Welcome to the Schmidt Show: 24 Hours with Dressage Trainer and Equine Cartoonist Morgane Schmidt

One of our favorite things about my job is that I get to know the most fun and fascinating people. Our authors come from so many parts of the world and with so many different life experiences, a day doesn’t pass where I don’t wish I lived closer to one or all of them so we could hang out on a regular basis. Luckily, many are willing to give us a peek behind the curtain and into their lives so we can see what it’s like being in their shoes for a day. Trainer and cartoonist Morgane Schmidt, author and illustrator of the hilarious comic treasury LIFE WITH HORSES IS NEVER ORDERLY, recently shared one of her typical dog days of summer, where there is much latte, quite a bit of maid service, and even some dressage.

“I found myself laughing out loud as I turned the pages of Life with Horses Is Never Orderly. Morgane Schmidt has explained just about every experience I have had in my many years in the horse world and put just the right spin on it. Everyone who needs a laugh (and don’t all equestrians?) should read this.” —Lendon Gray, Olympian, Dressage Coach, and Founder of Dressage4Kids


3:15 am Awaken to Goblin sitting on my head and Bowie standing next to the bed, over me, breathing. Heavily. I usually groan, chuck a pillow at Bowie and shove Goblin into his bed on the floor all while regretting the ONE time I let them out at this ungodly hour.

The face of evil.

5:43 am Startle into wakefulness because Bowie is now sitting all 165 pounds of his fuzzy ass on my legs, cutting off circulation. Goblin is also farting. I acquiesce and get up to let them out and feed them. Usually, I put Goblin’s food in his crate and lock him in it so I can go lie back down for a few moments unmolested. Bowie tends to saunter in after his breakfast to begin his very early morning nap that generally lasts until about 9:00 am. Lucky sod.

6:30 am These days, this tends to be when I get up in earnest. Before returning to The Swamp (aka Florida), I started the day quite a bit earlier by necessity as I was trying to work horses before sitting down to my actual desk job. Now that I am not juggling multiple training horses, I suppose I’ve gotten lazy—that or I need the extra few minutes of sleep since my dogs are jerks. At any rate, this is when I start mainlining coffee. Then I meditate and do some special yoga for riders…just kidding. I just drink coffee, eat oatmeal with chocolate chips (like a REAL adult), and mindlessly play on my phone.

That’s me, double fisting it.

7:00 am – 9:00 am Once I am somewhat among the living (usually three or four espresso shots in), I head out and provide room service and hospitality to my generally ungrateful herd. There’s often a bit of huffing about there not being enough alfalfa, but I’m immune to their grousing. At the moment, it’s just Wilson and Milona at the farm, so barn chores are generally pretty quick.

After breakfast, maid service, and a general wellness check to ensure no one has succeeded in maiming or offing themselves, I tack Wilson up to ride. As he is the elder beast, and the least likely to chuck me into the bushes before I am fully awake, he gets harassed first. Honestly, this is probably my favorite part of the day. It’s beautiful out—a light breeze, birds chirping, gators still sleeping—it’s perfect.

You can almost hear the birds chirping…the ones the gators haven’t eaten anyway.

Wilson, who I used to call “The Beastlet” when he was younger and more fractious, is quite the trustworthy soul these days. If anything, he could benefit from being a tad more forward-thinking. We are continually working to help him be quicker with his hind leg and maintain his balance. He’s such a big, elastic mover that sometimes coordinating everything with balance AND impulsion can be tricky. Rather than getting hot or explosive he just…stops. He does a very good rock impression. Super zen-like. It makes for an incredibly frustrating FEI test though.

Interestingly, the tricks are easy for him. He loves changes and can really sit in a pirouette. Collected trot though? What’s that nonsense about?!

Wilson, ever the charmer.

