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Today, we are remembering those we lost.

 

 

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From RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester

Round Pond

Perhaps because of the solemnity of the day, September eleventh, the air seems particularly still, as blue and clear as it was nine years ago when the world was left in shock by the attacks on the World Trade Center.

I saddle up Barranca and decide to take him out alone, heading along the top of the ridge, planning to take a new path down toward Round Pond. Riding through the sarsaparillas, a tunnel of grey opens to a chartreuse splash at the end. Soon, the new path disappears into unmarked woodland, but we continue bushwhacking along. No one has been down here in a long time, and there are lots of branches to break.

We reach a treacherous slide of rocks, but with a little urging, Barranca makes it over. I keep expecting to spot a glimpse of the pond, but all I see is palomino-colored bracken, the magnificent forest dressed up in green and gold. Finally, I spot a bit of blue through the leaves and know we are almost there. I feel a definite thrill, riding this new trail for the first time. I’m inside the moment, and Barranca is all fired up. When we hit the dirt road at water level, we canter to the end of the lake where there is a manmade dam. Standing there, looking out over the pond, I hear someone shooting a gun, target practice, getting ready for hunting season, no doubt, and it is disturbing. Guns, ammunition, explosions, crashes, towers collapsing—why is there so much destruction when peace can surround us?

By the time I get home, Barranca is covered with pine needles. As my feet hit the solid earth, I feel grounded, as if I have somehow absorbed my horse’s sure-footedness and a powerful surge of energy moves through me, passing into my core.

 

 

 

To read more from RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester, CLICK HERE.

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On the Loose

Gorgeous photographs by international fashion photographer Donna DeMari “add another level of richness” to RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester.

 

“Laura Chester’s honesty shines through RIDING BARRANCA, and in the end we admire her courage and are grateful for her sharing her emotional journeys with her family and her beloved horses. This is a book to savor, one to stay on the shelf for years….If it has a flaw, it is that there is so much in it to think about, so much experience to absorb. The only remedy, then, is to turn back to page one, and begin all over again! Highly recommended for readers young adult and older.” –Patagonia Regional Times

 

“Horse people are aware of the healing aspect of spending time with a beloved horse. It therefore comes as no surprise to many of us equestrian readers that Laura Chester’s trail rides became a form of therapy by helping her reconcile the difficult relationship she shared with her mother. I felt for her and applauded her brave decision to include the memories that cropped up alongside her journal entries…the sweet and sour work to create a relateable story that leaves the reader rooting for the author while reflecting on his/her own life.” –Equestrian Culture Magazine

 

Check out the Holiday Issue of the fabulous Equestrian Culture Magazine! You can order your digital or print subscription by CLICKING HERE.

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RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester is available from the TSB online bookstore, where holiday shipping in the US is FREE through Tuesday, December 17, 2013. Plus, check out our other bestselling books and DVDs and our money-saving sets!

 

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THANK YOU

 

Each year around this time, we ask some of our authors to share what they are thankful for, and it is always a fine reminder to open our hearts and minds to all that surrounds us, and greet each day—and the people and animals in it—with a smile.

 

“What I love about horses is understanding their minds, and through their minds, learning to understand how they move. The mind and the feet have always been connected. And when you are in tune with these you find yourself becoming one with the horse, with your mental and physical energies coming together. This is when you truly feel ‘freedom,’ and it is something I am very thankful for.” Marry Morrow, Horse Trainer and Co-Author of KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE

 

“I have so much to be thankful for it is hard to narrow it down, especially in the wake of the tornadoes that recently ripped through my home state. The town just 12 miles south had major damage and many homes are just gone—I am thankful that my family is okay and that in all the nearby devastation, not one life was lost.

“On a more basic level, I am thankful for my family, friends, health, and of course my animals, and the freedom to worship in the church of my choice without persecution. For a beautiful spring morning with birds singing, bright sunshine and green grass and a wonderful horse to ride through it all. My blessings are truly too numerous to list.”  Eunice Rush, Co-Author of KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE

 

“I am thankful for the 16 years I got to spend with my incredible dogs, Max and Luna. I lost them both within a few weeks of each other this past month. It broke my heart to lose them, but I am so grateful and honored that they shared their lives with me. The joy they brought is beyond measure. Thank you Max and Luna ~ you are forever in my heart!” Cindy Meehl, Director of BUCK the Documentary and 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN

 

“I am eternally grateful to Caroline Robbins and Martha Cook from Trafalgar Square Books for 20 years of creating my books to share with horse and companion animal lovers. And for the gift of having TSB senior editor, Rebecca Didier, as my co-author on my 20th and one of my most prized books yet, DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL. My thanks to Trafalgar for all the years of support and encouragement of my work.

