A Thank You Gift to All Trafalgar Square Books Blog Readers!

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As we cross into the land of “hundreds of thousands” of faithful blog readers, TSB just wants to say thank you! We hope your visits to the TSB blog provide you great riding, training, and horse-care tips, as well as information about exciting equine events around the world, fun glimpses behind-the-barn-doors in the lives of top riders and horse experts, and up-close-and-personal interviews and features with our amazingly diverse, talented, and experienced authors.

Trafalgar Square Books and our online storefront www.HorseandRiderBooks.com remains devoted to providing horse lovers everywhere with the very best in riding and horsemanship education. As a thank you for visiting us as you further your equestrian skills and knowledge, please use this coupon on your next book or DVD purchase:

 TSB Warehouse Coupon

 

“Instead” Horsemanship

TSB author Melinda Folse chooses horses INSTEAD.

TSB author Melinda Folse chooses horses INSTEAD.

 

QUICK! Take this short quiz:

Do you often hear yourself saying: “My best riding years are behind me,” or “I missed my chance to ride with so-and-so,” or “My life led me away from horses”?

2  When it comes to horses and riding, do you define yourself more by what you aren’t anymore, rather than what you are?

3  When it comes to having horses in your life, are you choosing the path of least resistance?

TSB author Melinda Folse, author of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES, says that having horses in our lives, and riding well now, later, and everywhere in between, is by all means doable, whatever our circumstances. She says making strides to ensure our lives accommodate our love for horses is about changing the way we think.

 

Instead of:

“I wish I had been a working student for so-and-so when I had the chance” (and trust me, I’ve recited this one to myself far more than once!)

You think:

“I will audit a clinic with so-and-so next summer.”

 

Instead of:

“I should have pursued riding when I was young and athletic.”

You think:

“Learning to ride in middle age will be a concussion-free way to tone my body and keep me fit.”

 

Instead of:

“I should have bought my own horse before I became a father/mother.”

You think:

“It will be so much fun to teach my kids how to help with barn chores.”

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Melinda Folse says, “Telling yourself that the time to have enjoyed horses is in your past is so often the ‘path of least resistance’…dare to choose a different trail, and the challenges will be far exceeded by your eventual rewards.”

We all have time for horses, if we clear our mental space with “Instead” Horsemanship. Go ahead and reframe your expectations to include a weekly dose of horse time. I mean, really—is there anything you’d rather be doing instead?

 

THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

24 Hours in the Life of WonderHorseWoman Lynn Palm

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a top rider, trainer, judge, or clinician? Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com) is tracking down its top authors and asking them to pull back the curtains and let us take a quick peek into their lives. In our fifth installment in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series, we caught up with “WonderHorseWoman” Lynn Palm.

Lynn is not only the author of THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION and YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WESTERN DRESSAGE, she’s won 34 World and Reserve World Championships; four Superhorse titles, AQHA Female Equestrian of the Year, and many more awards and accolades throughout her career in the spotlight, which has now spanned over 40 years. She and her husband Cyril Pittion-Rossillon conduct training courses and clinics across the country. Lynn is an Advisory Director of the Western Dressage Association of America, and makes regular appearances at expos and special events, such as her popular bridleless riding demonstrations at the World Equestrian Games.

Lynn has shown horses on the flat and over fences, in Western, hunt seat, and dressage saddles. And NOW we hear she’s taking up a whole new sport, to boot!

So just how does Lynn fit it all in? Check out her typical day:

 

24HourLynnPalm

 

Just a Regular Ol’ Spring/Summer/Fall Day with Lynn Palm

5:00 a.m. Still sleeping, I hope!

5:30 a.m. I wake up in the spring, summer, fall at 5:30, with all my dogs. In the winter I get up around 6:30 a.m.

6:00 a.m.  My morning chores: making coffee, unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry, planning meals for the day. If I have clinics, I start preparing lunch and dinner for at least 20 people and often more!

6:30 a.m. I feed my wonderful dogs: 3 labs and 2 mini longhair dachshunds.

7:00 a.m. I check my gardens and greenhouse, and then get dressed for the day while drinking my coffee. I make a protein fruit smoothie and take my vitamins!

7:30 a.m.  In the summer, by now I’m getting to the barn to ride my first horse before feeding. Spring and fall I start riding at 8:30 a.m., and in the winter I may ride in the afternoon, switching my day to ride with our warm afternoon sun!

8:00 a.m.  I’m riding horses and following up with necessary calls for the day.

8:30 a.m.  Still riding horses, and finding time to check in with Marie Frances (my office manager) and Cyril (my husband) about what’s up for their day. Cyril also works our horses, and we discuss our saddle business and what orders or leads he may have about our hunt seat and dressage saddles we have made in France.

