Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Thoroughbred’

EARTHDAYBLOG

The definition of “recycle” is to convert waste into reusable material. But when it comes to the idea of “recycling,” few of us think of something we waste on a regular basis around the world: perfectly good horses. Just consider how many thousands of horses every year are born and are NOT the fastest, most beautiful, most athletic, or most colorful. They are just horses, in need of a home and a chance to shine in their own individual ways.

Earth Day 2017 is Saturday, April 22, and there will be a lot of much needed talk and action when it comes to trying to make our world a cleaner, healthier place for humans and animals to inhabit. But as we pile up the returnables and separate the plastics, this is also a time to remember that there are many four-legged creatures in need of a new home and a second chance. There are dogs, cats, and indeed horses, that need to be given an opportunity to be something different for someone new. Adopting one is perhaps the ultimate act of recycling.

One example of this is the off-the-track Thoroughbred. According to the Jockey Club, an estimated 22,500 Thoroughbred foals were born in North America in 2016. A fraction of these will go on to careers on the track or as breeding stock. The rest have an uncertain fate. Luckily, the past decade has seen an uptick in the number of OTTB retraining and rehoming facilities, as well as an increase in public awareness through the efforts of organizations such as the Retired Racehorse Project and its popular Thoroughbred Makeover event. This is good news for ex-racehorses, as many of them now find new roles as trail horses, competitive partners, or even just pasture companions.

In her Brookmeade Young Rider Series, TSB author Linda Snow McLoon tells the story of a young girl that is offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to “recycle” a failed racehorse and turn him into an eventing superstar. Here’s an excerpt from the first book in the series, Crown Prince:

Crown Prince_250Sarah stood quietly, watching the horse. There was no movement as he stood facing the far corner, ignoring her. She clucked softly, but there was no response. Her hand dug deep in her pocket in hopes of finding one more carrot, but it was empty. Nothing was left, except perhaps…yes, in her other pocket she felt a peppermint candy, which she withdrew and slowly unwrapped. In response to the crinkling of the cellophane, a slim finely chiseled head turned her way, his ears pricked forward. He wore a halter, but was too far away for her to read the nameplate. She placed her outstretched hand with the peppermint over the stall door and spoke softly. “Prince—come, Prince.”

Slowly the horse turned from the rear wall and cautiously moved toward her. As he got closer, she felt delicate nostrils blow gently on her hand and then the slender muzzle lifted the peppermint away. He studied her as he chewed the candy slowly and deliberately.

He was big. Except for the enormous draft horses she had seen in pulling competitions at the state fair, this horse was larger than any Sarah had ever seen, including Chancellor. The only horse who might possibly match his size was Donegal Lad. But this horse possessed such refinement that his size wasn’t readily evident until he was close. In the dimly lit stall his dark bay coat looked almost black, and his only marking was a small white star in the center of his forehead. The deep straw bedding hid any possible white markings on his legs.

For several moments Sarah and the horse stood looking at each other. Then she lifted the stall door’s latch and let herself inside. As Crown Prince retreated to the corner, she reached back over the door to lower the latch back into position. Slowly she approached the horse, all the while talking softly. “Good boy, good Prince,” she repeated. Once by his side, she reached to touch his long neck and stroked it gently. His coat felt like sleek satin. He turned his head toward her, seeming to know she meant him no harm.

Now she was close enough to make out his halter plate. Sarah read the name in large block letters: CROWN PRINCE. Below it in smaller print his sire and dam were listed: Emperor’s Gold—Northern Princess. Yes! This definitely was the horse with the reputation of an untrainable rogue.

“You beautiful Prince,” she murmured. As Sarah stroked his neck and continued to speak in hushed tones, she felt the horse become more relaxed. His head dropped down to her and gradually his eyes softened, as he clearly enjoyed her touch and gentle voice. He offered no resistance as she gently pulled his head closer and rested her cheek on his muzzle. It was so soft. With his head lowered, she caressed his forehead, tracing the white star, and gently tugged on his ears. She felt as if she had known this horse forever.

Sarah had no idea how long she had been in the stall with Crown Prince when she became aware of a presence outside.

“Sarah, what are you doing? We’ve been looking all over for you.” It was her father’s voice. She turned to see him looking in at her, along with Jack, Sam, and Rudy Dominic. Worry and concern were written all over their faces.

“I’m fine, Dad. Don’t worry. This is Crown Prince. And he’s the horse I want.”

Her father’s jaw tightened as his eyes met Jack’s before he turned back to Sarah and the dark bay horse standing beside her. Crown Prince surveyed them all curiously, the picture of refinement and nobility. Mr. Wagner observed the horse’s beautifully shaped head, which tapered from small ears to large intelligent eyes down to a refined muzzle. His white star contrasted sharply with his deep mahogany coat. Sarah’s father shook his head, acknowledging the horse’s beauty, but anxious for his daughter’s safety.

