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Posts Tagged ‘Natural Horsemanship’

HorsemanTikMaynard-horseandriderbooks

Tik Maynard spent several months learning from Bruce Logan in Loving, Texas.

In his new memoir IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN, TSB author Tik Maynard tells a story about how he submitted his first query letter to a publisher:

I spent weeks writing, editing, and re-editing my query letter to them. I finally took a deep breath, and hit send.

Opened a vein.

I did not hear back from them.

Not for four-and-a-half years.

In 2016 we reached out to Tik, having read a piece he wrote for Practical Horseman Magazine. We were impressed by his writing and inquired as to whether he was interested in writing a book. Needless to say we were pretty horrified to discover that he had actually submitted a concept to us years before, and somehow we had not responded in any way, shape, or form! Explanation as to how this faux pas might have occurred aside, we were thrilled to eventually sync up, and the result, we at TSB feel, is something pretty special.

IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN chronicles Tik’s experiences—good and bad—as a working student in the horse industry. This unglamorous “apprenticeship” position is never a walk in the park, and Tik had his share of frustrating and demoralizing episodes. But they were balanced by a steady progression in knowledge and understanding of what it takes to train, ride, and care for horses. Readers find themselves transfixed, following along as one year becomes three, what began as a casual adventure gradually transforms, and a life’s purpose comes sharply into focus.

We recently caught up with Tik—who is not only on the road teaching clinics and promoting the release of his book, but is also expecting a baby with wife Sinead Halpin in the fall. With such a big year ahead, we thought it best to ask him some of life’s most important questions.

 

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Exploring the world of eventing on his horse Sapphire.

 

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

TM: First, lets hope its a big island with lots of grass and fresh water for the horse.

As for breed, I like all horses, so probably something useful for whatever type of island I’m on. Like maybe a heavy horse so I can pull logs to make a boat? Or a Thoroughbred if it was a big island and I had to get around a lot.

As for a book: The Grapes of Wrath.  

 

TSB: If you could do one thing with horses that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

TM: Compete in Road to the Horse.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

TM: That we can laugh at jokes and laugh at ourselves.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

TM: I’m kind of weird; I like all horses. But wait, is soundness a quality? I would want a really healthy, sound horse. I have a lot of patience with horses, but rehabbing horses can stretch it.

 

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Tik laughing with his wife (and best friend) Sinead.

 

TSB: What is your greatest fear?

TM: Right at this moment, that something will happen to my wife or my kid during the next few months. If that is too serious for this Q-and-A, then total baldness.

 

TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?

TM: My walnut desk, made in the United States, and the merlot-red leather chair that I bought at the same time. It easily cost three times what I would have spent on desk—I could probably have gotten one at a garage sale—but I love it so much. My father-in-law paid for it, and I will always remember him when I sit at it to write.

 

TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

TM: Well, I love singing, and I always say that singing should be judged based on enthusiasm rather than skill. But secretly I have always wished that when I sang all my notes didn’t sound the same to other people.

 

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

TM: Everything I like gets eaten, and it’s all the stuff I don’t like that is in my refrigerator all the time—like the blue cheese somebody bought for us at Christmas. Or the deli meats that my wife bought before she went away for five days to teach a clinic. I don’t eat most meats, so I usually end up giving them to Zeppo, our perfect, black-and-white dog. 

Growing up with two brothers, I learned quick to eat the good stuff right away. I love chocolate milk, for example, but that never lasts.

 

 

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

TM: Having just the right number of projects in my life. Too many and I get stressed, too few and I feel unproductive.

Also of course, the right kinds of projects. I loved writing this book, but at the same time I was working on my Green Card application, which was not a fun thing to do on a rainy afternoon.  (And yes, I just got my Green Card! I’m from Vancouver, BC, originally.)

 

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

TM: Most of the famous people I admire probably aren’t great conversationalists.  Legends from the horse world, like Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Reiner Klimke, well… I guess I would rather watch them ride, or ride with them, than sit down for a chat with them. 