 

Lynn Palm has written two important books for Western dressage riders: THE RIDER'S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION and YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WESTERN DRESSAGE. .

Lynn Palm has written two important books for Western dressage riders: THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION and YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WESTERN DRESSAGE.

 

9:00 a.m.  I’m in the barn, checking on all the horses for health or care, confirming supplies needed, and discussing with the farm manager what he is doing on the farm for the day.

9:30 a.m.  On another horse, while my staff turn out some horses and plans for grooming and care of horses and the stable for the rest of the day.

10:00 a.m.  I am training horses in our wonderful training field with the big Live Oak Trees.

10:30 a.m. Training horses in the Outdoor Jump Field.

11:00 a.m.  Training horses on our 3-acre Natural Obstacle Training Arena.

11:30 a.m. Training horses with ground work in our training paddocks.

12:00 p.m. Training horses still—but now it’s driving to prepare for Combined Driving (a new sport for me this next year!)

12:30 p.m.  Riding horses in the covered arena (if it is raining, as can be the case in the afternoons).

1:00 p.m.  Lunch, swim in the pool, play with dogs!

1:30 p.m.  Shower and clean up from the barn.

2:00 p.m. Office duties: email, Facebook, marketing plans, writing newsletter or editorial for magazines, following up on horse sales, planning shows and clinics, working on remodeling our property in Sarasota, Florida (Southern Reflections – An Equestrian Private Retreat).

3:00 p.m.  More office duties: conference calls with sponsors, companies with product development, reviewing client requests with their horses, making contacts for clinics or expos engagements.

4:00 p.m. Office duties continue, or if we have a clinic going on, I prepare dinner for the students, guests, and staff.

4:30 p.m.  Still in the office: preparing the daily horse training and lesson schedule for the next day.

5:00 p.m. Haven’t left the office but gotta feed my dogs!!

5:30 p.m. Close the office for the day.

 

Lynn with her Labs. Photo by Cappy Jackson from THE RIDER'S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION.

Lynn with her Labs. Photo by Cappy Jackson from THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION.

 

6:30 p.m. I’m watching Nightly News on NBC if I can!

7:00 p.m.  Preparing dinner for Cyril and me, and friends if we have some over (which is often).

7:30 p.m.  Cocktails at the Red Fox Inn or sitting on the front porch enjoying the sunset—talking about the day or what is happening in the horse world with Cyril, Marie Frances, and/or horsey friends. My dogs have cocktails, too: marrow bones, which they love so much!

8:00 p.m.  Dinner in the main dining room, in front of the TV if it is just Cyril and me (of course with the dogs) or at poolside—we have a wonderful pool area with lots of beautiful landscape.

9:00 p.m. Cleaning up dinner or maybe sitting at the bonfire in a courtyard beside the pool.

9:30 p.m. In bed watching The Voice or America’s Got Talent or sports.

10:00 p.m.  Up again! Time for Night Check on all the horses.

10:30 p.m. Sleeping!

 

Lynn Palm’s excellent books THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION and YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WESTERN DRESSAGE are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

 

Read the other installments in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

Daniel Stewart

Doug Payne

Janet Foy

Clinton Anderson

In Honor of Independence Day, TSB Gives You Four Ways to Achieve an Independent Seat

July4 2014

 

No matter our favorite breed of horse or chosen discipline; whatever our age or skill level, if we ride horses, we yearn for a balanced, stable, and independent seat that allows us to move with the horse and direct him using subtle aids without interfering with his ability to perform.

In honor of July 4, 2014, we at TSB are sharing four of our favorite exercises to help develop a little seat independence in all of us:

 

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The Teeter-Totter from Centered Riding 2 by Sally Swift

  • Stand quietly and comfortably erect, feet slightly apart.
  • With your whole body straight, tip forward as far as you can without having to take a step to catch yourself.
  • Hold yourself in this extreme position with your feet quiet. Notice how much tension there is in your body, your feet, legs, torso, and neck.
  • Come back to a balanced position in the center and relax.
  • Now lean backward and notice again the degree of tension in your whole body, especially up the front of your thighs and torso.
  • Come back to the center and feel the freedom and ease of being in what I call “pure balance.”
  • Now imagine you are on your horse–you need to be in “pure balance” with your center directly over your feet to ensure you are not unconsciously transferring tension to the horse. This “pure balance” applies to all seats and disciplines. Practice the Teeter-Totter exercise regularly to build and maintain awareness of your balance and center.

