Yay or Neigh??
These reviews may be published without written permission on condition that any digital publication includes URL link to www.CatskillHorse.org and any printed link credits “ Catskill Horse Magazine.”
How Two Minds Meet by Beth Baumert MSRP: $29.95
The Mental Dynamics of Dressage
This book will prove to be an invaluable resource to the horse trainer who wants to approach their equine partner with the best attitude possible and lay the foundation for a successful progression in schooling and training.
People are often non-plussed about how to better engage their minds with their mounts, how to cut out distracting information and focus on the feedback from the horse and develop true unity when riding. Beth Baumert brings front and center an approachable and easy to assimilate method to maximize the time spent riding.
A must read for riders of all levels, this book is a keen reminder to keep ourselves on top of our game and education to match the emotional gifts and physical efforts that our horse gives us everyday.
Horse Lover Stationery MSRP: $7.00-$15.00
Review by: Tina Hammond
What a perfect gift or even gift set! The paper quality and artwork on the selection of Westermann’s horse/pet lover and hobby stationery line is beautiful. The range of products includes cube and half cube note pads, hardcover old-school address books and journal notebooks, magnetic shopping lists, to-do calendars (undated so very handy, you can just fill in whatever date you want to start), and slant note-pads.
The artwork includes not just horses and their paraphernalia, but also cats and dogs, humorous golf and hunting and fishing and travel.
The Westermann stationery line offers very British style products that are both useful and unique. A big thumbs up from us.
Note: This review may be shared in condition the credit is given to ‘ Catskill Hors Magazine’ with URL where published digitally.
Smartpak Face Masks ~ Pack of 3 MSRP $19.95
Lightweight and comfortable, these eco-friendly facemasks are made from UPF 50 fabric and have an anti-microbial benefit built in. They wash well and the variety of colors is a nice way to change it up to match outfits.
The adjustable ear loops add to the comfort factor and help the mask stay in place and the fact that Smartpak is donating $5 of every mask pack purchase to PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) is an added feel good bonus.
Good for Smartpak – paying it forward.
It’s Been 20 Years, Fergus (And You’re Still Spooking at That Thing?) MSRP $19.95
By Jean Abernethy
This title is a great way to celebrate the anniversary of this treasured cartoon character who is 20 years old in this tough year of 2020. Abernethy doesn’t disappoint the far-flung Fergus followers that number in the hundreds of thousands and don’t just range in their location but also their age.
Full of fun observations of everything horses and with great laughs along the way. Artwork is superb as always.
This book is the perfect tonic for a weary 2020 world. Pick up a copy and enjoy a good laugh.
Yoga For Riders By Cathy Woods MSRP $29.95
Principles and Postures to Improve Your Horsemanship: On the Mat, On the Ground, On Horseback
Woods is an experienced yoga teacher and avid equestrian. Her approach to working with horses utilizes as you might expect, a mindful approach that can be easily mastered with some focus and self-education. Yoga will teach you to slow down and better communicate with your horse (and others around you).
In this guidebook the equestrian will learn exercises that are easy to accomplish both on the mat and working with horses in the saddle and from the ground. The work is chock full of illustrations so you can be confident you are completing the exercises correctly.
An excellent read on a topic that will help you elevate both your enjoyment of riding and training, and your success at building a relationship of trust and awareness with your horse. Highly recommend for all riders. It’s not as hard as you think to do, no matter your level of fitness. The exercises do relax you, teach you about breathing and energy techniques that are easy to master and the book delivers on Cathy Woods mission writing it, helping riders improve their horsemanship.
Distant Skies ~ A Girl, a Horse, a Dog, and 2600 Miles. By Melissa A. Priblo Chapman MSRP $22.95
If you’ve ever contemplated going West – from NY - by horseback - for 2600 miles or so then you’re probably a tiny bit mad. For 23 year old Melissa Chapman the reality of the adventure was far different than how she imagined it would be and played out with some serious ups and downs.
This book details her long and arduous journey across the U.S.A., with vibrant descriptions of the landscape and telling notes on the folks she met along the way. The relationship between the girl, the horse and the dog develops into a deep and compassionate bond and the trials and tribulations of the adventure is testament to the strength that true partnerships can endure.
