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Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

BeyondtheTrack-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track by Anna Ford with Amber Heintzberger and Sarah Coleman.

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate those oh-so-special loves in our lives. For some of us, that means extra hours at the barn with you-know-who. But others might still be looking for Mr. Right. If an OTTB has ever caught your fancy, you’re not alone…off-track Thoroughbreds are a fabulous way to do right by a horse while getting incredible athleticism in an affordable package. And OTTBs can be a great fit for whatever kind of riding you like best. Just check out our OTTB Matchmaker tips below from Anna Ford, Thoroughbred Program Director at New Vocations Racehorse Adoption. Her book BEYOND THE TRACK has been called “breakthrough racehorse literature,” “superior,” “a winner,” and “the ultimate in training manuals.”

Here are Ford’s recommendations for finding your OTTB match:

If you intend to purchase a horse off the track or adopt one through a program, I recommend you engage the assistance of an experienced friend or trainer to help ascertain the horse’s suitability for you and your discipline. Even if you buy and sell horses all the time, a second opinion is always of value.

The most important step is to ask yourself what level of riding or competition you aspire to, as many OTTBs are athletic enough to pursue any discipline at the lower levels, and most minor injuries will hold up after proper time off. With this in mind, here are a few additional guidelines to consider when evaluating OTTBs. These are generalized suggestions—there is a lot more to consider when choosing a horse for a specific discipline. And note, the examples pictured here are right off the track. Appearance changes with added weight and muscle.

The Event Horse or Jumper* 

BeyondtheTrack1-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ High shoulder point (the front of the shoulder is high, with a steeply angled humerus from there to the elbow; this ensures scope over large jumps).

▶ Uphill build.

▶ Medium bone structure (extremely fine bone structure is less likely to hold up).

▶ Short- to medium-length back.

▶ Short- to medium-length pasterns (long pasterns tend to break down).

▶ Well-set knees (horses that have knees that bend slightly forward or back, instead of straight, can place increased strain on tendons and ligaments).

▶ Event horses can range in height. Note that larger horses (in height and mass) can be more difficult to keep sound as they are harder on their legs and feet.

 

OTTBMatchmaker-horseandriderbooksMovement

Event horses need to be very athletic with fluid gaits. Prospects should have more action at all three gaits than, say, a hunter (see below). This often indicates it will be easier for them to move with impulsion in the dressage ring and that they will pick up their knees better over fences.

 

Personality

▶ Brave ∙ Athletic ∙ Hard-Working

Event prospects need to be bold, brave, and forward-going horses that have good endurance. Many of these horses could also be described as “proud” or “arrogant.” More energetic horses are often possibilities—as long as they are mentally sane and have a good work ethic, the extra energy is beneficial on the cross-country course.

*A jumper prospect will be very similar in build, action, and personality to an event horse. When looking for a jumper, put more emphasis on a stronger hind end and shoulder. A jumper does not necessarily need to be built uphill, but he should have a high shoulder point.

 

The Hunter 

BeyondtheTrack2-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ Long, sloping shoulder.

▶ Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder.

▶ Small, attractive head.

▶ Flat topline.

 

Movement

Hunters should be light on their feet and have as little action in their legs as possible. A long, low, rhythmic stride that easily covers a lot of ground is desirable. The horse’s head carriage should be long and low.

 

Personality

▶ Easygoing ∙ Consistent ∙ Stylish

Hunters are judged on rhythm, style, and manners. They need to be calm in nature and consistent in gait and attitude as they move around the ring and over fences.

 

The Dressage Horse 

BeyondtheTrack3-horseandriderbooks

Photo from Beyond the Track courtesy of New Vocations.

Conformation

▶ Withers set back from the shoulder.

▶ Short back.

▶ Uphill build.

▶ Strong, well-built hindquarters.

▶ Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder (avoid ewe-necked horses).

▶ Neck should be medium to long.

 

Movement

The horse should naturally engage and drive from his hind end. A regular, even, four-beat walk is ideal. At the trot he should demonstrate natural impulsion and extension while remaining light on his feet. Look for a canter that is not overly “large”—a shorter stride is easier to maneuver around the dressage arena and eventually teach clean flying lead changes.

 

Personality

▶ Hard-Working ∙ Sensitive ∙ Sensible

A dressage prospect should be a sensitive yet sensible horse. He needs to be very responsive to leg, seat, and rein aids rather than dead-sided or hard-mouthed. He cannot become overwrought every time he is confronted with a new task—the ideal horse likes to work and accepts new challenges eagerly.