 

 

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2  Push Hands from A Gymnastic Riding System Using Mind, Body, & Spirit by Betsy Steiner

  • Stand squarely facing a partner, hands at your sides.
  • Reach out to your partner, and have your partner reach out to you, and place your hands palm to palm. You should be close enough that your elbows, and your partner’s elbows, are slightly bent. Your knees should also be slightly bent.
  • Have your partner give you a vigorous push with her left hand while you try to keep your right hand and shoulder from moving. As you resist the push, you’ll feel tension and resistance in your entire body and maybe lose your balance and have to take a step back.
  • Now have your partner again give you a push with her left hand. This time, release your right hand and shoulder and allow them to go where your partner moves them.  When you “release” in this way, allowing your shoulder to move backward and your partner’s had to go forward, the tension of the push is dissipated and there is no resistance in your body.
  • Repeat the exercise with the opposite hands.
  • Push Hands shows us how the horse and rider must “give” to each other, and how the rider must be able to receive pressure as well as apply it by being supple and centered. When you’re relaxed in your arms and shoulders, for example, you are able to maintain your balance and center. Try to achieve the same “give-and-take” of pressure with the horse when you ride.

 

 

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Find Your Flat Back from 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes by Wendy Murdoch

  • Sit on the edge of a flat bench or chair. If possible, do so beside a mirror so you can see what your back looks like when it is flat.
  • Place the back of one hand on your lower back. Make sure your hand is on the waist area, not the sacrum.
  • Place your other hand palm up under one seat bone and rest on your hand. Feel how your lower back and seat bones change position in relation to each other when you hollow, round, or flatten your lower back.
  • Gradually change from one position to the other making smaller and lower movements until you have a definite feeling that your back is flat and broad. Notice what happens to your weight on the bench or chair. Do your buttocks muscles soften? Can you sink back into your hips as if to sit more deeply? When your back is flat, the seat bones will follow the line of the your back.
  • Repeat the exercise in the saddle. As your back hollows, your seat bones point back toward your horse’s tail; as your back rounds, your seat bones point forward toward your horse’s head; when your back is flat, your seat bones follow the line of your back, straight from head to seat. A flat back stabilizes your pelvis and upper body so that you feel more secure in the saddle.

 

 

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Plank on Mat: Knees from The Riding Doctor by Beth Glosten, MD

  • Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them by your sides, placing your forearms on the mat. Bend your knees so your lower legs are off the floor.
  • While keeping your shoulders stable, lift yourself onto your knees and forearms into a suspended plank position. Seek a long and neutral spine position, and avoid pulling your shoulders up around your ears. Try to keep your pelvis level–it shouldn’t be pushed up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • This is a fantastic integrating exercise for core muscle function and shoulder and leg support, stabilizing spine alignment. In the saddle, you want stability of the spine–that is, despite changes in forward or sideways energy, you want to keep your body in a balanced upright position.

 

Happy Independence Day from Trafalgar Square Books!

Visit our online bookstore at www.HorseandRiderBooks.com, where shipping in the US is FREE.

TSB Author Doug Payne’s Streak of Excitement: A Wedding, a New Book, Rolex Kentucky, and Saumur CCI3*!

Doug kicked off the spring season by marrying Jessica Hampf. Photo by Kristyn DeCaro Mangano

Doug kicked off the spring season by marrying Jessica Hampf. Photo by Kristyn DeCaro Mangano

TSB author and top event rider Doug Payne has had an intense and exciting start to the year! Doug kicked off 2014 with nothing less than nuptials: He wed Jessica Hampf in March. One celebration followed the other, with his fantastic new book released in early April. THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL is already receiving glowing reviews, and we’re hoping that Doug’s insightful (and fully tested!) advice helps all those riders out there with four-legged “problem children.” Check out the fab Horse Junkies United review below for more about Doug’s book!

Next up: Doug and Crown Talisman—the 2003 Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding he owns with Larry and Amelia Ross—are headed for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Rolex runs Thursday, April 24, through Sunday, April 27, 2014, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. And Doug and “Tali” were one of two horse-and-rider combinations awarded Land Rover Competition Grants to compete at the Saumur CCI3* in Saumur, France, May 22 through May 25, 2014.

So who is this “Tali” horse that Doug has taken to the top of international eventing competition?

Doug tells us about Tali and the challenges they faced together as they learned to become successful athletic partners in THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL. Here’s a short excerpt:

Doug and Crown Talisman ("Tali") at the 2012 Fair Hill International CCI**. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Doug and Crown Talisman (“Tali”) at the 2012 Fair Hill International CCI**. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

“Tali stands 17.1 hands tall and is a striking, dark bay…just about the perfect physical specimen and the most talented horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in dressage. Not only is he good there, but he’s an exceptionally good, brave jumper as well.

