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Raymond is one of the 10 horses that star in Yvonne Barteau’s THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. Photo by fireandearthphoto.com.

If horses could talk, what would they say about the exercises we ask them to do and the movements we have them perform? Grand Prix dressage rider and popular equestrian performer Yvonne Barteau has wondered this throughout her lifelong career with horses, and so she has tried very hard over the years to learn to see and understand things from the equine perspective.

In her incredibly fun-to-read book THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, Barteau guides us through the dressage levels from the horse’s point of view. Her humor and well-honed sense of how the equine mind works provides a valuable and very different look at what it means to train and ride a dressage horse.

Here is an exercise from one of the 10 real-life horse stars of Barteau’s book: Raymond is a worrier-type, seven years old, and only showing Training and First Level, although he knows and practices all kinds of FEI movements. He likes to work and this is one Second Level lesson in counter-canter that is a particular favorite.

Raymond says:

Counter-canter, counter-flexion teaches us to balance and stay true to our lead, rather than associating a change in flexion with a change in lead. This exercise is designed to both gymnasticize us, and make us totally obedient to your aids by counter-cantering, and then changing the flexion away from the lead we are on. For example: left lead, traveling right, but flexed to the right, and right lead, traveling left, flexed to the left.

How to Do It
1 In counter-canter going to the right (you are on the left lead, traveling on the right rein) start with your right leg in its slightly back position to add sideways pressure until you start to get into a sort of renvers (haunches-out) positioning.

2 Keeping a “conversational” and pulsing kind of leg aid with that same right leg, allow us to connect to the left rein more as an outside rein (rather than as an inside flexion rein), and begin to flex us bit by bit to the right with your right (suppling) fingers (counter-flexion).

3 Be careful to keep the impulsion and “jump” in the canter with that same right leg while not doing too much with your left leg (which should still be up by the girth). If things go really well, you will feel almost as if you are in counter-canter, counter-shoulder-in with your horse’s weight more over his outside limbs (in this case, the left) and less over his inside (in this case, the right). Your horse needs to get comfortable and balanced in this positioning on either lead, and be able to go back and forth from counter-canter, true-flexion to counter-canter, counter-flexion in preparation for the lead changes to come.

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It will feel SO good when you and your horse get this exercise right! Photo by fireandearthphoto.com.

When It Goes Wrong
It takes time to get good at this exercise—it challenges both horse and rider—and if you or your horse starts getting confused or frustrated, just back off and review something easier. Don’t come back to this exercise until you are both relaxed and in harmony again.

 

Get more guidance straight from the horse’s mouth in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Yvonne Barteau is judging the all-women edition of Road to the Horse, which starts tomorrow! You can watch the live broadcast here.

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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Stacy Westfall on Roxy. Photo courtesy of Stacy Westfall from HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD.

Stacy Westfall on Roxy. Photo courtesy of Stacy Westfall from HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson.

 

Stacy Westfall became the first woman to compete in—and win—the prestigious “Road to the Horse” colt-starting competition in 2006, the same year that she electrified the reining world with a bridleless and bareback championship Freestyle on her black mare “Roxy” (Whizards Baby Doll) at the Tulsa Reining Classic and the All American Quarter Horse Congress. While Stacy continues to compete, she loves to teach and share her knowledge, and tours the country regularly giving clinics and appearing at expos.

In Denny Emerson’s honest, on-target, guaranteed-to-rev-your-engines book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, Stacy shared a little about how she came to horses and why she thinks she “got good.” Here’s her advice as to how all of us can one day have the ride of our life (tack optional).

 

Stacy’s life circumstances:

“I grew up in South China, Maine. My mother had ridden as a girl and as soon as our family could afford an equine (when I was about six), a pony named Misty joined the household. This was the same pony on which my mother had learned to ride sixteen years earlier!”

 

She got hooked on horses when:

“From the very beginning, I was one of those kids who reads the Walter Farley Black Stallion books over and over. I would have given anything to be shipwrecked on a desert island with a horse.”

