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Cat Hill grew up in upstate New York on a working farm. Her earliest memory is of the day her parents got her a pony for her birthday. She grew up on that pony, which was followed by a series of Arabian show horses. In college, she started riding show hunters through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Team at the University of Geneseo. After receiving her degree, she followed her love of horses to Ireland to be a working student at Mullingar Equestrian Center, where she became barn manager before returning to the States. Hill has been a working student for a Grand Prix dressage rider, worked the Winter Equestrian Festival for a Grand Prix jumper rider, managed a AA hunter barn, and managed top eventer Mara DePuy’s barn. She now freelances as a groom, as well as teaching lower level riders in dressage, jumping, and eventing. Hill co-authored the bestselling TSB book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES with Emma Ford, who runs Phillip Dutton’s barn.

“After three years of struggling with my balance and struggling to find myself and being told I would never make it in the horse world,” Hill says, remembering when she first learned of Sally Swift’s methods, “I was just about read to quit when somebody handed me [CENTERED RIDING].”

Hear what else she has to say about CENTERED RIDING as she helps us celebrate our 30th Anniversary in this short video:

 

 

Share your own CENTERED RIDING  memories and “aha” moments online and tag them #CenteredRiding30! And remember, all CENTERED RIDING books and DVDs are 30% off, the entire month of November.

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

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In her acclaimed book ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC, the five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic silver-medalist provides step-by-step descriptions of 20 exercises to improve your position and your feel. We can all—whatever discipline we favor or breed of horse we ride—put the following lesson in lengthening and shortening the horse’s stride into practice:

Once you have the basic tools for controlling speed and straightness, the next step to master is basic lengthening and shortening of your horse’s stride length. I’m not talking about extension and collection here, but simply about developing your ability to get (and to know you’re getting) a longer stride and a shorter stride—covering more ground or less ground with each of his footfalls. For this work, you may find it useful to have a helper on the ground to confirm and correct your impressions about how you’re affecting the horse’s stride.

To emphasize the importance of “forward,” begin with lengthening:

1.     In the working walk, increase the feel in your legs with a “squeeze-soften-squeeze” sequence that almost asks for a trot, then softens, and squeezes again, in rhythm with your horse’s steps.

2.     Let your hips swing forward to follow the walk, as they should naturally do, while you close your legs and feel your horse gaining more ground by taking longer strides.

3.     And yet, your hands don’t allow him to trot, nor do your legs push quite that hard. As he stretches and nods his neck, watch this motion and allow your elbows to open and close, so that you follow with your arms but don’t drop the contact. Don’t smother him so that he can’t lengthen, but don’t let him trot. (Think of him as an accordion, expanding and contracting.)

Now that you’ve pushed your horse into a longer stride (make sure your helper on the ground confirms that you have), teach him to shorten his stride by using your retarding aids more than your driving aids.

4.     With both hands, take more contact in rhythm with the stride, as if you’re going to stop …

5.     … but keep your legs squeezing and softening to tell him, “No, don’t stop. Stay active—take a shorter step but don’t stop, a shorter step but don’t stop, almost stop but don’t stop, almost stop but don’t stop.” Keep the movement rhythmic, so you get regular short steps, not choppy ones.

6.     Keep alternating the length of steps you ask for—short, short, short, then working (regular), working, then long, long, long, and back again, in the walk and then in the trot and canter so that you feel the different lengths and rhythms and develop your horse’s understanding of your aids.

7.     As you squeeze your legs, especially in the trot and canter, be sure your contact with the horse’s mouth is elastic, so that he can stretch into the longer stride. Remember that he can only lengthen his stride as far as his nose is poking out. If he’s overflexed or very short in the neck, he may throw his front leg forward, but his stride will still be short because he has to touch the ground at a point beneath where his nose is.

Listen to your horse’s strides. In each pace, try to make them as consistent as a metronome. With practice, as you get to know how his lengthened and shortened gaits feel and what balance of leg and hand aids produce them, you’ll be able to choose and then maintain whatever rhythm you want.