Rudy Dominic pointed to the horse. “Isn’t he just like I said?”

Jack was too absorbed to answer. He opened the stall door and joined Sarah to get a closer look. He had seen some impressive horseflesh in his life, but this one ranked up there with the best of them. His eyes traveled from the powerful hindquarters to the pleasing topline and nicely sloping shoulder.

“Have you got a shank right there, Rudy?” Jack asked. “I want to get a better look at this fellow outside the stall.”

Rudy nodded to Sam, who left, returning in a few minutes with a lead shank, and let himself into the horse’s stall. “Come on, big horse. Let’s show off for these folks.” As he started to attach the lead to Crown Prince’s halter, the horse playfully grabbed the brass shank with his teeth. “Oh, no you don’t,” Sam said, as he pulled it away. He ran the chain through the halter’s side ring, over the horse’s nose, and attached it to the other side. Turning to Sarah, he said, “If he decided to put his head to the sky, as a short guy I’d be in trouble. But he knows me. He’s not a bad horse around the barn. It’s only when you sit on him he gets rank. I’ll bring him out so you can have a look-see at a real horse.”

Jack opened the stall door, and Sam led the horse to the open area between the barns. The backstretch was quieter now, since most grooms had finished caring for their horses and were having a late breakfast in the track kitchen. Crown Prince walked with a stately dignity and halted when asked, his coat gleaming in the sun’s rays.

Jack moved around him, thinking out loud. “Strong hindquarters, nice length of back, pronounced withers, good bone, and a lovely long neck.” He moved to stand directly in front of the horse before speaking to Rudy. “His conformation is quite correct. No toeing in or out, good width of chest, nice head. They don’t come any better than this. But I’d like to see him move.”

Rudy motioned to Sam. “Walk away and then jog him back, Sam. But be careful. He hasn’t been to the track to gallop in a while, so keep a tight hold on him.” Rudy turned to Sarah and her father. “I’m always surprised at how well behaved he is except when there’s a rider up. Then he becomes a lunatic.”

Jack positioned himself to get a good view before Sam led the horse away from him. Coming back, Prince trotted agreeably beside Sam and stopped when they reached Jack. “He’s a good mover, too—well balanced,” said Jack, “and his ground manners can’t be faulted.”

Sarah’s father was standing back but listening carefully. “He is a beautiful animal. It’s too bad his reputation takes him out of the running for being a horse for Sarah,” he said firmly.

Sarah, who up to now hadn’t taken her eyes off the horse, swung to face her father. “Dad—I don’t believe he can be as bad as Rudy says! He deserves a chance to be a different horse when he gets away from the racetrack and comes to Brookmeade Farm. Maybe he wasn’t meant to be a racehorse, but I think he will be a wonderful horse for me. I just know it!”

Mr. Wagner was quick to respond. “Sarah, this is a large and powerful animal. Above all else, I won’t let you be in harm’s way. From what I’ve heard today, this horse is dangerous. We mustn’t be so taken with his splendid appearance that we lose sight of the big picture. I can’t have you getting hurt by a horse.”

Sarah could see her father was totally serious. He was thinking only of potential disaster. She had to change his mind.

“We can start working with him on a longe line, Dad, until he knows what’s expected of him. I can turn him out in the big pasture where he can run off some energy. He’ll come to trust me. I promise I won’t even think about riding him until Jack gives the okay. You can see he’s well behaved. He’s a special horse, Dad, and he should have another chance.”

“But what about the handsome chestnut horse you like so much?” her father asked, motioning toward the other end of the shed row. “Don’t you think Code of Honor will be the perfect horse for you? And don’t you want a horse you can ride? Who knows how long it will be before you can get on this horse, if ever.”

Sarah looked at her father, her dark eyes pleading. “Dad, I know you want what’s best for me. But this is supposed to be my decision. Please don’t stand in the way. You’ve got to trust me. I want to take Crown Prince back to Brookmeade Farm more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life. I know he’s the right horse for me. He’s the one I’ve been waiting for.”

Jack, who had been quietly studying Crown Prince, turned to them. “’Tis for sure we have a grand animal here. Who knows the heights he and Sarah might reach if we can turn him around? Sometimes Thoroughbreds are completely different when they get away from the racetrack.” Jack walked over and placed a hand on Crown Prince’s shoulder. He stroked the horse, deep in thought.

After a few moments he turned back to Sarah’s father. “I tell you what, Martin. Perhaps we can give this horse a trial run. If we could arrange to take him for a month, I’ll pledge to be deeply involved in his handling, and I mean every part of his care and schooling, to make sure Sarah is safe. I won’t allow her to get on him until I’ve tested those waters myself. I’ll know in thirty days if he will be a suitable mount for her. If by then we’ve made no headway and I decide he’s not the right horse, we’ll notify Hank Bolton and return him to you, Rudy,” Jack added, looking at the trainer. “If this trial scenario is acceptable to you and Hank Bolton, let’s give it a shot.” He paused and looked intently at Sarah’s father. “Martin, I’m willing to make this commitment to ensure your daughter’s safety.”