 

Stacy thinks she got good because:

1  “My parents got me a horse when I was about thirteen and from that time on I lived on my horse. I rode her seven miles to work. I took her to local open shows on the weekends and entered every class. That mare and I developed a deep connection.”

2  “My mom was my first teacher, but she didn’t just tell me what to do. She wanted me to figure it out. If my pony did something wrong, like stopping at one of the tiny jumps we had set up, Mom would say, ‘Why do you think Misty did that?’ Her approach got me thinking like a horse, which has really influenced my life. When you can figure out what the horse is thinking and how to communicate with the horse and mold that, you can do almost anything.”

3  “I attended the University of Findlay in Ohio. In its equestrian studies program, I learned traditional training techniques and fundamentals with top instructors, and got into reining with champion trainers. My famous bareback ride is an extension of taking the technical stuff I learned and wrapping it around what my childhood horses taught me about the relationship horses can have with people.”

 

Stacy’s advice to the rest of us:

“It all comes back to attitude and passion. If you go into this because you dream about getting famous on a horse or having a great marketing plan, you’ll never have that connection with the horse. This is something that, if it’s in you, you would do it even if you didn’t get paid—you do it because it’s you. When it’s really cold, or when it’s really hot, or when it’s really hard, do you still want to do it? A favorite quote of mine is: ‘Verily, the lust for comfort murders the passion in the soul, then walks grinning in the funeral.’ (From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.) If your passion gives way to the appeal of comfort, you will not succeed at a high level because at some point you’ll need to beat someone with passion—and people with passion who’re willing to work for it like that will be unstoppable.”

 

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Find out how 22 more of the best riders in the world “got good” and get their tips for “making it” in the horse industry in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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Only a few miles from the beach in Florida is not a bad place to be in January.

Throw in a unique opportunity to learn from and spend time with three top trainers and Road to the Horse alumni as they work with young and developing riding prospects, and you’ve got yourself a really good time!

Join your fellow sun-, fun-, and horselovers at the spacious and well-appointed Pioneer Trail Reserve in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, January 2-4, 2015. Host and TSB author Sean Patrick (2014 and 2015 RTTH Wild Card Contestant) welcomes Jim Anderson, reigning champion and overall winner of the 2014 RTTH competition, and Mary Kitzmiller, winner of over $55,000 in the Extreme Mustang Makeover events and the only woman to have been chosen to compete at the Road to the Horse’s Wild Card Competition in both 2014 and 2015, to his fabulous facility.

 

Pioneer Trail Reserve is a spacious and well-appointed equestrian facility, with a large covered arena and luxurious clubhouse.

Pioneer Trail Reserve is a spacious and well-appointed equestrian facility, with a large covered arena and luxurious clubhouse.

 

Sean, Jim, and Mary will provide in-depth instruction, explanations of their techniques, and up-close-and-personal insight over the course of 18 teaching sessions, featuring colt-starting, preliminary under-saddle work, and more advanced training and maneuvers. Symposium attendees are provided refreshments and a fully catered lunch each day at no additional cost. In addition, separate tickets are available for a VIP dinner on Saturday night, where guests can relax, interact with each other and all three clinicians, and enjoy live music and delicious meal in a beautiful ranch setting.

We caught up with Sean last week and asked him to tell us a little about the event and how it was conceived:

 

TSB: How did you, Mary, and Jim all meet?

Sean: At Road to the Horse 2014, there were eight of us selected to be competitors in the new “Wild Card” part of the event. It was such a nice group of individuals, we all quickly became friends. I’m originally from Canada, Jim is Canadian, and Mary desperately wishes she was, so we had that in common!

 

TSB: When did you conceive of the idea to hold the symposium? How did you come up with the name Three Amigos?