“Tali didn’t have a malicious bone in his body, but he was a bit of a rogue. The first day I rode him I just walked and picked up the trot for a short while. I knew from longeing him and from what I’d been told that he was athletic, but someone can tell you that all day long and it just doesn’t seem to sink in until you experience it firsthand. My introduction to Tali came in the form of noise: I’m still not sure what it was but some loud sharp bang in the background sent us into the air. Unlike any horse I’ve ever ridden, he could ‘levitate’ himself on a whim. Not a buck or rear, just all four feet off the ground at once, without warning. It took me a while to understand what was happening.

“Horses are creatures of habit. Most behaviors will repeat themselves. It didn’t really dawn on me until we were at his first event in Aiken, S.C. that spring exactly what was happening. If he heard a loud noise or bang, regardless of the gait, he’d levitate and spin so that upon landing, he would be facing the direction of the noise, planted like a statue, with his ears pricked to figure out where exactly it came from. I can’t find the words to describe how strong he was and how it’s possible to be trotting along, then in the air doing a 180-degree turn, then landing absolutely still. All other horses would be struggling for balance, or take a few steps to get planted into the ground—not Tali.”

You can read the full story of Tali and some of Doug’s other horse “success stories” in THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL. Doug shares these real-life case studies as proof of how the toolbox of tips and techniques he offers in his book can work for you. THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL just got a rave review on Horse Junkies United:

“This book is a must buy!” says reviewer (and rider!) Tracy Porter. “Whether you have a seasoned schoolmaster, a greenie who is just learning the ropes, or a problem child like my boy you will appreciate Doug’s honesty and vast knowledge in your pursuit of the perfect horse!”

You can read the full review on Horse Junkies United by CLICKING HERE.

 

CLICK IMAGE to read the full review of THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL on Horse Junkies United

CLICK IMAGE to read the full review of THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL on Horse Junkies United

 

Doug will be signing copies of THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL at the Practical Horseman and Bit of Britain tents at the 2014 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Watch the TSB Facebook page and follow TSB on Twitter for times and locations to be posted next week. Not going to Rolex? Doug’s book is available to order from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE. CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW.

 

Follow TSB on Facebook for signing times and locations at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Click the image above to follow TSB.

Follow TSB on Facebook for signing times and locations at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Click the image above to follow TSB.

 

Studies Show That How We Touch the Horse Matters in Training

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“How the horse responds during training can be influenced not only by its affective state (mood) and arousal (alertness) level, but also by how attached it feels to the trainer,” says the August 2013 article from the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) Arousal, Attachment, and Affective State. Is the Horse in a Learning Frame of Mind?

Andrew McLean, PhD, Director of the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre (AEBC), and Professor Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney, Australia, examined the complex combined impact that mood, alertness, and bond with a human can have on a horse’s training. McLean says that because horses possess the largest amygdala of all domestic animals, “… they have a very significant flight response…they are very fearful animals.”

As many of us have now learned from numerous clinicians and trainers, understanding how to temper the horse’s fear is of primary importance to those who wish to form an attachment or “bond” with their horses.

“One way to modify this fear may be in how we touch the horse,” the article says. “Historically, horse training hasn’t involved much touching of the animal, yet horses find security with one another through touch. Recent studies have shown the positive effects of grooming on lowering heart rate. Dr. McLean proposed that such primary positive reinforcement may be another tool in the training toolbox that can be used to overcome fearful insecurity in the horse. Touch may be an important way to develop attachment between human and horse.”

 

Click image for more information about the Tellington Method for Dressage Horses clinic in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Click image for more information about the Tellington Method for Dressage Horses clinic in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Renowned animal behaviorist and horse trainer Linda Tellington-Jones made her name as the founder of the Tellington Method, a three-part training system that centers around her now famous Tellington TTouch. Tellington TTouches are a collection of circles, lifts, and slides done with the rider’s or trainer’s hands and fingertips over various parts of the horse’s body. These TTouches have, over the last 40 years, been proven to enhance trust, release tension, increase flexibility, overcome habitual “holding” patterns that lead to resistance, and aid a horse in recovery from illness or injury. Linda has long maintained what Dr. McLean and Dr. McGreevy have asserted in their recent findings: that how we touch the horse matters in training. And, the right kind of touch can lead to enhanced learning and improved performance.

 

Try this Tellington TTouch:

Llama TTouch: Use the back of your hand, from where the knuckles meet the back of the hand to the fingertips, with the hand softly open (a less threatening way of making contact) to push the horse’s skin in a full circle-and-a-quarter clockwise, or in some cases, to stroke. Apply a very light pressure on the horse’s face, ears, or neck. This TTouch builds confidence in timid horses, soothes, nervous ones, and helps when you are approaching a horse you don’t know for the first time.

 

Linda is the author of numerous books. Her most recent is DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, which provides innovative ways to improve performance and longevity in dressage horses. Linda is giving a Tellington Method for Dressage clinic at Ashwin Stables in Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 17-19, 2014. For information on how to attend or audit, CLICK HERE.

