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How did this...

How did this…

 

How to make the perfect first pony?

Take equal parts patience and naughtiness, fold in a dozen years’ experience, general good nature, and a kind heart. Add a healthy dollop of sturdiness and a sprinkle of smarts. Mix gently with strokes, treats, and a child’s adoration.

And voila. You have the beginnings of an equestrian career.

 

...become this? It started with a good pony.

…become this? It started with a good pony.

 

In his beautiful and illuminating book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, horseman Jonathan Field shares the story of his first, perfect pony, and how his early years bonded to a little buckskin were the reason he strives for horse-human harmony today.

“I was lucky enough to be born into a horse-loving family,” Jonathan writes. “My mother was a dressage enthusiast and my father a working cowboy, farrier, and colt-starter. Horses were a part of family conversation as long as I can remember. where my parents grew up, sometimes they actually rode their horse to a one-room schoolhouse!

“My earliest memories are of being around horses, hanging out in the barn cleaning stalls, and traveling with my mom to shows on the weekend with my first horse, a beautiful buckskin named Wee Mite Buck. Mite was the best horse I could have had as a kid. My parents did the right thing and found a really quiet, well-trained kid’s horse. Mite was a sweetheart!

 

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“I remember on my way to my first show as we drove into the show grounds and I saw all the horses, trailers, and people, I said to Mom, ‘I never want to do this again.’ I was so nervous.

“We got Mite unloaded from our little two-horse straight-haul and ready for our first class, a flat hack-style class. Thinking the worst, I reluctantly entered the arena, but I listened to the announcer and followed his directions. He would say, ‘Trot please, trot,’ and Mite would trot; ‘Walk please, walk,’ and Mite would walk. When we all lined up and my name was called to get my first-place ribbon, I began to think this showing thing was actually pretty good fun.

“It was no different in the Western and trail classes. As we drove out of the show grounds that evening, I was holding that big high-point ribbon in my hands, and I thought I was pretty good. Of course, Mite was the real star, but I didn’t know it at the time. And leaving through the same gate I had entered with such trepidation earlier that day, I couldn’t wait for my next show with Mite!

“Looking back, Mite did more for me then I could have ever imagined. She was so good that she made showing fun for a nine-year-old boy—one of only two boys on the show grounds that day. All my friends had taken up other sports, but I had Mite—and lots of girls to hang out with, too.

“For the next several years, Mite helped to build my confidence and solidify my commitment to horses. My next horse, Cody, made me realize how little I actually knew. It took everything I had just to stay on him and survive the day. If my first horse had been Cody instead of Mite, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here sharing this book with you. Without my knowing, Mite had inspired me to become a horseman.

 

How did this...

How did this…

 

“For years after Mite, I longed for a relationship with a horse similar to one I had with her. However, I couldn’t reproduce it with other horses no matter what I did. But my closeness and connection with Mite showed me what was possible with a horse, so I always kept trying…It wasn’t until I played with horses at liberty 20 years later that I got back the pure excitement and joy I had with Mite.

“My experiences have enabled me, many times, to ride off into the sunset with a happy and willing partner–my horse–and I would wish that for you, too.”

 

...become this? A desire to have fun and connect with horses.

…become this? A desire to have fun and connect with horses.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Read more stories about the horses Jonathan has worked with over the years, as well as learn for yourself how fun and beneficial playing at liberty can be for you and your horse. It can be the first step to connection like you’ve never experienced before. THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES is 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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We all crave that special connection with our horses.

We all crave that special connection with our horses.

 

We all crave “connection” with our horses—you know, that special “something” that made The Black follow Alec Ramsay off the island and swim out to the ship that would “rescue” them both from the lonely beach that had borne their friendship. Perhaps you spend hours trailing your horse around his pasture. Maybe at night you fluff up the shavings in the back of the stall and make a pillow for your head (you figure you need to be up early to feed anyway).

Our best horsemen give us some rather more practical tools that really can help us attain this dream. And how do you know when you’ve done it? Here are 5 ways TSB authors say you can tell you’ve truly connected with your horse.

 

1  It takes the slightest shift of your weight in the saddle, or the most subtle variation of thought to get your horse to move his hind feet wherever you want them. 

In the DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN we see the very best example of this, demonstrated by Buck in front of a group of clinic attendees. “It’s not about training a horse,” says Buck. “It’s about getting a horse with you. It’s about becoming one mind and one body.”

 

2  You can ride “by the tips of your fingers.”

In THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS, authors Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis say that when true “lightness” is achieved, the horse moves as if on his own, without the rider interfering. “I use the idea of holding the reins only with the ‘tips of the fingers’ because it makes it impossible for the rider to be strong, to pull, or to force,” they write. “Holding the reins, like they are ‘dirty,’ like something we do not want to touch…The reins should be something we don’t want to touch unless we have to….If we ride the horse lightly, he will be light with us—as light as we want him.”

 

3  You can just “be still” around each other.

In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP, author Vanessa Bee says,”Horses seek quiet thoughtful people…Most of us are so busy planning the future we don’t give the horse our undivided attention…Just ‘being’ with a horse can be very relaxing and enjoyable.”

 

4  When you walk away, your horse follows you.

In the wonderful introduction to natural horsemanship for kids HOW TO SPEAK HORSE, authors Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain that through basic groundwork, you can teach your horse to understand that when your back turns toward him, it means you want him to follow you. “When the horse chooses to come to you at your invitation,” they say,”he has accepted you as his leader…You will realize how much fun it is to play with and train your horse as the invisible connection of your partnership becomes stronger and stronger.”

 

5  You sense how your horse is feeling—you just “know” what he needs or wants.

In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado talk about how in the company of horses, we learn to listen to our intuition because our intellect and human experience do not always supply the answers. “When Templado [the famous white stallion, seen by millions of people in the hit show Cavalia] was near the end of his life, Magali and I both had the strongest feeling on the same evening that we should bring him home,” says Frederic. “As soon as he got into his stall, he began to recover his energy and his love of life. I know we were right in what we did.”

 

Find books and DVDs with the best ways to find the connection you want with your horse at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR STORE

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