9:00 am After warming myself up with Wilson, I tackle Milona, the “Red Dragon.” She has many opinions. As long as she voices them respectfully, rather than taking me for a self-guided field trip from the scary corner in the arena to the other end in three strides, I count it as a win. In all seriousness, she’s a lovely youngster, bright red mare that she is. She loves to work and entirely believes that the world is there to admire her greatness (I suspect she may not be wrong if she develops as I think she will). While she doesn’t often have tantrums, she is a mare and she is currently in the “Fabulous or ‘Eff You’ Fives,” so there are questionable moments, and those moments can be quite *exciting* given her athleticism. As a result, I’ve enlisted the help of a fabulous friend and trainer, Alejandro Salazaar. He’s like some sort of riding savant; he’s one of the few riders I’ve worked with who is equally as talented with youngsters as FEI horses. Milona, of course, adores him.

Milona in a non-flight moment.

10:00 am – Sometime in the Late Afternoon After my early morning barn sabbatical, it’s time for me to head inside for my *real* job. I currently work for a tech company based in Boulder, Colorado. We offer speech recognition for the Healthcare industry, specifically home health and hospice. I work remotely as a marketing manager. This means that I do things like help develop collateral, outreach campaigns, website and social media content, as well as manage Google AdWords and other lead-driving initiatives.

Sounds sexy, right? Well, it is! In news that will shock no one, the horse industry is a tough one to make a living in. As much as I love training and teaching, for a multitude of reasons I’m not cut out to do it full time. I also find that having a job in an entirely unrelated field helps keep my brain sharp(er). And while any office job has its fair share of “meetings that could have been emails,” I do really enjoy mine and the people I work with.

As I work from home, my day sort of varies and is generally built around whatever meetings I have scheduled and what projects we have going that I’m working on. In the middle of that though, I generally head out around lunch to check once again that no one has committed hari-kari on a fence post, or anything similarly stupid, and to reward them with more snacks for avoiding vet bills. If time permits, I do another round of maid service.

Sometime late afternoon I take some time to meditate. Just kidding. I still don’t do that. But it is a goal! Eventually. I do make another latte though. That seems like healthy self-care.

Sometimes one must give the kids something to entertain themselves so actual work can get done.

Evening When my work calls are done for the day, I do a final round of ration-dispensing and maid service. The doggos kindly provide me with entertainment both in the yard beforehand as well as while I cook dinner. Usually something super fun like ricocheting from the couch to the ottoman and then onto the dining room table. It’s mildly funny when Goblin does it. It’s borderline tragic when Bowie attempts it.

During the week I occasionally have an evening lesson or two to teach. I have been fortunate in that I have some super-fun horses and people that I get to work with. Some are strictly dressage riders and others are eventers.  As a former eventer (I gave that goal up after I figured out that continually barfing in the start box wasn’t a thing), I love being around the sport, particularly now that I’m not the one doing that whole hurtling over immovable obstacles part.

The neighbors aren’t impressed with Bowie’s antics.

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm After one final barn check, I usually settle into art/writing/computer projects in the evening. As someone who is hardwired as a night owl but reprogrammed as a morning person due to horses and the gross reality that it’s hard to get a productive ride in after dark, I find that I’m most creative at night. This works well with the fact that I am also a procrastinator. While I do keep a running list of comic ideas—usually gleaned from conversations with friends and fellow equestrians or sparked by memes or other internet rabbit holes—the actual drawing and creation of the comic usually happens sometime after 8:00 pm Tuesday night (because it’s due Wednesday morning).

If I don’t have a comic that I’m working on, I often use this time to work on other art projects or articles. Most of my artwork is equine or dog related though I have been known to attempt people on occasion. I currently have a watercolor of The Goblin King going that is screaming to be finished.

Where the magic happens?

10:00 pm Reading and internet rabbit-hole time! I would like to say that I go to bed by 10:00 pm but that would largely be a lie. In theory—because sleep is important—I would like to be in bed and sleeping by 10:00, but in practice I sometimes find that hard to manage. My dogs also do not go to bed by 10:00 so there’s that too. I have made a concerted effort to do more reading of actual books rather than reading on my phone though. For the curious, I currently have five books in various stages of completion on my nightstand: A Grave for a Dolphin, Good Omens, David Sedaris – the Best of Me, The Chronicles of Between, and Beyond Biocentrism. I’m only a little eclectic.