A great read for the horse lover that dreams of the freedom of the open road on horseback but would rather live it vicariously. Melissa Chapman takes you on her road trip with no GPS, support team or help except the kindness of strangers and reminds us all that with the support of others and sincere determination there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
What Horses Really Want By Lynn Acton MSRP $31.95
An informative guide for all equestrians on how horses connect with humans and how best to develop their trust in the relationship. Lynn Acton draws on a wealth of published doctrines and advice with lots of additional readings suggested to enlarge on the points she has included in her text along with her own diverse equine experiences and academic knowledge of complex social systems.
The main discussions focus around Protector Leadership, with succinct advice that is highly approachable that details how a horse owner/trainer can establish themselves as the horse’s leader. Once this bond of trust is created and maintained, the horse/human relationship will quickly evolve further and with increased compliance from the horse to requests made during all aspects of handling and training.
Acton provides a thoughtful compilation of practical examples that guide the reader deftly into a role beneficial to both horse and human and facilitate all riders to understand the meaning of true horsemanship.
A delightful read and very educational, the wealth of information included in this work is easy to assimilate and will help every horse and every horse owner. Highly recommend!
Horse Brain Human Brain By Janet L Jones. PhD MSRP $ 26.95
This is a well-written book that explains in an approachable manner the vagaries of the equine and human mind. Dr. Jones adds warmth and humor to her teachings and there is something to learn here for even the more advanced riders.
The differences between the evolved thinking and brain development in horse and human, and therefore the accommodations that horse owners and trainers can implement to best understand and thus train the horse, are documented here in a science based reality. The explanations are keen and succinct, and the anecdotal experiences shared by the author of her history working with horses, brings another level of understanding for the reader.
This book is a welcome addition to the world of horses, and will no doubt have horse owners changing up some of their own behaviors and expectations around their horses, and encourage trainers to listen to what the horse is telling them rather than using force or detrimental methods to manipulate their horse’s attitude or habits.
Well worth a read, for riders at any level.
Four Legs Move My Soul By Isabell Werth and Evi Simeoni MSRP $24.95
This book is a great read for any dressage aficionado or indeed any rider that wants to gain insight into what the world of horses is like at the highest echelons of the equestrian sport. While Werth certainly needs no introduction as to her amazing talent and skills at bringing horses to huge success on the Big Tour, the road she has traveled yields many interesting footnotes and explains much that is both wrong and right in today’s sport of horses.
There are many aspects of her life to date that are perhaps not widely known, and she shares her own perspective with clarity and frankness especially where it concerns the difficulties she has had with her famous horses. It gives much heart to those of us that have had similar challenges and had to figure out how to develop our horses properly, making mistakes along the way just as she admits to having experienced.
Probably her notes on training the piaffe, working without tension to train and working instead from the relaxation of the walk were the most enlightening and validating to this author. Her honesty in the topic, her training from the ‘Dr’ in the German training system, to the openness that is especially impressive to this author, to change and adopt an approach from Jerez’s Alvaro Domecq protege Jose Antonio Garcia Mena was very cool. While obviously not in Werth’s league, this author discovered the same along a very similar path.
Steinbrecht has always been a sincere influence in my training and approach. The mix of the German and the Baroque identifies significantly with what trainers such as Paul Belasik has always re-iterated from other works, that everything from the various schools of Europe does share a commonality, if only we understand better the history.
An icon as Werth, someone that had been a trailblazer in everything the ‘sport of dressage’ and yet also somehow manages to embrace the classical approach especially in recent years, mirrors Klimke in arriving at a balanced method of training that ultimately is more than many, many gold medals.
Hat’s off to Werth for convening a publication of thoughts and honesty. While this author realizes the careful crafting across certain controversial topics, there is also a brightness of integrity that should garner much respect from everyone that has studied, watched and enjoyed vicariously the immense talent of this woman, Werth. A true leader in the field that has fought many battles with fortitude and intelligence, with an amazing support system from “Mad’, who is evidently much more than her bank balance as a true credit to equestrian sport and with a true love of the horse. This book is an insightful read well written by Evi Simeoni. A writer who also needs no introduction, as a highly respected journalist of much heart and talent.