 

Get more great lessons on the flat and over fences in ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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In the horse industry, we often feel bound to our chosen discipline, breed, or horse sport. We proclaim our undying devotion to specific organizations and vow to remain true, in sickness and in health, to trainers, instructors, and clinicians. We divide ourselves into helmets and hats, jodhpurs and jeans, competitors and non.

But there is a strangeness to this self-imposed segregation in that we can all surely come together, whatever our difference in preferred coat color and saddle shape, in agreement over one thing: our love for the horse. And, it is no secret that “cross-training” is as good for the equine athlete as it is for the human athlete, so it benefits us on multiple levels to open our minds to the “other” and maybe even give it a try.

One master of multiple disciplines is Jonathan Field, author of the stunning book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, in which he teaches us how developing communication skills and our relationship with our horse through liberty benefits all that we do—both on the ground and in the saddle. Quick responses to subtle cues, clear aids, and a relaxed and attentive horse: These are the keys to liberty, and they are also objectives when you ride, drive, and interact with your horse on a daily basis around the barn.

“I read THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES all in one evening and enjoyed and agreed with all of the very great wisdom that Jonathan so precisely shared,” says Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau. “He is a true horseman, and I have seen him work a number of times in the past and think this book is a great portrayal of his life, his training, and his process. Every horseperson should read this book, even if they do not want to do liberty work.”

 

Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau and GP Raymeister.

Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau and GP Raymeister.

 

In addition to kudos from the dressage world, Jonathan has worked closely with the legendary George Morris, including creating a DVD set with the former US show jumping chef d’equipe. For more information check out the trailer below, or visit Jonathan’s website JonathanField.net.

 

 

Jonathan tells the following story about a jumper he reschooled in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES:

“Many years ago I took on Tommy, a jumping horse that was given to me for free. I was his last resort. I was told that Tommy wasn’t ever easy to ride, and it got worse when jumps were present. He’d start at a nice pace, but as soon as he was pointed at the first jump, he would speed up twice as fast. Two jumps later, he’d be even faster, and finally, he’d bolt. Soon, all it took was the sight of a jump to cause the bolt reaction.

“The key with a horse like Tommy is recognizing the weak link in the communication between horse and human. In his case it was neutral, which is very common for performance horses. They come into the arena, are worked hard, and only rest back at the barn. Neutral or active neutral is not a part of the training program. So, with each ride they get a little more wired from anticipation. Because of those nerves, their flight instinct gets closer to the surface.

“Flight instinct can’t be taken completely out of any horse, and I never took it out of Tommy. I just recognized the best way to help him was to recreate the arena as a place of comfort, relaxation, and connection to the rider. I also had to keep him moving in a controlled way when he wasn’t connected to me.”

 

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You can read the rest of the story about Tommy, as well as learn how teaching your horse neutral and active neutral can benefit all that you do together in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Plus, preview a lesson from the book on how to find the neutral sweet spot by CLICKING HERE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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

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Setting courses in indoor arenas can present challenges in terms of space. TSB author Susan Tinder does not use wing standards in her indoor arena (pictured here), and she only uses 10-foot poles. Shorter poles not only conserve space, they have the added training benefit of forcing you to jump the center of each jump. You will find that after regularly schooling over 10- or 8-foot poles, the 12-foot poles used at horse shows appear very inviting.

Setting courses in indoor arenas can present challenges in terms of space. TSB author Susan Tinder does not use wing standards in her indoor arena (pictured here), and she only uses 10-foot poles.

 

Unless you’re in Wellington, February is often the month of semi-desperation. Spring IS only a month away, and yet has never felt more like fantasy. This is particularly true this year for those who, like the TSB crew, live and ride in New England.

But if you’re a hunter-jumper rider or eventer looking to sharpen your ride for the upcoming season, or if you’re just trying to spice up the interlocking circles you and your horse are both quite bored with tracing in the indoor by now, there’s no need to despair. In her acclaimed book JUMP COURSE DESIGN MANUAL, Susan Tinder—a hunter-jumper rider and owner of Tolland Falls in Colorado—provides an entire section for those with smaller arenas or minimal jump components (or those stuck schooling indoors!).

