Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee Walking Horse’

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.





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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We had a chance this week to catch up with Betty Staley—dressage rider and featured trainer and clinic host in the hit documentary BUCK and the all-new instructional DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN. Betty was kind enough to share a little about how she feels Buck’s philosophy and methodology can help the dressage rider, as well as insight into her own evolution as a dressage trainer and competitor.

7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN, the seven-disc DVD series, is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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TSB: How did you discover the sport/pursuit of dressage? What about it attracted you?

BS: As a lifelong horse nut, I had a general awareness of dressage as a horse training discipline. Seeing a video of German Olympian Reiner Klimke inspired me to become a serious student of dressage. The beauty of horses is an inescapable magnet.

TSB: How did you discover Buck Brannaman and determine that his methods had something to offer you as a student of dressage?

BS: As a fellow student of Ray Hunt, I heard about Buck. Buck’s horses like their work and they perform better than mine!

TSB: What is one of your most vivid memories from the Buck clinics you’ve witnessed?

BS: Watching Buck rope horses; the calmness and focus with which Buck approaches any drama, or crisis. Learning how and why Buck ropes horses saved my life and he wasn’t even there. That’s a vivid memory.

TSB: How did you get involved in the making of the award-winning documentary BUCK and then the instructional DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN?

BS: A personal assistant to Producer/Director Cindy Meehl called me. Buck’s sponsors are often called upon to adjust to unusual circumstances. Buck’s a remarkable person and because of him, I’ve met people from all over the world. Cindy made a significant life-changing documentary. When Cindy began compiling the footage for the 7 Clinics DVDs, she asked me for feedback. Buck, through his teaching, and Cindy, with her visual prowess are offering the horse community a wonderful resource.

TSB: What would you say to those who ride dressage in order to convince them that Buck’s training methods apply to every horse person, just as the lessons from his life apply to every human being?

BS: Horses, no matter what breed or sport, are all still horses. Buck’s ability to change horses (for the better) is uncanny. Dressage has a wonderful set of methodical building blocks for both horse and rider. But, there are dressage riders, who are struggling with their horses. There are also horses that do not easily fit into the dressage mold, but through adjusting how the rider approaches the horse, that same horse could be a wonderful dressage companion.* Dressage is both grounded and mired in its traditions. A comment from Ray Hunt comes to mind, “If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t fit, I wasn’t talkin’ to you anyway.”

(*Editor’s note: Betty taught a homebred, full-blooded, Tennessee Walking Horse the upper-level movements of dressage.)

TSB: If you could be sure that viewers take away one lesson from the 7 CLINICS series, what would you like it to be?

BS: Enjoy your horses, enjoy learning.

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?

BS: It takes me about five minutes to fall in love with any horse, but I’ll probably die a fan of Tennessee Walking Horses. Light shod, of course. For my book, I’ve got a compendium “do it yourself” type manual. That’d be handy to have on the island. I’d have fun figuring out how to build and fix my hut.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

BS: Very young, I was in front of my mother, bareback on a draft horse. Mom lost control of the horse and was knocked off by a tree branch. Much shorter, I stayed aboard. I remember wondering why all the adults were scrambling to catch the horse. Up there, all by myself, I was simply thrilled.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

BS: My first horse cost me $100. She was unhandled and I didn’t own a saddle, so I rode her bareback, everywhere. Riding cross-country, across a high mountain plateau, we endured one of those blue sky hail storms. Relentlessly pelted with ice, my mare dumped me. But, she didn’t leave me.

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

BS: Integrity.

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

BS: Connection.

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

BS: Shoot. I don’t know. Every day with a horse is a grand day. There is so much to learn.

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

BS: Jesus. He’s returning on horseback, you know. I’d like a job riding His herd.

TSB: What is your motto?

BS: “No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it reaps a harvest of righteousness for those who have been trained by it.” That’s scripture and a pretty long motto. So, I’ll edit that down to: for the willing student, problems are opportunities.

You can hear more from Betty Staley in the seven-disc DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN.


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