Linda tells you about her upcoming clinic in the short video below:

 

For more information about Linda’s book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, CLICK HERE.

TSB Author Anne Kursinski Gives Free Webinar on Wednesday, April 9–Plus, One Lucky Rider Will Win a Private Clinic for 10!

 

Click the image above to register for the FREE webinar with Anne Kursinski!

Click the image above to register for the FREE webinar with Anne Kursinski!

 

TSB is excited for “Prepare to Show,” a FREE webinar with five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic silver medalist Anne Kursinski, presented by Practical Horseman magazine on April 9 (tomorrow!) at 8 p.m. EDT. Anne is the author of ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC, the acclaimed book, featuring 20 exercises to improve your position, your “feel,” and your overall understanding of how to confidently and successfully master a jump course. In her webinar, Anne will provide guidelines for the beginning of the show season, including: at-home preparation, show-day necessities, how to plan your round, mental preparation techniques, warm-up tips, and ideas for making your first trip, and all those thereafter, successful.

“Anne Kursinski really has had it all,” says George Morris, former Chef d’Equipe of the US Show Jumping Team. “Very few people in the hunter/jumper industry can boast such a comprehensive background. There is no question that her system and ideology work for the hunter, jumper, and equitation horse and rider.”

Sign up for this FREE webinar by CLICKING HERE.

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

TSB also congratulates the 10 show-jumping enthusiasts who are now one step closer to winning a day of training with Anne Kursinski in Practical Horseman’s “Training with the Stars: Win a Day with Anne Kursinski” contest, in partnership with Finish Line, Back on Track, and Nutrena.

“More than 800 people submitted thoughtful and inspiring essays about why they should win the day of training with Anne, so narrowing down the group to the top 10 was difficult,” said Practical Horseman’s Editor Sandra Oliynyk. “We believe our finalists represent wonderful examples of the hunter/jumper/equitation community, and we’re excited to give one of them this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The 10 finalists will receive a copy of ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC and one lucky winner will receive the grand prize: A clinic for him/her and nine friends with Anne Kursinski. The grand prize winner will be announced in early May.

Acknowledging the Power of Intent and How to “Be of Two Minds” with Horses

“Intent” is a bit of a buzz word around horses these days. Supplied with a variety of related definitions by Merriam-Webster, and the scientific and pseudo-scientific communities, it is most often used in reference to a rider or trainer “having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something or some end or purpose.” Horses, by nature, survive by a keen awareness of “intent,” which may be due to the near constant exchange of energy that occurs between beings, each other, and their environment.

“Directed intention,” writes bestselling author Lynne McTaggert in The Intention Experiment, “appears to manifest itself as both electrical and magnetic energy, visible and measurable by sensitive equipment.”

 

Horses can be aware of our intent...before we are. (Photo by Keron Psillas)

Horses can be aware of our intent…before we are. (Photo by Keron Psillas)

 

“It is possible for a horse to be aware of our intent (our determination to act in a certain way) before we are conscious of it,” says classical trainer Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS, the intriguingly philosophical book he wrote with Dr. Maria Katsamanis, recently published by TSB. “On the molecular level, transmission of intent occurs before our human consciousness is ‘up to date.’ I think that animals have the extraordinary ability to know ‘in the now’ when things are in the process of happening. Their security, their safety, is based on that knowing. In the wild, when the horse is not aware of the mountain lion’s proximity, he is eaten, gone. Therefore, he has developed a very important ability to be able to perceive another’s intent.

“In our case, it is the ‘picture’ in our head that he sees perhaps even before we do. He grabs it instantly. This is why in my book Dressage for the New Age I talk about the ‘two minds’: the mind in the front, which the horse can read, and the mind in the back that the horse cannot read. For instance, if we think that we would like to have the horse do a flying change in the corner after the short side, generally the horse does it immediately rather than waiting for the corner (of course, not all horses but most). This is why it is very important to ‘separate’ our two minds. In order to perform the flying change as we wish, we must have our front mind say, ‘I will keep my normal canter,’ while in the back of our mind we know that we will be asking for a flying change. When we do not learn to separate our two minds, horses (generally) will execute what we want them to do in the moment.

“This brings us back to why we must learn to be instead of do. For those people who have limited awareness of self and of energy, the horse definitely gets it first. When we are not present, we are not even part of the picture. In riders today, this is often the case…and that is why most horses look sleepy, or bored, or both.”

 

Enjoy this lovely inside glimpse of horses that are clearly neither sleepy nor bored at Barbier Farm:

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Ready to explore the power of your intent, and the many other physical, spiritual, and emotional connections that occur between horse and rider? THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS is available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Why You Really CAN Become a Better Rider in Only 5 Minutes a Day–Try This Free 5-Minute Fix to Establish a Solid Leg and Foot Position in the Saddle

TSB author Wendy Murdoch at the 2014 USPC Annual Meeting and Equine Educational Symposium, where she was a presenter.