“And I am thankful for my husband, Roland Kleger, and my family and friends, and all the people and their horses and dogs that I have had the good fortune to meet and share Tellington TTouch with this year—in trainings, on FaceBook, on YouTube, and on my blog. May the support from your Guardian Angels continue to bless your lives.”  Linda Tellington-Jones, Creator of the Tellington Method and Author of DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL and THE ULTIMATE HORSE BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING BOOK

 

We are thankful to live and work in a beautiful place--- Trafalgar Square Farm.

We are thankful to live and work in a beautiful place— Trafalgar Square Farm.

 

“I am thankful first for my good health. Being healthy is something no one should take for granted. I am also thankful for my wonderful supportive husband, who always has a good sense of humor about my horsie adventures!”  Janet Foy, FEI/USEF Dressage Judge and Author of DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE

 

“I am thankful that my recent major surgery was successful and is behind me. I look forward to hitting the trails soon.” Linda Snow McLoon, Author of CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED

 

“I have a lot in my life to be thankful for. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my parents. They instilled in me the work ethic and determination that have made it possible to live my dream. I’m thankful for my loyal and talented team that allows me to share my horse training method with the world and for all the horse lovers out there who are committed to becoming better horsemen.” Clinton Anderson, Trainer, Clinician, and Author of PHILOSOPHY, LESSONS WELL LEARNED, and DOWNUNDER HORSEMANSHIP

 

“I am very thankful for the small things life has to offer and thankful for any opportunity to be a positive influence for others. If you’ve made someone smile, or laugh, or feel good about themselves, then you’ve had a successful day.” Kerry Thomas, Pioneering Researcher and Co-Author of HORSE PROFILING

 

“I’m thankful that my family, students, and publisher encourage me to believe in myself and write my new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING.”  Daniel Stewart, Coach, Sport Psychologist, and Author of PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING

 

And finally, a Thanksgiving poem from writer Laura Chester, author of RIDING BARRANCA:

I’m thankful for my health

despite unhealthy ways.

I’m thankful for my horses

who are thankful for their hay.

Thankful for my new book

“May it be read by all,” she prays.

I’m thankful for my children,

who still light up my days.

Grateful for this life we share

in tranquility and blaze.

 

We wish all safe travel and a very happy Thanksgiving.

—The TSB Staff

Enjoy 15% off and free shipping on all these titles and more at the TSB online bookstore! CLICK HERE

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Arizona Muse in a 2013 Estee Lauder Holiday Ad.

Arizona Muse in a 2013 Estee Lauder Holiday Ad.

 

The holiday season brings “beauty” in many different forms to the fore as companies jockey for the public’s cherished dollars. A striking figure, enigmatic eyes, a splash of color on a dramatic background—these are only a few of the ways our imagination will be wooed and our desires inspired in the days and weeks ahead.

We forget in the onslaught of glitter and loveliness that the face in the ad, the voiceover on the commercial…these belong to (believe it or not) regular human beings, maybe even not so different from each one of us. The models and the celebrities, the actors and actresses, are perhaps pondering the same moments in time we are, enjoying the same means of escape, and seeking the same forms of solace and comfort of company upon which all of us depend.

 

A moment from the short film "Modern Muse" by Steven Sebring.

A moment from the short film “Modern Muse” by Steven Sebring.

 

“Being in motion is one of the keys to being happy,” says supermodel Arizona Muse.

It is exactly this that Laura Chester shares and explores in RIDING BARRANCA, the prolific writer’s latest book. As she and her horses wander in what seems like almost perpetual motion, up mountainsides, down creek beds, along narrow trails—sometimes alone but often in the company of others, including Arizona—Laura wrestles with her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease and tries to come to terms with their troubled relationship. The horse and his movement, as is often the case, is the key to Laura finding a way to release the past in order to take firm hold of the present…while opening her heart to the future.

“The horse, my favorite animal—sensitive intelligence inside a powerful and strong physical body,” says Arizona. “Laura and I share a very special connection with these beauties. I’ve been blessed to ride with her!”

 

Arizona Muse is one of the riding companions author Laura Chester shares time and space with in RIDING BARRANCA.

Arizona Muse is one of the riding companions author Laura Chester shares time and space with in RIDING BARRANCA.

 

Laura writes in RIDING BARRANCA:

Now we ride quietly and just take all of this in. So often, it is better not to talk on horseback but to try and remain in touch with what is happening with your horse, how the bit feels in his mouth, how he is walking on the path—giving leg signals and making subtle moves…Arizona and I both appreciate the great silence that surrounds us…neither of us wears a watch, for we are in a timeless zone of pure pleasure.

