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Posts Tagged ‘Vanessa Bee’

DontLookDown-horseandriderbooks

We’ve all heard it over the years: “Don’t look down!” And maybe, “You look at the ground and that’s where you’ll end up!”

The real reason we shouldn’t look down while we’re riding doesn’t have as much to do with running into things or falling off as it does with the horse’s ability to perform.

You see, our eyes are heavy!

“Many of us have a habit of looking down while we are riding,” explains founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee in her book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES. “We look at the ears of our horse, or the ground, or we lean over to see if we are getting it right when learning to move the individual feet of the horse. But our eyes are heavy! Try the following experiment and you’ll begin to appreciate how difficult we  make it for our horses to move when we look down.”

1 Stand on a flat surface and balance your weight evenly through each foot.

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2 Look down at your right foot.

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3 Now lift your right foot off the ground. How easy does it feel?

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4 Now stand up again and balance your weight evenly through both feet.

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5 Look up to the right.

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6 Now lift your foot. Much easier, isn’t it?

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“If you were riding your horse and asking him to lift his right front foot off the ground, imagine how difficult it must be if you suddenly lean over and peer down to see if it is working,” Bee emphasizes. “So look up and feel that foot lifting. It’ll be so much easier for both of you.”

Over Under Through Cover FINAL-horseandriderbooksOVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES is available 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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Each year, as we flip the last pages of December in anticipation for the beginning of January, we at TSB take some time to pause and consider the books we published over the past months. Not only does this process provide an important review of content in preparation for future titles, it also gets us excited, all over again, about the new riding, training, and horse-care skills and techniques our fabulous equestrian authors have shared. In 2015, we tapped the deep well of mindfulness, honed our grooming abilities, and viewed the dressage horse from the inside-out. We found new ways to improve our horses’ confidence and attention, in and out of the ring, had burning questions answered by top judges, and discovered new pursuits that make kindness with our horses and others the goal and guiding principle. We found reasons to ride light, think deeply, laugh, and be thankful for our lives with horses.

We look forward to bring you more top-notch horse books and DVDs in the New Year—until then, here’s the roll-call of TSB equestrian titles for 2015:

 

TrainRidewConesPoles-300TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES (March) by Sigrid Schope is a spiral-bound handbook with over 40 exercises intended to improve your horse’s focus and response to the aids while sharpening your timing and accuracy. Who hasn’t looked for ways to spice up ringwork and keep his/her horse interested in schooling circles? Here’s the answer, whether you’re practicing on your own in the ring or teaching lessons.

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GALLOP TO FREEDOM (Paperback reprint—March) by training superstars Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado. TSB was the first to bring you thoughts on training and working with the original stars of the international hit show Cavalia, publishing their book back in 2009. The continued value in this storied couple’s work meant that six years later, it was time to release the bestseller anew in paperback.

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WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES (April) by professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford with over 1200 color photographs by professional photographer Jessica Dailey. A bestseller before it was released, this unparalleled photo reference gives every horse owner the tips and tools he/she needs to keep horses in tip-top condition, looking and feeling their best, in and out of the show ring.

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THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN (May) by renowned veterinarian and author Dr. Allen Schoen and trainer Susan Gordon provides 25 principles each of us should live by when caring for and working with horses. Using personal stories and current scientific research, the two write convincingly of the need for an industry-wide movement to develop deeper compassion for not only the horses, but the people, as well.

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THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED (June) by Masterson Method founder and author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE Jim Masterson and dressage rider Coralie Hughes. Jim and Coralie team up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of Anatomy in Motion Visible Horse and Visible Rider Susan Harris to demonstrate how the muscular and skeletal structure of the horse work in dressage movements. Then Jim provides specific techniques from his popular form of bodywork to alleviate stress and improve performance.

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DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY (July) by FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy. This easy-to-use reference is a follow-up to Janet’s incredibly popular DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, featuring the most common questions she has received over the years. Janet tells it how it is, and includes plenty of her own stories from the road to keep us laughing while learning.

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OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES (September) by Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP. Vanessa has made a name for herself as a terrific educator, delivering superior and thoughtful training techniques in bite-size chunks. OVER, UNDER, THROUGH doesn’t disappoint, with loads of step-by-step photographs and useful lessons for meeting everyday challenges with your horse in a positive manner that guarantees success.

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COWBOY DRESSAGE (September) by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. Jessica teams up with the founders of Cowboy Dressage to trace the origin of the movement to the present day, then taps Eitan’s expertise to provide readers the basics they need to get started in the pursuit of “kindness as the goal and guiding principle.” Eitan and Debbie describe Cowboy Dressage as a lifestyle rather than a sport, and the book mirrors that mission, inspiring us with beautiful photographs and honest ideals.

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THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE (October) by artist Jean Abernethy. Fergus the Horse is a social media celebrity with well over 300,000 Facebook fans. This treasury of his greatest hits features comics from past print publications as well as those that have made the rounds online—and in addition, 25 never-seen-before cartoons. Jean also shares a little about her rise as an illustrator and the backstory that explains the birth of her famous cartoon horse.

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THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE (October) by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. The world knows Klaus from his bestselling books and DVDs, including DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. Over 10 years ago, he detailed his own story in the form of an autobiographical narrative, detailing his discovery of how to be with and learn from horses, as well as how to apply what they teach him to his life as a whole. Now this story is in English for the first time.

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BALANCE IN MOVEMENT (Paperback reprint—November) by Susanne von Dietze. A perennial bestseller, demand for the book led to us bringing it out in a fresh format, ready to introduce a new generation of riders to Susanne’s sensible lessons in horse and rider biomechanics.