 

 

Beyond the Track NE REVFor more guidance in how to choose the right OTTB and transition him from the track to the ideal riding partner, check out BEYOND THE TRACK, 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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DIY-SPA-DAY-horseandriderbooks

Ah, Valentine’s Day! That Hallmark Holiday we all love to hate and hate to love. But we don’t have to sit around longing for some demonstration of adoration to appear in our mailbox or on our doorstep. Instead, why not treat that best of all faithful and true companions, your horse, to a DIY Spa Day.

Give His Fascia Some Love

Ear Release Photo by Patti Bose-horseandriderbooksUmm…what was that? Don’t worry, as equine bodyworker Margret Henkels explains in her book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? the fascia (or myofascia) is tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems. As the “internet” of the body, fascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization. But this remarkable tissue changes under strain and accidental injury. It immediately builds many cross-hatching fibers in all directions around the area of strain, as well as faraway areas that help hide the strain for the horse. At first, these areas are warmer and larger as the fascia adds support. Eventually, they return to a more normal size and temperature, but the composition of the fascia changes. Over time, instead of flowing easily, it hardens into stiff fibers and lumps called “adhesions.” Strategic placement of your hands brings precisely the correct heat for fascia changes—that is, “melting” of adhesions and release of related emotional baggage. Henkels’ Conformation Balancing method, explained in her book and DVD, give us this easy technique to make our horses happy:

The ears are a “miracle area” for helping horses. Many have experienced trauma around the base of the ear as well as the entire ear, up to the tip. This can be caused by tight-fitting tack, or head strain. A gentle and effective technique is to hold the ear very softly. Once the horse understands you aren’t squeezing or grabbing at his ear, he relaxes and enjoys the changes. As your thumb sinks into the base of the ear, head changes occur. These releases often last many minutes and bring great relief from anxiety. One ear usually needs much more attention than the other. When you offer these often, the emotional progress for the horse is rapid.

 

Get Down…and Back

Hind End Release Photo by Deb Kalas-horseandriderbooksPositioning and movement of the hind limbs down and back can release tension in the muscles and structure of the hind end, including the hamstrings, the lower back, the gluteal muscles and the psoas. This can improve movements that require adduction and abduction of the hind limbs (think half-pass). Jim Masterson’s Masterson Method® Hind Leg Releases in THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED include this easy exercise:

Pick up the hind foot as if you are going to clean it. While supporting the fetlock with your hands, guide the hoof down and back so it rests on the toe. A couple inches farther back than the opposite planted hind foot is plenty. Keep your hand gently on the hoof, or slightly wiggling the hock, to help the horse relax. With the toe resting back, the hamstrings are fully relaxed. Gently stroke or lightly massage the area to further break up any tension.

 

The Eyes Have It

Acupressure for Horses-horseandriderbooksThere are many points around the horse’s eyes that can be accessed with acupressure. And, as Dr. Ina Gösmeier explains in her bestselling ACUPRESSURE FOR HORSES, acupressure is simple and safe for any of us to apply. All the meridians and organs meet in connection in and around the eye, so through acupressure there, disturbances in other parts of the body can be influenced and rebalanced. This technique also relaxes the horse greatly.

First, touch the Jingming acupressure point (at the corner of the eye) lightly, then slowly increase the pressure, using a clockwise, circular motion. Watch the horse’s reaction. When you see the corners of the mouth relax, the ears go sideways, the eyes begin to close, you know you are applying an optimal amount of pressure. Maintain pressure for one minute. Work you way all the way around the eye, working back to your starting point.

 

Tail Envy

WCG Grooming for Horses Photo by Jessica Dailey-horseandriderbooksGive your horse’s tail a proper wash and conditioning so he can parade his silky swisher around the barn. Professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford give us their tips for primping your horse’s hind end in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Wet the tail, then use a gentle conditioning shampoo like Motions® Lavish Conditioning Shampoo to ensure the tail gets clean without becoming dry. Use a sponge to get the entire dock wet, paying special attention to the bottom of the dock where the hair gets really thick and oil can collect. Scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Run your sponge down the entire tail, then scrub the hair between your hands. Rinse the tail until the water runs clear. NEVER comb a wet tail! Use a non-silicone-based detangler such as eZall® Shine & Detangler and comb when dry.