I would also add, that the last chapter covers controversy that is a reality check point in Europe that Americans may truly have difficulty understanding. Be aware, that PETA and organizations like them are a real threat to the ownership of horses for us all across the globe. Take heed. Werth would not have included this last chapter without much careful consideration. I have total respect for this chapter being included. Sometimes we can be very naïve in this country as to the big picture. A recommended read and I’ll also say, leave the last paragraph until last. It’s something I also have personally experienced and valued. At the end of the day, we all get the feelings Werth describes, and value them just as she does.
Training and Retraining Horses The Tellington Way by
Linda Tellington-Jones with Mandy Pretty. MSRP $34.95
The advent of the ‘Tellington-Jones’ healing and training methods was a milestone in the equestrian training world and her expertise is appreciated worldwide. The methods she utilizes are logical, kind and offer a superb resource for educating both the young horse and retraining older horses who have gaps in their understanding what is being asked of them.
Riders from Olympic level to backyard owners have used these well-honed methods over the past 25+ years, and it this book provides additional resources for the horse trainer at every level to aid in solving training issues both on the ground and in the saddle.
If you have not tried the Tellington-Jones methods I urge you to do so – they are extremely useful and work well for horses of all ages, breeds and training levels.
Every trainer can benefit from the knowledge in this book. Highly recommend.
Core Conditioning For Horses
By Simon Cocozza MSRP $29.95
~ CH Staff
A fabulous book that no horse rider should overlook, this conditioning program will help all horses engage their body better to fulfill the demands we ask of them.
The book is well put together and the steps are easy to follow. A logical progression of exercises that will ‘unlock’ issues you never realized your horse was experiencing.
Cocozza shares his wealth of knowledge with a genuine desire to help all horses reach their potential and his credentials in biomechanics are evident from his writing that is very accessible.
A must have and must follow book for any equestrian competitor.
Dressage For No Country Author: Paul Belasik MSRP $22.95
Review by Nikki Alvin-Smith
Belasik’s journey in dressage somewhat mirrors my own, with experience in all three systems of dressage, (German, Portuguese and SRS Austrian) over the same time period, so this book was a particularly interesting read for me as a GP rider/trainer.
It is true that the world of sport dressage has changed substantially over the past 20 or so years, and competitive and classical dressage does seem to exist in a parallel universe at times. While Paul Belasik is not active on the Big Tour circuit today, his perspective on where dressage has been and where it is headed is worthy of a read in this simple and concise book on the topic. Travel most certainly broadens the mind, as does education. This book has a reflective tone and similarly to Belasik, I have found the same truths and rewards in conducting mindful teaching for both horse and riders.
A thoughtful book that will inspire the reader to find their own truth and path to the best that dressage can offer both horse and rider. It certainly is not always about the ribbons. Recommended read.
Cavalor® EquiWash Horse Shampoo MSRP $ 16.99
Review by Tina Hammond
As a professional groom with much experience on the European FEI jumper circuit I spent much time washing down horses. Shampoos are certainly not all created equal and a properly balanced pH formula is essential if you don’t want dry skin and lack of overall skin health. Cavalor’s Equiwash is one of the best shampoos I’ve come across in a long time. The product does not cause excessive soaping and foaming, just enough to get the job done nicely. The glycerin add makes the coat shine after use and I’ve also noticed it has a slight benefit in protecting the horse from biting insects. An added bonus for sure. I would definitely recommend this product as a reasonably prices horse shampoo that does a better than average job.
The Horse Cure by Michelle Holling-Brooks MSRP $22.95
Review by Kathy Collins
What an insightful book into how horses can heal the human spirit! Just loved it. The experiences Holling-Brooks shares capture the essence of how horses have helped cure people with traumatic experiences in their past and medical disorders and how their lives have been dramatically changed for the better due to their relationship with the noble equine. Interestingly as the author explains, the power to unlock our own ability to heal is what sets the process of recovery in motion and that is the factor that the horse actually provides.
Sufferers from PTSD, bipolar disease, depression, abuse, illness can all benefit from therapy with horses. An educational and inspirational read. Good job.
