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Vanessa Bee's new book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH will help you and your horse enjoy many safe autumn rides together.

Vanessa Bee’s new book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH will help you and your horse enjoy many safe autumn rides together.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of the bestselling books THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP, now has a brand new way to bring us more of her down-to-earth, easy-to-use horse training skills: OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES provides Vanessa’s 6 Blueprint Exercises and 50 step-by-step scenarios for teaching horses to accept what they usually think is terrifying.

So what’s all this have to do with Disney’s Dumbo and his “magic feather”? Well, in her new book, Vanessa contends that although we can try and see the world from a horse’s viewpoint, as humans who can think abstractly, it can be very confusing for us as we experience our horses behaving in what often seems to be the most illogical fashion. (Yes, she means when he shies at the same fallen log on the same trail for the umpteenth-millionth time.) If we learn to put our ability to visualize an outcome without actually doing it physically to work, and if we do it in a positive way, there’s no end to what we can accomplish with our horses.

“I am well known in the horse world as having an aversion to whips,” writes Vanessa in OVER, UNDER, THROUGH. “I can see no place for them around any animal. What I do see is when people pick up a whip, their energy and their attitude change. They are no longer quiet communicators setting up scenarios in which the horse has time to seek an answer. There is a feeling of hardness, of demanding, of threat.

“I call whips ‘Dumbo’s Magic Feather.’ Dumbo, you may recall, was a really cute baby elephant who did not believe that he could fly. One day he was given a magic feather that he was told held the special magic he needed to fly. Once he was holding the magic feather he was able to take flight by flapping his fabulous ears. But, just when he needed it most, Dumbo lost the feather and, in a terrifying scene, he found himself plummeting to earth at disastrous speed.

“But his guide implored him, ‘Fly, Dumbo!’ for he knew the magic was not in the feather. The magic was within the little elephant himself! And Dumbo flew!

“The whip has become like a magic feather to riders. It is time to believe that the magic is not in the whip. Be empowered; the magic is within yourself. That human ability to visualize can help you achieve anything you truly want to do.”

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

For Vanessa Bee’s “keep it simple” training exercises, check out OVER, UNDER, THROUGH, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to download a free sample chapter.

 

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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When "stretching" a horse's comfort zone, introduce new or scary objects gradually.

When “stretching” a horse’s comfort zone, introduce new or scary objects gradually.

When training your horse to become comfortable with new objects and in new places and situations, the goal, says Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling books 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP and THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, is to get him just outside his comfort zone when introducing slightly scary scenarios (note the emphasis on slightly!), but not so far out that he’d rather leave than stay with you.

“Once the horse is frightened to the point where he is leaping about, you’ve done too much,” Vanessa says. “Never push the horse to the point where he has to flee.”

Once the horse’s flight instinct is involved, all he can think about is survival, and he is no longer in a state where he can learn.

Never push the horse to the point at which he wants to flee rather than stay with you. Here, Secret trots through a maze of scary objects, remaining by Vanessa even without a lead rope.

Never push the horse to the point at which he wants to flee rather than stay with you. Here, Secret trots through a maze of scary objects, remaining by Vanessa even without a lead rope.

Vanessa explains that the psychology of this is easy to understand if you pretend you are a tourist on a trip to a foreign land. Here’s how she describes it using a human analogy in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK:

 

THE STORY OF A TOURIST IN A FOREIGN LAND

On Day One, the plane lands at the airport and you manage to get a taxi to your hotel (something you’ve done before on other trips); there a porter takes you to your room. Once in your room, you immediately create a “home away from home” by unpacking and putting your bits and pieces around. You feel safe in that space and it becomes part of your comfort zone; however, you will not learn anything about this place you have never been before from the safety of that room. You now need to leave it to learn.

So, after unpacking you head down to the bar and dining room for a bit of refreshment. You leave your new comfort zone and weave through the unknown corridors of the hotel—you are now in your learning zone but feel fairly confident because at any time you can return to your room.

After a good meal and maybe a glass of wine you soon feel relaxed in the dining room, too: You return to your room quite confident that venturing out to find breakfast in the morning will be easy. Your comfort zone has “stretched.”