 

Have a wonderful, relaxing, DIY Spa Day with your horse…and don’t forget his favorite treats for afterward! Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own: TSB’s Fun, Easy Valentine’s Day Horse Treats.

For more information about any of the books or experts mentioned, visit www.horseandriderbooks.com.

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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fandtemp

When you truly love someone, it isn’t just about holding on. It is also about letting go. This Valentine’s Day remember those who are no longer part of your life, as well as those who now fill it. Be thankful for the time you’ve had with every human, horse, dog, cat, or other being that was special to you in some way.

In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER: YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado, the original stars of Cavalia, focus on the evolution of the relationship you can have with your horse. As thrilling as the beginning can be, there is still, most always, an eventual end. For Pignon, his most heartbreaking loss was that of his beloved Templado, the gorgeous and rebellious stallion who many around the world witnessed as the soul of the original Cavalia show, his white mane so long it touched the ground, his eyes never leaving his human partner as his hooves danced across the stage.

Here is the letter Pignon wrote to Templado in BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER…a love letter that said goodbye:

It was the evening we got back from Spain after two months of Cavalia shows. As always, you were waiting for us and I spent an hour with you, telling you how great it was that you were still holding on even though your health had been deteriorating steadily for some time. But on that evening, you did not appear to be too bad and you were clearly glad to see us. I felt anxious despite your good humor so I followed my instincts as always and went back after dinner to spend more time with you. Next morning I gave you a good wash down; I don’t know why but I felt you had to be clean. You let me do it with patience even though you had long since gotten bored with showers. I called Magali to come and see how long your mane was now: it touched the ground. I let you out into the back yard to graze and then visit your friends whom you enjoyed irritating a little. It made me smile, but underneath I knew…. The sun was climbing into the sky: it was going to be a hot July day. At midday a friend came to see me. It was as if I were waiting for a bus: was it coming or not? Doubtless he could feel my anxiety.

Sipping coffee in the house I had one eye on you as you grazed in the garden. Suddenly, you lay down. I knew the bus had come. I ran outside to get you up: it was not good for you to be lying down in that merciless sun. You obliged and followed me to your stall where you lay down again. A sense of panic continued to rise in my throat. I knew the moment I dreaded had now arrived. I admit that for a second or two I wished I were miles away but your calm restored my reason and I knew you needed me to be there. We had to live this moment together: you to leave, and me to accept your going.

I came near you. I felt your warmth as you began to breathe deeply. I laid my hand on your head as a mother would on her child’s. You were perspiring and growing frailer by the minute. You tried to get up a few times perhaps to look out at the meadow where we had run and played together so often. You seemed to accept that it was time to leave and that there would be no returning. At the end you looked like a foal who had just been born and I was trying to tell myself that this was but life’s cycle: the coming and the going. Your strength was failing. You made a little movement of your head and then you lay still.

I understood at a profound level that life goes on: this last page had turned and the great book of your life had shut. I felt that nothing would be the same again for me. We had drunk the nectar of life from the same cup. You taught me so much and now being with you at your death the experience had helped me to understand life at its most intense.

Templado, I feel your energy around me; it radiates from the walls, the ground, and the longeing ring where we lived so many intimate moments together. I think of how sometimes a little white butterfly would circle about our heads. Chiefly, I think of you, my beautiful white horse, I picture your mane flying in the wind, and I smile….

 

We are all so lucky to have horses in our lives. Today, hug your horse, thank him for being there for you–a constant friend, companion, and inspiration.

 

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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In honor of Valentine’s Day, TSB couldn’t help but think of two individuals who clearly love horses and how life can be fuller and more joyful when horses are part of it. TSB is proud to announce the soon-to-be-released new book from Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon, the founding stars of the hit show Cavalia and authors of the bestselling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM. Their new book, BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE is their meaningful, beautiful, and personal account of  how people can begin, and then nurture, thriving and happy relationships with horses.

 

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“For the horse and our relationship to evolve in a good way, we have to remain open,” writes Frederic in BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE. “In my imagination, I see open doors between us so that we always feel that physically and mentally we can achieve anything we set our minds to. If we rest on the principles we have been taught or learned, the relationship with the horse will stay shuttered. Every day I try to make a fresh start: this is a new day for me and for this horse I am with. What will happen? If I do not take this approach—and there are plenty of people in the horse world who do not—I shall never really get through to this horse and learn about his true nature.