11:00 pm The hellhounds get one more freedom run through the yard so they can track all sorts of glorious debris into the bed. Then bedtime. Maybe.

All photos courtesy of Morgane Schmidt.

You can find Morgane’s hilarious comic treasury LIFE WITH HORSES IS NEVER ORDERLY at the TSB online bookstore and wherever horse books are sold.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

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

Enjoy this? Check out other author interviews in the “24 Hours” series:

Sally Batton
Sandra Beaulieu
Dr. Stacie Boswell
Cathy Woods
Dr. Jenni Grimmett
Dr. Bob Grisel
Tik Maynard
Jec Aristotle Ballou
Kendra Gale
Jean Abernethy
Yvonne Barteau
Jonathan Field
Emma Ford
Jochen Schleese
Heather Smith Thomas
Lynn Palm
Daniel Stewart
Doug Payne
Janet Foy

We’re Counting Down to Buy A Horse Book Day!

Only 5 days left until #BuyAHorseBookDay ! Join TSB and Heels Down Media to celebrate horse books—and all those who write them, read them, and make them!

When?

Tuesday, May 10

What Do I Do?

Buy a horse book at your favorite tack or bookstore, take a selfie, post about your favorite horse books, tell others your reading recs (or what you’ve written!), and tag your post #BuyAHorseBookDay (and don’t forget to include @horseandriderbooks and @heelsdownspark for added likes, shares, and chances to win!)

What Can I Win?

Every order from our online bookstore www.HorseandRiderBooks.com on May 10 is automatically entered to win a $100 shopping spree at our online bookstore, plus books will be given away to our favorite social posts throughout the day! Watch social for author and media contests and giveaways, too.

What’s the Point?

Horse books are not only fun to read, but they educate and inspire, and buying them supports SO MANY independent creators and small businesses. Let’s join together and make this an annual event that is positive, exciting, and inclusive!

What Else Should I Know?

Sign up for the Heels Down Spark, the only daily equestrian newsletter (and our FAVORITE at TSB), for reviews of some of Heels Down’s favorite horse-themed books and for their discounts and giveaways during the week of May 10.

CLICK HERE to sign up for Heels Down Spark

PLUS, TSB is running a sitewide sale on May 10 in honor of Buy A Horse Book Day! Enjoy 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING in the US!

CLICK HERE to visit our online bookstore now.

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

Snorkeling, Horses Who Wear Hats, and Very Scary Rocks: 24 Hours with Collegiate Riding Coach Sally Batton

It is a privilege at TSB to get to know so many horse people from such a variety of backgrounds. The common thread is that ALL of them are busy, with days full of teaching, training, and expanding their own understanding of horses and horse sport. More often than not there’s some travel thrown in there, too. We asked former Dartmouth Equestrian Coach Sally Batton, author of THE ATHLETIC EQUESTRIAN, to share one of her clinic days with us, and we hit the jackpot with a glimpse at a day in her life while visiting the oh-so-beautiful Hawaii.

6:00 am  After a long day of travel yesterday, I wake up to the sounds of blowing palm fronds and exotic bird calls that we don’t have back home in New Hampshire. It’s my eighth trip to teach clinics on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. I started my trips to Oahu when a prospective student visited Dartmouth and went home and told the Hawaii Pony Clubs and various barns that I was willing to travel to Hawaii to teach. (I know, I know–tough gig!)  I’m staying in Honolulu at a private home with a rooftop view of Diamond Head and an easy walk to the beach. I come downstairs to a beautiful display of fresh fruit put out by my host and friend Sherry, and accompany it with my usual rice cakes with almond butter. Oh, and I don’t drink coffee…my morning caffeine-delivery system is in the form of Coke Zero! 

7:00 am  I spend about 30 minutes by the pool at the house on my computer. Most of my clinics on the mainland are planned by the clinic hosts, and they do all of the scheduling and organizing for my clinic days. My Hawaii clinics are a bit different…I do all of the day and time organization myself, so the half-hour on my computer is for any last-minute questions and add-on clinic times.