The Rider’s Pain-Free Back MSRP $24.95 New Edition
By James Warson M.D. with Ami Hendrikson
How to Overcome Chronic Soreness, Injury, and Aging and Stay in the Saddle for Years to Come
Review by Tina Hammond
This new edition is chocked full of some seriously good advice for every rider. Neurosurgeon and lifelong horseman Warson explains what to expect from a visit to the neurosurgeon for diagnosis and exercises you can do at home in a step-by-step plan toward recovery.
The Rider’s Pain-Back is a valuable resource for all riders, and addresses common back issues and how to resolve them with helpful tips for managing everyday horse owner and rider tasks without further stress or injury. Watson explains the physics of movement in the horse and rider’s back and provides information on both traditional and alternative modalities of therapy. This updated edition has added advice on riding after hip or knee replacement.
I have been riding since age 9, and gone from ponies to showjumping and dressage. The falls and injuries, the big-moving warmbloods with the thousands of hours I have spent in the sitting trot, the constant requirements of work around the stables all convene to cause soreness and do catch up with you as you age. As I head at lightning speed toward 60, I truly value the help in this book and am so happy that it has been updated. Keeping us riders truly strong in the saddle and giving us the ability to continue doing what we so enjoy to do. Ride! Thanks Dr. Watson and Ami Henrickson for sharing your wealth of knowledge.
A must have on every rider’s bookshelf with solid advice you will reference again and again.
Facts and Activities For Horse-Crazy Kids MSRP $19.95
By Gudrun Braun, Anne Scheller, and Anika Hage
This is a fabulous book for your horse-crazy kid. Whether already a pony owner or not, this book will engage their minds with lots of tips and advice cleverly framed in games and fun activities. This title offers a wide variety of things to do, from making jewelry and tote bags to learning safety around and on horses, and tests of knowledge with excellent quizzes designed to encourage the young rider to follow their passion for all things equus.
Highly recommend. Any horse-crazy kid will be delighted with this title. Well done to authors Gudrun Braun, Anne Scheller and fantastic graphics throughout from Anika Hage.
Published by Trafalgar Square Books. 112pp. 9 x 11 ½ hc
Two Brains, One Aim.
A Riding Coach’s Key Concepts for Bringing Horse and Rider Together
By Eric Smiley. MSRP $27.95
This book provides a good starting point for those beginning their journey with horses that are seeking to better understand guiding principles of working with the horse.
Eric Smiley shares an overview of his experiences working with horses and philosophy of how to garner the best relationship with your equine partner. Included are suggestions on self-evaluation, specific exercises or games you can conduct with your horse, basic ground handling and tack advice for longe work plus education on finding the best equine partner for your needs.
Smiley also brings advice on how to start jump work with poles on the ground and progress to a variety of fences, basic dressage techniques and tips on how to keep your horse honest in its training.
Some excellent problem solving riding exercises combined with a review of how to coach and be coached and competition psychology make this a nicely rounded read that is approachable for riders of all levels.
Many Brave Fools.
A Story of Addiction, Dysfunction, Codependency ... and Horses
Susan E. Conley. $19.95
This book offers great insight into the life and times of Conley, who found herself trapped in a marriage with an addict. It chronicles how she discovered the value of horses as healers and helpers in teaching how curb her soul-destroying compulsive behavior at age 42. The journey is told in an honest and frank manner and the eventual happy ending is a testament to the power of the horse in our lives.
A fantastic read that inspires the soul. Highly recommended by “The Merry Band at The Catskill Horse” magazine.
Note: This review may be shared with credit to: Catskill Horse magazine and URL link where posted online.
Essential Horse Conformation 51 Checkpoints Before You Buy MSRP $12.95
By Lisa Wysocky
A handy book that guides the horse buyer through major conformation points of the horse, including judging a horse’s age by its teeth angles, skin, stretches to test the suppleness and suitability of the horse for particular jobs.
Lisa Wysocky is an award-winning author and as an experienced trainer and clinician she shares her knowledge of all the essential factors that go to make up a good horse prospect. The information is succinctly presented with good photos and diagrams throughout, and readers will find the material easy to assimilate.
A very helpful book that any horse purchaser, especially for those newer to the horse world that are contemplating buying their first horse and at a very reasonable price point.