“With the passage of time and all the experiences we have had, both good and bad, Magali and I gave up wanting to control everything and, in fact, we listen more and more to what the horses tell us they want to do….To me, being open means being in tune with myself and others, not having immutable principles but always having the wish to be as fair as possible. For the horse to have a beneficial effect on us we must remain open. We must entertain a sense almost of abandon so that we are always ready to be surprised and moved, and ready to question all our previous experience in order to find the true way forward.”

 

Watch Magali and Frederic demonstrate their love of horses in these spectacular clips from Equitana 2013:

 

BuildingLifeTogether

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

And CLICK HERE to pre-order a copy of BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE by Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon for the special horse person (and Valentine!) in your life.

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loveme

A modern-day challenge it is not—in fact, odds are it has existed as long as there has been the interactive equation of human-and-horse.

What do you do when your one true love truly divides her or his loyalties between two? That is, between you and a four-legged paramour with hay-scented breath and a tendency toward gaseousness?

Rule #1, perhaps to the dismay of many freshly entrapped in the web of human-human-equine devotion, is: Never attempt to come between a horseman or woman and his or her horse—regardless of the holiday.

In other words, to demand a choice this coming Valentine’s Day ala “It’s me or the horse!” practically bangs the nail in your heart-shaped coffin.

Oh yes, you may argue the horse requires sacrifice of a far more frequent and significant nature. But be warned: That will only drive your lover further from your arms (straight into a certain warm-and-hairy embrace, to be exact).

So how to romance the horse lover? How to shower affection on the object of your desire who so boldly shares his or her affections with another? Here are a few tips from those of us at Trafalgar Square Books who assure you that if you’re more than willing to “give,” the “release” will be well worth the wait.

 

5 Tips for Romancing the Horse Lover

 DON’T wrinkle or hold your nose, or make a face, when entering your horse lover’s car or truck.

Extra Cupid Points: This Valentine’s Day, vacuum and clean the interior of the vehicle but DO NOT throw away any mysterious bits of leather or metal. Gather unidentifiable items into a shallow plastic garment bin with a cover and LEAVE IT IN THE AUTOMOBILE—your Valentine will appreciate the attempt at organization, even if it doesn’t last (but he or she will never forgive you if a slobber strap or replacement billet has gone missing when it is needed).

 

2  DO offer to stop by the barn and “just say hi” to you-know-who, but respect your Valentine’s need for “horse space and time”—that is, quiet time, away from it all, with only a four-legged partner to talk to. All of us need a way to decompress and clarify what’s important in life.

Extra Cupid Points: This Valentine’s Day, buy your special someone chocolates, and grab a supersize bag of carrots at the grocery store, while you’re at it. Tie a red ribbon around the top and voila! You’re on your way toward winning two hearts over!

 

3  DON’T roll your eyes at, laugh at, or otherwise mock the strange titles, headlines, and topic names of interest in horse-related books and magazines your horse lover regularly reads. Believe it or not, “The Lowdown on Sheath and Udder Cleaning” contains knowledge essential to Senor Forelock’s health and comfort, and “Manure Maintenance Misconceptions” may yield the secret to stifling the stench so often attached to “the boots in the hall.”

Extra Cupid Points: Buy a subscription to the equestrian magazine that caters to your Valentine’s favorite breed or discipline of choice, or (even better!) give her/him a Trafalgar Square Books Gift Certificate. There are many (to you, perhaps, befuddling) types of equestrian-related publications out there, and they all provide the kind of “continuing education” your love will happily pursue, while blowing kisses your way from the back of you-know-who.

 

4  DO volunteer to drive the rig, hold the horse, carry the hay, man the gate, fix the fence, build the shed, shovel the…well, you get the picture.

Extra Cupid Points: Take care of the evening feed that cold night when he/she is going to be home late from work. You can love your horse, and STILL be thankful to come right inside a warm house and a glass of wine instead of feeling your way to the barn in the dark and breaking 2 inches of ice off frozen water buckets.

 

5  DON’T micromanage your horse lover’s finances. Trust me, there’s little about it you’ll like, but it is commonly accepted by most in the equine industry at the outset that owning and riding horses is a financially devastating set of circumstances. If you’re devoted to your true love, and he/she’s devoted to her horse, the hours will be long and many to earn Handsome’s board and tuition while keeping a roof over your own heads.

Extra Cupid Points: A gift certificate to a local tack shop supports a small business AND puts a smile on your Valentine’s face. Go ahead, throw some more money out the stall window.