Breakfast! Photo courtesy of Sally Batton

7:30 am I clinic at all three Hawaii Pony Clubs–Lio Li’i, Malu’Olu, and Na Lio Kai–as well as the farms/ranches where the Pony Clubs are located and many of the private clients at each farm/ranch. I jump into my car and drive the 15 minutes to my first clinic location along the southeast shore of Oahu, passing Hanauma Bay and the Halona Blowhole, two famous tourist spots on Oahu. Although the temperatures are in the 70s and low 80s, my New-England-pale skin is covered head to toe in a wide-brimmed hat,  a UPF 50+ long-sleeved shirt, yoga-style breeches, and my Hoka hiking boots…oh, and SPF 50 sunscreen that gets applied throughout the day!

Halona Blowhole view. Photo courtesy of Sally Batton

8:00 am I arrive at Koko Crater Stables located near Hawaii Kai off the Kalanianaole Highway.  Koko Crater has a rich history dating back to 1960 and sits on 8.5 acres inside the Koko Crater. Koko Crater Stables is a municipal facility owned by the City of Honolulu and operated by Horse Haven. I teach Lia, a youth rider new to me, for an hour in the sand arena, which is made of black sand due to the volcanic nature of the area. I start every clinic explaining that I teach my clinics similar to how I taught my varsity Dartmouth Equestrian Team for 30 years. I work on my coaching principles such as Attention to Detail, Mental Toughness, Ride at Show Attention, as well as introduce my various teaching tools and work on position at all three gaits. I also introduce Lia to working on her two-point position with no stirrups, an exercise that I feel is invaluable to all riders to increase their riding fitness.

Working with Lia at Koko Crater Stables. Photo courtesy of Sally Batton

9:00 am I finish up at Koko Crater and head to my next clinic, which is 15 minutes farther up the coast road to Malu’Olu Ranch in Waimanalo. Malu’Olu has some of the most stunning backdrops to their outdoor, lighted arena. Almost all arenas on Oahu are fully outdoors with only a couple that offer covered arenas. The general rule is that if it rains, we all get wet and the clinic carries on!  Luckily for me this trip had beautiful weather, mostly sunny, with gorgeous trade winds that blow in off the ocean and keep both me and the riders and horses cool! At Malu’Olu I’m teaching a couple of youth riders who I’ve taught for years. My first session is with Quinn and her horse Romeo, who has a penchant for hats…yes, I said hats!  Apparently he has quite the selection of hats that have been converted with ear holes and a string to keep them on his head, even while jumping! Quinn and I focus her session on what it will take to do well at collegiate team tryouts when she’s ready to head to college in a year. We also work on keeping Romeo working forward off her leg over jumps to prepare for an upcoming Hawaii Horse Show Association (HHSA) Hunter/Equitation show.

10:00 am Still at Malu’Olu, I also teach Hope, who moved up from a pony to a horse last year, and we’ve been working on getting The Governess to land on the correct leads in courses since her flying changes aren’t quite reliable yet. We work on keeping her moving forward and also the coordination of the aids to ask for the new lead.  Hope’s family brought “Guvvy” over from Maui a year ago. Some riders in Hawaii are able to import horses from the mainland, but many are bought and sold either on Oahu or from one of the neighboring islands, and they come across by boat. 

11:00 am  I leave Malu’Olu and pick up a quick vegetarian lunch at the Ohana Grill and sit and eat on the Waimanalo beach overlooking Manana, or Rabbit Island. I then head farther north and inland to Maunawili in Kailua. The majority of my sessions for this trip will happen at Maunawili; they have a thriving boarder and share-boarder population of riders, as well as numerous trainers and the Lio Li’i Pony Club.  Maunawili is located over the Ko’olau Range on the windward (or eastern) side of Oahu, and tends to be wetter and greener.  Driving to Maunawili is like driving through a lush, tropical rain forest with beautiful and exotic vegetation and flowers. 