Take a moment to discover some of the other places Arizona Muse finds quiet, joy, and companionship in this short film by Steven Sebring:

 

RIDING BARRANCA is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

Click image to order.

Click image to order.

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The Trafalgar Square Farm horses, enjoying the fields this past summer--we already miss those long days of sunshine and late evening rides!

The Trafalgar Square Farm horses, enjoying the fields this past summer–we already miss those long days of sunshine and late evening rides!

 

Sometimes, it feels good to just remember why we love horses. On this Friday, enjoy a few photos that capture why we all work so hard to have horses in our life and do right by them.

 

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–The TSB Staff

www.horseandriderbooks.com

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Did you read a great book this summer that featured horses? Did you find one that struck a chord deep within…one that moved you? These readers all found a reason to pick up RIDING BARRANCA by Laura Chester, and here’s what they’ve chosen to say about it:

 

Riding Barranca is tender, beautiful, complicated, simple, wondrous, and mystical—much like the endeavor of riding a horse. Laura Chester masterfully orchestrates two parallel narratives: her complex family upbringing amidst her mother’s slow descent into Alzheimer’s, and Laura’s soul-infused love of her horses and her life with them.”

–Carew Papritz, Author of The Legacy Letters

“Laura Chester takes us on her ride between the worlds – through landscapes of chaos, fear, and pain, as well as grace, inspiration, and transcendence. Always an adventure, and never without danger, we experience the rhythms of her life, her growth and healing, through difficult passages of loss and liberation, as she enters the ultimate solo chapter of living on beyond her parents. Of letting go, and letting healing begin.”

–Bicoastal (on Amazon.com)

“Chester celebrates the vast beauty all around her, as well as the darker regions of her childhood. The counterpoint of Chester’s explorations into the emotional turmoil of her upbringing set against the joy found on the back of her equine soulmate, Barranca, make this a compelling read, hard to put down.”

–Elizabeth Ervin, Author of Heart’s Blood

“I have not lived my life with horses, and reading Chester’s account, I ached for something comparable. In addition to companionship, horses have provided her with a detour from the cares of daily life, a vehicle into the natural world, a bridge to a different kind of love, and intimate communing with another animal. Beautifully interwoven with the rich and vivid log of rides around the world is her emotional and sometimes painful personal journey. The riding doubles for the bumpy terrain of her own life trail.”

–Summer Brenner (on Amazon.com)

“A mini retreat from life. If you have horses, you’ll appreciate the insights into the horses on the page. If you don’t, you’ll gain insight to the fascinating creatures that captivate little girls, and adults, the world over.”

–Jan Hoadley (on Amazon.com)

“Partly autobiography, partly travel writing, this is a horsewoman’s tale. Laura Chester had a fraught relationship with her mother and riding was a way to escape from tension and just be herself…This book is especially good for horsey readers but the honesty of speech about family and appreciation of nature’s beauty have a message for us all.”

–Clare O’Beara, Author of Master at Arms

“This is a beautifully written, heart-felt memoir. When I was reading, Chester’s descriptions were so vivid I could see, smell and feel the settings. Her bond with her horse(s) is so strong, I envy her that ability to relate. What I did not envy was her family dynamic. Her complicated childhood, family life and relationship with her mother were at times, almost too much to comprehend. That she is able to write bout her past with such clarity and compassion is a gift.”

–Janet (on Amazon.com)

 

Riding-Barranca-final-300RIDING BARRANCA is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT AND TO ORDER

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Poet and author Lyn Lifshin calls RIDING BARRANCA "A beautiful, special book."

Poet and author Lyn Lifshin calls RIDING BARRANCA “A beautiful, special book.”

The following review of Laura Chester’s new book RIDING BARRANCA is by acclaimed poet and author Lyn Lifshin. Her many books include several about racehorses, including The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian; Barbaro:Beyond Brokenness; and coming in 2014, Secretariat: The Red Freak, the Miracle, all from Texas Review Press. Also forthcoming is a chapbook, Lost in the Fog from Finishing Line Press.

Choosing to Ride Out: A Review of Laura Chester’s RIDING BARRANCA by Lyn Lifshin

As soon as I saw the stunning, breathtaking cover of Laura Chester’s Riding Barranca, a startlingly beautiful image of horse and woman moving through rippling water, moving as one, mirroring the magical ride that’s about to unfold, I felt I was in for an amazing journey.

