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santa

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d need them completely spook-free.

He’d give them a course

called Bombproof Your Horse

to make them as brave as can be.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

they’d have to be ready and willing.

Over, Under, and Through

with the moon full or new

(and without any tipping or spilling!)

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d want them to understand his directions.

With Horse Speak he’d know

how to stop, how to go,

how to praise and make gentle corrections.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

there’d be groundwork before they could fly.

A little Long-Reining

and some Liberty Training

would ensure happy trails in the sky.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d have their well-being in mind.

He’d be sure they weren’t sore

with massage Light to the Core,

and his hands always soft, always kind.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d want his head clear as could be.

With Pressure-Proof coaching

the holiday approaching

would be completely anxiety-free.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

we’d wait up late to sneak a quick look,

we’d hear nickers and hooves

as they land on the rooves

Delivering presents (and really good horse books!)

 

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Wishing all a safe and joyful holiday…from our horses to yours.

–The Trafalgar Square Books Staff

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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Photo by Keron Psillas from The Alchemy of Dressage by Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis

In almost every book we publish, we invite our authors to include a page of acknowledgments; this is their chance to thank those who may have had a hand in their careers or the making of their books. While it isn’t every day that we look back through to see who they’ve thanked over the years, it seems appropriate on this blustery, cold, Vermont afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving 2016. As might be imagined, there is one resounding theme that emerges…have a look at some of the words of gratitude TSB authors have put in print. If your book was about to be published, who would YOU thank?

 

“They say success has a thousand fathers—I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have taken an extra minute out of their day to help me down my path.” Jonathan Field in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES

“Thanks go out to every horse I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege of riding…they’ve taught me the importance of caring, patience, understanding, selflessness, and hard work.” Daniel Stewart in PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING

 

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and "Hal."

TSB author Jonathan Field with his family and “Hal.”

 

“Most of all my greatest thanks go to Secret, the horse who has taught me so much—she is a horse in a million.” Vanessa Bee in 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP

“We owe the greatest depths of gratitude to the horses.” Phillip Dutton in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON

“Thank you, Santa, for bringing the pony when I was little.” Jean Abernethy in THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE

“Thank you to my partner and wife Conley, without whose moral support and inspiration I would be sitting on a tailgate by the side of the road holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Will work on horses for food.'” Jim Masterson in BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE

 

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones.

 

“Thank you to my beloved parents. You were so wonderful to let me chart a path with horses, which you knew nothing about.” Lynn Palm in THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION

“I thank my beloved equine partners—my most important teachers.” Dr. Beth Glosten in THE RIDING DOCTOR

“Thank you to all my wonderful students and friends for always being there.” Jane Savoie in IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS

“I really need to honor the people who have invited me to work with them and the horses that have allowed me to be with, ride, and train them over the decades. I have learned some things from books, but most from the people and horses I train.” Heather Sansom in FIT TO RIDE IN 9 WEEKS!

“I give thanks for all the horses over the years who have taught me so much.” Linda Tellington-Jones in THE ULTIMATE HORSE BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING BOOK

“I am grateful for all my teachers, two-legged, four-legged, and winged, for all they have taught me through their own journeys.” Dr. Allen Schoen in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“Thank you to every horse that came my way over the past 45 years. Each one had lessons to teach me.” Susan Gordon in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN

“I want to thank my parents who finally gave in to the passionate desire of a small child who wanted a horse.” Heather Smith Thomas in GOOD HORSE, BAD HABITS

“Most of all, thank you to all the horses.” Sharon Wilsie in HORSE SPEAK

 

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

TSB author Dr. Allen Schoen.

 

“I am extremely thankful to all of the horses in my life. I would not have accomplished so much without them. The horses have been my greatest teachers!” Anne Kursinski in ANNE KURSINSKI’S RIDING & JUMPING CLINIC

“I need to thank all the horses.” Sgt. Rick Pelicano in BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF

“Thank you to students and riders who share my passion in looking deeper into the horse and into themselves.” Dominique Barbier in THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS

“Thanks go to the many horses that have come into my life. You give me great happiness, humility, and sometimes peace; you always challenge me to become more than I am, and you make my life whole.” Andrea Monsarrat Waldo in BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS

 

And thank YOU, our readers and fellow horsemen, who are always striving to learn and grow in and out of the saddle, for the good of the horse.

Wishing a very happy and safe Thanksgiving to all!

The Trafalgar Square Books Staff

 

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

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Photo by Erika N. Walsh

Photo by Erika N. Walsh

We’re counting down the days to the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, organized by the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), a nonprofit dedicated to the placement of ex-racehorses in second careers, and sponsored by Thoroughbred Charities of America.