TSB author Wendy Murdoch at the 2014 USPC Annual Meeting and Equine Educational Symposium, where she was a presenter.

We caught up with ever-busy instructor and clinician Wendy Murdoch following her stint presenting at the 2014 USPC Annual Meeting and Equine Educational Symposium and asked her to tell us HOW those fabulous 5-Minute Fixes of hers can really work to make us better riders in no time. Here, Wendy breaks it down for us, while giving us a chance to try one of her favorite Fixes for ourselves.

Wendy’s book 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING has been an overwhelming hit since TSB published it four years ago. Now Wendy’s highly anticipated follow-up is finally here! You can order 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES at the TSB online bookstore (CLICK HERE).

 

TSB: Your new book 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES is a follow-up to the bestselling 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING. Is it really possible to improve your riding and jumping skills in only 5 minutes? How are your techniques effective when they require so little time?

WM: Many of the Fixes in 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES can definitely be done in only 5 minutes! That’s the thing that I think is so important for the reader to understand. It doesn’t have to take months, years or decades to improve your performance over fences. What is necessary is a clear understanding of your own body and how it works.

Take the hip joints, for example. One question I ask at all my clinics is, “Where are your hip joints?” More than 90 percent of people think that their hips are where their belt rests rather than where the joints actually are. I find this misconception of hip location across the USA and Europe, and in riders of all disciplines. (So this isn’t just a problem for people who jump!) But in 5 minutes, you can read the chapter in 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES on locating your hips from the front, both on the ground and on the horse, and make a tremendous difference in your riding and in your horse’s performance!

Other Fixes may take a bit more time to learn and practice, but once learned it will only take 5 minutes in your mounted warm-up to remind yourself of the lesson and therefore improve your riding. And, of course, there are so many exercises you can do off the horse, which you can practice while at the grocery store, at your desk at work, or while sitting at a boring dinner party!  Doing just a few minutes of your favorite 5-Minute Fixes every day can significantly improve your riding not to mention your ease and comfort throughout your day.

I believe my techniques are effective for several reasons:

 

Accuracy

Accuracy is important because we communicate our desires to the horse through our physical body, which interfaces with the horse through the saddle. If we restrict one joint in the body, all the other joints become restricted. With my 5-Minute Fixes I am not telling you to find your hips somewhere in the general area of your pelvis. I show you how to find the joint from four different perspectives so that you know exactly where this most critical joint is in your own body. When the rider is accurate it takes very little to aid the horse because the message to the horse is clear and concise, something that is very important during a jump round. This degree of accuracy is lacking in most riding instruction.

I hear world-class instructors demonstrate and tell their students that their hip joints are the boney projections on the pelvis (called the ASIS—Anterior Superior Iliac Spine). These instructors will go on to say “put your hips in the saddle.” This is physically impossible! The students try to do as instructed, but because this instruction is totally inaccurate, the riders become increasingly restricted in the hips. The tension in the rider’s body goes right into the horse, who then also becomes stiff. After that, it usually becomes the horse’s problem for not performing correctly!

 

Correct Function

I have spent my lifetime learning, understanding, and teaching good body function for horses and for humans, on and off the horse. When I say “function” I mean the rider’s use of her body in a way that works with how the skeleton is designed. Using our body efficiently minimizes injuries, helps to prevent falls, and significantly decreases fear, as well as improves our horse’s performance.

The nervous system recognizes when we are in good balance on the horse and warns us through the emotion of fear when we are unstable or unprepared to jump a certain height. Ignoring this fear means we run the risk of injury. When my students learn how to flatten their lower back, for example, this fear immediately decreases. Therefore our emotional state is tied to our physical position. If we ignore emotional warning signals, we run the risk of getting hurt. Honoring our fear and learning to be more secure makes riding over fences much safer and more enjoyable.

The first section of 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES explains this fundamental position of the lower back and pelvis, which is critical a secure position over fences. The position I describe had been taught for centuries as the forward seat since it was first developed by Caprilli in the late 1800s.  Unfortunately, since the 1980s, this basic position has been replaced with a hollowed lower back position, which puts the rider and horse on the forehand and is very insecure. To overcome this fundamental flaw, riders grip, squeeze, lean on the horse’s neck, limit the height of their fences, or quit jumping altogether. Throughout my new book I explain the biomechanics of good function and its relationship to the horse so that the reader understands the basic principles that govern jumping.