After breakfast you decide to go for a swim. Again you leave the comfort zone to find the pool and figure out how it all works. (Do you need to put a towel on one of the lounge chairs at daybreak to reserve it?) By the end of Day Two you are totally at home within the hotel environs—your comfort zone has “stretched” to include the whole area.

But let’s say on Day Three you decide to catch a bus outside the hotel and go to the beach. After a while you become aware that you are not on the right bus and that it is heading for the “wrong” side of town. Perhaps there are some fairly tough-looking individuals on the bus. You are now not only out of your comfort zone, you’re also headed out of the learning zone and entering the fear zone. You do not learn anything when you are in the fear zone—you are in flight mode, and your sole aim is survival.

Where do you want to get back to? The comfort zone, of course, and once there you will quickly calm down and feel safe again. The further you perceive yourself to be from your comfort zone (in other words, the greater the pressure), the greater the wish to return to it. You may well reach a point of being ready to do just about anything to get back there.

Keep this story in mind when working with your horse and introducing him to new or challenging situations:

  • Make new introductions gradually—think taxi, to hotel room, to hotel restaurant, to hotel pool before catching public transportation and trying to find the beach.
  • And, if you do sense you and your horse are on the wrong bus and he is on his way to the fear zone, calmly and quickly get him back to where he’s comfortable. And take some downtime poolside before trying to get to the beach again!

Vanessa Bee’s books 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP and THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, and her HORSE AGILITY DVD are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

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“Horse Agility fosters clear positive communication,” writes Horse Agility Accredited Trainer Heidi Potter in the August/September Holistic Horse cover feature article, “[as well as] improved confidence, and healthy emotional interactions between horses and their handlers.”

Horse trainer Vanessa Bee,, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, has developed not only a progressive system of training that moves horse and handler from work together on the lead rope to free work through, around, and over obstacles, it lays the foundation for the new equestrian sport that is taking the world by storm. Whether you dream of competing your horse and earning points and championship awards, or you simply wish to spend time with other horse people in a fun, exciting, social setting, Horse Agility competitions and “play days” offer an all-shapes-ages-sizes-and-abilities option in a world that has long excluded those who love and own horses, but don’t necessarily want to ride.

“We need to change the way we think about horses and the sports and activities we so often pursue with them,” says Vanessa. She sees no reason the horse cannot enjoy your time together so much, he will choose to “play” with you—over, under, and through obstacles, without a lead rope, even when loose in a large, grassy pasture.

Vanessa Bee has helped spread Horse Agility as an fun and safe horse sport that anyone can learn to enjoy around the world.

Vanessa Bee has helped spread Horse Agility as an fun and safe horse sport that anyone can learn to enjoy around the world.

Hard to believe? Check out the article in the August/September issue of HOLISTIC HORSE (CLICK HERE to view the digital edition) and try Horse Agility for yourself! THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY: THE DVD by Vanessa Bee have all you need to get started in the sport, including lessons in handling and body language, directions for obstacle and course construction, and information for managing competitions and “play days.”

Be sure to visit thehorseagilityclub.com for information about Horse Agility events in your area.

Live in New England? There’s a Horse Agility Training & Live Competition at the New England Center for Horsemanship in Guilford, Vermont, on August 24th, 2013. CLICK HERE for details.

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Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY: THE DVD, is in the United States beginning her North American clinic tour (see our previous post for dates and locations). Part of her reason for making the cross-Atlantic trek was to see Buck Brannaman teach, in person!

“I absolutely love the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDs and have watched them over and over,” said Vanessa when she announced her tour in February. “They are completely addictive. I am so impressed, but I do have questions…and there’s only one way to find the answers—ask the man himself! So I’m flying over from the UK to watch him work in Colorado…that’s how good I think this man is!”

Vanessa was kind enough to share some of her observations from the time she spent this past weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Hayden, Colorado—it is always so interesting to hear one trainer’s observations of another! Check it out:

“We flew from England to Denver and drove over the mountains in blizzard conditions to get here, but I knew it was worth it. I had already watched the excellent 7 Clinics DVDs many times and of course had a few questions. I was hoping that by watching everything in real time I would be able to see the techniques and changes in the horse more clearly.

“Fortunately, I brought my binoculars. I know some people thought this was a bit strange, but I’m an eccentric English woman so can get away with most things! Those binoculars made all the difference—I could really see the man work, when he quit as the horse got the answer—MAGIC!