Know Better to Do Better ~ Mistakes I Made With Horses (So You Don’t Have To) $29.95 By Denny Emerson
This book is true Denny – approachable and engaging with his honest look at lessons he has learned through his career with horses. I especially loved his edicts on elasticity and how trying too hard can kill it and his note on fair weather riders.
The book will appeal to riders of all levels and there are some great insights within the pages. Certainly it will save folks from making silly mistakes. For the more advanced riders the details on things he would have done differently with specific horses provides an interesting look at how we develop as riders. Questions such as how to find a distance and whether the horse can do it alone are covered, as well as los of experiences with mentors and influencers of the past.
If I were a horse I’d love to be trained and ridden by Denny. Empathetic to the core, educated and always open to share his experiences in a frank way.
Overall a well-produced book from the renowned equestrian publishing house Trafalgar Square Books that I’d recommend. On point and full of passion, with this title Denny brings it home.
Fergus and The Night Before Christmas MSRP $15.95 By Jean Abernethy
Review by Tina Hammond
Fantastic artwork from Abernethy makes this book a visual delight. The text follows along the lines of the famous original poem, “ Twas The Night Before Christmas,” written in the early 19th century, but unfortunately the alliteration is a bit off at times.
The story line is fun but the reader is left with the impression that at times the author struggled to find the right words to stay on point with the original flowing text. That’s a shame because the opportunity was there to make a super book with the idea of this topic.
Blake Shelton did a ‘take off’ of this poem in his Christmas show a few years ago and it was exceptionally good and very funny, and so it is possible to match the alliteration, style and clarity of the original.
The Fergus artwork sells the title and if you can overlook the factors mentioned above you will still enjoy the book overall. It will make a great stocking stuffer!
55 Corrective Exercises For Horses MSRP $26.95
Resolving Postural Problems, Improving Movement Patterns, and Preventing Injury
By Jec Aristotle Ballou
A very useful insight into how the horse moves and how to improve his overall health with a series of mounted and unmounted exercises, designed to condition and rehabilitate horses of all disciplines.
These simple to follow corrective exercises provide an unparalleled support program to improve any horse’s posture and movement and teach the horse owner the use of cavesson/side reins/circle work/stretches/serpentines in hand/walking over poles and a myriad of other programs that can be followed daily for best results.
Under saddle Balou addresses how to canter poles to adjust strides, work with just a lariat for guidance, ride ditches and gearing up to gallop plus may other useful protocols to resolve challenges and dysfunction in the horse.
As a horse owner you will better understand the role that crookedness, lightness in the reins, balance and posture play in the freeing up the horse to move in better harmony with the rider and the conditioning check is very useful advice on how to not just work with your horse to improve his movement, but also how to know when what you are doing is working. There are 55 corrective exercises included that author Jec Aristotle Ballou has cleverley crafted to provide non-invasive solutions to physical and thus mental challenges your horse may face.
Overall a very informative book that will be well received by those that seek to improve their knowledge of the movement and posture of the horse and wish to learn how to improve his wellbeing with simple exercises that can be done easily everyday.
Recommended reading for riders of all levels.
Handbook of Equine Parasite Control 2nd Edition MSRP $139.99
By Martin K. Nielsen and Craig R. Reinemeyer
Equine parasitology experts Nielsen and Reinemeyer provide an in depth and up to date study of the all aspects of equine parasite control which will significantly aid vets, vet students and horse owners alike in their understanding of this important topic.
The savvy horse owner realizes the importance of a sustainable and targeted horse worm control program and the cornerstone test being the F.E.C.T (Fecal Egg Count Test), has addressed the issues of best practices for pasture management and seeks a clear guide as to the best diagnostic methods for parasite presence, and knowledge of how to manage the dewormer resistant issues that are becoming increasing common.
This book may be written by some of the best scientific minds in the equine parasitology field but the material is extremely approachable for the layman, and the 30 case studies included are of great interest.
Highly recommended read for those that seek the optimum health of their horse and do not wish to waste money on defunct 6-8 week deworming rituals and wish to better understand the modern day methods for achieving a responsible and sustainable equine parasite control program.