And writers are often known for being better at writing than speaking. I love Steinbeck—I could read his books all day!—but I don’t know if I would want to meet with him. It might take away from how cool he is in my mind.  

I guess if I were to have a conversation with somebody famous, I would probably choose somebody good at talking, somebody funny…. Maybe Ellen Degeneres?

 

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Tik (on the bike) with his brother Telf, father Canadian show jumper Rick Maynard, and Honey.

 

TSB: What’s your motto?

TM: “What’s a motto?”

“Nothing. What’s a motto with you?”

LOL. That (obviously) is Pumbaa, Simba, and Timon.

I don’t really have a motto, but what I’m most excited about right now is Sinead and I are having a son—due in September—and I’m really looking forward to watching kids’ movies. The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles. And my favorite: The Sound of Music! I could watch The Sound Of Music over and over.

 

TSB: You didn’t answer the question.

TM: Okay, if you really push me for a motto it would be something in between two mottos that I like. “Do your best,” is the first, and “Give yourself permission to not be perfect, so you can be great,” is the second.

Which brings us full circle, because in the middle are the horsemen.  

 

In the Middle Are the Horsemen-horseandriderbooksTik Maynard’s new book IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

 

In the Vancouver area? Check out Tik’s book launch party at the Southlands Riding Club clubhouse, Friday, June 22, beginning at 6:30 pm. All are welcome!

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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Sometimes we need to seek out the perfect cover image for one of our new books or DVDs. Usually, we have a general sense of what we’re looking for: a specific discipline, a particular movement, or maybe a certain moment that shows a compelling connection between horse and human.

In the fall of 2016 we re-released the bestselling classic DRESSAGE IN HARMONY by the great dressage master Walter Zettl. In its original format, Zettl’s book cover was unillustrated, and we thought it was time for this wonderful work to have a whole new look. Our search for the perfect cover image led us to a very special photograph by Coco Baptist, which shows a glowingly happy rider, a soft and connected horse, and Walter Zettl beside them–the open and positive presence for which he has come to be known over his 65+ years of teaching.

 

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Little did we know that this rider was Lori Northrup, the founder of the Parelli Foundation, and the horse was a Tennessee Walker! We were thrilled to discover there was such an interesting story behind our perfect book cover, so we caught up with Northrup recently to find out more about her and her horse Magnolia.

 

TSB: You were awarded New York’s 2016 Horseperson of the Year in recognition of the work you do with the Parelli Foundation and Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH). How did you get involved with these organizations and why are they causes close to your heart?

LN: I had founded the Parelli Foundation (originally called the Parelli Education Institute) for Pat and Linda Parelli in 2012, and we grew it to fulfill their mission of making the world a better place for horses and the people who love them, specifically through education for therapeutic horsemanship, youth, horse welfare, and for those who want to teach others.  It has been a wonderful journey, and I’m proud to have been able to be involved with advancing the Parelli Natural Horsemanship movement, which has changed my life for the better!

About 15 years ago I read a novel called From the Horse’s Mouth (Rhoman Books, 2002), which dramatically brought the cruelties of the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses to my attention.  I had bred, raised, and trail-ridden Tennessee Walkers for years, and was moved to join the volunteer effort to end this abuse. That book led me to join FOSH, where I served as Board member.

TSB: Can you share a story about one horse you’ve had over the years that taught you an important life or horse-related lesson?

LN: Magnolia, the Tennessee Walking Horse mare featured on the cover of DRESSAGE IN HARMONY, was born on our farm, bred from our own mare and stallion here at the farm, and has been the highlight of my horse-learning journey over the past 15 years.  From starting her with Parelli methods, to trail riding her all over New York State and Arizona, to my becoming a 2-star Instructor in Parelli, to wonderful dressage lessons with Walter Zettl, to fabulous gaiting lessons with David Lichman, and to circus performances with inspiration from Katja Schuman. Magnolia has done it all with me and is a very special part of my horse journey.