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RIDING THROUGH THICK AND THIN (November) by Melinda Folse. Melinda’s last book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES gained her an enthusiastic following of readers who appreciate her big-sisterly swagger and humor. This new book is the culmination of years of research, providing us all guideposts for riding and being with horses, whatever we look like. Melinda’s goal is to give our body image a boost, and she provides countless proactive ways for us to take a good look in the mirror and finally like what we see.

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BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE (Third Edition—December) by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke. It’s the Klimkes’ classic text, refreshed with new photos of Ingrid on her top horses. Need we say more?

 

For more about these 2015 horse books, and our complete list of top equestrian books and DVDs, visit our website www.horseandriderbooks.com.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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3-minutesGood horsemanship is as easy as 1-2-3!

“It’s simple, really,” explains educator, horse trainer, and author of 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP Vanessa Bee. “When the teaching session is short and ends on a positive note, horses learn more quickly…and so do we.”

For all those riders and trainers suffering from the same bout of good ol’ January freeze that we are in Vermont, the idea of “short” training sessions probably comes as a welcome alternative to numb toes and frigid fingers. Try this simple exercise from Vanessa’s fantastically straightforward 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP for starters, and be sure to check out the entire book for other achievable, digestible lessons that ultimately produce significant gains in horse and human.

 

SHAKE HANDS

This simple exercise is actually extremely powerful for both horse and handler. When people shake hands, they offer each other their right hand, clasp and shake. Watch two horses meeting, nose to nose, as they introduce themselves, thus ensuring that they each have the other’s permission to reach into his personal space. This exercise begins with you going into the horse’s personal space to say “Hello” and ends when you receive acknowledgment in return.

1  Begin with your horse in a halter and lead rope.

2  Hold your open hand up to the horse’s forehead but do not touch him. Your hand should remain about 12 inches away from his head.

3  Wait.

Some horses immediately look away, refusing to acknowledge the hand. Just wait. Wait for the horse to turn his head and brush your hand. Remember, the horse is touching your hand—you are not touching the horse.

5  When he brushes his head against your hand, drop your hand and relax.

6  Repeat until the horse is comfortable touching your offered hand, whenever and wherever you offer it.

NOTE: You are offering the hand for him to “shake” it. This cannot be forced so don’t be tempted to put your hand onto your horse’s face. This would be like a person forcing you to shake hands with him by grabbing you! You must be prepared to wait.

The "Shake Hands" lesson in 3-Minute Horsemanship lays the groundwork for entering your horse's personal space.

The “Shake Hands” lesson in 3-Minute Horsemanship lays the groundwork for entering your horse’s personal space.

 

 

3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP by Vanessa Bee is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE STORY OF A TOURIST IN A FOREIGN LAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We all crave that special connection with our horses.

We all crave that special connection with our horses.

 

We all crave “connection” with our horses—you know, that special “something” that made The Black follow Alec Ramsay off the island and swim out to the ship that would “rescue” them both from the lonely beach that had borne their friendship. Perhaps you spend hours trailing your horse around his pasture. Maybe at night you fluff up the shavings in the back of the stall and make a pillow for your head (you figure you need to be up early to feed anyway).

Our best horsemen give us some rather more practical tools that really can help us attain this dream. And how do you know when you’ve done it? Here are 5 ways TSB authors say you can tell you’ve truly connected with your horse.

 

1  It takes the slightest shift of your weight in the saddle, or the most subtle variation of thought to get your horse to move his hind feet wherever you want them. 

In the DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN we see the very best example of this, demonstrated by Buck in front of a group of clinic attendees. “It’s not about training a horse,” says Buck. “It’s about getting a horse with you. It’s about becoming one mind and one body.”

 

2  You can ride “by the tips of your fingers.”

In THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS, authors Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis say that when true “lightness” is achieved, the horse moves as if on his own, without the rider interfering. “I use the idea of holding the reins only with the ‘tips of the fingers’ because it makes it impossible for the rider to be strong, to pull, or to force,” they write. “Holding the reins, like they are ‘dirty,’ like something we do not want to touch…The reins should be something we don’t want to touch unless we have to….If we ride the horse lightly, he will be light with us—as light as we want him.”

 

3  You can just “be still” around each other.

In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP, author Vanessa Bee says,”Horses seek quiet thoughtful people…Most of us are so busy planning the future we don’t give the horse our undivided attention…Just ‘being’ with a horse can be very relaxing and enjoyable.”

 

4  When you walk away, your horse follows you.

In the wonderful introduction to natural horsemanship for kids HOW TO SPEAK HORSE, authors Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain that through basic groundwork, you can teach your horse to understand that when your back turns toward him, it means you want him to follow you. “When the horse chooses to come to you at your invitation,” they say,”he has accepted you as his leader…You will realize how much fun it is to play with and train your horse as the invisible connection of your partnership becomes stronger and stronger.”

 

5  You sense how your horse is feeling—you just “know” what he needs or wants.

In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado talk about how in the company of horses, we learn to listen to our intuition because our intellect and human experience do not always supply the answers. “When Templado [the famous white stallion, seen by millions of people in the hit show Cavalia] was near the end of his life, Magali and I both had the strongest feeling on the same evening that we should bring him home,” says Frederic. “As soon as he got into his stall, he began to recover his energy and his love of life. I know we were right in what we did.”

 

Find books and DVDs with the best ways to find the connection you want with your horse at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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