Sarah stood quietly, her gaze never leaving her father. He was solemn, as he stood deep in thought. She knew he was worried—that above all else, he didn’t want her hurt. Mr. Wagner looked hard at Jack for a few moments before speaking. “Without your encouragement, I would never even consider letting Sarah take a horse with the shady past this one has. But if you can assure me you’ll stay on top of things and manage everything that’s done with him, I’ll go along with your proposal. But remember, this is a trial. At some point in the next month I will look to you, Jack, for an answer. If Sarah is at risk at any time, the horse must go.”

Sarah threw her arms around her father. “Dad, you’re the greatest! I’ll always remember this, that you gave Crown Prince a chance.”

 

CROWN PRINCE and its sequel CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Plus, in honor of Earth Day 2017, you can download a digital copy of ECO-HORSEKEEPING for only $1.99! CLICK HERE to get hundreds of tips for going green affordably, in the barn and in the rest of your horse life!

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Erika N. Walsh

Photo by Erika N. Walsh

 

Yvonne Barteau, author of THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, is a career horsewoman. And while perhaps that doesn’t make her unusual or particularly different from the other authors we have featured in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series, her varied experiences certainly do. She began as a groom, and later, a trainer, at racetracks along the East Coast, before becoming a horsewoman who specialized in restarting “problem horses.” Eventually, she entered the equine theater business, spending over five years as the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and Feature Performer at the Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida. Since then she has devoted herself to dressage and teaching students, training more than ten horses to the Grand Prix level and coaching many riders to year-end and Regional Championships. And she and her husband Kim continue to entertain audiences around the globe with stunning liberty work and theater shows featuring a variety of breeds and disciplines.

So what is the typical day in Yvonne’s life like?

“My life takes on different shapes throughout the year, depending on either the competition or exhibition dates we have on the calendar,” she says. “I have quite a few things I am preparing for now that occupy my hours.”

Here’s a glimpse behind the curtain at what it’s like to walk 24 hours in Yvonne Barteau’s boots.

Yvonne Barteau and her 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Indy.

Yvonne Barteau and her 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Indy.

5:00 a.m.  I’m usually up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. The good old days of the racetrack have stuck with me a long time. I’ll have one cup of coffee and a couple of cookies for breakfast and let my two dogs, Gimme and Weezer (one a Jack Russell and the other a Jack-Corgi mix) out in the yard to play. If my horse training abilities were judged on how well those two rascals are trained, I would likely go hungry. They kind of do what they want for most of their day and demand something from me every time they see me.

Early morning is my writing and business time, and I try to get done with it by sixish. I then get ready and head down to the barn before my crew gets there. I always visit my good buddy Ray first. He is the Holsteiner stallion I trained to Grand Prix and would let live in the house with me if I could! Sergio our barn manager is usually feeding at this time. Right now I am preparing Indy, my little Thoroughbred, for the Retired Racehorse Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge, so I often get him out and let him have his breakfast “picnic style,” lying down in the arena or the field.

7:00 a.m.  My crew arrives and we talk about the day’s schedules, lessons, and horses to work, deciding who will work what. This is also “meeting time” if we have an upcoming exhibition we are preparing for. Next on our schedule is the Denver Stock Show in January, and we are deciding how we will bring The Sound of Music and Chicago, to life, on horseback. I often put a first ride on Indy about this time so he can then go out for turnout before lunch.

 

Yvonne and her students put on fabulous equine theater productions at major events across the country throughout the year.

Yvonne and her students put on fabulous equine theater productions at major events across the country throughout the year.

8:00 a.m.  Usually Papi, the big 17-hand, 11-year-old Andalusion stallion who is converting from theater work to the dressage arena just this season and starting at the PSG level, gets a ride around now. We have many connection issues and lots of walk work to address, so I may spend over an hour on him, with over half of it at the walk.

9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  I may ride sale horses or teach my daughter Hudi during this time. I also have one regular Adult Amateur at 11:30 who is intent (and succeeding) in moving her horse up the levels with me only helping from the ground. She is fun and motivating to work with.

12:15 p.m.  I usually eat something while I catch up on computer work, which right now is movie editing. Our documentary on the making of an Equine Theater horse, called Into the Spotlight, is going to be in the Equus Film Festival in NYC and a few others this fall. It seems there is always “just one more edit” to do.

 

Yvonne made a name for herself as a horsewoman who can determine a horse's personality type and customize his training to suit.

Yvonne made a name for herself as a horsewoman who can determine a horse’s personality type and customize his training to suit.

1:00- 3:00 p.m. I have regular lessons to give here during this time, as well, and horses I ride or teach on that are in my five-day-a-week program.