12:00 pm I teach a couple 30-minute sessions to Maunawili riders, including one with Lynne and her new four-year-old OTTB “Boss.” Lynne was my host and clinic scheduler on my very first Oahu tour and has become a good friend. I work with Lynne and Boss unmounted, simply working on leading and various scenarios that could cause alarm in a young horse and best practices to deal with them when they occur. For the most part, I’m impressed with Boss’s calm nature and can tell that there’s already a bond between him and Lynne, even though she only imported him from the mainland six months ago. When we come across a grouping of large rocks in a circle, Boss startles and then won’t go forward. I teach Lynn to turn his head away from the rocks, tell him to “walk on,” and then circle the rocks about five or six times until they become “boring” to him, and he can walk around them on a loose lead.  

Lynne and her OTTB “Boss.” Photo courtesy of Sally Batton

1:00 pm I leave Maunawili and drive the hour north to North Shore Oahu to Kawailoa Ranch in Haleiwa. Although it isn’t the norm for me to hit all four of my usual clinic spots in one day, it takes less than an hour to drive from Kailua to the North Shore, and there are few highways so I don’t usually get lost! My usual clinic pattern is to teach the southern and southeast clinics for a few days and then teach on the North Shore for a few, and then back down to another spot for a few, but occasionally I have days where I hit them all. The North Shore has acres and acres of pineapple fields and abandoned sugar cane fields, with the sugar industry shutting down on Oahu due to the mechanization in mills on the mainland. North Shore is also famous for the surf breaks at Sunset Beach and the famous Pipeline. I’ve spent many lunch hours on the beach at Pipeline, watching the brave surfers and listening to the pounding surf!

2:00 pm I teach both youth and adult members of the Na Lio Kai Pony Club, including sessions preparing Mahea for her Pony Club C3 rating at the end of the summer and getting the others ready for the HHSA horse show. I’ll teach Minnie in the upcoming days for two to three hours each day, since she has three horses, including an OTTB that she has just started working with. Minnie also exercises up to five polo horses on any given day for members of the Hawaii Polo Club who hold their matches on the Mokuleia polo field adjacent to the beach.  

4:00 pm When the last lesson wraps for the day, I sign copies of my new book THE ATHLETIC EQUESTRIAN and answer rider questions.

5:00 pm I change into my swim gear, head south to the Honolulu area, and arrive at Waikiki Beach to get on a sunset cruise…it’s not all work on my clinic tours! I do manage to get in some “play,” too. As much as I can on my Hawaii tours, I’ll hit the local snorkel spots to view the beautiful tropical fish and my favorites, the “Honu” or green sea turtles. Honu are a protected species and it’s illegal to go within eight feet or them or touch them, and many Oahu beaches have groups of volunteers that rope off areas of turtle nests from tourists. My sunset tour starts off with a crew member blowing through a conch shell, and once we get well away from the beach, they hoist the sails and we’re off! We sail for about an hour with amazing views of Honolulu and the Waikiki hotels and also Diamond Head, Hawaii’s most recognized landmark, and take in the beautiful sunset.  

8:00 pm After a full day of teaching and sailing, I meet my host Sherry at a beachside restaurant where we enjoy drinks and pupus (appetizers), and I have fresh fish for dinner. We enjoy the tiki torches and the sounds of the surf and a local musician playing Hawaiian favorites.

9:30 pm After we return to my host’s home, I tell Sherry “mahalo”(thank you) and then head to bed, exhausted but ready to get up tomorrow and do it all again!

Dinner view. Photo courtesy of Sally Batton

 


Sally’s book THE ATHLETIC EQUESTRIAN, written with Christina Keim, is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order now.

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

A Maine Horseman on Loving the American West, Avocados, and Watership Down

It isn’t uncommon to have an experience that marks a major life change–a dramatic meeting, a sudden loss, an unexpected epiphany…all of these can inspire a re-evaluation of who we are and what we are doing with our lives. When Chris Lombard suffered a breakup that upended his life and left him searching for meaning and purpose, he headed west to learn how to work with and ride horses–something he knew nothing about. We caught up with Chris and talked to him about the book that tells his story, LAND OF THE HORSES, and how a single moment can herald seismic events.

