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When Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship was growing up in his native Australia, his father stressed the importance of using long-reining as part of early groundwork when starting colts, as well as using the technique as a safe way to troubleshoot issues when restarting older horses with training or behavior problems. But the influx of American horsemanship methods just as Dan James and his business partner Dan Steers began their careers meant the popularity of traditional long-reining techniques waned.

It was when Dan and Dan trained with Heath Harris, one of the world’s elite liberty trainers and the man behind the horses in blockbuster films such as The Man from Snowy River, Phar Lap, The Young Black Stallion, and The Legend of Zorro, that they discovered the true value of long-reining in a horse’s education.

“Heath mounted us up on green Warmbloods that had just come in for training,” Dan and Dan remember in their new book LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP. “If one of those ‘giants’ wasn’t well broke and ran away, it could get scary really fast. It became quickly apparent that the more we had these horses bridled up and working well from the ground, the easier it was when we got into the saddle.”

So yes, long-reining is a fantastic intermediate groundwork step that bridges the gap between leading a horse and riding him.

“There are a lot of horses that get ‘lost in translation’ when making that leap,” say Dan and Dan, “so the simpler and smoother you can make the transition, the better. We’re not saying that everything a horse can do when being long-reined he will automatically be able to do with you on his back, but we do find it drastically reduces the level of fear and confusion for most horses. And, colts that are taught long-reining progress much faster starting under saddle than horses that are taught everything from their back.”

Heath Harris also had Dan and Dan work with off-the-track Thoroughbreds and “problem” horses that needed to revisit earlier training to fill in holes in their education. These horses taught them that long-reining is equally useful for building a foundation, working through issues, or refining skills the horses might already possess.

“Since we started teaching long-reining to the public, we’ve learned that the magic it works with horses is only half of its benefits,” say Dan and Dan. “We’ve also discovered it helps people gain confidence with their horsemanship—no small thing.”

Long-reining rapidly builds from basic skills to performing high-level exercises. Many classically trained dressage riders at the Olympian level use a lot of long-reining in their programs, as do some elite Western riders. And of course, we’re all familiar with famous Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, who–alongside their trainers–take long-reining to its highest level of difficulty, entertaining the world with maneuvers that once prepared horses for the immense challenges of the battlefield.

Whether you are into Western or English riding, the long-reining concepts taught in LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP are well worth trying!

“If you have ever seen the Double Dans perform a long-reining demonstration, I am sure that you have been amazed by their skill and talent,” says Jen Johnson, Chief Executive Director of North American Western Dressage (NAWD). “At North American Western Dressage, we understand that good horsemanship begins on the ground. Long-reining can help you and your horse develop a great deal of harmony before you ever get in the saddle, and your horse can learn to use his body in a beneficial manner—without the added weight of a rider. Working your horse from the ground enhances physical and emotional fitness, and this is a great step-by-step guide to help you, with lots of terrific exercises.”

“Dan James and his partner in Double Dan Horsemanship, Dan Steers, are very well suited to offer advice in achieving success with long-lining techniques in a friendly, easy-to-follow manner,” agrees FEI 4* judge and long-lining expert Bo Jena.

You can download a free chapter from LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP or order a copy of the book from the Trafalgar Square Books storefront, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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If you haven’t seen this truly fantastic video of Frederic Pignon, co-author of the best-selling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM with his wife and former Cavalia costar Magali Delgado, you’re about to be moved, astounded, and utterly in love…

Those of us who were lucky enough to see the hit show Cavalia when it toured the world with Frederic and Magali–and their troupe of gorgeous horses–will remember the visually stunning and emotionally charged experience for the rest of our life. Now, Frederic and Magali are based again at their home in France where they are raising their young son, and continuing to train horses with the deft touch and inherent magic we all recognized on the international stage.

Take 15 minutes to treat yourself to this clip from a 2010 European show starring Frederic and his Friesians Pheobus and Paulus, and the Lusitano Guizo. It is so fun to see these horses still performing together…and some of the stories Frederic and Magali share in their book GALLOP TO FREEDOM still seem to ring true. Watch Guizo when the three stallions circle Frederic in the “wheel” and when the Friesians sit down…Frederic intentionally puts Guizo between the Friesian brothers to keep them from pestering each other…and Guizo prefers not to sit! It has always been thus…

Enjoy–and if you haven’t yet, check out GALLOP TO FREEDOM, available at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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TSB author and stunt-riding phenomenon Lorenzo stars in this year's Equitana.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people visit Essen, Germany, where EQUITANA, one of the horse world’s premier events and trade fairs is held. With breed pavilions, demonstrations, speakers, and shopping-galore spread over a week-long period–this year, from March 12 through the 20–Equitana is every equestrian’s “happy place.”

An integral part of the Equitana festival, is the HOP TOP Show–an event that is considered an absolute “must see” by many equine enthusiasts. There is no other horse “show” on earth quite like it–each year it features a host of stars from all over Europe who perform amazing acts with their horses to the accompaniment of dramatic lighting, breathtaking backdrops, and rousing music.

TSB author and world-famous liberty trainer Frederic Pignon also stars in Equitana 2011.

This year’s much-anticipated HOP TOP Show “Fabuloso” features two of TSB’s best-selling authors: Frederic Pignon and Lorenzo. Pignon, known for his work alongside his wife Magali Delgado in the hit show Cavalia, is a liberty-work master. He and Delgado share their story and horse training philosophy in the gorgeously illustrated book GALLOP TO FREEDOM, on sale all this month at the TSB bookstore.

We’ve all seen the YouTube clip of Lorenzo “roman riding” his team of eight gray horses along the beach and through the ocean. You can read the story of this impressive stunt-riding phenomenon–his background, education, and how he trains his horses to do what they do together–in LORENZO: THE FLYING FRENCHMAN, also on sale all this month at the TSB bookstore.

We’re recognizing other TSB authors who are presenting at Equitana with 15% off their books and DVDs, plus FREE SHIPPING. Check out our March specials HERE.

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