Sean: If I was to design the itinerary of a perfect 3-day clinic, this is it.  I knew Jim was coming down to visit, and Mary had just been to our place for a clinic, so I thought about bringing us all back to the same location and offering a fun, in-depth look at how we each teach horses. I have three colts all needing a start right at that time (January), and this experience will be a wonderful way to get them going. In addition, we all have a gelding from the same ranch (the Four Sixes) and the same group (chosen for last year’s RTTH), so our horses Smokey, Guthrie, and Jack all know each other well.  There will be three sets of “Three Amigos”!

 

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TSB: What does each clinician bring to the table that is unique and/or different?

Sean: Jim is so well schooled by many top horsemen. He’s quite humble, so you won’t always hear about that part. His ability to handle and teach horses is first-class. His 2014 Road to the Horse world championship is proof of his abilities.

Mary has very different experiences than Jim and me. She has also ridden with top horsemen, but has spent time with a lot of tough horses and built her program around that. She’s a student of the bridle horse, gifted in gentling horses, amazing at teaching tricks, and an excellent cow-horse hand.

Then there’s me—I’m just along for the ride!

[Ed. note: Sean’s just being modest…he’s the author of the bestselling book THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE and the DVD set by the same name. Check them out and see what’s so special about this guy!]

 

TSB: Tell us a little bit about how symposium attendees will spend their day, and what you feel they will take away that they can apply to their own evolution as horsemen/women.

Sean: The round pen will be set up for the benefit of the three youngsters. Each trainer will spend one hour with each colt, on each day. Since we have three different horses, and trainers, the development of each style with each colt will be different. This is ideal for seeing how we all approach our plan. In the afternoon, topic-based teaching sessions will begin with the three-year-old geldings. The attendees are able to sit closely on the bleachers, ask questions, chat with trainers as they work, mingle with other industry experts, and spend time by the fire with them in the evenings. There is also a VIP dinner with all the trainers on Saturday night. We are encouraging a lot of crowd interaction and know the pace will move quickly and keep people learning and entertained.

 

TSB: If you could choose three words to describe the Three Amigos Symposium, what three words would you choose?

Sean: Intimate, enlightening, engaging.

 

TSB: Are all of you returning to RTTH in 2015?

Sean: Jim won the 2014 Wild Card event and then the championship title. He was invited to come back in 2015 to defend his title.  So he will be at 2015 Road to the Horse against Chris Cox and this year’s Wild Card winner.

Mary was a 2014 Wild Card contestant and was invited back for 2015.  I was also a 2014 Wild Card contestant, and like Mary, invited back to compete again.

So all three of us are heading back to RTTH in one way or another…it’ll be hopefully Mary or I who compete against Jim in the finals!

 

Don’t miss your chance to walk the beach in your boots and start your New Year with new insight into horses, starting them, and taking them that next step! Tickets for the 2014 Three Amigos Symposium and VIP dinner are on sale now CLICK HERE.

 

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Airports near the New Smyrna Beach Pioneer Trail Reserve facility include Orlando (MCO) and Daytona Beach (DAB ). Hotel accommodations have been arranged nearby at the new “Hotel of Choice” Country Inn and Suites (with a special nightly “Three Amigos” rate of $69.00), and there are beachfront options for the family on the Atlantic’s beautiful New Smyrna Beach, as well! It is an easy drive to/from Daytona Beach, Disney World, Sea World, and many other major Florida attractions, so it’s no problem to make this a family “post-holiday” vacation, while you slip away each day to work with and witness the best in the horse industry!

 

A portion of the Three Amigos Symposium proceeds will be proudly donated to the “Hope Reins” Therapeutic Riding Program based in New Smyrna Beach at Marcody Ranch. For more information on the event or assistance with ticket sales, please contact the “Three Amigos” event coordinator at events@seanpatricktraining.com or 321-693-5551. Media passes are available.

 

Sean Patrick’s THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE book and the DVD SET are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

 

 

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As you head back to work after (we hope!) a weekend of riding and playing with your horses, Sean Patrick, author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE gives us a few tips to get us through the lessons and training sessions we may try fit in between appointments, pick ups, drop offs, and office hours. Here’s his quick-hit list to remind us how to keep our horses safe when tying them, whether in the barn aisle, to the trailer, or out and about in the week ahead.