3:00-5:00 p.m.  This is when the working students and apprentice trainers get their lessons, unless I have people who have shipped in for help. Right now, I usually get Indy out one more time to work on some Liberty or trick work before calling it a day with him. Project and sale horses are videoed if needed at this time and often it is more toward 7:00 p.m. before we all straggle up to the house.

8:00 p.m.  It is time for dinner, and I am the luckiest person in the world to have Kim, my husband, decide each day to make all of us a fabulous meal. We eat amazing and inventive meals each evening and many who have worked for us say the food and the home-cooked meals, are as much, or more, of an incentive, than the riding and training help they get!

Unless we have other guests over, after dinner we often watch a movie—or for me, part of one!

9-9:30 p.m. I am in bed because I love a good night’s sleep.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

You can read more about Yvonne Barteau and her dressage training philosophy in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO (which, by the way, is written from the horse’s point of view!), available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

JONATHAN FIELD

EMMA FORD

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Read Full Post »

FergusSigningFB

Over the last 20 years I have ridden a number of OTTBs (off-the-track Thoroughbreds), but most recently I have been riding an absolutely stunning and incredibly earnest gelding named “Rocky,” owned by Gayle Davis—a friend and fellow event rider. This enormous chestnut won his Advanced division at Millbrook Horse Trials with US Olympian and TSB author Phillip Dutton in the irons in 2012, right before Gayle purchased him.

Most spectators are surprised when they hear Rocky came off the track, as he floats across the ground like a Warmblood and his conformation wouldn’t lead you to believe he’s all Thoroughbred. Riding Rocky has truly been a treat—I am incredibly grateful to be able to ride such a naturally gifted athlete. He might be the most powerful horse I have ever sat on, and when you combine that sheer strength with his sincere attitude and wealth of knowledge, you can’t help but smile as you glide across the ground!

TSB Publications Assistant Lila Gendal on the OTTB Rocky.

TSB Publications Assistant Lila Gendal on the OTTB Rocky.

My positive experience with Rocky and with the other OTTBs I’ve ridden means that I find the mission of the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) all the more valuable. RRP is a non-profit organization that kick-started in 2010 when a small group of devoted Thoroughbred enthusiasts came together with a clear vision in mind: To promote ex-racehorses by offering them a second chance at succeeding in life beyond the track. This was made possible by increasing demand for them in a wide range of equestrian sports, and supporting those farms, trainers, and organizations that helped transition them.

Shortly after RRP began, the Thoroughbred Makeover Project debuted in 2013 and grew exponentially within the next two years attracting crowds, thoroughbred advocates, equestrians and all sorts of individuals from across the country, as they all gathered at the Kentucky Horse Park. The 2015 event was a huge success with its $100,000 in prize money for close to 200 horses that competed in ten disciplines with less than ten months of training. The 2016 Makeover continues to evolve, adding more educational opportunities to its program, as well as building in more time for potential OTTB buyers to evaluate the horses that are being showcased.

At Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com), we wholeheartedly support the retraining and rehoming of OTTBs, and we are proud to sponsor the Thoroughbred Makeover but to have a number of authors who are actively involved with RRP and the Makeover as well.

BETHTRIn 2008, TSB worked with Anna Morgan Ford, Program Director for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program and winner of the 2015 Equus Foundation/USEF Humanitarian Award, to create the book BEYOND THE TRACK. Ford’s book (written with Amber Heintzberger) has become a trusted resource of those entering into partnership with OTTBs. New Vocations was founded at Ford’s family farm in 1992 and now has five locations in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. The organization rehabilitates and rehomes over 400 ex-racehorses each year. (Read an excerpt about choosing the right OTTB from Beyond the Track that appeared in Practical Horseman Magazine by clicking HERE.)

ModEventwPhilDut-300Leading US event rider Phillip Dutton is the author of the TSB bestselling MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON (written with Amber Heintzberger) and is known for his ability to rehabilitate ex-racehorses and turn them into successful event horses. (He details the stories of a couple of his well-known OTTBs in a special section in his book.) Currently Dutton—who was just named to his sixth Olympic team, representing the US in Rio de Janeiro this year—has several OTTBs in his barn, one of which is “Icabad Crane,” the horse that won the $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover in 2014. (Watch a free “How to Be a Successful Eventer at Any Level” webinar with Dutton HERE.)

GoodRiders-web-300This year two TSB authors are retraining OTTBs with the Makeover specifically in mind: USEA Hall-of-Fame eventer Denny Emerson, author of HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD has two OTTB mares, “Frosty” and “Raven,” that he is working with in preparation for the Thoroughbred Makeover this fall. Emerson keeps his large Facebook audience up to date on what’s happening with these two exciting young mares—you can follow along HERE.

DrHorseManifesto300Yvonne Barteau, author of THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, is participating in this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover Project on her horse “Indy,” a 15.3-hand Thoroughbred gelding. Barteau has trained over 10 horses to the Grand Prix level and has won numerous USDF Horse of the Year titles, but before she was a Grand Prix dressage rider, she got her start on the track. Beginning in high school, she worked—first as a groom and then as a trainer—at harness-and flat-racing tracks up and down the East Coast. You can keep up with Indy’s progress by watching the wonderful video journals Barteau regularly posts HERE.