TSB: Your book LAND OF THE HORSES explores a year you spent traveling the West, searching for opportunities to be with and work with horses, having never done so before. What inspired you to share this particular story with the world? 

CL: Well, first off, I just enjoyed writing about it. It was fun to revisit it all. In the writing I would remember the beauty, the adventure, the inspiration. And also the little moments. Moments that meant a lot back then, but also moments that only upon further reflection did I realize how meaningful they were to me. To put this time of my life into a story—into something tied together into one cohesive journey—has been a gift to me. And, as I’ve learned, the best thing to do with a gift is to give it away to others. 

CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION

TSB: In your book, there are a number of themes, including what can or can’t be seen in someone’s eyes. What is it about the eye, and in particular the horse’s eye, that you find profound?

CL: In the eyes—our eyes or an animal’s eyes—is truth. It’s a common truth that is inherent to us all, ties us together, and unites us. The look and feeling in our eyes also speaks more clearly than any words or sentences or whole books ever could. The eyes give us a look into the soul, and how that soul feels, and what it truly wishes to communicate to the world. And this is not so much something that is learned or practiced or trained—it’s something always there, and we just have to get ourselves and our mind and our thinking out of the way of it. In the eyes is where we can best see and feel the unseen world of the soul.  

TSB: You are lucky to meet many horses as you learn to ride and strive to become a horseman. Tell us about one of the horses that had an impact on you during that time. 

CL: Cheyenne, a Mustang mare. She was thirteen when I met her. She had lived in the wild until the age of two, was rounded up, then adopted. But never tamed. She spent the next eleven years of her life successfully fending off any attempts at domestication. She was the most challenging horse I have ever worked with. She helped me to learn and feel what my entire being was saying and doing when around horses. She taught me how to slow down, believe, to love unconditionally, and that trust is never, ever made to happen. And that with trust is the ONLY way a horse can and should be led.    

TSB: You are from Maine but admit a distinct love for and connection to the American West. What is it about the West that you love? What is it about the West that makes it a place you cannot stay but can only visit? 

CL: I sure do love the West. The land feels wise, wild, and ancient. It’s deep, magical. I am also very tied to the indigenous people’s ways of living and being, so that holds me there. And also the horses—it’s no mistake that most wild horses on this continent have settled around that area of North America. It’s the type of land that they are most comfortable living on. But Maine is home. At the end of the day, Maine has a wonderful variety of land, and the ocean. And I love the people there. So Maine is home, but I will always adventure and journey into the West. 

Photo Courtesy of Chris Lombard

TSB: What is one lesson you hope readers will take away from your book?

CL: That we all have a passion, a love, that is inside us that is uniquely our own. For me, I need to have horses in my life. For others it’s the piano, or gardening, or painting, or cooking, or something else. And when we are following our passion, it gives love to us, arising naturally from within us. We’re happy. And this unique passion we have turns to a gift that we can give to the world. And then in the giving of it we are happy. It seems we are all given a part to play in this great world, and when we find that part, when we play it, it gives back to us in all ways.   

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?

CL: A Mustang and Watership Down by Richard Adams.

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

CL: Ride with Rocky across the country bareback and bridle-less, even with no halter and lead-rope for when I get down to lead him…. Impossible? I think about it all the time.

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

CL: Trust. Common answer, and there’s a good reason why. 

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

CL: Horse-ness. Horse happiness. Free to be themselves. 

TSB: What is your greatest fear?

CL: That I won’t “get myself out of the way of myself” enough to fully give everything I want to give to the world.

TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?

CL: Avocados!

TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

CL: I would like to slow down in many ways that would allow me to do more with the life I have.

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

CL: Broccoli.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

CL: To recognize in every moment how much love and beauty there is all around us.

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

CL: Caga Mato Wanbli, also known as Frank Fools Crow, an Oglala Lakota holy man. 

TSB: What is your motto?

CL: Live from your love within.

