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 

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.

Lessons in Patience: 3800 Miles on Horseback

In 2013 at the age of 36, Jesse McNeil—at times carpenter, commercial fisherman, dabbler in real estate—decided to buy an untrained horse, make himself into a horseman, and ride all the way across the United States, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

A fiercely independent traveler, Jesse had navigated previous coast-to-coast trips—solo journeys by moped, bicycle, and small airplane. This time, however, he had a partner: a five-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse named Pepper. An inexperienced horseman with an equally inexperienced mount, Jesse would quickly discover the immense challenges of his new undertaking. Over the course of eight months and fourteen states—beginning in Oregon and ending on a beach in New Hampshire—he would be tested many times over as he learned not only what it took to keep Pepper safe and healthy, but the true value of qualities that he had once easily dismissed: patience and companionship.

We asked Jesse about his adventuring past and his new book ON THE HOOF, which shares his journey on horseback.


Your book ON THE HOOF tells the story of your journey across the United States, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, with your horse Pepper. This was not your first trek across the continent. Can you tell us a little about your other trips?

My travels coast to coast first began as a stunt: I took a moped as a cheap way across the continent. It cost me only $52 in gas to putter east for three weeks to my home state of New Hampshire. A few years later I earned my pilot certificate and did the same by air in a small trainer plane. The cost was way more, but the view grander. Another journey was by an old motorcycle—this time westward back to the San Juan Islands in Washington State—which felt much like the book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I didn’t read until a year after.

It was by simpler means, a bicycle jaunt east across Canada to the Bay of Fundy in 2010, that triggered the idea of riding a horse. I was pushing down on the pedals across Saskatchewan when I saw on a horse in a pasture beside the road. It felt like it would be more real, more to the heart of traveling, to be on a horse than a flimsy bicycle.

You were not a horseman prior to buying Pepper as a green five-year-old with the trip you were planning in mind. What did you find challenging about training a horse for the first time? What did you find fulfilling?

Simply managing the size of such an animal was intimidating, although a thousand pounds of beast held by a thin rope felt comical, too. Then, quite quickly, I realized that a horse would know if it was possible to dominate me or not. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I had to act as if I did, otherwise the day’s training would fall apart. I learned, too, that subtleness of pressure and positive emotional energy was extremely important, and really enjoyed exploring how precise I had to be with Pepper for her to listen to me and respect our budding relationship.

Looking back, do you feel traveling 3,800 miles with a horse changed you? If so, how? Was this trip more transformative than the other adventures you’ve had?

Yes, traveling with an animal is much more demanding than handling a piece of machinery. Building a partnership is extremely important and takes a great deal of time, and there’s no manual to follow. It’s an intuitive experience that is truly a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Patience is key. I had to learn to have more than I ever had back at the Pacific shore.


Early praise for ON THE HOOF:

“Jesse McNeil’s memoir demonstrates the hardships that happen when taking on a challenge as daunting as his coast-to-coast journey on foot, with only a horse named Pepper as his companion. It’s not for the faint of heart or those enamored with the romantic concept of ‘just being with a horse.’ For Jesse, it would become a life-changing experience with the realization he could overcome almost anything he would face in his life ahead…. The bond that develops between Jesse and Pepper cannot be explained to others, as there are no words to describe the deepness that is reached…. We as readers can feel Jesse’s emotions in the words he shares. We can also learn to apply the lessons he learns to our own journeys—to life’s good days, best days, hard days, and ‘impossible’ tests.”
—JOHN LYONS
America’s Most Trusted Horseman

“Jesse McNeil and his four-legged companion Pep remind us that even the best-laid plans require constant adjustment. But through teamwork, flexibility, and tenacity they can be navigated to an outcome that’s really special, and that’s exactly what On the Hoof is. A long walk, rhythmic trot, and full gallop that will leave you
wanting to strike out on your own unique adventure.”  
—TY GAGNE
Author of Where You’ll Find Me: Risk, Decisions, and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova and The Last Traverse: Tragedy and Resilience in the Winter Whites

“Those of us who breed horses and write of them hope to ride vicariously on the adventures to which we send them. So it’s doubly gratifying, as the breeders and initial trainers of a horse named Pepper, to see her adventures and those of her owner Jesse McNeil poetically narrated in a book named On the Hoof.
—DAN AADLAND
Author of Sketches from the Ranch and In Trace of TR


Watch the book trailer:

ON THE HOOF 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 videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

TSB Author Jen Marsden Hamilton on Striding, Convertibles, and Cats on the Beach

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. 

Jen flaunting her catch phrase.

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.

Jen using the sand to clarify a lesson.

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.

Husband Brian and his antique seed-spreader above…and the heavenly result below.

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!

Jen, going topless!

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.

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.

How a Rescue Horse Survived the Odds…and Found the Love of a Family

Photo courtesy of Dr. Dan Dickinson

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!

Video courtesy of Dr. Dan Dickinson

“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.

Riders Must Have “the Will”

Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst

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.

• Reward! (Great job!)

• Rebalance and repeat….

Horses understand these positive, clear messages.

For more from HOW TWO MINDS MEET: THE MENTAL DYNAMICS OF DRESSAGE, including a free chapter download, CLICK HERE.

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