You can join thousands of others who believe that every Thoroughbred deserves a chance to win at life at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, October 27-30, as top trainers engage in the process of transitioning ex-racehorses to second careers. The Thoroughbred Makeover serves as the only national gathering of the organizations, trainers, and farms dedicated to serving OTTBs and features educational clinics and demonstrations, as well as the Makeover Horse Sale and the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover competition.

The 2016 Makeover features over 300 Thoroughbreds that began working with trainers from across the country after the first of the year and who will compete in up to two of ten equestrian disciplines to showcase their talents and trainability.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover is a unique opportunity on so many levels,” says one of the event’s judges, TSB author and president of EquestrianCoach.com Bernie Traurig. “First, it’s a wonderful way to see firsthand the great qualities the Thoroughbred has to offer for so many disciplines. There are over 300 OTTBs competing and demonstrating their versatility in a wide array of sports. Second, for those interested in purchasing an OTTB, many, perhaps half, are available to be tried and purchased. David Hopper and I are judging the jumpers, and we are both really excited to see some of these great Thoroughbreds.”

As supporters of the Retired Racehorse Project, TSB is proud to have a number of authors joining Bernie Traurig (creator of DEVELOPING PERFECT POSITION and other DVDs) in this year’s Makeover. BEYOND THE TRACK author Anna Morgan Ford’s OTTB adoption organization New Vocations always has a significant presence at the event, and both Denny Emerson (HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD) and Yvonne Barteau (THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO) worked with OTTBs with the competition in mind.

 

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“I did not know of the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover challenge until my friend Lisa Diersen of the Equus Film Festival mentioned it to me,” recounts Barteau. “Since I spent seven years on racetracks, working with Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses, and also a few years training ex-racehorses, it seemed like a good thing for me to do.

“I started working with SeventyTwo (‘Indy’) in February,” she says. “I found him a bit aloof at first and also somewhat challenging. He likes a good argument and will try to drag you into one if you are not careful. He is also funny, charming, and extremely clever. He learns things, (good or bad), super fast, so I have had to stay ahead of him in the training game.

“I am having such fun with Indy, I plan on keeping him and continuing to train him up the levels in dressage as well as making an exhibition horse out of him. I don’t know how he will be when I take him to a new environment (the Makeover), so however he acts there will be just part of our journey together. I’m looking forward to it either way!”

Don’t missing seeing Indy and all the other winning ex-racehorses as they show off what they’ve learned over the last few months and compete to be named America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred! Tickets for the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover are on sale now (CLICK HERE).

Watch Yvonne and Indy working together in this short video:

 

 

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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LRblog

When Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship was growing up in his native Australia, his father stressed the importance of using long-reining as part of early groundwork when starting colts, as well as using the technique as a safe way to troubleshoot issues when restarting older horses with training or behavior problems. But the influx of American horsemanship methods just as Dan James and his business partner Dan Steers began their careers meant the popularity of traditional long-reining techniques waned.

It was when Dan and Dan trained with Heath Harris, one of the world’s elite liberty trainers and the man behind the horses in blockbuster films such as The Man from Snowy River, Phar Lap, The Young Black Stallion, and The Legend of Zorro, that they discovered the true value of long-reining in a horse’s education.

“Heath mounted us up on green Warmbloods that had just come in for training,” Dan and Dan remember in their new book LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP. “If one of those ‘giants’ wasn’t well broke and ran away, it could get scary really fast. It became quickly apparent that the more we had these horses bridled up and working well from the ground, the easier it was when we got into the saddle.”

So yes, long-reining is a fantastic intermediate groundwork step that bridges the gap between leading a horse and riding him.

“There are a lot of horses that get ‘lost in translation’ when making that leap,” say Dan and Dan, “so the simpler and smoother you can make the transition, the better. We’re not saying that everything a horse can do when being long-reined he will automatically be able to do with you on his back, but we do find it drastically reduces the level of fear and confusion for most horses. And, colts that are taught long-reining progress much faster starting under saddle than horses that are taught everything from their back.”

Heath Harris also had Dan and Dan work with off-the-track Thoroughbreds and “problem” horses that needed to revisit earlier training to fill in holes in their education. These horses taught them that long-reining is equally useful for building a foundation, working through issues, or refining skills the horses might already possess.

“Since we started teaching long-reining to the public, we’ve learned that the magic it works with horses is only half of its benefits,” say Dan and Dan. “We’ve also discovered it helps people gain confidence with their horsemanship—no small thing.”

Long-reining rapidly builds from basic skills to performing high-level exercises. Many classically trained dressage riders at the Olympian level use a lot of long-reining in their programs, as do some elite Western riders. And of course, we’re all familiar with famous Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, who–alongside their trainers–take long-reining to its highest level of difficulty, entertaining the world with maneuvers that once prepared horses for the immense challenges of the battlefield.

Whether you are into Western or English riding, the long-reining concepts taught in LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP are well worth trying!