LAND OF THE HORSES is available now in print and eBook format from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

What they’re saying about LAND OF THE HORSES:

“A well written and heartfelt book that demonstrates the positive and often life changing promise that horses have to offer—when we let them.” —Mark Rashid, author of Journey to Softness, Finding the Missed Path, and Horses Never Lie

“This book gave me pause. I was absorbed in Chris Lombard’s words of wisdom about being with and connecting with the horse. His thoughts on horses and life resonate truth. They are simple, yet profound. It made me want to run out to my barn to work with a small and troubled horse that is new to my farm and seems angry at the world. I slowed down with him and started seeing a shift and a softer eye. Land of the Horses is definitely worth the read!” —Cindy Meehl, Cedar Creek Media, Director and Producer of Buck7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman, and The Dog Doc, and Executive Producer of Rewind, The River and the Wall, For the Birds, UnbrandedTrapped, and Dogs on the Inside

“This book needs to be read. I am changed by it. It has a quietly powerful way of bringing home the connection between the human and the horse.” —Joe Camp, author of The Soul of a Horse

“I love linear timeline books such as this…narratives that take you on an emotional and physical journey while periodically dropping you into very different worlds along the way. Chris Lombard’s story is told with an adventure essence that kept me connected the entire time—from teaching children in a school to guiding night rides in Los Angeles to working with dudes in Arizona. It’s a story of adventure steeped with the discovery of finding oneself—and the horse serving as the catalyst for that discovery.” —Bud Force, Co-Director, Producer, and Director of Photography for the feature film Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait 

Train with Your Brain: Teach Yourself to Notice the Absence of Misbehavior

Horsemanship of every kind depends on mutual interaction between equine and human brains. When we understand the function of both, we can learn to communicate with horses on their terms instead of ours. And, by meeting horses halfway, we not only save valuable training time and improve performance, we achieve other goals, too. We develop much deeper bonds with our horses; we handle them with insight and kindness instead of force or command; we comprehend their misbehavior in ways that allow solutions; and we reduce the human mistakes we often make while working with them.

In her international bestseller HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN, brain scientist and horsewoman Janet Jones describes human and equine brains working together. Here she explains one of the challenges we face when training horses because of the way the human brain works: we easily notice presence, not absence.

CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bookie is still learning to respect human space and stand quietly while being tacked up. A bay Appaloosa with the perfect sprinkling of white over her croup, she’s only three but has the conformation of an adult champion. She has a world of knowledge to achieve before she can turn a calf, negotiate a bridge, or hop a low hunter course.

Among her errors, Bookie sometimes tries to rub her face against people while being bridled. I don’t want to make a federal case out of this when there are more critical lessons to teach. At least she’s dropping her head and accepting the bit! So, each time Bookie turns to rub, I push her face away gently but firmly. Good training doesn’t punish misdemeanors, but it doesn’t allow them to continue either. For several days, I bridle from the left, she turns and tries to rub, and I push her face back to center. Human brains are designed to notice the presence of her misbehavior.

One day, Bookie holds her face forward while being bridled. In effect, she is asking a question, “Is this what you want?” The horse has been shown the one thing not to do, but she’s not sure which of 10,000 alternate behaviors to offer instead. But because she is offering the absence of misbehavior, the human brain is likely to miss it. We don’t realize we’ve been asked a question, so we don’t reward the filly with a resounding, “Yes!”

Most people assume that the failure to notice Bookie’s effort is merely coincidental, but it’s not. The human brain is designed to perceive presence automatically, but perceiving absence requires time, effort, and attention. This innate brain bias causes us to miss chances to reward a horse when he does well.

Human brains use different brain processes for the two types of search and are biased powerfully in the direction of presence. For this reason, we must train ourselves to identify the absence of misbehavior that horses use when they ask whether they are meeting our expectations.


HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free sample chapter or to order.