 

Simple

It all sounds rather complicated when I try to explain why my 5-Minute Fixes are effective, but I think it all comes down to taking complex concepts and breaking them down into simple practical lessons. In my books the anatomy and function behind the lessons are separated out into sidebars. The lessons themselves are divided into “On the Ground”—meaning off the horse—and “On the Horse” mounted lessons. This way the busy reader/rider can skip the sidebars one day, and just do the lessons, or alternatively study the anatomy or only do an unmounted portion of the lesson on the days she can’t ride.

 

Feeling Differences/Asking Questions

I think the reason my techniques can be so effective is because I teach the student to feel, think, and sense differences, and therefore have the knowledge needed to choose what is best for her and her horse. You might say I make the student responsible to her horse rather than to the instructor.

Most riding instruction is based on a military way of teaching, which takes the student’s power away: The instructor tells you what (not how) to do something, and you are to do that no matter what. There is no consideration for the student’s level of understanding, competency, pain, previous injuries, or ability to comprehend the task. This style of teaching makes the student totally dependent on the teacher who determines what is “right” or “wrong.” The rider is at the mercy of the instructor.

I want my students to be knowledgeable, independent, empowered, and able to make decisions for themselves. When I first start working with a student who has been taught by a very demanding instructor, it becomes immediately apparent that the student is simply trying to please me with her performance. It takes a few lessons before the student can start to move away from this behavior and start to listen to how her horse responds. Rather than telling the rider what I want her to do, I ask her to feel a new position—for example, flattening her lower back vs. a hollow-backed position. Then I have her ride while going back and forth between the “new place” (flat lower back) and the “old place” (hollow back), without judgment!

This is very difficult at first because the rider is terrified she is going to get it “wrong,” which prevents her from feeling how her horse is responding to her position. But after a little while, I say, “The horse gets to vote.” This puts the responsibility on the rider and her observation of the horse’s response to her change in position. 

This style of teaching, where someone is asking you questions rather than telling you what to do, is hard to grow accustomed to, at first. But in the end, the rider who takes responsibility for her learning, experiences, and decisions, while listening to her horse, will achieve the kind of true partnership she is seeking.

 

Wendy was a recent guest on the Horse Radio Network's "Horses in the Morning" show. Click the image to listen.

Wendy was a recent guest on the Horse Radio Network’s “Horses in the Morning” show. Click the image to listen.

 

TSB: How might your JUMPING FIXES apply to riders who don’t jump competitively, or don’t jump at all? What can every rider learn from this book?

WM: That’s the best part about this book! There is so much information that applies to all disciplines, not just jumping. I wanted to write about jumping because there isn’t anything on the market that tells riders how to achieve a good jumping position, but I wrote a book with lessons that apply to all types of riding.

I see so many people who want to learn to jump but are afraid, or who limit themselves to cross-rails because they don’t have a good base of support. I have also taught top competitive jumper riders who are missing some of the fundamentals I outline. The information in 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES is the basis for the United States Pony Club’s “Basic Balance Position” over fences for all Rating Levels. Once they start using my Fixes, the adult amateur hunter/jumper students I teach are more successful in the show ring and find they can ride without pain, something many of them are experiencing when they first come to me. Of course, many of my students simply want to enjoy trail riding, fox hunting, and being able to jump over a log or get up out of the saddle while galloping with me across the Masai Mara in Kenya (a horseback safari trip I take regularly). The lessons in my new book apply to these riders, too.

I always say: “Gravity is not discipline specific.” No matter what discipline or breed of horse you ride, you still can benefit from knowing how to flatten your back; find your hips; free your hips, knees, and ankles; and soften your jaw. These topics and more are covered in 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES—while they may be described in conjunction with a forward position, the lessons themselves apply to anyone who rides.

 

TSB: What is one of your favorite JUMPING FIXES and why?

WM: Oh that’s easy. My favorite Fix is “Grounding Your Foot for a Good Base of Support.” This lesson comes from Dr. Feldenkrais, who developed the Feldenkrais Method®, and it is called the “Artificial Floor” to those that know his work. To me, this was the most brilliant idea he ever had because it is so simple, yet so profound. I adapted it to the saddle in 2001 when I started my Feldenkrais Training.

I don’t know if riding instructors have realized it yet, but my books are written in a way that they can be used as lesson plans for teaching—you can take one lesson a week to teach to your students. If there is one lesson I could persuade all riding instructors to use with their students, this one is it!

You do need an assistant or instructor when doing this lesson on the horse, but the unmounted lesson is also fabulous. For years I have taught the unmounted part: balancing a board on the hands and feet and then rolling over. This teaches the students how to have “independent” limbs, coordinate movement, and learn about timing rather than force or speed. Of course, it also causes lots of laughter and it is fun! I have students in their sixties who can roll over with four boards when younger riders can’t, meaning age is not a deterrent, while body awareness and control are the keys.  