“If you have ever seen the Double Dans perform a long-reining demonstration, I am sure that you have been amazed by their skill and talent,” says Jen Johnson, Chief Executive Director of North American Western Dressage (NAWD). “At North American Western Dressage, we understand that good horsemanship begins on the ground. Long-reining can help you and your horse develop a great deal of harmony before you ever get in the saddle, and your horse can learn to use his body in a beneficial manner—without the added weight of a rider. Working your horse from the ground enhances physical and emotional fitness, and this is a great step-by-step guide to help you, with lots of terrific exercises.”

“Dan James and his partner in Double Dan Horsemanship, Dan Steers, are very well suited to offer advice in achieving success with long-lining techniques in a friendly, easy-to-follow manner,” agrees FEI 4* judge and long-lining expert Bo Jena.

You can download a free chapter from LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP or order a copy of the book from the Trafalgar Square Books storefront, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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GetitRight

Guess what? There have been thousands of times our horses have tried to answer our requests, maybe in several “not-quite-right” ways, but then because of the way we reacted to those small mistakes, they “got spooked”…and then suddenly “not-quite-right” became “oh-so-wrong.”

In his bestselling book THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, Florida-based trainer Sean Patrick explains that Avoidance Behavior is the defense mechanism your horse uses when a situation occurs that is unpleasant (such as water spraying in his ears) or scary (such as being approached with a noisy garbage bag).

“The horse looks for a way to avoid the stimulus or get rid of it,” says Sean.

This can mean he tries to run away, shy, buck, back, or rear. The goal for all of us is to learn the difference between the horse seeking a release point (the moment of “success” when the horse “gets” what you are asking and when the removal of any stimulus should instantly occur), and the horse that is overreacting and trying to avoid the situation altogether.

When approaching your horse with a stimulus, give him a chance to seek, and find, the right answer.

When approaching your horse with a stimulus, give him a chance to seek, and find, the right answer.

 

To begin to learn to recognize Avoidance Behavior and how to deal with it, let’s look at a few common examples and possible causes provided by Sean in his book:

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse bolts away from you as you lift your dressage whip.

Possible Causes: 1) Previous application of the whip has been unfair—for example, the release has not been given at the right moment, or the whip has been used too firmly; 2) The horse does not understand that the whip is not something to fear but to calmly respond to.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse moves his head away from your moving hand, anticipating contact.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is justified in believing that he may be struck by that moving hand and is preparing to get out of the way; 2) The horse has not had enough physical contact to know that he can trust your moving hands.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse takes off running with you on his back, becoming inattentive to your cues.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is growing frustrated with your leg pressure, as a release does not seem to come, no matter how he responds; 2) The horse is being ridden in a place where his fear level has been raised until it is too much for him to handle, such as in an indoor arena on a windy day.

 

Avoidance Behavior: The horse begins to buck violently while you are riding and is not responding to any form of cue.

Possible Causes: 1) The horse is not used to having a rider on his back and bucks out of discomfort or fear; 2) The horse is startled by or unhappy with your use of leg pressure.

 

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Sean says that of course not all Avoidance Behavior is caused by improper handling. We should also note that a horse that has not had time to build trust in his human handlers and gain experience in that partnership will be more inclined to show it. We can all help our horses develop in ways that ensure Avoidance Behavior appears less and less often through conscious attention to our own use of techniques and our position around the horse and in the saddle; through thoughtful teaching; and by always being aware that scenarios such as these may not help our horses learn. It is our goal to help our horses learn in ways that make their lives safe, purposeful, and happy. And Rule #1 should be to give them a chance to get it right.

Discover more training insight, as well as Sean Patrick’s 33 steps to horse training, in THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

 

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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KYBManifesto

Grand Prix dressage rider and famed performer Yvonne Barteau has dedicated her life to discovering how to best communicate with horses.

“I have made understanding horses my life’s goal,” she says. “Growing up, I read every book about horses, training, and riding I could get my hands on, and during my teens I was willing to run seven miles beyond where the bus line ended so I could sit for hours and stare at horses, interacting with and riding them any time I had a chance.”

Before finding her way to dressage, Barteau spent years working at racetracks along the East Coast, first as a groom, then as a trainer.

“These young horses had lots to say, and I was someone who did listen,” explains Barteau. “I became the groom who could ‘tell’ when a horse was well, unwell, in a mood to win, or feeling off and likely to finish at the back of the pack. When one of my charges was off his feed, I figured out the reason. I paid extremely close attention because I wanted so badly to understand what each horse might say to me if he could talk.”

 

 

Barteau’s interest in understanding the horse led her to categorize horse personalities, eventually writing a book on the subject (Ride the Right Horse, Storey Publishing, 2007). These personality assessments helped as she began retraining problem horses and dealing with everything from bucking and rearing issues, to bolters and runaways.