Stay tuned over the next few months as we touch base with our TSB authors who are participating in RRP’s Thoroughbred Makeover Project, bringing you highlights and an inside look at their experiences!

-Lila Gendal, Publications Assistant

 

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Read Full Post »

Jennifer Brandon, the talented painter and illustrator who did the covers for TSB's CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED, is featured in the Fall 2014 issue of Equestrian Culture.

Jennifer Brandon, the talented painter and illustrator who did the covers for TSB’s CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED, is featured in the Fall 2014 issue of Equestrian Culture.

 

Artist Jennifer Brandon has a beautiful feature interview, including images of many of her vibrant paintings, in the Fall 2014 issue of Equestrian Culture magazine. Jen, a painter and talented illustrator, provided the cover art for the first two books in the Brookmeade Young Riders Series by Linda Snow McLoon. CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED share the tumultuous story of Sarah Wagner and her off-the-track Thoroughbred Crown Prince as they deal with the pressures of training together and competing in a world where fear and jealousy threaten to tear them apart.

Watch Jen Brandon’s creative talents in action on this short video:

 

 

 

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Fall Issue of Equestrian Culture magazine, available at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, select tack shops, or online CLICK HERE.

You have a chance to meet Jen and author Linda Snow McLoon at the 2014 Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts, November 13-16. Find Jen’s Jache Studio booth #711 in the Better Living Center (and stop by the TSB booth #846/847 while you’re there!) and visit the Youth Pavilion in the Mallary South Building from 11-11:45 am on Friday to see Linda introduce a REAL LIVE off-the-track Thoroughbred and talk a little bit what it is like retraining one, and how that experience inspired her books. Linda will be signing books and answering questions after her presentation.

See you at Equine Affaire!

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

 

CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

Read Full Post »

 

 

Doug Payne's book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL was just released!

Doug Payne’s book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL was just released!

We managed to snag a few minutes with TSB author Doug Payne between his fabulous dressage performance aboard Crown Talisman (“Tali”) at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day (April 23-26, 2014) and the pair’s first place finish at the Jersey Fresh CIC*** (May 7-11) to talk about the release of his new book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL and just a few of his (other!) favorite things as he prepares to cross the ocean to ride in Saumur International Three-Day Event, May 22-25.

 

TSB: In your new book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL, you explain that part of the reason you have gained recognition for your ability to find a way forward with “problem horses” is the sheer number of different kinds of horses you had the opportunity to ride during your childhood, as well as when you first began your training/retraining business. Can you tell us about one horse you remember who taught you a very important lesson from which you still benefit today?

DP: I rode a horse named “Just a Star” who was the first horse I rode at the Advanced Level. He was an incredible jumper, but his flatwork left some to be desired. After some time our partnership developed and our scores improved. The improvement in scores came only after a patient progression. Every time I tried to increase the pressure we went backward—literally and figuratively! Ever since, I have been very mindful to make sure that my horses progress at their own pace, and when in doubt I give them more time.

 

TSB: In THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL, you say that horse “problems” can arise from a physical issue, a “foundation flaw” (a missing component of training), or sometimes an attitude problem. It is common to hear a rider say her horse “has an attitude” or is “cranky” or “witchy” or “stubborn.” In your opinion, is an “attitude problem” usually the case the majority of the time as so many riders might have us think? Have you ever had a horse whose “attitude problem” prevented his ever reaching his potential in terms of performance?

DP: Seldom does it happen, but there have been a few who, for whatever reason, just don’t want to participate. I’d like to think that every horse has his job in which he will be happy. I generally try to steer them in that direction. I’ve only had one who would hurt herself in order to avoid doing work of any kind. This is the only one I “gave up” on—it’s not worth my health and life for a horse who has no sense of self-preservation.

 

TSB: What is the most important thing for the amateur rider to consider when dealing with a “problem horse”?

DP: You’re not alone, and your horse’s problems are not “unique” just to him or her. Look for help if you’re not progressing!

 

TSB: You once stated it was your goal to ride at the highest levels of dressage, show jumping, and eventing. With your recent successes in eventing, do you see yourself concentrating on your career in that discipline for good?

DP:  Not at all! Riding in the strict disciplines is such a tremendous challenge and only helps my eventers in the barn. At the moment I have a horse named Royal Tribute (owned by myself, Kristin Burgers, and Larry and Amelia Ross) who will be showing at Fourth Level dressage this spring/summer and a horse by the name of Eli (owned by Mike Rubin) who I am currently showing Grand Prix in show jumping.

 

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

DP: I’m lucky enough to say I don’t! I grew up on a farm in New Jersey as a member of a very active horse family.

 

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

DP:  Ditto the question above.