Enter to win a copy of this book at Catskill Horse facebook page:
Equine Lameness For The Layman
Tools for Prompt Recognition, Accurate Assessment, and Proactive Management MSRP: $34.95 By G. Robert Grisel, DVM
This book is much needed in the equine community and will be an invaluable resource to horse owners and vets alike. Dr. Bob Grisel is a leading diagnostic consultant on lameness in horses worldwide. This book has a massive amount of shared knowledge presented in a very easy to follow non-vet school manner. There are tons of case histories that provide excellent learning tools for the neophyte horse owner as well as trained equine professionals. You can view by specific interest in a particular topic so it makes a superb resource. The content is not overly technical but does a great job of explaining the issue at hand. Love the interactive video QR codes throughout the book that provide great visual help to go along with the text.
Highly recommended for any horse owner or horse health practitioner. This is a book you will use time and time again.
Horses in Translation ~
Essential Lessons in Horse Speak: Learn to “Listen” and “Talk” in Their Language
By Sharon Wilsie MSRP $24.95
Following the highly successful release of her first book Horse Speak, Sharon Wilsie continues to turn the world of horse whispering on its hooves by showcasing real life examples of how she solved ‘problems’ with horses communicating with them using her method of ‘horse speak.’ The book is well-written and offers a clear and concise look at a myriad of cases and provides an honest insight into how Wilsie progresses through the language barrier to reach the mind of the horse to affect its behavior and correct misunderstandings.
For horse owners Wilsie provides an easy to understand and simple to emulate method of how to talk with our horses in a language they understand. This book is more advanced than the first, which you would expect, and delves deeper into how to work to correct behavioral issues in equines through her horsemanship philosophy.
Try it! I did and it works. You’’ enjoy plenty of your own “AHA Moments.”
Jack Le Goff: Horses Came First, Second, And Last. MSRP: $29.95
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Jack Le Goff is an iconic name in the world of horses and George Morris labels him ‘genius’ on all fronts, which is a comment I wholeheartedly endorse.
I was very fortunate to meet Jack, once at a tack meet where he came to offer book signings on his first book, and later when I helped book him for a clinic for a small New York riding club in the 1990’s and then even later than that he stood with my then trainer Raul de Leon ringside while I had a lesson and they chatted.
Le Goff’s indomitable spirit is clearly evident in this insider’s look at the world of top level equestrian sport. While it is true that some of the U.S.A.’s most elite riders did not like being told what to do for the team rides and how to do it, there is now an overwhelming empathy for what Jack achieved with an astounding eighteen medals in eight international championships with two team gold medals at the Olympic Games.
Le Goff had a tough start to life, and he recounts very openly and honestly the struggles he endured from his early life on through the pinnacle of his successes with the U.S. team. Always outspoken on behalf of the horse, his concern for the well-being of both riders and the horses at major events was always his foremost concern.
In the book you’ll learn much about the inner machinations of what life back in his day involved. It was much more than just standing in the middle of the ring and coaching. He single-handedly organized everything, from team travel for horses, riders, tack and equipment to hotels and paperwork at the venues. Somehow in there he also found time to train the team. Today this work is split among many people, and it is true tribute to Jack Le Goff that he was so successful and so earnest in his passion for making the team the big success it became under his stewardship.
Rocky times and happy times combine in his story, to enthrall the rider with the a real talk look at life at how he chose horses such as Bally Cor and Irish Cap, how he guided riders to the ribbons and medals time after time. He was a tough taskmaster at times, and participation in his program was not for the faint of heart.
When I had the pleasure to meet Jack I can relay that he was the most gracious of men and had a good sense of humor. While he died in 2009, his legacy lives on in the training of horses and riders, and it was an honor to have met him.
I highly recommend this book. It not only gives you a great look back at equestrian sport, but also makes you appreciate how much just one, very determined man could achieve in his lifetime. It reminds me a little of Winston Churchill’s life, who also endured much criticism and doubtful moments during his tenure as Prime Minister and indeed during his life. Sometimes it is only on reflection, that we realize the reality of what they achieved and how they mastered their own selves to do it.
Charlotte DuJardin: The Girl on the Dancing Horse MSRP: $24.95
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
I’ve taken over this review column just for today because
a) I’m a Grand Prix dressage rider
b) I’m British and so proud of Charlotte
c) Charlotte and I both grew up in the same town and experienced a very similar start to our careers with horses. Though hers obviously surmounted mine!!