 

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Tying

DO:

  • Use an unbreakable halter, such as one made of strong rope.
  • Keep your horse in his normal environment and “comfort zone” for the first few dozen tying sessions.
  • Groom and spend time with your horse while he is tied, especially a green horse or one that is a “tying novice.”
  • Tie your horse high and short, and always use a quick-release knot.
  • Expect your horse to tie.
  • Ask him to stand tied often.

 

DON’T:

  • Use a clasp or buckle on your lead rope that could break.
  • Tie to something weak, such as an “O”-ring on a barn wall or fence post.
  • “Help” by untying your horse if you feel he is nervous or lonely when tied.
  • Expect him to tie quietly without proper preparation.
  • Tie where he could catch a leg or step in something unsafe.
  • Ignore the weather and allow him to get chilled or overheated.
  • Leave your green horse unattended.
  • Snub (tie where there is no slack in the lead line).

 

Work hard this week. Be safe in your travels and when handling and riding your horse. Count the hours until the next time you can walk in the barn, call your horse’s name, and swing up into the saddle.

 

THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE by Sean Patrick is available as a BOOK and as an accompanying 4-DVD SET.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE NOW

 

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Jonathan Field names George Morris as one of his mentors. Click the image to read about Jonathan's work with George in 2013

Jonathan Field names George Morris as one of his mentors. Click the image to read about Jonathan’s work with George in Florida in 2013.

Canadian horseman Jonathan Field is recognized all over North America, and the world, for his engaging ability to explain and articulate his knowledge of horses and relate to his audiences. Like other trainers, he has a herd of horses he performs with live to sold out crowds, but what is wonderful about Jonathan is that most of his main demonstration and liberty horses are “cast away problem horses” that he has taken on, retrained, and grown with so that together they could become “stars” of the horse world.

After first traveling to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the 2012 Road to the Horse Colt-Starting Competition, Jonathan is now making a return trip south from his ranch in British Columbia to the 2014 competition in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It’s such an honor to be going back to Road to the Horse to represent my country while sharing my knowledge on starting young horses,” says Jonathan. “Traveling to Kentucky for a second Road to the Horse experience is exciting because I have much better idea about the event, how it is judged, and how to approach the competition in terms of strategy—however, having said all that, we must always remember that in the end it’s all about doing right by our young horses and their future. The horses that we are lucky to get to work with at Road to the Horse are the ones that ultimately determine how each of us go about our work over the weekend and how far we get.”

 

Watch this short video to hear Jonathan share a little bit of his story:

 

We at TSB wish Jonathan the best of luck the weekend of March 13-16, 2014, and we hope he, and the other competitors in the international field of horse trainers, can help demonstrate how we can all achieve a safe, educated, engaged start with young stock that can, “down the road,” lead to the ultimate connection with any horse.

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Jonathan Field’s forthcoming book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES is available for preorder from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER NOW

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TSB author Sean Patrick and his "WildCard" colt "Joker" are headed to the 2014 Road to the Horse competition.

TSB author Sean Patrick and his “WildCard” colt “Joker” are headed to the 2014 Road to the Horse competition.

 

The TSB crew has waited a full year to see how well Sean Patrick, horse trainer and author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE book and DVD set, and his “WildCard” colt “Joker” have progressed.

In March of 2013, eight “WildCard” trainers drew playing cards that decided the order in which they would each choose a three-year-old colt from the Road to the Horse 2013 AQHA Remuda from the 6666 Ranch. Sean was one of these trainers, and after drawing the “Joker,” he returned to his home facility in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, with his chosen colt (appropriately dubbed “Joker”).

Sean had one  year to prepare for a test of horsemanship at this year’s Road to the Horse, which will take place March 13-16, in Lexington, Kentucky. If he and Joker win the WildCard competition on Thursday, March 13, then Sean will step into the arena with the other Road to the Horse stars and get a shot at the overall World Championship of Colt Starting title.

“Preparing Joker for the upcoming event confirms the need to cross-train our mounts,” says Sean. “Since the competition includes obstacle, rail work, reining patterns, fireworks, cattle and so forth…he must be ready for anything!”

Check out the amazing progress Sean and Joker have made together over the past year:

 

 

And in the spirit of preparing a horse to handle anything, here are some easy-to-use tips from Sean’s bestselling book THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE:

 

5 Ways to Increase Your Horse’s Handling Time

I like to increase handling time in a variety of ways.  I know that the more I interact with my horse, the more comfortable he will be with me and his surroundings.  Here are a few suggestions:

 

Take a horse “along for the ride” to a show, clinic, or new training facility.  Trainers do this on a regular basis just to introduce inexperienced horses to  new places, sights, and sounds.

Tie your horse while you are working around the barn or ranch, or finishing the chores. I often ask my horses to stand tied in a shady comfortable place while I do my busywork.  I want them to be relaxed enough to do this regularly and have it be part of their daily routine.

If you have more than one horse, tie one close to your riding arena or round pen, wherever you are training, while you work with the other.  This lets him absorb the commotion related to action in the ring that doesn’t involve him, and encourages confidence.

4  Plan a short workout and cooling-down period, tie a horse for a break as you work with another horse or finish chores, then return to your horse and work on something different—perhaps another riding session, some groundwork, or a bath.  Always remember to warm up and cool down, but there is no reason why you cannot lengthen the duration of saddle time with a break in the middle.

5  Lead or “pony” your horse down the trail.  Your horse gets exercised while learning to respond to halter pressure, see new sights, and behave in the company of another horse.

 

Modern-setSean’s bestselling book and DVD set are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE BOOK

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE DVD SET

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TSB author Sean Patrick and his Road to the Horse Wild Card colt Joker.

TSB author Sean Patrick and his Road to the Horse Wild Card colt Joker.

In March of 2013, Sean Patrick, author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE BOOK and DVD was chosen as a Wild Card Contestant in the Road to the Horse colt-starting competition. Sean took home an untouched Quarter Horse range colt named Remember Pick, with a year for the two to work together before returning to Kentucky in 2014 to show off what they’d taught each other.

“Since I drew the joker card during the event, I was able to pick from the remuda,” says Sean. “My wife Alisha’s words rang in my ears…’Number 6 is the one I’d go with.’ ‘Joker’ and I have been best buds since…We are having a blast!”

If you are anywhere near Florida, there’s a great upcoming opportunity to meet Sean and Joker when Sean and Alisha host a FREE “Balanced Riding” Clinic on August 3, 2013.

Join Sean at his fabulous training facility in New Smyrna, Florida, on August 3 for a FREE clinic!

Join Sean at his fabulous training facility in New Smyrna, Florida, on August 3 for a FREE clinic!

“We will set up two round pens and have the Balanced Rider machine to play with,” explains Sean. “The Balance Rider is non-motorized mechanical apparatus that responds to the balance–and imbalance of its rider. The barrel shaped seat, like the bare back of a horse, provides an effective means of learning to balance in the saddle.”

The first 12 riders who sign up for the FREE Balanced Riding Clinic can bring a horse along! All others are welcome to join on foot, take part in exercising on the Balance Rider machine, audit the equitation lessons, have a chance to win great door prizes, plus enjoy a nice lunch with the group.

“We want anyone interested in learning to be a more balanced rider to have a wonderful day at Pioneer Trail Reserve in New Smyrna Beach, Florida,” says Sean. “Everyone interested in attending, including auditors, should RSVP as soon as possible.”

RSVP for the FREE clinic by emailing sean@seanpatricktraining.com.

 

Click image to order the complete Sean Patrick set!

Click image to order the complete Sean Patrick set!

THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, called “a top-down, all-inclusive trip to the ultimate working, performance, or pleasure ride” by Dr. Robert Miller, the father of Imprint Training, is available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER SEAN’S BESTSELLING BOOK

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE 4-DISC DVD SET

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