 

Doug Payne grew up in a very horsey family. Here he is with his mom and "Popcorn."

Doug Payne grew up in a very horsey family. Here he is with his mom and “Popcorn.”

 

 

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?

DP:  Hopefully a cross would be acceptable: My favorite mix is a Holsteiner-Thoroughbred cross, which is the breeding of Crown Talisman, as well as 5 others on our farm. I’m not sure that I could narrow it down to just one book. My current favorite is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

 

TSB: If you had an iPad and WiFi on your island, what movie would you stream?

DP: I’d love to have access to the Internet! I have an obsessive personality and love to research just about anything. I would guess Wikipedia and Fox News would be top of my most visited list.

 

TSB: You are a pretty tech-savvy guy. What’s your favorite social media app and why?

DP:  Twitter: It’s the most immediate and efficient way to find out what’s happening anywhere in the world.

 

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

DP:  Honesty

 

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

DP:  Heart

 

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

DP:  At this point I’ve competed at the four-star (****) level of eventing, Grand Prix show jumping ,and Intermediaire I dressage. Grand Prix dressage is next to check off that list!

 

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

DP:  I love food, so the type is not important. The perfect meal is a function of the company, so comfortably at home with Jess (my wife) and other great friends.

 

TSB: You recently got married. Where did you go on your honeymoon?

DP:  We haven’t yet!

 

TSB: What is your motto?

DP:  I actually have two:

What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
and
Keep it simple, stupid.

 

Have you always wanted to ride the perfect cross-country round on a fabulous horse? Check out this great helmet-cam video: Ride along with Doug as he and Tali nail it this past weekend:

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL is available now from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is free (CLICK HERE TO ORDER).

 

Read Full Post »

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 9.34.47 AM

The world is revving up for the 139th Run for the Roses—that first Saturday in May when greatness is sought and horses again hold the nation’s attention for a few heart-and-ground-pounding minutes.

Last year, TSB featured author Kerry Thomas’ analysis of the 2012 Derby field, when he and his HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES co-author Calvin Carter successfully pinpointed I’ll Have Another as a standout in the herd of competitors. Prior to that, the pair saw and named the champion potential in Animal Kingdom.

As we count down the hours until Saturday’s starting bell, we again ask Kerry and Calvin to share their thoughts on the Kentucky Derby field.

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 9.35.04 AM

Kerry Thomas: Patterns of Motion Analysis

“There’s this guy from Pennsylvania who has picked the last two Derby winners, both longshots, and he did it in a most ingenious way,” writes Mark Coomes in his February InsiderLouisville.com article about Kerry Thomas entitled “‘Horse Whisperer’ beats handicappers, uses behavior profiling to pick last two Derby longshots.”

“He used no speed figures, no class evaluation, none of the traditional handicapping tools,” Coomes goes on. “He used behavioral profiling. That is, he examined the way horses behave during a race, and by applying hard-earned, grassroots knowledge of equine psychology, he identified the horses that possessed the mentality and temperament required to win the wild, 2-minute stampede staged at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.”

“The one thing I can say about this year’s field of competitors is that I truly feel there will be some rather tenacious space battles and herd dynamic communication going on throughout the entire race,” says Kerry. “There are several horses with very closely related communication styles in the field at the top levels, and seeing how this plays out in their patterns of motion over time and distance should prove fascinating.”

You can read Kerry’s full Patterns of Motion Analysis of the 2013 Kentucky Derby field at www.brisnet.com/derby. (Scroll down and look for the link to the Thomas Herding Technique.) Here are some of the qualities he looks for when analyzing racehorses (and read more about his methods and techniques in his book HORSE PROFILING):

Behavioral Overcompensation: This occurs when one sensory avenue, either by physical limitation or psychological aberration, is overcompensated for its inefficiency by the use of another sensory avenue.

Buddying-Up: This occurs when a mid-level herd horse seeks the comfort of movement with another horse. “Buddy-up horses” are dependent on another horse for safety, direction, and rhythm of motion.

Emotional Conformation: The mental and emotional psychology of a horse that makes up who he is. It includes the way the horse communicates, interprets stimuli, as well as almost everything he actively does, including competing on the racetrack.

Group Herd Dynamic (GHD): This is a horse’s awareness of the group around him. It goes hand-in-hand with the ability to interpret multiple stimuli. A horse with a good group dynamic can see/feel the big picture and where the horse himself fits into that picture. A healthy group dynamic is integral for a horse to run well through traffic or come from far back in a race. Many horses with a strong Group Herd Dynamic will prefer to be near the back of the field early in a race in order to read the other members of the group’s intentions. They are in fact “sizing up the field” and determining where they want to go. The U.S. champion mare Zenyatta is the classic example of a horse with a big (“strong”) group dynamic (she also had a big individual dynamic, which she could turn on when needing to fight for space and pass horses).

Herd dynamic: This is a general term we use to describe a horse’s overall herd level (his Group and Individual Herd Dynamic combined).