If you don’t know who Charlotte DuJardin is I’m not going to explain it. Go look her up. She has achieved amazing success in the dressage ring and is so world renowned at this point if you haven’t heard of her you must be living under the proverbial ‘rock’,
Published in Britain by Penguin Random House (Preface/Cornerstone) and simultaneously by Trafalgar Square Books in the USA, there is a lot to be desired in the editing and proofreading for the American reader but nonetheless the story is one of enchantment.
We all know Charlotte is a brilliant rider but perhaps a better ghostwriter could be found to dig a little deeper into what is such a super story. The content in this book is more of a quick run through of the events of her life that sound as though they happened at warp speed. I’m sure the more recent events in Charlotte’s life may seem that way to this lovely rider, so perhaps its brusque approach is a way to make notes for future reference.
As a competitor/clinician/coach and trainer myself, I did enjoy the honesty with which Charlotte describes her ups and downs and pressures of competition. It is hard to imagine what it is like at this ethereal level of equestrian sport, and I was confounded by the pressure she had to deal with in not knowing where Valegro was going to end up ownership wise.
Charlotte’s Mom was obviously a driving force behind the start of this illustrious career by such a young British gal. The constant support of both her parents ring loud off every page, and as a young woman making her way through relationships and spousal bliss Charlotte is very honest about how difficult life can be, especially when you are forced to conduct life at a fast speed in the limelight.
As a dressage rider I would love to have seen more ‘nuts and bolts’ about dressage included in this book. So from that angle I found it disappointing. The book is clearly written more for the masses than for the dressage aficionado.
I know from attending clinics with Charlotte and Carl that they have much humor and down to earth advice to share with the equestrian community. Perhaps in time this will come to fruition with the right publisher when Charlotte has time in the busy dressage schedule of events and training to share more details of her training and story and let this knowledge unfurl its wings.
Clearly as Charlotte is so young, I cannot blame her for keeping the details a little under wraps right now while she is still so active in the ring! I would love to hear it written from her Mom’s point of view. But that is perhaps the Mom in me speaking!
Overall a fun read. A visit to one of her clinics will yield the dressage rider more insight of course. And none of us is ever tired of watching her train and ride her horses.
Fergus and the Greener Grass by Jean Abernethy $15.95
by Chelsea Smith
What on earth is Fergus up to this time? In this addition to Abernethy’s Fergus series, the comically illustrated equine is busy seeking greener pastures to satiate his greedy desire for richer, tastier grass.
During his quest, Fergus accomplishes several feats we’ve witnessed our own mighty steeds attempting, from reaching under the fence to grasp that last tempting blade of luscious yumminess to executing the classic Houdini act of undoing a lock you swore was beyond their ability to unlock.
Everything in Abernethy’s latest volume is beautifully presented, including the moral of this highly entertaining work, and the details in each illustration are as comical as they are plentiful. I’m just wondering what’s inside the barrel built into that amazing stone wall…
The Dressage Seat: Achieving a Beautiful, Effective Position in Every Gait and Movement by Anja Beran $39.95
by Chelsea Smith
Let’s start with the obvious. This book is stunning. The layout is accessible and engaging, the photographs (of which there are over 150) are crisp and brilliant, the illustrations are both humorous and educational, AND the text is concise.
Amazing. Now let’s talk about content. Beran’s information is comprehensible, and as she teaches us about what our posture should look like while we ride, she also teaches us how our posture and position inform the horse and the horse’s movements and direction.
Similar to ballroom dancing (because I know so many of you do that on your Friday and Saturday nights), posture and position is imperative to become a successful dancer. Think about it: where your feet are, which direction your toes are pointing, which way your head is turned and by how much, the straightness in your back, the angle of your shoulders, and how you move your hips (or your seat!) all alter not only how you dance, but also how your partner dances. If we apply those same principles to riding in Dressage, its no wonder that the changes we make in our position directly impacts what our horse does. Beran then delves into the psychological aspect of riding, and emphasizes that, like anything, you will be more successful if you are in a relaxed, positive, and joyful state of mind, rather than if you are in a stressed, angry, scared, or nervous one.