“The first day was split into two parts: The morning was Colt Starting and the afternoon was Horsemanship 1. The colts were all shapes and sizes with handlers of varying ability, so Buck had his work cut out keeping everyone moving forward. First he made sure everyone could move their horse’s feet and retain a safety bubble that the horse would respect. He gave a nice demonstration of teaching a horse where the boundary was and commented that you have to learn how much to do that says STOP!

“You have to mean it but not by being mean to the horse.

“I had my first question answered on when to use the flag and how the horse knows when it means something to him and when he has to ignore it. It’s all in the hand position, which transmits the intention of the handler. I invested in my own BB Flag, and somehow I have to get it into my suitcase for the journey home!

“At the end of the session Buck gave everyone homework: They had to practice flexion, backing up, picking the rider up from the fence, lowering the head, and putting the bridle on. And they had to practice because, as he said, he would know in the morning if they hadn’t!

“It was going to be interesting to see if all the colt starters had done their homework, and they did look pretty good as they lead their horses into the arena. Buck was warming up his horse first thing. He talked about how he was looking for ’weightlessness’ as he was working. It was quiet and precise, the way he worked. Disengaging the hind end, moving the front over, backing up just seeking the moment when there was no weight and he instantly quit.

“I used my binoculars zoomed in on every move. I don’t know how anyone could see the finer details and understand when the quit was valid without being close up. That’s why the 7 Clinics DVDs are so good. I shall certainly be studying these in even more depth on my return home.

We're lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

We’re lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

“Buck is direct, I like that. He made a few choice comments, including: ‘If I could get my students to spend less time on ’Wastebook’ and more time with horses they’d have a stable full of bridle horses.’

“I’ve watched a lot of horse clinics and horsemen and I can tell you that Buck is the only person I’ve seen whose feet are the horse’s feet. He just moves those feet like they were their own. It’s smooth and you never feel a wince or a jar as you watch him work. His timing is fantastic.

“He was very honest and direct and I really enjoyed his style of teaching. Buck said, ‘Everything I do with a horse is incremental that’s why I’m successful with them.’ In other words, he tries never to overwhelm the horse and give him too much to think about.

“Buck told us that Ray Hunt was always saying to him: ‘Do less sooner, then you won’t need to do more later.’

“I and my binoculars are beginning to see that now.”

Thanks, Vanessa, for making it feel like we were at the clinic with you!

Click image to order!

Click image to order!

You can order the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD SERIES, plus Vanessa Bee’s HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY DVD at the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDS

CLICK HERE FOR THE HORSE AGILITY BOOK/DVD

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horseagilitygrowing

Over the past few decades, an evolution in how we go about training horses has encouraged horse owners to spend more time handling their horse on the ground in order to achieve good behavior, mutual trust, and a healthy partnership—before they ever think about getting in the saddle. This has created a generation of horsemen and women perfectly poised to pursue the competitive and social benefits of the sport of Horse Agility.

Thanks to the International Horse Agility Club and its founder, Vanessa Bee, Horse Agility is now the fastest-growing new equestrian sport in the world. Horse lovers from North America, Europe, Great Britain, Australia, and indeed, all over, are discovering the joys and benefits of competing their horse from the ground, over obstacles. The sport is a natural evolution in today’s age of natural horsemanship: fun, exciting, competitive sport with the well-being of the horse in mind.

Vanessa Bee is working tirelessly to bring Horse Agility as an organized sport to new heights, and with her bestselling book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and brand new HORSE AGILITY DVD, she provides clear, step-by-step instruction on how to get started with your horse.

Ready to give Horse Agility a try? Here’s how to practice one simple obstacle at home—and as an added benefit, this obstacle helps “bombproof” your horse so you have a more enjoyable and safe partnership, whatever you choose to do together!

Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.

Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.

Passing Through a Curtain

From THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee

The goal of this Horse Agility obstacle is that the horse trusts the handler enough to pass through a curtain of plastic or fabric ribbons.

 

Equipment

You will need a “curtain” of ribbons at least 4 feet (1.5m) wide supported on a frame at least 7 feet (2m) high. The archway I use is made of push-together plastic plumbing pipe with straight lengths and elbows to create a frame about 7 feet (2m) high by 5 feet (1.5m) wide. Ribbons can be made of plastic or fabric—I’ve used butcher’s shop fly curtains and also had great success with an old shower curtain cut into strips. Be inventive, as long as it is safe. Make each ribbon between 3/4 in and 1 1/2 in (2cm and 4cm) in width and long enough to reach to within 18 inches (30cm) off the ground.