TSB: You are founder and chairman of your own company, North Park Innovations Group. How have balanced your professional life, horse life, and volunteer work over the years?

LN: Life has ebbed and flowed from focus in each of these areas. Right now I am working more professionally than I have had to in the last 20 years, so my horses are getting lots of free time!  But as it’s the dark, cold part of winter, we are all just as happy with that arrangement, I think. The volunteer work has been extremely rewarding over the past 15 years. And my horse life is always a very special treat, even if it’s just cleaning the barn in the dark, early mornings!

 

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TSB: How did you come to ride with Walter Zettl? How has his teaching impacted you and how you work with your horses?

LN: Thanks to my dressage instructor Trish Hutchinson, who is now also our Farm Manager, I was introduced to the possibility of riding my gaited horse with Walter Zettl.  Although I’m a “early beginner” when it comes to my dressage understanding, each lesson has been a wonderful discovery. Walter Zettl’s vast knowledge and gentle appreciation is a treasure.

TSB: If you could share one lesson you learned from Walter Zettl with other horse people, what would it be?

LN: To see a master of dressage be so willing to be patient with a lower-level student, and one on a gaited horse, was quite amazing. Walter Zettl showed me that there’s no reason for me, and for others, not to feel comfortable and confident learning from him.

Photos courtesy of Lori Northrup.

 

DRESSAGE IN HARMONY by Walter Zettl is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

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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Long-reining is an incredible type of groundwork that can advance your connection and communication with a horse in ways you might not believe—until you get in the saddle and experience the unbelievable softness and willingness in your horse that long-reining techniques tap and nurture.

But before you pick up a set of long-reins and try to master “feel”—that invisible sense of understanding between you and a horse—with a horse, Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship recommends practicing with another person. His answer is a simple game that James first learned from fellow horseman and TSB author Jonathan Field (Field wrote THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES). Field and James use the “Bucket  Game” to demonstrate to their students how to become aware of the two-way conversation you have with your horse whenever you work with him, and how to begin to develop “feel”—the ability to read subtle nonverbal communication, innate in us all.

The Bucket Game begins with two people holding the ends of a stretched-out long rein while each standing on upside-down buckets. With this small platform as the base of stability, communication and feel become paramount—any tug of the rope from the other person is magnified. The object of the game, of course, is to either collect all the long-rein or get the other person off her bucket.

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At this point, it does not become a simple tug-of-war where you just try to take rein with brute force. Why? On the ground, you can spread your feet, or lean back to brace into an all-out pull. But, on a bucket, you don’t have that luxury and must be more precise with your movements. You have to feel the rein to know when to make contact or when to release a bit of slack before you get yanked off your bucket. Like fishing, you reel in and feed out line, trying to anticipate the other person’s moves. With “feel,” you will be able to pull the other person off her bucket or tug the rein from her hands because you can read her unspoken
communication and time your responses to topple her balance.

How does this relate to your horse? In the book LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP, Dan James and his partner Dan Steers explain one possible scenario:

Imagine a horse that tends to march off too quickly when you ask him to go while leading or driving him. You don’t want him to charge forward with too much speed without you having learned feel or it can turn into an uncomfortable situation with you out of balance and possibly out of control. This is somewhat like one car towing another car, they say: When the car in the lead moves, it can snap the second car forward at the moment the slack goes out of the chain that connects them. This is just like getting jerked off a bucket or getting pulled off your feet when your horse moves off before you are ready. But when you can anticipate a horse’s movements, you can react better to them and eventually, modify them.

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Dan James uses long-reining on the ground to develop softness and communication with his horses, before he gets in the saddle.

Remember, the horse is constantly communicating his intentions to you—and horses are always honest about their plans. With long-reining, you will learn to read a slight shift of weight or the tension your horse puts on the rein as a signal to what he is going to do. Gaining this skill on the ground will help you become a better, more in-tune rider in the saddle. And the Bucket Game gives you a head start—it’s an easy way to practice, and ultimately helps ensure a happier horse.

LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP and THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES are both available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for LONG-REINING

CLICK HERE for LIBERTY

 

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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We at TSB are very honored to have been part of the team that brought the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD SET to life. Together with Director Cindy Meehl and Cedar Creek Productions, we immersed ourselves in this remarkable horseman’s world of working with horses and the people who want to be with them. Along the way, you can’t help but notice what a fine orator Brannaman is, and when you randomly pull snippets from his lessons, you find that every thought, even shared in a different venue, in a different state, at a different time, with different students, flows seamlessly into his overarching message. Here, then, find 20 of Buck Brannaman’s best quotes. When you’ve read them all, don’t be surprised if you feel like you learned a little something. Even after hearing them and reading them again and again, we still do.

 

“The essence of preparation is to position your horse to where the one thing that he’s most likely to do is exactly what you had in mind…which makes it a perfect time to ask him.”

2  “The horse needs to respect you, but sometimes people confuse respect and fear. And they’re not the same at all.”

3  “Make sure that every time you take a hold of the horse, you have a point; you have a legitimate reason for doing it rather than it just being accidental or you not being aware.”

4  “When riding, ask yourself, ‘What will my horse get out of this if I get what I want?’ Many times, human nature is to take and to not give anything back.“

5  “It’s just like learning how to dance with another human being. You might think you’re really getting something done when you’ve both mastered the hokey-pokey, but depending on how much you want to dance and your passion for dancing, you’re probably going to work your way through the hokey-pokey and move on to something else.”

6  “I don’t believe in waiting for a horse to do the wrong thing and then punishing him after the fact. You can’t just say ‘No’ to a horse. You have to redirect a negative behavior with a positive one—something that works for both of you. It’s as though you’re saying, ‘Instead of doing that, we can do this…together.’”

7  “Fear has to do with helplessness. The only thing that conquers it is knowledge. When you learn about how a horse thinks and makes decisions, that helplessness goes away.”

8  “I’m just trying to get people to understand horses. You have to be consistent and logical, use your brain, and not be emotional and not lose your temper.”

9  “Feel for the horse. I can’t stress how important this is.”

10  “Respect the fact that he’s thinking, that he’s searching… if he ever found that out about you, he wouldn’t dream of bucking you off.”

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11  “You can be a leader without being intimidating. The horse can be your partner without being your slave. I’m trying to keep the best part of the horse in there. I’m not trying to take anything away from him.”

12  “The horse isn’t so different from us. In order to learn, you have to make mistakes. Then you recalibrate, make a decision, try something different, and try again.”

13  “To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a horse think…and someone allowing a horse to think.”

14  “The idea with a horse is when you see things going in the wrong direction, then you redirect his mind. You don’t wait for him to get into trouble…you try to keep him out of trouble.”

15  “A lot of people, they want it all to be fuzzy and warm and cosmic, but it’s no different with a horse than with a kid…You can’t always be the kid’s best friend. First you have to be the parent.”

16  “You can be strict, but that doesn’t mean you have to be unfair.”

17  “The horse responds to comfort, they respond to peace better than about anything else you could do. So if the horse responds to you and you give him a little peace and comfort that means more to him than anything.”

18  “Where you end up your ride on a horse is so important. It’s a little bit like when you were young and you were dating—that last two minutes of the date can be a real deal breaker. With these horses it’s the same thing…You got to quit on a good note.”

19  “I’ve always wanted to do the right thing by a horse, that’s never changed, its just that as my knowledge grew I’ve been able to offer the horse a better human being.”

20  “I’m still on the move, I’m getting better because I’m still studying. I still want to be a better horseman.”

7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order now.

 

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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OutofWildHere

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JOHN DIEHL, JEAN LOUISA KELLEY AND BEN ASHBROOK | DIRECTED BY PAUL KRIZAN

We’ve all fallen hard for Mark Rashid’s powerful storytelling in his numerous bestselling memoirs about horses, horsemanship, and how humans can enter the mix. Now we’re thrilled to announce the release of his novel OUT OF THE WILD in advance of the debut of the new feature film based on the book.