“I eventually entered the equine theater business, and there I needed to pay close attention in order to be able to determine what would keep 67 horses working together in front of a live audience, night after night, while continuing to look agreeable and happy to do their jobs!” Barteau admits. “I was the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and a Feature Performer at the famous Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida, for over five years.”

Since her time in Florida, Barteau has devoted the bulk of her riding and teaching time to dressage.

“I believe it to be the best sport for a horse,” she asserts, “and I am ever so interested in anything that might make our equine friends more happy and comfortable doing their jobs.”

And this leads us to Barteau’s newest project: She’s written a book “from the horse’s mouth”—all the things a horse might say about the dressage training process if he could—called THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. From Training Level through Grand Prix, with Barteau’s help, 10 dressage horses tell us like it is: what feels good, what hurts, what they like, what they find boring, why you need more leg here and less rein there, and even how to ride a test, movement by movement, according to their training and tendencies.

“Hopefully, my words, which are based on reactions from horses I have met and worked with and strived to interpret over these many years, might help you in your journey,” says Barteau. “If they do, even in a small way, your horse will likely benefit…and that is my ultimate goal.”

THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free sample chapter!

 

“Because it is written from the horse’s perspective, this book is a different and valuable new guide to training dressage from start to finish. All the levels—and required movements and demands of each level—are clearly explained in great detail. Plentiful photos make clear the objectives of each training exercise. By developing an understanding of how horses mentally and physically react to their riders’ progression of training, we will be more likely to achieve the goal of harmony, which is so important in dressage. This is why THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO is a must-read for all dressage enthusiasts.”

HILDA GURNEY

Two-Time Olympian, Six-Time National Grand Prix Dressage Champion, Three-Time USDF Dressage Breeder of the Year,  USEF “S” Dressage Judge, USDF Hall-of-Fame Inductee

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TSBLego

I have a six-year-old son, and it is not unusual to be deep in bill-paying mode (not the happiest of places, anyway) when a Lego structure in some disrepair arrives, along with a request to help fix it. Now, I was not born with the Lego gene—it takes me bright light, a pair of glasses, and some contemplative time before I can rectify any play-induced casualties. If my son puts on the pressure to fix it more quickly, panic sets in, and I get defensive and a little grumpy (remember, I was negotiating the fine line between “in the black” and “in the red” when this new challenge arrived, anyway), and if pushed further, I may even flee the scene completely, calling in backup in the form of “Dad.”

According to horse trainer and founder of The International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee, we don’t actually learn anything in our “comfort zone” (the place where I am not faced with bills to pay in addition to Lego-related conundrums); we have to step out of that cozy place into what’s called the “learning zone” (side by side with my son on the floor surrounded by hundreds of tiny, colorful, plastic bricks).

“But this discomfort doesn’t need to be painful,” reassures Bee in her new book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES, “just a little feeling of wanting to solve the problem that’s causing the discomfort so we can get back into the place we’re comfortable again.

“That’s all any of us are trying to do: solve problems to make life more comfortable, including horses,” she goes on. “Unfortunately we often aren’t too good at reading the body language of a horse that is trying to solve a problem and we go on piling on the pressure while he’s trying to think.

“Bothering a horse when he is in this ‘thinking state’ is like someone asking you questions while you’re on the phone trying to sort out an unpaid electric bill. You’re under pressure already because you have the anxiety of losing your electricity and someone else is demanding even more from you. Eventually you will snap. This is where you have moved into the ‘flight’ zone: you do and say things often out of character. All you want to do is sort the problem at hand and make life comfortable again. Once you’re in the flight zone you aren’t thinking, you just want to run away to a place where there is no pressure.

IMG_3971 copy“If we put this in a horse context, let’s say someone is riding along the road, her horse is relaxed and easy until suddenly he spots a plastic bag caught in the bushes. He stops and tries to work out what it is. What happens if, without a moment’s hesitation, the rider starts kicking and pushing, piling more pressure on the horse to get past that bag? He’ll go into the flight mode because he feels under threat and just wants to get somewhere safe, and that’s probably home. When he’s able to move his feet that’s where he’ll go, but if he’s held by the rider, he may buck, rear, or spin to try and get back to where he feels safe.”

So…our horses need time to turn on the light, put on their glasses, and think when they are in a position that is outside their comfort zone. We need to learn what our horses look like when they are thinking, how they appear when they are trying to work out internally whether they should run or stay.

That is the moment,” emphasizes Bee, “to just leave him alone and give him space to learn.”

 

OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order in time for the holidays and give horses everywhere the gift of “Thinking Space.”

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

 

–Rebecca M. Didier, Senior Editor

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small business located on a farm in rural Vermont. Legos are entertaining, educational, and make fabulous gifts—check them out at Lego.com.

 

 

 

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