 

Love each other, love your horses. Here’s to planning and having a very Happy Valentine’s Day.

Trafalgar Square Books is the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs. CLICK HERE to shop our online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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Magali Delgado and Linda Tellington-Jones perform Raccon TTouches on one of Magali's horses.

French dressage rider and former star of Cavalia Magali Delgado and Linda Tellington-Jones perform Raccon TTouches on one of Magali’s horses.

In TSB author Linda Tellington-Jones’ new book DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, she explains how we have scientific evidence that proves something most of us “knew” already: The heart does more than simply service the human circulatory system as a “blood pump.” In fact, it is in constant communication with the brain in order to direct various other bodily systems so they all work in harmony. As you perceive and react to the world, your brain sends messages to your heart. And, amazingly, the heart talks right back, with its rhythmic activity sending us emotional signals that, in effect, govern our life—and our riding.

In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, Linda delves into the concept of heart rhythm coherence—understanding how the mental and emotional energy emanated and controlled by your heart can become coherent (logical, orderly, and aesthetically consistent) and can then be a powerful force in your work with horses.

A positive emotional state, both in you and your horse, contributes to this “coherence,” which has been proven to increase effectiveness when addressing tasks (in other words, it improves performance). The presence of love and caring in your life are important factors in the generation of a positive emotional state. Luckily, we as human beings are blessed with the ability to control (to a great degree) the amount of positivity or negativity in our thoughts and intentions.

Being thankful and showing thanks are basic steps in promoting a positive emotional state in you and your horse. According to Linda’s work with riders and horses around the world, light Raccoon TTouches—one of the many Tellington TTouches that, along with innovative Ground Exercises and Ridden Work, make up Linda’s Tellington Method—can soothe and relax your horse, and so are a great way to say, “Thank you,” after you ride.

Want to “thank” your horse this Valentine’s Day? Here’s how to do the Raccoon TTouch:

1  These small, very light TTouches are done with the fingertips, without contact with the fingernails. Curve your fingers so the distal phalange is vertical and your fingers are lightly apart. The heel of your hand and your wrist should be held well off the horse’s body, and the side of the thumb should not be in contact with the rest of the hand.

2  Move your fingertips and the horse’s skin in a circle-and-a-quarter in a very light 1 to 3 pressure.

At the end of the circle-and-a-quarter, release the pressure, slide your fingertips to another spot, and repeat. Be sure to move the skin rather than simply sliding across the horse’s hair.

Dressage w MBSRaccoon TTouches have been shown to increase circulation, relax tensed muscles, reduce heat and swelling, and stimulate healing. The perfect Valentine’s gift for your horse!

DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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Our guiding premise at Trafalgar Square Books is “For the Good of the Horse”…we try to hold ourselves and our books and DVDs to this standard in an effort to make the world a better place for horses and humans to work and play together.

Sometimes what’s “good for the horse” is a treat or two (or three, in many cases…)! And what better way to show your best buddy you love him than nutritious, heart-shaped goodies on Valentine’s Day? TSB Managing Director Martha Cook and Promotions Director Julie Beaulieu played Horseman’s Test Kitchen, whipping up these yummy Valentine’s treats for their horses.

Check these out…great horse treats for the four-legged residents of your home or boarding barn, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

TSB’S I HEART MY HORSE TREATS

Ingredients

  • 1 cup carrot grated
  • 1 apple grated
  • 2 tbs corn oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • a ground up peppermint or candy cane can be a nice addition

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a cookie sheet (or heart-shaped cupcake tin) well.
  3. In a large bowl, mix carrot, apple, corn oil, and molasses together.
  4. Fold in salt, oats, and flour until well mixed.
  5. Scrape the mixture onto the cookie sheet. It will be sticky. Use a sheet of wax paper between the “dough” and a rolling pin and roll out the mixture until it’s between a 1/8 and ¼ thick. Score dough with a knife to make it easier to break apart into squares after baking. Or, roll dough out in the same manner on the cookie sheet and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to create Valentine’s-Day-appropriate shapes. Do not remove the bits between the shapes.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until brown.
  7. Let cool and then using a spatula and table knife break apart square or shapes. The extra “bits” make good treats, too!

Everyone at TSB hopes you and your horse(s) have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Love your dog, too? CLICK HERE for our great Valentine’s Day Dog Treats!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR GREAT HORSE BOOKS & DVDS

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