Individual Herd Dynamic (IHD): This is the dynamic that involves just the self and a singular target. Example: A horse engages in a pace duel with one other horse, not thinking about the rest of the field, the length of the race, or anything else but that one-on-one struggle. Horses that rely too much on Individual Herd Dynamic will get lost if they have too much stimuli to interpret. Front-running horses that only run their best races when they are near the front of the herd, where there are limited stimuli, usually have a very high Individual Herd Dynamic. A high IHD is integral to being a good racehorse, but the best horses are strong in both IHD and GHD. When you’re only operating on one dynamic, it’s easier to have the rug pulled out from under you. And when things don’t go their way, individual dynamic horses tend to fall apart.

Egg: The horse’s “egg” is an invisible area of space surrounding the horse and varying in actual foot-distance from him—this is the comfort zone of space around the horse. Shaped much like an egg is shaped, with the more pointed part being forward, owing to the area of binocular vision, the “egg of comfort” is the area where stimuli are efficiently interpreted by the horse in any direction. It is directly related to the herd dynamic (that area around the horse that is managed by him—see above). Some areas of the horse’s egg can be rigid, hard-shelled, absorbing/cushiony, or soft-shelled.

Space infraction: This is when one horse infringes upon another horse’s comfort zone. Picture an invisible “egg” of space surrounding each horse (see above). The size of that egg is dependent on the individual horse. Some horses shy from space infractions, some feed off of close contact.

Principles of Adaptability: This is when physical change is necessitated by environmental conditions and stimuli. Mental interpretations of these happen prior to the physical response and are in place so a species can survive, learn, and evolve. Ultimately, associations evolve into perceptions, which precede anticipation, shortening the time between action and reaction.

Anticipatory Response: Principles of Adaptability allow associations to become perceptions, which can be seen as anticipation and leading to an anticipatory response prior to actual physically or emotionally driven stimuli. In a properly functioning sequence, this allows for learning and social/psychological growth; in an improperly functioning sequence, this allows for aberrations.

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 9.35.35 AM

Calvin Carter: Numerical Scoring System

Since 2009, intensive study of Thoroughbred pedigrees and the late Federico Tesio, a world-renowned owner, breeder and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses, has had a tremendous impact on how Calvin Carter, co-author of HORSE PROFILING, determines if a young colt has star potential. Calvin’s research has helped him pick the classic champions I’ll Have Another, Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. Last year, all five horses he profiled in his Kentucky Derby blog finished in the top five.

“Like an intricate puzzle, the pedigree contains many secrets of what champions are made of,” explains Calvin, “and Tesio was the master at putting all the puzzle pieces together. In addition to pedigrees, past performances and the horse’s behavior, will to win, are also important factors I look at.

“Tesio was keenly aware of the importance of behavior in determining champion Thoroughbreds. In HORSE PROFILING, Kerry Thomas and I wrote that the horse’s Emotional Conformation, his will to win, is the final piece of the breeding puzzle.”

You can read Calvin’s Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profiles, a numerical scoring system, for the 2013 Derby field on his blog CLICK HERE.

Horse-Profiling-250[1]HORSE PROFILING: THE SECRET TO MOTIVATING EQUINE ATHLETES is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Read Full Post »

As horse people, there’s a lot we love about our new books for young horse lovers: CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED. We totally identify with author Linda Snow McLoon’s sense of time in a horse barn—the smells, sounds, and daily chores that make up horsekeeping and enthrall thousands of young people the world over. We appreciate her attention to “horsey details” often neglected by writers less in tune with what makes a real riding stable go ’round.

And of course, we LOVE the book covers! We are thrilled by artist Jennifer Brandon’s depictions of a young girl and the horse that owns her heart. In the course of her career, Jen has captured the the charm and personality of all kinds of animals—from beloved pets to working class farm animals to million-dollar racehorses. Oil on canvas is her medium, while artistic passion and an understanding of an animal’s personality bring her portraits to life.

We had a chance to talk to Jen about her painting process and ask her how she brings portraits to life. Check out this terrific video where she summarizes the creation of the cover art for CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED:

TSB:  Can you tell us a little about how you became an artist specializing in animal portraiture, specifically dogs and horses?

Jen: Growing up as a farm girl amidst everything alive and beautiful, my love for horses, dogs, and all animals became a very integral part of who I am today. Now, it seems the more people I meet, the more I love horses, dogs, and all animals.

Seriously though, raising horses as a child and having a mom who is a masterful painter who always encouraged me to follow my dreams, pursuing my passion for painting and specializing in equestrian and pet portraits was pretty much a no-brainer.

TSB: Can you describe a little about your creative process and the techniques you use?

Jen: My medium of choice is oil paints, typically on canvas, linen, or board. I love taking still photos of horses I’ve seen in action and re-imagining them through active brushwork on the canvas. It is so much fun to spend late nights in the studio with Billy Joel (my go-to music for painting inspiration) blasting through the speakers. Dancing around with paintbrushes in one hand and a cup of strong coffee in the other, I allow paint to move from my brush to the canvas as the horse emerges from the white canvas.