One dark, vacant, Nevada night cattle rancher Henry McBride closes his eyes, only to open them and find his life suddenly in shambles, with everything that means anything lost to him forever. Overwhelmed by grief and haunted by guilt, Henry drives away from his past as far and as fast as he can. Jobs, towns, and whiskey come and go. He always tells himself he’ll stay just long enough to earn the money he needs to buy his next drink, somewhere else on down the road.

But guest ranch owner Jessie King extends an open and forgiving hand to the cowboy, and the arrival of a young mustang stallion— also wounded and alone—ignites a flicker of recognition in Henry. Like him…broken. With Jessie’s powerful ability to connect with horses, and her gentle attempts to connect with Henry, time slows enough on the ranch to heal, just a little. But Jessie, too, has an imperfect past, and when her former ranch manager returns with murder in mind, the fragile world she, Henry, and the stallion are building together threatens to come crashing down.

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An excerpt from OUT OF THE WILD by Mark Rashid:

Dust rose from under the horses’ feet as they moved in a slow circle around her, and the setting sun gave the entire scene a crimson hue Henry had never seen before. He continued to watch for several minutes, almost in awe at the relationship Jessie had with her horses, and it was only after she had made contact with each one that she made her way back through the herd, climbed through the fence and walked slowly back the way she had come.

As soon as Jessie was out of sight, Henry stepped off the porch and nonchalantly made his way over to the pen she had just vacated. He stood outside the corral for several seconds, looked in every direction to make sure nobody was watching, then climbed through the fence and in with the horses. He stood in the same spot Jessie had when the horses first approached and waited for them to respond. The horses barely acknowledged his presence, and then turned their backs to him and walk away as if he wasn’t even there.

“I’ll be damned,” he said to himself. He turned and looked in the direction Jessie went when she left the pen, and wondered what kind of magic she used on the herd. He looked back at the horses and found they had dispersed all over the pen and gone back to eating the piles of hay scattered on the ground. “How the hell’d she do that?”

OUT OF THE WILD, the novel by Mark Rashid, is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order the book now.

Watch the trailer for OUT OF THE WILD the movie here:

 

“A story of redemption that gives us a glimpse into ways of looking at horses, and perhaps even ourselves, with new eyes.”

—THE HUFFINGTON POST

 

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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GetitRight

Guess what? There have been thousands of times our horses have tried to answer our requests, maybe in several “not-quite-right” ways, but then because of the way we reacted to those small mistakes, they “got spooked”…and then suddenly “not-quite-right” became “oh-so-wrong.”

In his bestselling book THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, Florida-based trainer Sean Patrick explains that Avoidance Behavior is the defense mechanism your horse uses when a situation occurs that is unpleasant (such as water spraying in his ears) or scary (such as being approached with a noisy garbage bag).

“The horse looks for a way to avoid the stimulus or get rid of it,” says Sean.

This can mean he tries to run away, shy, buck, back, or rear. The goal for all of us is to learn the difference between the horse seeking a release point (the moment of “success” when the horse “gets” what you are asking and when the removal of any stimulus should instantly occur), and the horse that is overreacting and trying to avoid the situation altogether.

When approaching your horse with a stimulus, give him a chance to seek, and find, the right answer.

When approaching your horse with a stimulus, give him a chance to seek, and find, the right answer.

 

To begin to learn to recognize Avoidance Behavior and how to deal with it, let’s look at a few common examples and possible causes provided by Sean in his book:

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse bolts away from you as you lift your dressage whip.

Possible Causes: 1) Previous application of the whip has been unfair—for example, the release has not been given at the right moment, or the whip has been used too firmly; 2) The horse does not understand that the whip is not something to fear but to calmly respond to.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse moves his head away from your moving hand, anticipating contact.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is justified in believing that he may be struck by that moving hand and is preparing to get out of the way; 2) The horse has not had enough physical contact to know that he can trust your moving hands.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse takes off running with you on his back, becoming inattentive to your cues.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is growing frustrated with your leg pressure, as a release does not seem to come, no matter how he responds; 2) The horse is being ridden in a place where his fear level has been raised until it is too much for him to handle, such as in an indoor arena on a windy day.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse begins to buck violently while you are riding and is not responding to any form of cue.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is not used to having a rider on his back and bucks out of discomfort or fear; 2) The horse is startled by or unhappy with your use of leg pressure.