Although courses you might set in a small indoor might be unconventional, at least in terms of what you typically see at horse shows, they should still follow basic course design principles (which Susan covers in her book). As with larger courses, you should have at least one change of direction and at least one single vertical fence. When you have a limited jump inventory, you will most likely have to use more vertical fences to allow you to create more jumps for your course. Another way to increase the number of jumping efforts in your course when you have a limited amount of equipment or space is to set the fences so they can be jumped from both directions. This means you will need ground lines on both sides of each fence.

The distances between related obstacles are just as important over courses designed for small spaces, if not more so, as when you set up in a larger space. Be aware that the horse’s stride naturally shortens when the space is small, and pace and the quality of the canter is harder to maintain. The narrow width of the arena forces you to ride tighter turns (causing a natural loss of impulsion), and you have less time on the long sides or across the diagonal to get your horse straight to the jumps. Fences and lines set on the diagonal will most likely have sharper angles to them.

Taking all this into consideration, inside courses and those in small arenas often need to be set on a 10- to 11-foot average stride length in order for them to ride comfortably. In addition, the light level will probably be low. Use white or brightly colored poles and fill elements so the obstacles are easier to see, and avoid anything that blends in with the footing or the color of the walls. If the indoor you use for schooling has windows or skylights, take note of how shadows and sunspots may affect the visual aspect of the jumps.

Here is one free sample space-saving configuration from JUMP COURSE DESIGN MANUAL. The “Y” gives you two single fences, one off either lead so you can practice changing to/from both directions. This sample course is not drawn to scale—you must determine how to use the space you have for your schooling while staying safe.

TheY

 

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CLICK HERE for more ideas from JUMP COURSE DESIGN MANUAL.

 

“I’ve spent time with this book and find it very correct. Author Susan Tinder did an excellent job putting together a useful collection of courses.”— George Morris

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Click the image above to register for the FREE webinar with Anne Kursinski!

Click the image above to register for the FREE webinar with Anne Kursinski!

 

TSB is excited for “Prepare to Show,” a FREE webinar with five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic silver medalist Anne Kursinski, presented by Practical Horseman magazine on April 9 (tomorrow!) at 8 p.m. EDT. Anne is the author of ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC, the acclaimed book, featuring 20 exercises to improve your position, your “feel,” and your overall understanding of how to confidently and successfully master a jump course. In her webinar, Anne will provide guidelines for the beginning of the show season, including: at-home preparation, show-day necessities, how to plan your round, mental preparation techniques, warm-up tips, and ideas for making your first trip, and all those thereafter, successful.

“Anne Kursinski really has had it all,” says George Morris, former Chef d’Equipe of the US Show Jumping Team. “Very few people in the hunter/jumper industry can boast such a comprehensive background. There is no question that her system and ideology work for the hunter, jumper, and equitation horse and rider.”

Sign up for this FREE webinar by CLICKING HERE.

 

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TSB also congratulates the 10 show-jumping enthusiasts who are now one step closer to winning a day of training with Anne Kursinski in Practical Horseman’s “Training with the Stars: Win a Day with Anne Kursinski” contest, in partnership with Finish Line, Back on Track, and Nutrena.

“More than 800 people submitted thoughtful and inspiring essays about why they should win the day of training with Anne, so narrowing down the group to the top 10 was difficult,” said Practical Horseman’s Editor Sandra Oliynyk. “We believe our finalists represent wonderful examples of the hunter/jumper/equitation community, and we’re excited to give one of them this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The 10 finalists will receive a copy of ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC and one lucky winner will receive the grand prize: A clinic for him/her and nine friends with Anne Kursinski. The grand prize winner will be announced in early May.

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pracreviewDec13

 

“There’s no need to take a break from lessons when inclement weather makes it difficult to ride this winter,” says the December 2013 review of THE AMERICAN HUNTER/JUMPER FORWARD RIDING SYSTEM in Practical Horseman Magazine. “This new DVD series from acclaimed rider, coach and clinician Bernie Traurig explores the building blocks of the American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System and offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step exercises.

