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Posts Tagged ‘Linda Tellington-Jones’

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Photo by Keron Psillas from The Alchemy of Dressage by Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis

In almost every book we publish, we invite our authors to include a page of acknowledgments; this is their chance to thank those who may have had a hand in their careers or the making of their books. While it isn’t every day that we look back through to see who they’ve thanked over the years, it seems appropriate on this blustery, cold, Vermont afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving 2016. As might be imagined, there is one resounding theme that emerges…have a look at some of the words of gratitude TSB authors have put in print. If your book was about to be published, who would YOU thank?

 

“They say success has a thousand fathers—I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have taken an extra minute out of their day to help me down my path.” Jonathan Field in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES

“Thanks go out to every horse I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege of riding…they’ve taught me the importance of caring, patience, understanding, selflessness, and hard work.” Daniel Stewart in PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING

 

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and "Hal."

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and “Hal.”

 

“Most of all my greatest thanks go to Secret, the horse who has taught me so much—she is a horse in a million.” Vanessa Bee in 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP

“We owe the greatest depths of gratitude to the horses.” Phillip Dutton in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON

“Thank you, Santa, for bringing the pony when I was little.” Jean Abernethy in THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE

“Thank you to my partner and wife Conley, without whose moral support and inspiration I would be sitting on a tailgate by the side of the road holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Will work on horses for food.'” Jim Masterson in BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE

 

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

 

“Thank you to my beloved parents. You were so wonderful to let me chart a path with horses, which you knew nothing about.” Lynn Palm in THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION

“I thank my beloved equine partners—my most important teachers.” Dr. Beth Glosten in THE RIDING DOCTOR

“Thank you to all my wonderful students and friends for always being there.” Jane Savoie in IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS

“I really need to honor the people who have invited me to work with them and the horses that have allowed me to be with, ride, and train them over the decades. I have learned some things from books, but most from the people and horses I train.” Heather Sansom in FIT TO RIDE IN 9 WEEKS!

“I give thanks for all the horses over the years who have taught me so much.” Linda Tellington-Jones in THE ULTIMATE HORSE BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING BOOK

“I am grateful for all my teachers, two-legged, four-legged, and winged, for all they have taught me through their own journeys.” Dr. Allen Schoen in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“Thank you to every horse that came my way over the past 45 years. Each one had lessons to teach me.” Susan Gordon in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“I want to thank my parents who finally gave in to the passionate desire of a small child who wanted a horse.” Heather Smith Thomas in GOOD HORSE, BAD HABITS

“Most of all, thank you to all the horses.” Sharon Wilsie in HORSE SPEAK

 

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

 

“I am extremely thankful to all of the horses in my life. I would not have accomplished so much without them. The horses have been my greatest teachers!” Anne Kursinski in ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC

“I need to thank all the horses.” Sgt. Rick Pelicano in BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF

“Thank you to students and riders who share my passion in looking deeper into the horse and into themselves.” Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS

“Thanks go to the many horses that have come into my life. You give me great happiness, humility, and sometimes peace; you always challenge me to become more than I am, and you make my life whole.” Andrea Monsarrat Waldo in BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS

 

And thank YOU, our readers and fellow horsemen, who are always striving to learn and grow in and out of the saddle, for the good of the horse.

Wishing a very happy and safe Thanksgiving to all!

The Trafalgar Square Books Staff

 

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

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top10

One of the best perks of working for an equestrian book publisher (assuming you are just the littlest bit horsey) is the constant immersion in equine-related theory, philosophy, and how-to. There is so much opportunity to absorb the ideas of great horsepeople and to try their techniques and methods for oneself—or to come to understand their intentional lack thereof (yes, that happens, too). Because really, if I’ve learned anything in this job, it’s that there isn’t just one main highway to our destination. There are many, less traveled, circuitous back roads, and finding them, and being willing to venture down them to see where they go—that is the true journey of horse and human.

Here are 10 important lessons from some of TSB’s top authors:

 

10  When there’s not enough time, do 10 to 15 minutes of liberty.

“Many people don’t get to their horse in a day because they feel it is too big a task to gear up for,” says horseman Jonathan Field in his book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES. “So they don’t do anything. Short and fun liberty sessions can bring you out to your horse more often. You will be amazed at how your horse starts to meet you at the gate.”

 

9  Our own riding fitness enables the horse to perform what we ask of him.

“The way a rider uses her body greatly impacts the way the horse is enabled or blocked from using his,” explains certified personal trainer and riding coach Heather Sansom in FIT TO RIDE IN 9 WEEKS! “The relationship is biomechanical….both species can impact one another. This is why the rider’s role of leadership through physical contact is so important, and why a rider who is fit for the task can ride better—and with greater resilience or prevention of injury.”

 

8  Sometimes, don’t ask for anything.

“The horse follows you with a lowered head and filled with a spirit of freedom…the result of your not asking for anything, just being, even if only for a fleeting moment,” writes renowned horseman Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling in THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE. “To be devoted without asking for devotion in return, to be friendly without demanding friendship…that is when the horse can give us trust and closeness.”

 

TSB author Jonathan Field. Photo by Robin Duncan.

TSB author Jonathan Field. Photo by Robin Duncan.

 

7  Control your emotions.

“Try not to go overboard,” recommends Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. “Don’t gush, fuss, and fiddle about…Be quiet, polite, and still, inside and out. Clear your head and self from all that troubles you, and give your horse your undivided attention.”

 

6  Invest in self-kindness.

“When you miss a lead change in a pattern or test or forget to schedule the farrier before your horse throws a shoe,” explains author and horsewoman Melinda Folse in RIDING THROUGH THICK & THIN, “extend to yourself the same warmth and understanding you would to a close friend who has suffered a setback….If you’re not enjoying yourself, you’ll probably struggle with riding to your true potential.”

 

5  Use all your senses to observe and explore your horse’s body.

“Be on the alert for symptoms such as body soreness, uneven gait, a tight neck, a sour attitude, explosive or resistant behavior, stocking up, and pinned ears,” writes equine expert Linda Tellington-Jones in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL. “All of these problems, and others, can be avoided by alternating your training schedule with trail riding, ground driving, or other types of cross-training…expand your training routine, and keep your horse interested and engaged in his work.”

 

TSB author Yvonne Barteau. Photo by FireandEarthPhoto.com.

TSB author Yvonne Barteau. Photo by FireandEarthPhoto.com.

 

4  When it comes to the show ring, be flexible.

“One of the risks of competition is becoming so focused on achieving success that you miss the signs that your partner is unhappy,” says psychotherapist and riding instructor Andrea Waldo in BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS. “Horses have different rates of development and different levels of stress tolerance. Just because one horse is ready for a particular level at age five doesn’t mean that the next horse will automatically do the same. Some horses can show every weekend without a problem, but some horses need to compete less often.”

 

3  Be okay with “eventually.”

“Everything moves so fast in our modern world,” say horse trainer Susan Gordon and veterinary pioneer Dr. Allen Schoen in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN. “Our expectation is to get instant results. Creatures of low technology, such as our animals, suffer the most for our desire to have everything happen in a virtual instant. On one hand, you need a quick, flexible mind to respond to a horse’s instinctive prey-animal tendencies during training, but it is also important to understand the value of repeating those responses with a lot of patience and consistency.”

 

2  Use dynamic friction instead of static friction.

“Whereas static friction relies primarily on force, mass, and energy to first stick an object before moving it,” writes world-renowned horseman Mark Rashid in JOURNEY TO SOFTNESS, “dynamic friction relies on establishing subtle movement first, then adding energy to build on that movement…establish contact with the horse, followed by the development of subtle movement to establish a flow of direction, and finally put the proper amount of speed into that flow so as to accomplish the desired task.”

 

1  Be willing to have a two-way conversation.

“When you are truly in a dialogue, you can never predict how a horse will answer you on any given day,” explains Sharon Wilsie in her groundbreaking book HORSE SPEAK. “Many of you value your relationship with your horse as much as you value his performance. Deeper bonds of friendship will blossom as you show your horse you are willing to listen and learn his language instead of just expecting him to respond to yours.”

 

 

For more information about any of these books, CLICK HERE to visit the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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

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Last week, The Guardian released the findings of a new study that finds horses are stressed by tight nosebands.

Last week, The Guardian released the findings of a new study that finds horses are stressed by tight nosebands.

“Researchers studying the physiological impact of nosebands on horses competing in international equestrian competitions including the Olympics are calling for new regulations to reduce potential pain and distress from the equipment,” Nicola Davis reported in The Guardian on May 3, 2016. “The scientists found that horses’ heart rates were raised and they struggled to chew when nosebands were fitted too tightly around the animals’ heads.”