The reason the mounted portion of this lesson is so profound is that riders do not realize how hard they push against the stirrups. They become accustomed to the pressure so it becomes normal. This affects their joints, their movement, and the horse’s movement because that pressure is transmitted to the horse’s shoulder area through the stirrup bar. Excessive pressure on the stirrups can cause a lot of problems, especially when jumping, because during the landing phase the force of the rider coming down on the stirrups goes right into saddle through to the horse’s back, which can cause pain and lameness. The “Grounding Your Foot” lesson shows you that you don’t have to brace against the stirrups to be secure in the saddle. Instead, having flexible joints to absorb the horse’s motion is better for both horse and rider.

When riders feel the difference in their legs after doing this Fix, they come back for more—and so do the horses, who immediately sense a change in the pressure on their back. This is such a win-win-win Fix, I hope everyone will try it!

 

Ready to try “Grounding Your Foot for a Good Base of Support,” one of the 5-Minute Fixes from Wendy Murdoch’s new book 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES? Here are the steps to the unmounted lesson:

Step 1

Step 1

1 While lying on your back place a small board or child’s book on the bottom of one bare foot. Repeat the process of placing the board on and off your foot a few times. For many students this alone is a real challenge! Be patient with yourself. Or, you can have someone place the board on your foot for you. If you are having great difficulty with your foot do Steps 5 and 6 first. This way you can let your hand teach your foot how to do the movements. How much of your foot touches the board? Do all of your toes touch? If you spread them apart can more toes touch? Be sure to relax your toes.

Step 2

Step 2

2 Explore moving the board in a variety of directions: closer to your head; farther away; taking the whole leg to the side; and rotating the foot and knee in and out. Watch your foot as you do this. Can you keep the board from falling off? Go slower in order to control your movements. Do not be frustrated if the board falls. Simply try again going slower next time. The board highlights the orientation of your foot as you move. If it drops off, simply put it back on and continue. Falling off is part of the process of learning. Figure out why it dropped off rather than getting frustrated when it happens. Explore moving other parts of your body (hips, knee, lower back) to keep the foot oriented upward toward the ceiling.

3 Take the board off your foot and rest frequently so that you can sense and feel the effect. Often the learning process happens during the rest. When you begin again you will find you can do the movements more easily than before. Pay attention to where you feel tired or strained, and to your breathing. Holding your breath will make the exercise harder. Go slowly and rest frequently, or leave the lesson and come back later after you have had a break.

Step 4

Step 4

4 Repeat the process lying on your stomach.

5 Roll onto your back and place the board on your hand. Explore moving the board around in all the ways you explored with your foot. Feel how much easier it is to do this! In general, we are much more aware of how to move our hands than our feet. Rest.

Step 5

Step 5

6 Roll onto your stomach and again place the board on your hand. At first this may seem more limiting, but take a few moment to see where you can go. You might even find you can roll over onto your back without losing the board!

7 Put the board on the foot again. Is it easier now that you have explored the idea with your hand? Can you move your leg in a circle without the board falling off? Stand up and walk around noticing the difference between your two feet.

8  Repeat with your other foot and hand. Which limb is easier? Does this easier side correspond to your “weaker leg” when you ride? Perhaps this is your supple leg and it is the other one—the “stronger” one—that is too rigid. When you ride, notice if your legs feel more even when you can do the foot on the board exercise in a similar manner on both sides.

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40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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Explore Centering, Breathing, Soft Eyes, and Building Blocks in an Excerpt from Sally Swift’s Second Book CENTERED RIDING 2

Click the image above to read the excerpt from CENTERED RIDING 2 on EQUUS Magazine's new website!

Click the image above to read the excerpt from CENTERED RIDING 2 on EQUUS Magazine’s new website!

 

Sally Swift’s first book, CENTERED RIDING, came on the scene in 1985. Now translated into 15 languages, it is one of the bestselling horse books of all time and continues to be just as valid as when it first came out, containing all the fundamentals of Sally’s teaching.

Sally’s second book CENTERED RIDING 2: FURTHER EXPLORATION doesn’t replace the first one—it complements it. Over the years, Centered Riding continued to evolve, and Sally inevitably developed many new concepts and fresh imagery. CENTERED RIDING 2 delves into these additional riding techniques and also concentrates more on the horse than the first book. Sally explains in great detail how through the use of Centered Riding you can improve your horse’s musculature and way of going—and consequently, his comfort and performance.

Visit EQUUS Magazine’s online excerpt from CENTERED RIDING 2 by CLICKING HERE.

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CENTERED RIDING 2 is coming out in a new paperback edition! You can preorder your copy at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE. All preorders will ship as soon as the books are in the TSB warehouse in mid-April!

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