 

How to Do It

 

1. The principles of leading your horse through a narrow gap really come into play here (I teach you the steps to doing this well and safely in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Always start by leading the horse on a lead rope.Begin by making the curtain really easy to walk through: Tie the ribbons back out of the way at first, and as he gains confidence, drop down one or two lengths of ribbon at a time so he slowly gets used to it.

 

2. When the horse is confident about going through the curtain on the lead rope, go right back to the beginning by tying the curtain back and ask him to go through “free” (I teach you how to work with your horse over obstacles at liberty—without a lead rope—in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Again, drop one or two ribbons down at a time. Don’t be tempted to ask your free horse to go through the full curtain straight from doing it on a lead rope. One of the keys to being successful in free work is to make it easy for the horse to do what you ask and build on his success.

 

Common Problems

The main thing that causes issues here is the “solid” look of the curtain, so be sure to work with the curtain open before dropping the ribbons down.

One of the things I’ve found is that a lot of horses don’t like the feel of the ribbons running over their sides and back as they run through the curtain, so you must be careful and keep yourself out of the way when you feel your horse is going to rush. Spend some time away from the curtain touching him with plastic, bags, or ribbons—anything—although be sure you don’t annoy him. You’re getting him used to the fact that the feel of such things isn’t dangerous.

 

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Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club, is touring North America in May and June 2013! Check out the International Horse Agility Club website for details. Here’s a current list of scheduled events.

USA

17th-19 May

Horse Agility Training Sessions and Mini Competitions – Colorado with Vanessa Bee

17th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

18th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

25th May

Horse Agility Fun Day in Arizona, USA with Vanessa Bee

26th -27th May

Get Really Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee, Arizona

1st -2nd June

International Horse Agility Clinic in Washington, USA with Vanessa Bee

Canada

7th – 8th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

9th – 10th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

HorseAgility SetTHE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and the new HORSE AGILITY DVD are available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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theIHACHorse Agility is the hottest and fastest growing international equestrian sport! Based on the same concepts as the ever-popular Dog Agility competitions, Horse Agility offers horse lovers everywhere the opportunity to put all that groundwork they’re doing to good use, in a fun, active competitive sport. Beginning on a lead rope and progressing to working through and over obstacles “free,” or at liberty, Horse Agility engages the horse in an activity that helps him think and problem-solve while enjoying his training time—step away from all those repetitive longe and roundpen circles! Plus, Horse Agility is appropriate for people of any age or size, and allows those who may not want to ride to spend time with other like-minded individuals in an exciting setting.

HAwDVDNow, as a follow-up to her bestselling book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK: A STEP-BY-STEP INTRODUCTION TO THE SPORT, founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee brings us an all-new DVD. HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD provides the same sport fundamentals as THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, but with “real-time” action and visuals to help you further grasp the basic concepts and skills you and your horse need to get started, and get good!

Check out this video introduction to HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD:

HORSE AGILITY—THE DVD will be shipping February 1, 2013. You can preorder your copy now at the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER NOW

Hey! Did you know that the International Horse Agility Club is a finalist in the Equestrian Social Media Awards? CLICK HERE to check out the Club’s website and then please cast your vote for Best Equestrian Social Network!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HORSE AGILITY CLUB!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HORSE AGILITY CLUB!

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Check out the excerpt in the January 2012 issue of EQUUS Magazine from our forthcoming book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK: A STEP-BY-STEP INTRODUCTION TO THE SPORT by Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club.

Vanessa is busy spreading the new sport of Horse Agility around the globe. Have you ever watched a Dog Agility class? The handlers have fun, the dogs have fun, and there is no need for prods, restraints, or bribes….now, you can have the same experience with your horse! Learn to work your horse over a course of obstacles, in hand or at liberty, then set up “play days,” official competitions, or register to compete against an international field online!

Learn more about Horse Agility and the International Horse Agility Club in the January 2012 issue of EQUUS Magazine, found wherever quality equestrian magazines are sold.

And preorder your copy of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK NOW.

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