This was just last week.

“Serious concerns have been raised about riding equipment to be used at this year’s Rio Olympics,” wrote James Thomas for ABC Australia on May 10, “with scientists claiming nosebands and double bridles could cause unnecessary pain and suffering to horses during equestrian events.”

The ABC report prompted an immediate response and official statement from Equestrian Australia, released via EquestrianLife.com:

At Equestrian Australia (EA) events full consideration is given to the welfare of the horse. Trained stewards ensure that equipment rules are followed and are responsible for conducting saddlery checks, including checking nosebands and bits of competing horses.

The noseband check includes a physical check by the steward to guarantee that the noseband is fitted properly and is not having an adverse effect on the horse.

The story and its response, with the upcoming Olympic Games in full view, is only now finding headlines.

But it was a full 4 years ago that renowned horse behavior expert and founder of the Tellington Method Linda Tellington-Jones devoted an entire section of her groundbreaking book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL to the subject of tight nosebands and their detrimental effects. Ahead of her time, as is often the case with her innovative ideas and techniques for bodywork and training, Tellington-Jones brought in expert analysis from two top veterinarians to support her claims that too-tight nosebands are ultimately detrimental to equine performance. Here is an excerpt from her book and key points from Tellington-Jones and two equine veterinarians.

Maybe, finally, things will start to change for the good of the horse?

***

It has become commonplace to ride dressage horses with a very tight noseband (cavesson) and girth. Sometimes riders even use mechanical levers to crank the noseband or girth tighter when their own strength fails. This creates a major conundrum. A dressage horse is expected to be flexible and move fluidly, but the tight noseband and girth prevent free movement of the jaw and restrict the ribs. When any joint in the body is restricted, the movement of all joints is affected so that the horse cannot bend, flex, and achieve free-flowing gaits as expected.

In her seminal book CENTERED RIDING, Sally Swift described a simple exercise that illustrates this phenomenon: Take one hand and shake it. Now, continue to shake the hand and tighten one finger. Notice what happens to your hand…and what happens to your breathing. When you tighten one finger, you tighten the other fingers of the hand, as well as your wrist, on up into your arm, eventually limiting your breathing. One tight finger results in the larger part of your body becoming stiff.

For decades I’ve hoped that prominent veterinarians and trainers in the international dressage world would speak out against the practice of cranking nosebands and girths so tight that sometimes I have found my hands are not strong enough to release them. In 2007, 12 years after I had first visited his
farm and worked with him and Goldstern, Klaus Balkenhol taught a clinic during Equitana in Germany in which he recommended that riders loosen the traditionally tight nosebands and girths, mentioning that I had brought the matter of such restrictive tack inhibiting a horse’s freedom of movement to his attention. At the time I was both surprised and elated, hoping that the riding community would prick up their ears and pay attention. Unfortunately, I do not feel that enough change has come to pass in this area, even with the support of such prominent and successful individuals.

It was a number of years ago that veterinarian Dr. Joyce Harman first stated in one of my newsletters that “a comfortable mouth is as important to a horse’s happiness and performance as saddle fit, good shoeing, and tooth care.”

“For years,” she wrote, “in my quest to help riders improve their horses’ comfort and performance, I have asked them to loosen tight nosebands. When one part of the horse is tight, the rest of the horse cannot move freely—just clench your own jaw and feel how far down your back and shoulders the
tension travels.

“The key to understanding the effect of tight nosebands (and bitting, too) extends far beyond the mouth. It begins with the anatomy of the horse’s tongue, head, and neck, and expands to include how the front part of the body affects movement of the whole horse. The tongue lies partly between the
bones of the jaw (bars of the mouth) and above the jaw. Some of the tongue muscles connect to a small set of bones in the throat called the hyoid bones.

LTJnoseband

“Originating from the hyoid bones are two major neck muscles. One attaches to the sternum (sternohyoideus); the other to the inside of the shoulder (omohyoideus). Thus, there is a direct connection from the tongue to the sternum and shoulder along the bottom of the horse’s neck. Consequently, if you have tension in the tongue, you have tension all the way down to the sternum and shoulder along the bottom of the neck, where you actually want suppleness. Once you have tension to the sternum, the horse cannot raise his back and use the commonly cited ‘circle of muscles’ that allow for collection and the self-carriage desired in dressage.

“Small muscles also connect the hyoid bones to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the poll. The TMJ is an important center for nerves that control the horse’s balance and proprioception. And the poll—its ability to bend and flex—is of central concern to the dressage rider. Because of the small muscles connecting them, there is a very close relationship (which few riders know about) between the horse’s tongue, hyoid bones, TMJ, poll, head, and neck.

“When the horse’s tongue is free and soft, all of this translates into a horse who is better able to move well, with coordination, improved balance, and a significantly lengthened stride.”

Dr. Renee Tucker, a veterinarian certified in equine acupuncture and chiropractic, concurs with Dr. Harman.

“The super-tight noseband,” she says, “what I not-so-fondly refer to as ‘STN,’ not only keeps the horse’s jaw from opening, but in a lot of cases prevents the lower jaw from moving forward and backward. When a horse is flexed at the poll, the lower jaw needs to move forward—just bend your own neck to bring your head toward your chest, and notice how your lower jaw moves forward to accommodate the movement.

“When the lower jaw is prevented from moving forward, the horse’s tongue gets ‘bunched up’ in his mouth. The amount of ‘bunching’ depends on tongue size and the arch above the roof of the mouth (both of which vary from horse to horse). I believe this is why we see many horses with STN trying to stick their tongue out the side of their mouth—there is no room in there! Especially for breathing!

“The joint with the most proprioceptive nerves in the horse’s entire body is the TMJ. When the horse’s lower jaw cannot move, it cannot, therefore, ‘transmit’ accurate positioning data to the horse’s body, which results in poor movement and performance.

“A tight noseband means the horse cannot breathe, cannot flex at the poll comfortably, and doesn’t know where he is in space. I feel justified in saying that this is not desirable when trying to attain optimal performance from any horse, and is especially problematic in the case of the dressage horse.”

***

“Finally, this important issue of tight nosebands is being more publicly and scientifically addressed,” says Tellington-Jones in response to the recent veterinary study and articles in both mainstream and equestrian media. “Tight nosebands cause unimaginable pain, and as I explained in my book, it is a fact that restricting the movement of any joint in the body inhibits and effects ALL joints. Therefore tight nosebands actually inhibit movement.”

It seems that now, with the whole world about to watch the 2016 Olympic Games, we should be able to finally demand more conscientious, fair, compassionate treatment of the elite equine athletes who will accompany their riders to Rio. Are we not outraged to discover human athletes suffering psychologically and physically at their hands of their trainers in pursuit of a medal?

 

Dressage-w-MBS-300DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Click HERE for to download a free chapter or to order.

 

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

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LTJBookClub

World-renowned authority on animal behavior and creator of the Tellington Method Linda Tellington-Jones invites members of the public to join her and her popular Online Book Club for a conversation with Dr. Allen Schoen about compassion’s role when working with animals, and much, much more.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Schoen for close to 20 years,” says Linda. “He’s been on our veterinary advisory board for Tellington TTouch Training and we co-taught a workshop together in the late 1980s—sharing our modalities with horses and dogs—he with his holistic, integrative veterinary approach and I with Tellington TTouch.

“With his new book he is once again laying a fresh trail. THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN offers new possibilities to the thoughtful horse owner.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 3.47.16 PMOn Wednesday, March 23, 2016, from 6:00-7:00 pm PT (9:00-10:00 pm ET), you can be part of this revolutionary discussion. You do not have to have read THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN to participate and learn from this extraordinary meeting of two of the world’s most exciting advocates for equine welfare. The Book Club meeting is free and open to all.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/849145520

Or iPhone one-tap: 16465588656,849145520# or 14086380968,849145520#

Or Telephone: Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 849 145 520

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=UwSFoJWg-SZrbkunk0wS385C33H4xNo6

 

“I love this book! I believe the Compassionate Equestrian concept is a perfectly presented foundation to support our aim to attain a new level of relationship with the horse. At Equitana in Germany this year we celebrated my 40 years of teaching the Tellington Method around the world, and I was asked what my goal is for the next 20 years. Well, my goal is to increase acceptance of recognizing each horse’s individuality so that more people learn to ride, compete, and work with the horse, coming from a place of compassion and understanding.

“THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN is a wonderful, wonderful book that helps show just how more of us can join together to spread this message. I love the authors’ 25 Principles as they give us such clear guideposts as we take steps toward a future where science merges with spirituality. I think it is just brilliant!” —Linda Tellington-Jones, Internationally Acclaimed Authority on Animal Behavior, Author, and Founder of The Tellington Method

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AlchemyFB

There’s been something missing from the news in general of late (and if your life is anything like mine, you can’t seem to escape that constant flow of “what’s happening”…all day, every day, yesterday, today, tomorrow). The problem is, it seems the “what’s happening” is all pretty dark, pretty frightening, pretty fractious, pretty upsetting. If you dig deep below the fold, you might find a story that dares flirt with sunshine, but that takes effort your weary self might just not have on tap.

Of course, there is a ripple effect to take into account here, too. Our glowering brow impacts everyone we come into contact with in the course of a day. Our frustration spreads faster than this year’s norovirus. Our anxiety transfers with a worried look or concerned cough. And not just to people—our mood wreaks havoc on our horses.

Over the past few years, TSB has published several books that highlight the importance of manning our mental ship and preparing ourselves emotionally in order to interact with our horses in a fair, calm, and positive way: Linda Tellington-Jones’ DRESSAGE FOR MIND, BODY & SOUL; Dr. Allen Schoen and Susan Gordon’s THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN; and Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis’ THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS.

“I think joy is the most important ingredient in everything we do, say, share, and experience in this world,” writes classical dressage master Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS. “We see so many people who are so serious about things all the time. And it’s like the seriousness, the worry, the guilt—all that ‘fear stuff’—is killing the very essence of what they want to accomplish.

“Joy is a product of love, which is one of the two emotions I’ve described as having a direct impact on our riding. Joy and love are thus, in effect, the same. When we are happy and able to give happiness to others, transmitting our joy and love to our horses and to other people, we experience what has to be one of the most powerful feelings known to man.

“Constant perseverance means that we need to be dedicated to joy and the ‘giving’ of happiness to others. We need to make an effort, a constant effort. It is so easy to get up in the morning and find 500 good reasons not to be happy. We have only one real reason to be happy, and that is that we want to be happy. Therefore, we need to ‘practice happiness.’ We need to ‘practice joy.’ And we need to constantly remind ourselves to constantly be in that state of joy.

Click image to order.

Click image to order.

“There is always, in life, some kind of serious situation going on. There are some moments when we must see the ‘true face of life,’ and sometimes it is not very enjoyable. But I think that at the end of the day we have to count our happy moments and be satisfied. (Our horses will love us for it!)

“We have to make a decision about the ‘Happiness Factor’ before our day starts: Are we going to the ‘Depressing World’ or the ‘Happy World’? There are a lot of happy things, joyful things, happening all around us. Just the simple act of putting smiles on our faces can produce many smiles in the people we meet each day. A smile goes a long way.

“Remember, our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. We need to free ourselves from confirmed ego and from destructive emotions. This is the best thing we can do for ourselves and others. This is the best thing we can do for our horses.”

 

If you, too, hunger for the “Happy World,” you can make the Happiness Factor work for you. It is easy enough to take the first steps recommended by all the authors mentioned in this post: smile and breathe…and go spend time with your horse.

 

THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter.

 

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

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F&MClinic2016

When Cavalia—the amazing equestrian-themed spectacular that has now toured North America for over a decade—first dazzled audiences in 2003, few people knew of Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado. But the whole world was soon abuzz with talk of the display these two remarkable individuals and their unparalleled cast of beautiful horses provided their audience.

“With his wife Magali and her sister Estelle, Pignon is the key to Cavalia,” said Jacki Lyden on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

“Pignon engages in a scene of blissful play with three beautiful white stallions…the impression is one of an intense bond between horses and man—the most emotionally charged moment of the show,” raved Don Shirley in the Los Angeles Times.

“I believe that Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado are two of the finest horsemen in the history of horsemanship,” affirms renowned behaviorist, trainer, and founder of the Tellington Method Linda Tellington-Jones.

Now, for the FIRST TIME EVER, Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado, authors of GALLOP TO FREEDOM and BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE, are coming to the US to teach their methods and share their ideals, and YOU can join them!

Fred2 copy

MARCH 19 & 20, 2016

Presented by Firehawk Ranch

Held at the beautiful Valhalla Stables in Aubrey, Texas

Frédéric will guide attendees interested in connecting with their horses at Liberty, and Magali (a Grand Prix dressage rider as well as performer) will share valuable dressage principles.

Liberty with Frédéric is $400 for 2 days, 1-hour private lesson each day.

Dressage with Magali is $350 for 2 days, 1-hour semi-private lesson each day.

Auditors (limited seating) is $75 per day if confirmed before February 19, $80 per day after.

Mag1

 

The application and video submission deadline is February 15, 2016, and we understand the clinic is already almost full, so hurry to be part of this amazing opportunity!

To apply to train with Frédéric and Magali, register to audit, or for more information, CLICK HERE.

 

The bestselling books GALLOP TO FREEDOM and BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information about Frédéric and Magali’s books.

 

Have you seen Frédéric and Magali’s newest show? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see it tour North America?

 

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Linda Tellington-Jones in 1995 riding Gershwin, at the time one of British Olympian Carl Hester's mounts, bridleless.

Linda Tellington-Jones in 1995 riding Gershwin, at the time one of British Olympian Carl Hester’s mounts, bridleless.

There is a common analogy that compares a horse wearing a tight noseband or girth, or a poorly fitting saddle, to a person wearing a pair of shoes that are too small—perhaps trying to walk all day or dance all night in them.

“But this analogy has been around a long time,” says Linda Tellington-Jones in her thoughtful and provocative book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, “and has inspired little change that I can see.”

(Perhaps because many of us sacrifice comfort for fashion—at least when it comes to footwear!)

So with the particularly prevalent issue of too-tight nosebands and ill-fitting tack of any sort in mind (and this applies to all equestrian disciplines), take a moment to think about your own athletic body and how you ensure its ability to perform as you need it.

How you dress for a training session, riding lesson, or show?

Do you show up to ride your best in the brand new pair of riding boots you just purchased and have worn only once before?

Not likely, as you know the top edge of the stiff new boots might bite into the back of your legs behind your knees when your feet are in the stirrups. This will be annoying and potentially painful after warming up, proving a distraction during your test and maybe causing you to hold your legs tensely in a way that eases your discomfort, sacrificing your position and ability to aid.

Do you wear the breeches from three years ago that perhaps are too tight in the waist, digging into the flesh there, possibly leaving a mark on the skin when you unbutton them?

Again, the discomfort caused would certainly prove problematic, inhibiting your ability to focus and to aid your horse correctly.

Do you wear the too-small sports bra that makes it difficult for you to breathe? Do you wear the helmet that is too tight and causes a headache?

“I feel confident saying that given the above, all of you would choose clothing and equipment for yourself that is the most comfortable and least distracting during your time in the saddle,” says Linda.

 

Linda presenting at the 2011 Xenophon Society Seminar at Klaus Balkenhol's stable in Rosendahl, Germany.

Linda presenting at the 2011 Xenophon Society Seminar at Klaus Balkenhol’s stable in Rosendahl, Germany.

 

In fact, millions of dollars are spent each year by manufacturers to develop such apparel—boots and breeches and undergarments that promise comfort and freedom of movement as you ask your body to perform its athletic best, both in obvious and subtle manners.

It is then most egregious that we expect differently of our horses. We wrap them tightly, constrict their tender flesh, bind their middle…then warm them up and tighten it all some more, sometimes with the help of mechanical cranks.

After all this, we ask them to extend and collect smoothly, bound lightly over the ground, focus on our most subtle of aids, and perform difficult collected movements for extended periods of time.

This is the equivalent of dressing you in stiff new boots, breeches that are too tight, a too-small sports bra, and a helmet that doesn’t fit, and then asking you to sit the trot for 45 minutes (without sacrificing proper position) while reciting the alphabet backward. To add to the stress of the scenario, someone will poke you in the ribs with a piece of metal every time you start to slouch or lose track of which letter you last stated aloud.

Sounds a little like a refined form of torture, doesn’t it?

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

“I have said it many times, in many places before, and I will say it again here,” emphasizes Linda, “The trend that insists that horses must be trained and competed in tight nosebands and saddles ‘clamped’ in place with extremely tightened girths is unnecessary and cruel. [In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL] I demonstrate that these practices go against the recommendation of veterinary science and your own common sense as an athlete. It is your responsibility as a rider to develop your horse from the ground, and develop your seat through proper training, in order to control your horse from the saddle. When properly done…there is absolutely no need for constrictive devices in an attempt to achieve submission.”

DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL has been called “wonderful” and “a very, very good read” by reviewers. It is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

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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