It all starts with imagining the final image on that stark white canvas. Then I mix together my base color and carefully lay the foundation for the composition. Before I know it, bold fast strokes collaborate with careful meticulous strokes to create a sense of action and movement. I love contrasting colors and values to evoke a mood of drama, while more related subtle tones give tribute to a fond memory.

TSB: What is your experience illustrating print books and what do you like best about it?

Jen: I’m thankful to have had the privilege of illustrating several children’s books. I remember devouring illustrations as a child, page by page. Through bright watercolors and energetic line, I like to encourage creativity and the concept of thinking outside the box and drawing outside the lines. Of course it’s fun to develop the story board, and begin the painting process. But I love seeing the crayon drawings it inspires children to create.

TSB: How did you come up with the image of Sarah Wagner and Crown Prince for the new BROOKMEADE YOUNG RIDERS fiction series?

Jen: After reading about the moment with Sarah and Crown Prince in the barn, it sparked an image of the immediate connection between horse and girl—a concept that hits home for me.

TSB:  Do your subjects, whether fictional or real, “come alive” for you as you paint them? How do you imagine Sarah and Crown Prince would be if you met them in real life?

Jen: More often than not my subjects “come alive” for me. Thankfully my dog is always in my studio with me, so I can always say I was just talking to him…and not my painting. I mean, who would ever talk to a painting?

I do, however, imagine Sarah being very similar to me and my best friends growing up. I feel we could all relate to her connection with Crown Prince. She seems like someone I would’ve enjoyed hanging out with.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember drawing or painting a horse.

Jen: If you look through all my sketch books from my childhood you’ll see a recurring theme…horses…horses…horses. I LOVED drawing horses. I cannot remember the very first time I drew a horse. But I can, however, remember the first commission I received to draw a horse. I was 9 years old. A sweet elderly woman from my church saw an opportunity to encourage a young girl and she paid me $75 to create a conté crayon drawing of a horse for her niece. I’d love to meet her again some day to thank her.

TSB: Do you still ride horses? If so, what do you like best about riding?

 

Artist Jennifer Brandon created the eye-catching covers for the new Brookmeade Young Riders Series by Linda Snow McLoon.

Artist Jennifer Brandon created the eye-catching covers for the new Brookmeade Young Riders Series by Linda Snow McLoon.

Jen: Unfortunately I haven’t ridden since high school. But I can tell you what I used to love most about riding was jumping on the back of my quarter horse and riding bareback and bitless and getting lost in the woods for hours on a breezy fall day with my best friends riding alongside me.

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

Jen: I would have to choose my good ole’ Great Dane. He’s my studio buddy, and only he knows just how goofy I can get while painting.

As far as a book goes, it would have to be Crown Prince Challenged, of course, as I haven’t been able to read the second one in the series yet!

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

Jen: Butter and true maple syrup. Sometimes I think I could happily live off of those two ingredients. Romaine lettuce is also a staple.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Jen: Perfect happiness….I’m not sure I can do the description justice. But it would definitely have to do with being tuned in to what Christ has in store for me, and living my life in a way that reflects his grace, creativity and love. Having a healthy family and friends. Enjoying painting outside on a beautiful fall day. Gardening barefoot. Or finally completing a rock climb that’s been spitting me off!

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

Jen: Honesty and the ability to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse (or dog)?

Jen: I can be as goofy and ridiculous as I want and they will never tell!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

Jen: Wild caught salmon grilled to perfection with maple syrup, a side of roasted root veggies, fresh salad greens and tomatoes from our garden with mozzarella cheese, and a side of yummy garlic bread. Completed with dessert, fresh berries and ice cream from a local farm and a good strong cup a’ jo.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

Jen: I was going to say it’s a tie between painting in Rockport Massachusetts, or climbing in Boulder, Colorado, but then I remembered Italy. Italy takes the cake!

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

We’re featuring Jen’s wonderful paintings and prints on the TSB blog in the month’s ahead. Click here for more information about Jen’s custom pet portraits.

Jen: Rien Poortvliet. I’ve found him to be one of the most inspiring painters and illustrators. Not bound to presuppositions or boxes of any sort. He obviously loved his animals and was a phenomenal painter.

TSB: What is your motto?

Jen: “. . . a piece of a beautiful moment.” Derived from a moment in Sienna, Italy, where a grandfather helped his little granddaughter learn how to ride a bike for the first time on the cobblestone streets. A moment when I happened to be a bystander, watching that precious time and relationship. These are the moments that bring a smile to my face. These are the moments that make up our lives. These are the moments I love to express through paint.

Learn more about Jennifer Brandon and her superb creative talent at www.jachestudio.com.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER CROWN PRINCE AND CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED TODAY

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: