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Posts Tagged ‘liberty work’

MusictoTrainBy-horseandriderbooks

Who hasn’t struggled to get a horse in front of the leg? None of us want to resort to kicking like a kindergartener in a Thelwell cartoon, but sometimes, when the piggy pony comes out…

Dressage trainer and exhibition performer Sandra Beaulieu suggests that music can be used to increase forward energy in the sleepiest, most sluggish of equines. In her new book FREESTYLE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO RIDING, TRAINING, AND COMPETING TO MUSIC, she explains what to consider when faced with energy problems in the arena:

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Is your horse unmotivated? When your horse is on the low end of the energy spectrum, you can use music to help “find the forward” by changing the energy around him. In my experience, some draft and Warmblood breeds are more likely to fall into this category, but remember: It doesn’t matter what breed your horse is…he’s an individual.

MakeYourOwnFreestyle-horseandriderbooksSet the Mood

In the same way you can use calming music in the barn and while you ride, choose upbeat, lighthearted music for the low-energy horse. Pick up your pace around the barn, have some fun with your riding friends, laugh a lot, keep spirits high.

Be aware of how your horse is affected by the change. You may notice that your version of “high” energy may actually be irritating to your horse. There is a big difference between positive, light energy and frantic, fast energy. Your horse’s reaction will let you know if you are on the right track.

Are You Too Grounded?

One of the reasons a horse may not move forward under saddle is because his rider’s energy is really grounded and slow. When you ride, do you tend to work harder than your horse? Do you follow your horse’s rhythm more than you create it for yourself? If you are a more advanced rider, you may find that you are better paired with an overly forward horse that your grounded energy can help slow down. Many horses respond well to a rider who is quiet and peaceful, but there is a difference between relaxed, positive energy and stuck, depressed energy.

Some riders have the ability to excite a horse and get him to move really forward, and others can kick and kick and nothing happens. The horse is reading the energy and body language of the rider. If you lack confidence, balance, and the right energy, you will struggle to create forwardness in your horse until those things are in place.

To help improve your riding when you suspect you are “too grounded,” you can try yoga, tai chi, or dance classes to become more aware of your energy and how it affects those around you. These exercises will not only help you understand and manage your groundedness, they teach you to lighten your energy, go with the flow, feel more elastic, and discover awareness through your body.

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Is It Pain-Related?

I have dealt with many types of horses over the years, and in my experience, a horse that does not want to go forward is sometimes feeling pain physically and/or emotionally. If you find that increasing your energy makes your horse more upset rather than more forward, you may be dealing with a pain issue.

My Friesian gelding has taught me volumes on this topic. He came to me with a lot of emotional and physical baggage that was difficult to unravel because he is very stoic. His reaction to everything is to not go forward, whether he is experiencing pain in the hind end, ulcers, or just “stuck” in his own mind. I have tried every exercise and technique I can think of to encourage him to be forward and in front of my aids. What works often depends on his mood and how he is feeling physically. He is an odd mix of highly sensitive and dull to the aids, so being too aggressive can shut him down and being too loud also bothers him. He is very receptive to my voice commands, and I have found some success in creating voice cues to encourage “forward” and “collect.”

FreestyleTheBook-horseandriderbooks

My Friesian gelding Douwe struggles in the “forward” department. Sometimes I ride to epic soundtrack music and imagine that we are in a movie scene. This gives added energy and purpose to my riding, and helps him as well. Photo by Spotted Vision Photography.

Create an Upbeat Playlist

If you are in the early learning stages when it comes to tempo and how to stay consistent in the saddle, try the following technique. For a slow horse, create a playlist featuring music that is a beat or two faster than your horse’s stride for you to match with your own body’s movements. The slightly faster music will give your body something to “sync up” with, encouraging you to post in a more determined way, use your driving aids more effectively when you feel the tempo slow down, and feel amazing when you and your horse find the beat.

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FreestyleIn FREESTYLE the book, Sandra Beaulieu provides everything readers need to know to enjoy Freestyles of their own—whether for fun or for ribbons. Discover how to choose suitable music, explore choreography techniques, and learn basic music editing. Review required movements, then use Beaulieu’s expert suggestions for weaving them together. Plus, enjoy a section on preparing exhibition performances—complete with ideas for props and costumes.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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

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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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We’ve all heard and by now probably rolled our eyes at the popular maxim, “If you love something, set it free.” Certainly, when it comes to horses, there is an amount of truth to the idea…and we’re not talking about a made-for-TV moment where the young hero opens the paddock gate and lets the beautiful steed gallop away. The truth we speak of is giving the horse freedom of choice: the opportunity to choose to be with you, rather than making that choice for him by keeping him at your side or under saddle through coercion.

In THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, horseman and clinician Jonathan Field talks about establishing this kind of connection—the one where you “free” the horse from having to stay with you for all the usual reasons (halters, ropes, saddles, fences, for example) and instead give him far better reasons to seek a partnership with you, in all that you do together.

“Through experience, I have learned there needs to be a balance between asking a horse to be connected with me and allowing him to be free, looking away,” writes Jonathan. “If you get this balance right, the horse wants to be with you even more, so you don’t have to constantly drive to get his attention.

“Sometimes, there is so much focus on keeping the horse with the person that the horse develops a lot of tension about the interaction. You may see that with a horse that looks sour at liberty. This becomes what I call ‘connection tension.’ A horse is connected, but hates it and is wishing for relief other than what he can find with his person. In years gone by, I have been there with my horses; I would look at them, wondering why they were so upset. I changed how I went about things and now watch my horses to tell me if I am on the right track. As it turned out, the very thing I spent most of my time trying to avoid was just what my horses needed: a breather and the opportunity to move freely to relieve the tension of focusing.

“The obvious worry about a horse leaving is, ‘What if he doesn’t come back?’ I get that, but an even worse situation can occur: What happens when our horse is with us, but he hates it? That defeats the entire purpose of trying to build communication with him. Something we need to teach our horse is that disconnection isn’t a negative reaction he is getting away with. By making it part of our flow at liberty, he will learn to return to us. In that moment of disconnect, he needs to be comfortable to quickly come right back. It’s a moving dynamic; we need to develop the feel and eye to see it.”

 

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Find out how to develop the confidence to “let go” and encourage your horse moments of disconnect, so that your periods of connection are stronger and more consistent, in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 You can see Jonathan Field in person at the 2015 Horse Expo Pomona January 30-February 1! Click here for more information.

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CLICK TO PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY

 

TSB and Jonathan Field are bringing horse lovers and riders a book like no other! THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES provides over 200 pages of in-depth instruction alongside 350 beautiful color photographs taken on Jonathan’s breathtaking ranch in British Columbia. This is horsemanship beyond the rope, and connection like you’ve never experienced it before.

You can get a SNEAK PEEK at one of the lessons from Jonathan’s new book in the November issue of Canadian Horse Journal, which is out for distribution starting today. Order your issue or subscribe online, find it wherever quality equestrian magazines are sold, or pick up a copy at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto November 7-16.

Jonathan Field was on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Canadian Horse Journal.

Jonathan Field was on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Canadian Horse Journal.

Canadian Horse Journal is Canada’s favorite horse magazine. Covering all breeds and disciplines, it is the leading resource for horse health information and expert training advice including features by renowned international horseman, Jonathan Field. If horses are your passion, Canadian Horse Journal is your magazine. Visit the Canadian Horse Journal website at www.HORSEJournals.com and subscribe at: http://www.horsejournals.com/subscribe-canadianhorsejournal.

 

You can PRE-ORDER THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES by Jonathan Field at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

 

Did you see this amazing video? Click the image below to watch the VIMEO STAFF PICK Red Bull short-documentary about Jonathan. (Scenes from this mini-doc are included in Jonathan’s book!)

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO

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