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Sean says that of course not all Avoidance Behavior is caused by improper handling. We should also note that a horse that has not had time to build trust in his human handlers and gain experience in that partnership will be more inclined to show it. We can all help our horses develop in ways that ensure Avoidance Behavior appears less and less often through conscious attention to our own use of techniques and our position around the horse and in the saddle; through thoughtful teaching; and by always being aware that scenarios such as these may not help our horses learn. It is our goal to help our horses learn in ways that make their lives safe, purposeful, and happy. And Rule #1 should be to give them a chance to get it right.

Discover more training insight, as well as Sean Patrick’s 33 steps to horse training, in THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information 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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When you are in the book-making business, it is remarkable when one book, in particular and out of the hundreds of others, stays with you. Whatever you are doing, at your desk or in the saddle, making dinner or cleaning up after, the words or ideas or themes just keep surfacing. It’s like gazing out over the side of a boat and watching dolphins gracefully arc up for air and slide back down out of sight…only to arise again a little further on, perhaps this time with a bit more fanfare. Its soothing and invigorating at the same time. Sailors used to say it was good luck. You wanting them to stay with you, guiding you, keeping time and space in its place.

Mark Rashid’s most recent book A JOURNEY TO SOFTNESS is one that stays with you in this way. Rashid shares his lessons as only a master storyteller can: quietly, convincingly, meaningfully. Few words are words alone—they all are weighted with meaning. And there aren’t too many, or too few. I hesitate not for a second in saying that this book is for every horseman and every rider, regardless of discipline or level of ability or competitive aspirations. It will leave you a better, more thoughtful person beside a horse and on his back; it will lead you to greater things in partnership.

And what exactly is “softness”? It is having the sensitivity we need in order to understand when and if the horse tries to “give.” It is about developing the kind of awareness it takes to know when we are working against our horses rather than with them. It is intrinsically linked to the “feel” and connection we all seek—whatever type of horse we ride and whatever kind of saddle we swing up over his back.

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Here are 10 things that I learned from A JOURNEY TO SOFTNESS that keep surfacing, keep my boat on course, and keep me certain I’m this much closer to reaching the destination I desire:

 

1  It’s not what we do that starts us on the path to softness—it’s what we don’t do.

2  Soft hands is a good start, but it doesn’t stop there. Remember your horse feels your entire body.

3  Be a good “dance partner”: be a respectful presence, allow thoughts and movements to blend together, hear the same music.

4  Your “handshake” should be soft, yet very connected—even powerful. Capable of delicate, intricate work, yet strong enough to fix things that need fixing.

5  We think that a touch is a touch and contact is contact…but it isn’t. Each different initial contact invites a different response…the quality of the initial contact creates the magic.

6  If you want to move something without damaging it, don’t back up and hit it as hard as you can—gently nudge it along until the flow of energy helps it gain the desired speed.

Find and stride the “edge of balance”—a point where both you and your horse know what you will do next…even though you haven’t done it yet.

Learn to be okay with “not knowing”—being curious, wondering, having questions helps you be present.

9  Good helicopter pilots spend their flying time secure in the knowledge they can handle whatever is about to go wrong. Be a good “helicopter pilot.”

10  It’s not about working on the horse, it is about being willing to work on the inside of yourself.

 

The best sailors are the ones who do not need or rely on instruments to steer their craft and trim their sails—they need only the feel of the craft and the feel of the sea. And those “good luck dolphins” cresting beside them.

A JOURNEY TO SOFTNESS is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free excerpt.