In Riding Barranca Chester lets us inside her world where the beauty and silence of nature tangle with complicated, often searing family relationships. These passages, italicized in the book, memories of being knifed with verbal assaults from a mother who demands—“Whose genes are in you,” are a counterpoint to the soothing sound of “the horse’s hooves on the hard packed road.”

In another section she writes, “When my parents were passing through New York and I wanted to have a meal with them—my mother’s response was, ‘This is our time to be alone together, Laura. We’re only seeing the people we really want to see.’ ” When she asks to stay in the pink room, her mother responds, “But that ‘s a nice room…” Like a Greek chorus, her words move the reader though years of intense landscapes, both inner and outer, sometimes to familiar and almost forbidden places, scary vistas she can’t help but come back from changed. The calmer landscapes with “the scent of juniper and sweet fern that smells mildly like peppermint when crushed by the horses’ hooves,” and the still painful memories move like dancers on a dance floor—first one leads, then the other.

I didn’t want this book to end which is always a good sign that I am in the presence of intensely beautiful writing and magic. A cremation on the banks of the Ganges takes her back to the cremation of her mother in Wisconsin. A risky horse ride in India reminds her of a time when her father rode into a bull pasture with a bull whip in hand while she was on a pony, a trigger for anxiety. On Barranca, with the calmness and ease of a good horse, she sees things she hasn’t before. She has also learned to say, “No, I do not want to do this.” Through landscapes, often silent and refreshing, sacred as a church, family history reshapes itself like pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope, always there but seen at a different angle.

I can’t imagine anyone not fascinated by the connection between humans and animals that Chester explores. Dogs and cats, not just horses, can soothe, console and connect. Anyone close to an animal knows these creatures merge with the history of one’s life and bring emotions that are rare and powerful.

The mother and daughter relationship, central to Chester’s year of watching her mother go through the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease, is revealed in some of the most moving passages—extremely intense, often painful, heartbreaking and raw, yet singing as they must have years before. Having edited Tangled Vines, a collection of mother and daughter poems, I was not surprised how powerful Chester’s writing is about this relationship: intense, ambivalent, passionate, difficult, fierce, never easy or simple, a relationship that never ends, not even with death.

At the heart of the best connection, there is always some darkness, envy, ambivalence, combined with a longing attempt to win the mother’s love, approval. Riding her beautiful, beloved Missouri Foxtrotter, Barranca, Chester takes us deep into the forest of many family relationships with their estrangements, reconciliations that no family is without—betrayals, rage, sickness and death, as well as support and comfort.

Like the dappled light Chester and her horse move under, the book goes from joyous moments laughing with girlfriends under the stars, to hurtful, terrible darkness that could trap a less strong, stubbornly determined woman, one who has survived literal and emotional falls. Riding lifts us into another realm, “purging the daily grumble and allowing our spirits to soar.”

So many examples of beauty and strength and sensuousness: “The woodland trail is surrounded by thin, dark-skinned birch-like trees, and if you break off a twig and give it a chew, it tastes vaguely like root beer.” Later, “There is the faint smell of grape on the road home, followed by fresh tar and then mown fields. It is so mild and blissful that I feel I could almost fall asleep in the saddle.” So many beautiful passages about Indian summer—“watching the dark wet shine of Barranca’s skin as it dries in the afternoon sun.” Scenes from India—“a woman in a bright red sari carries a huge bundle of sticks on her head.” I can see the dark wood paneling, glass cabinets and jewelry at the Gem Palace, as well as the blue moon rising over the Huachucas—-“Suddenly the moon is there is full form, balanced on the mountain line and rising surely. Revealing its golden appearance…”

It is quite a ride with Laura Chester and Barranca. “While riding, memories so often surface and percolate. I wonder where these odd thoughts come from, similar to the musings of a twilight reverie arriving like unexpected houseguests. Images arise…family members appear as if to remind us they will inhabit us forever.”

Riding-Barranca-final-300One of the most beautiful passages of the book is toward the end when she thanks her mother for the good things. It is too long to quote all of it, but I can’t end without adding a little: “Thank you for being honestly passionate, for remaining steadfast, marrying this man, leaping into an unknown world—the cold, often hostile, uninviting North…thank you for the magical Christmases, the stockings and gifts beneath our tinsel laden tree.…Thank you for our wonderful homes, raising us in places of order and beauty…thank you for showing us emotion—letting us know that love is not easy, but it is always worth it.”

She leaves us with what she’s learned: “Riding Barranca puts me in the moment, which is where I want to live.” This is a beautiful, special book. It will touch everyone who reads it. I couldn’t recommend it more.

RIDING BARRANCA is available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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