, “mystery,” or “phantom” lameness, and keep your horse actively and happily in work for more months of the year, and more years of his life.

 

BODY CHECKUP: THE SESAMOID BONES

 

Illustration by Patty Capps.

Illustration by Patty Capps.

Common behavioral or performance symptoms that might indicate a problem with the sesamoid bones:

Very Common

> Difficulty with fetlock flexion

 Frequent

> Short-striding or “off” in front, possibly only on a circle

 Occasional

> Reluctance to jump

> Going wide on barrel turns

> Difficulty with tight turns

> Difficulty with lateral movements

> Feet landing toe first

> Tripping

 

 Common physical symptoms:

> A history of medial-to-lateral (right-to-left) hoof-wall imbalance

> Foot is “clubby” or has tendency to grow excess heel

 

What are the sesamoid bones?

The sesamoid bones function as part of the shock-absorbing mechanism of the front legs and are also a weight and power transition point. Because the sesamoid bones help transmit weight and power from the cannon bone to the fetlock and navicular bones in all directions, they need to be mobile in all directions. Their normal range of motion is most simply described as a circle. A sesamoid bone can move approximately one-eighth to one-quarter inch in each direction from its normal position.

 

Checkup directions:

Hold one of the horse’s feet up with the leg completely relaxed from the shoulder down. Cup the fetlock with both hands so that your thumbs rest on each side of the sesamoid bone being examined.

 

2  Gently slide the sesamoid bone in a circular manner, as if you were sliding it around the face of a clock. Do not use additional force if you encounter resistance in any area. The movement is very subtle. As mentioned, the normal range is from one-eighth to one-quarter inch. The key is in the smoothness of this movement. The sesamoid should slide easily along its path, rather than “sticking” or being more difficult to move in any section.

 

The sesamoid bones are most easily felt with the leg held up off the ground, as shown here.

The sesamoid bones are most easily felt with the leg held up off the ground, as shown here.

 

Diagnosis:

When there is any “stickiness” in the movement and the bone does not glide easily in all directions, it is most often a chiropractic subluxation. Be sure to check both right and left (medial and lateral) sesamoid bones on both front and rear legs. Compare the front and rear legs separately since front and rear sesamoid bones have different ranges of motion.

 

> When a subluxation is apparent, check the fetlock, pastern, coffin joint, and knee, since sesamoid bones rarely subluxate on their own, then call a chiropractor.

> When there is no movement in a sesamoid bone, call your veterinarian to X-ray for old fractures and/or calcification of ligaments.

> When the checkup is clear, yet symptoms remain, check for: hoof-wall imbalance; mineral or vitamin deficiency; arthritis in fetlock, knee, or coffin bone; or early tendon strain.

 

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Get the complete set of Dr. Tucker’s Body Checkups in WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?  available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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In WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford provide much-needed horsemanship guidance—it’s like having an internationally renowned equine care expert by your side, in the barn, ensuring your horse is given the same top-level management as our Olympic competitors! Along with lots of ways to care for horses the right way, Cat and Emma also point out common mistakes.

For example, as many of us know, some horses lose respect for a normal halter and lead rope. “If your horse doesn’t stop when you stop, drags you faster than you want to walk, or bumps into you with his shoulders, he is being rude!” they write. “Horses should should walk next to your shoulder on a loose, relaxed lead. When your horse is ‘rude,’ a lead chain might be necessary to remind him to pay attention.

“However, many lead ropes are sold with a short chain, and this can be quite dangerous. There are two issues: First, the chain needs slack to be properly used. When it is held tight, the horse will quickly lose respect for it. A quick, tug-then-release is the correct action for using a chain. Second, a short chain that only reaches across the noseband of the halter is unsafe.

“It is common to see chains hooked to the noseband of the halter, as shown in the photograph. This can lead to two problems: The chain can slip below the horse’s chin, and when the horse pulls tight, scare him into rearing. Also, the long end of the snap can jam into a nasal passage if pulled too sharply and break the delicate bones there.

“Instead, ensure your chain is long enough to thread through the noseband of the halter, wrap once over the noseband, thread through the other side, and snap to the top of the cheekpiece. If you have a bit more chain, cross it under the horse’s jaw, and snap the chain to the top of the cheekpiece on the other side. This prevents the halter from twisting when you need to use the chain.”

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

You can find photographs demonstrating how to correctly attach a lead chain, as well as over 1200 other photographs by Jessica Dailey and hundreds of other tips from the pros, in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

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

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TSB Managing Director Martha Cook brushes Buster's teeth (she claims he "likes" it).

The TSB Managing Director has been spending her time in interesting ways of late.

She’s been brushing her Morgan gelding’s teeth. “The vet recommended at least once a day,” she says, “but I’m feeling pretty good if I manage it a couple times a week.”

Brushing his teeth? Now where in my old Pony Club Manual did it explain this process? Where in The Whole Horse Catalog did it depict the correct equipment for such a venture?

Are equine tooth brushes different? Are they bigger? Are they GIANT?

What kind of toothpaste do you use? Peppermint? All natural?

I’ve brushed my dog’s teeth….and that seems strange, a bit forced, and not at all significant as a means of preventive practice (his breath still borders on stinky and we’re “boning up” for another $400 trip to the vet for tartar removal in a few months). And, when I ask other dog owners how often they brush their dogs’ teeth, more often than not they claim they never have and don’t see any reason to start…which always leaves me feeling like I’ve been “had” by our veterinarian and her staff…

Buster appears unconvinced that the benefits of oral hygiene are indeed worthwhile.

So what good is it when it comes to dental hygiene in the horse (other than providing large animal vets an occasional giggle?)

According to Martha, her gelding tends to build up far more tartar than most horses do. Her vet has noted its unusually significant occurrence, pondered it, and although the reason for this phenomenon is still a mystery, with his many years of Morgan-old-age still before him, it seems worth it to give a little daily tooth scrub a try.

But his teeth really do look GREAT!

“Tartar is the thick, hard, yellow-gray substance that most commonly forms at the base of the canine teeth in geldings and stallions and sometimes at the base of the incisor teeth,” reports TheHorse.com (Your Guide to Equine Health Care). “If left to build up, the tartar will eventually irritate the gum surrounding the tooth and might cause bleeding and discomfort. Tartar removal is part of any regular comprehensive dental examination, which is recommended for all horses. Your veterinarian can show you how to remove any tartar between visits.”

Martha says she is using a regular old human toothbrush and some baking soda–and that her Morgan kind of likes it! We’ll check back in a few months from now with a progress report and let you know if he still does…and if the whole rigamarole seems to be having any (positive?) effect!

Are you brushing YOUR horse’s teeth? If you are, tell us what you’re using, how long you’ve been doing it, and whether it seems to keep your equine’s pearly whites, well, pearly white! We–and a whole bunch of other horse owners with extra time on their hands–want to know!

And, if you’re looking for a fabulous guide (with some of the most impressively graphic equine oral cavity photos I’ve ever seen!) to the horse’s mouth and dental care, check out CARING FOR THE HORSE’S TEETH AND MOUTH, available at the TSB bookstore where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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