“Each disc in the set details an essential aspect of the system, which focuses on three fundamental principles—rider position, controls and the schooling of the horse. Traurig begins with a basic explanation of the system and a look at its history. He moves on to discuss how to develop perfect position in the saddle and use rein and leg aids to control a horse. Then he demonstrates how to use the skills he has outlined while working over fences at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

“Traurig describes an exercise or position while at the halt, then demonstrates it through various gaits. This approach makes it easy to see the work’s intended effect on both rider and horse.”

 

For a glimpse at what this terrific new DVD series has to offer, check out the trailer below:

 

THE AMERICAN HUNTER/JUMPER FORWARD RIDING SYSTEM is available as a COMPLETE SERIES 6-DVD SET, or in three individual parts, from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 

TSB loves EquestrianCoach.com! This phenomenal website is a portal to a broad selection of extremely well demonstrated equestrian tips, techniques, and sport-specific know-how.

EquestrianCoach.com was born out of my desire to reach people who are hungry for more riding and training education,” says founder Bernie Traurig.

Check it out HERE

And don’t miss Bernie Traurig at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, April 10-13, 2014!

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EC DVDs HERE

 

TSB is thrilled to announce the release of seven fabulous new DVD programs in conjunction with the amazing online riding and horsemanship education portal EquestrianCoach.com. These DVDs feature the best in riding and horsemanship instruction from legendary horsemen George Morris and Bernie Traurig, and USEF “R”-rated hunter and hunter seat equitation judge Cynthia Hankins.

George Morris

George Morris

What’s new from George Morris?

Teaching and Training the American Way (CLICK TO ORDER)

Spend an hour with former Chef d’Equipe of the US Show Jumping Team George Morris and demonstration riders Cynthia Hankins and Darragh Kenny as they illustrate the most fundamental aspects of the American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System, a system endorsed and taught by George and advocated by the USHJA Trainer Certification Program. Includes a bonus video, “The Roots of Forward Riding in America,” where George introduces the American style of riding and its evolution.

Dressage for Jumpers (CLICK TO ORDER)

Join George as he demonstrates his favorite dressage exercises as they apply to jumping sports. In this schooling session, George uses his system of training on the flat and over fences to produce a relaxed, supple, and attentive equine partner.

Bernie Traurig

Bernie Traurig

And what do we get from Bernie Traurig?

The American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System–The Complete Series (CLICK HERE TO ORDER)

Acclaimed rider, coach, and clinician Bernie Traurig presents a unique DVD series explaining the building blocks of the American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System, a system endorsed and taught by George Morris and advocated by the USHJA Trainer Certification Program. In Developing Perfect Position; Fundamentals of Flatwork; and The Controls of the Horse, Bernie shares step-by-step exercises, on the flat and over fences, that are proven to bring success. Available as a complete series or individually—the complete series includes a special introductory DVD on the history of the sport.

Cynthia Hankins

Cynthia Hankins

What about Cynthia Hankins?

Form Follows Function with Cynthia Hankins (CLICK TO ORDER)

First on the flat and then over fences, USEF “R”-rated judge Cynthia Hankins discloses the common position faults she encounters and presents the correct, classical form of the American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System, endorsed and taught by George Morris and advocated by the USHJA Trainer Certification Program.

About EquestrianCoach.com

EquestrianCoach.com is a phenomenal online portal to a broad selection of extremely well demonstrated equestrian tips, techniques, and sport-specific know-how. The subscription-based site was created to make quality education accessible and affordable to every equestrian, regardless of their background, their level, or their geographic location. It rounds up the most talented equestrians on the planet, captures their expertise, and delivers it directly to you on your computer or mobile device in high definition. CHECK IT OUT HERE

TSB is excited to team up with EquestrianCoach.com to bring you excellent instruction from the world's top equestrians!

TSB is excited to team up with EquestrianCoach.com to bring you excellent instruction from the world’s top equestrians!

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