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

The Best Horse Books of 2021

If you have ever been involved in the publication of a book, then you know that while there may be a clear beginning–that moment when the inspiration found you or you actually sat down and started typing–there is no real end. Once through the various phases of gestation and birth (editing, re-editing, layout, proofreading, indexing, more proofing, printing, distributing, and then, oh yes, marketing) there is only ever more that could be done to spread the word and share the book with as many readers as possible. In more ways than one, a book is the gift that keeps on giving–at every stage, it gives you plenty to do!

It always helps us keep looking forward to what’s next if we take the time to look back. Considering the books we published in 2021 reminds us of all the talented people, exceptional information, and amazing stories we’ve had in our lives the past 12 months. And it gets us excited to do what we do for another year!

In 2021 we:

All in all, not a bad year…

We hope you get a chance to enjoy what our amazing authors had to share in 2021…everything we publish changes us a little bit for the better. It can do the same for you.

Happy 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.

Come See Us at Equine Affaire!

This is the week! Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is happening Thursday 11-11 through Sunday 11-14, 2021. Come see us at Booth 846-847 in the Better Living Center at the Eastern States Exposition and find all our newest books and hottest sellers, as well as amazing sale bins, author book signings, and chances to win great prizes. We all know that this year’s holiday shopping is going to be frantic and frustrating due to the ongoing supply chain nightmare and shipping issues, so we’re going to be ready to make it easy for you to get it all done, in person, at special event prices.

EA has an all-star lineup of TSB authors presenting this year, including:

LYNN PALM
Author of THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION and YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WESTERN DRESSAGE

DAN JAMES
Author of LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP

JIM WOFFORD
Author of STILL HORSE CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, MODERN GYMNASTICS, and CROSS-COUNTRY WITH JIM WOFFORD

WENDY MURDOCH
Author of 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING and 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES

SHARON WILSIE
Author of HORSE SPEAK and HORSES IN TRANSLATION

SALLY BATTON
Author of THE ATHLETIC EQUESTRIAN

DR. JOYCE HARMAN
Author of THE HORSE’S PAIN-FREE BACK AND SADDLE-FIT BOOK and THE WESTERN HORSE’S PAIN-FREE BACK AND SADDLE-FIT BOOK

JANET JONES
Author of HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN

PLUS, we’ll have special guest appearances from Northeasterners Melissa Priblo Chapman, author of DISTANT SKIES, Chris Lombard, author of LAND OF THE HORSES, and the annual giant FERGUS THE HORSE photo-op.

Follow us on FB, IG, and Twitter for updates during the show about book signing times and Q & A sessions with authors! And please swing by Booth 846-847 in the Better Living Center to say hello. We love to talk about books and horses.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HorseandRiderBooks   
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TSBbooks   
Check us out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/horseandriderbooks/  

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

Join Six Fabulous TSB Authors at Equitana USA, October 1-3, 2021

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)

Sandra Beaulieu, dressage trainer, artist, performer, and author of Freestyle: The Ultimate Guide to Riding, Training, and Competing to Music

Shawna Karrasch, positive-reinforcement trainer and author of the forthcoming The Power of Positive Horse Training (coming Fall 2022)

Jim Masterson, creator of The Masterson Method bodywork and author of many books and videos, including the bestselling Beyond Horse Massage

Lynn Palm, renowned trainer and clinician and author of The Rider’s Guide to Real Collection and Your Complete Guide to Western Dressage

Cathy Woods, horsewoman, yoga teacher, and author of Yoga for Riders

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!

For more information or to reserve your tickets, visit EquitanaUSA.com.

CLICK HERE to get tickets to daytime events at Equitana USA.

CLICK HERE to reserve seats for EQUUS Evolution, the evening equestrian-inspired entertainment, at Equitana USA.

We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe experience in Lexington!

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

Horse Brain, Human Brain at HETI Seoul

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.

For more information about HORSE BRAIN, HUMAN BRAIN or to order, CLICK HERE.

You can also follow Janet Jones, her research, and how she is applying it in her own daily horse training, on her website and blog: janet-jones.com

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

30 Years Practice: An Excerpt from Jim Wofford’s Autobiography

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.

STILL HORSE CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS (If It Didn’t Happen This Way, It Should Have) is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

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