 

–Senior Editor, Rebecca Didier

 

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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We are so excited to have just released THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE, an autobiographical narrative by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, author of the international bestsellers DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. In this compelling read—what I like to call “Siddhartha for horse lovers”—we travel alongside a young Hempfling as he seeks out life’s deeper mysteries and meaning. We experience his failings, just as we strive for the same understanding he ultimately achieves.

THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE—get yours before everyone else! (Plus, order two or more copies and get 20% off!)

 

 

Here is a free “sneak peek” from THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE:

 

“Come quickly! You must come now! The little stallion—they’ve driven him into the steel cage—he’s bleeding all over and now he can’t get out. You must come quickly!”

Fernando, our neighbor’s chubby son, has climbed the steep hill below us as fast as he can manage and only just has enough wind to shout out his message toward the rear wall of the house. He can’t see me but must have guessed that at this time of day I would be working with one of my stallions behind the half tumbled-down wall.

Finally his little round, red face appears in a large hole in the wall, and he repeats his message before I can say anything to calm him. I have never seen this boy so animated before and decide to forego any questions: it is clearly an emergency. I lead my horse into his stall while I shout to Fernando to go straight to the jeep.

A minute later we are bouncing down the precipitous stony track; the sun is already low on the horizon and even though here in the mountains we are over 100 kilometers from the sea I have, as I often do on evenings like this, the sensation of being able to smell fish in the air. As soon as the sun sets, the smell disappears and is replaced by the strong odor of the pine trees that clothe the slopes.

In front of us, the old house looks across a wide dusty plateau; to the left of us the road, shored up by the ubiquitous, half-crumbled walls that cover the landscape, plunges down to the valley.

Fernando points in an agitated manner with his little arms toward a group of men in front of us. “There they are, the idiots, and now they don’t know what to do!”

“Calm down, Fernando! Let’s first see what’s happened.”

We pull up in front of the group, which stands aside. The boy leaps out and starts to run toward the cage before Antonio stops him.

“You stay put, Fernando, do you hear?”

Only now can I see the tragedy: they’ve driven Pinto, a fiery young stallion, into the narrow steel cage, which is big enough to contain a bullock or a small horse but without leaving the creature the smallest room for movement. Whole herds are trapped by using this dreadful contraption. When the front and back gates of the cage are closed, no resistance is possible. In this case the stallion is thrashing about in such a panic that in addition they have used a serreta, a veritable instrument of torture. Sharp spikes are digging into the tenderest part of the horse’s nostrils and the rope attached to the serreta is now tangled around one of his forelegs. Any attempt to move him or indeed free him from the cage only increases his panic and tears his nostrils even more severely.

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Antonio, the manager, comes toward me, saying, “Este caballo es malo, malo, malo!” “He’s a bad, bad, bad horse!”

Through gritted teeth, I take a deep breath before greeting him as civilly as I can.

“You’ve a problem here,” I say. “What happened?”

He replies but I am not really listening. I slowly approach the cage. I see the serreta, which by now has reduced the nostrils to a bleeding lump of flesh, and my blood boils. I pause a moment as Antonio looks questioningly at me. I go toward Jose.

“Give me your knife,” I say, “and now beat on the back of the cage with your stick!”

He looks over momentarily at his father, but Antonio is impassive and nods without saying a word. The youth does what I ask, and the little stallion jerks his head upward in fright and to one side. Now I can get hold of the rope to sever it. At this point his front foreleg is so bent that he is almost lying on his side; the right hind leg has slipped through the bars of the cage and every convulsion only aggravates his situation. I ask the group of men to back away from the cage and give me space.

I gaze into the evening sky at the setting sun. I feel the calm. I feel the tension draining away. I feel the chaos of the situation like a knot—one that can gradually be undone.

“Be still, little horse! Be still!”

I can see that Antonio and the others trust me enough to leave me alone. Suddenly I feel as if I am observing the scene from a
distance. I am aware of a change of scents in the air: The wind has veered to the southwest, and it is pleasantly warm as it blows softly up from the valley below, carrying the heavy scent of the herbs that carpet the hillside. I breathe deeply and slowly, relishing the beautiful, mild evening; I feel the warmth of the sun on my left cheek and the breeze ruffling my hair. Once again I take a deep breath and enjoy the soft, balmy air. My fingertips begin to stroke the sweat-drenched neck of the little stallion. His eyes are now half closed and he has become completely calm. Only the horse can hear my voice as I describe the beauty of the evening to him.

 

Be among the first to read the rest of THE MESSAGE OF THE HORSE by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, available for the first time in English in a beautiful translation by David Walser.

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How did this...

How did this…

 

How to make the perfect first pony?

Take equal parts patience and naughtiness, fold in a dozen years’ experience, general good nature, and a kind heart. Add a healthy dollop of sturdiness and a sprinkle of smarts. Mix gently with strokes, treats, and a child’s adoration.

And voila. You have the beginnings of an equestrian career.

 

...become this? It started with a good pony.

…become this? It started with a good pony.

 

In his beautiful and illuminating book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, horseman Jonathan Field shares the story of his first, perfect pony, and how his early years bonded to a little buckskin were the reason he strives for horse-human harmony today.

“I was lucky enough to be born into a horse-loving family,” Jonathan writes. “My mother was a dressage enthusiast and my father a working cowboy, farrier, and colt-starter. Horses were a part of family conversation as long as I can remember. where my parents grew up, sometimes they actually rode their horse to a one-room schoolhouse!

“My earliest memories are of being around horses, hanging out in the barn cleaning stalls, and traveling with my mom to shows on the weekend with my first horse, a beautiful buckskin named Wee Mite Buck. Mite was the best horse I could have had as a kid. My parents did the right thing and found a really quiet, well-trained kid’s horse. Mite was a sweetheart!

 

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“I remember on my way to my first show as we drove into the show grounds and I saw all the horses, trailers, and people, I said to Mom, ‘I never want to do this again.’ I was so nervous.

“We got Mite unloaded from our little two-horse straight-haul and ready for our first class, a flat hack-style class. Thinking the worst, I reluctantly entered the arena, but I listened to the announcer and followed his directions. He would say, ‘Trot please, trot,’ and Mite would trot; ‘Walk please, walk,’ and Mite would walk. When we all lined up and my name was called to get my first-place ribbon, I began to think this showing thing was actually pretty good fun.

“It was no different in the Western and trail classes. As we drove out of the show grounds that evening, I was holding that big high-point ribbon in my hands, and I thought I was pretty good. Of course, Mite was the real star, but I didn’t know it at the time. And leaving through the same gate I had entered with such trepidation earlier that day, I couldn’t wait for my next show with Mite!

“Looking back, Mite did more for me then I could have ever imagined. She was so good that she made showing fun for a nine-year-old boy—one of only two boys on the show grounds that day. All my friends had taken up other sports, but I had Mite—and lots of girls to hang out with, too.

“For the next several years, Mite helped to build my confidence and solidify my commitment to horses. My next horse, Cody, made me realize how little I actually knew. It took everything I had just to stay on him and survive the day. If my first horse had been Cody instead of Mite, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here sharing this book with you. Without my knowing, Mite had inspired me to become a horseman.

 

How did this...

How did this…

 

“For years after Mite, I longed for a relationship with a horse similar to one I had with her. However, I couldn’t reproduce it with other horses no matter what I did. But my closeness and connection with Mite showed me what was possible with a horse, so I always kept trying…It wasn’t until I played with horses at liberty 20 years later that I got back the pure excitement and joy I had with Mite.

“My experiences have enabled me, many times, to ride off into the sunset with a happy and willing partner–my horse–and I would wish that for you, too.”

 

...become this? A desire to have fun and connect with horses.

…become this? A desire to have fun and connect with horses.

 

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Read more stories about the horses Jonathan has worked with over the years, as well as learn for yourself how fun and beneficial playing at liberty can be for you and your horse. It can be the first step to connection like you’ve never experienced before. THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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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 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.

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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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