Let’s carry on to the second half of the book, which is dedicated to educating and improving your mind and body while off of the horse. Rife with exercises that will improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination, along with information on how human anatomy works with the structure of horses, the latter half of this book is just as enhancing as the first half. So, I think it’s time to stop typing, and time to do some of those exercises. After I’ve done that, I’ll go work on my posture and position with my mighty steed, where I’m sure I’ll have that song from the King and I floating around in my head. What’s it called? Oh yes. “Shall We Dance?”
Horse Color Explored: Over 150 Breeds, Types, and Variations by Vera Kurskaya $34.95
by Chelsea Smith
This fascinating volume is more than an overview of all of the different types, breeds, and colors of horses. It is an educational book about horse color genetics that addresses the science behind why horses are the color(s) they are through succinct prose and vivid photographs.
Each color found in horses is depicted and described, and if you’ve ever wondered what your expectant mare’s foal will probably look like, Kurskaya advises on what genetic marker(s) to test for. Everything you need or want to know about horse color is included in this volume, making it a must have for anyone who loves horses and science.
Horse Speak: The Equine-Human Translation Guide by Sharon Wilsie & Gretchen Vogel. $27.95
by Chelsea Smith
As an ASL student, I know better than most the importance of reading the nuances in facial expressions and body language, yet the few times I’ve been able to read my horse accurately is when she feels extremely strongly about something.
Like her hooves being trimmed. Or the constant movement in her tummy that is turning into a foal. Other times, I’ve recognized that my horse is trying to say something, but I have no idea what it is. Fortunately for me, I now have the perfect resource with this extremely informative volume filled with photographs, tips, and valuable lessons in learning the language of horses. From their heads to their tails (literally), horses speak and the authors spend a significant portion of the book teaching the reader, not only how to read their horse’s body language, but how to communicate with them as well.
As many of you know, your horse can read your energy, and in this work, Wilsie & Vogel teach you how to direct your energy to help you communicate with your horse, and provide step-by-step lesson programs to aid you in improving your communication. A perfect addition to your collection, Horse Speak will not only enhance your horse-themed library, but also your relationship with your equine partner. Maybe becoming the next Buck Brannaman isn’t as impossible a goal as I thought…
Tame That Lizard Brain! Brain Training for Riders by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo. $18.95
by Chelsea Smith
This insightful volume by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo provides the scientific explanation for our uncontrolled reactions to various (and often terrifying) stimuli that frequently impede our ability to stay in control in the saddle (or in the saddle at all).
Waldo provides riders with the knowledge and the tools for overcoming the momentary mental lapse that occurs when our rational brain has decided to check out and leaves our lizard brain running the show at exactly the moment you really needed your rational mind to prevail. Now, if you’re not a student of psychology, you’re probably wondering what on earth a lizard brain is and what lizard brains have to do with riders.
According to the Waldo the lizard brain is the “area that includes the brain stem and amygdala” and this area controls the body’s basic functions including “breathing, heartbeat, digestion, and other ongoing processes that keep the body alive.” As humans did not develop the prefrontal cortex (aka the “rational brain”) until much later in our evolution, our instinctual response to uncomfortable, stressful, or dangerous situations is governed by our survivalist brain (aka the lizard brain). Well, this explains everything for me, does it for you? Waldo helps us out even more by pointing out that horses, as well as riders, have a lizard brain that they rely on when they get scared, and she gives us the techniques we can utilize with our lizard brained horses when they’re in their survivalist mode.
After giving us detailed plans and exercises of how we can overcome our fears and retrain our lizard brain to be a bit less… squirrely, Waldo teaches us how to use her methods of stressing less to become a better trainer and how to handle those ‘difficult’ clients. You know the ones I mean- the ones with their lizard brains running 24/7. Overall, Waldo has provided us with an engaging and empowering volume that demonstrates that it really IS all in your head.
Thelwell’s Pony Cavalcade MSRP $15.95
This classic will have you roaring with laughter. Many of us grew up reading Angels on Horseback, A Leg at Each Corner and Thelwell’s Riding Academy and it is wonderful to have this 60th anniversary celebratory publish of all three books in one cover from Trafalgar Square books.
Without question horse lovers of every age will thoroughly enjoy this book. It’ll brighten you up on even the gloomiest day! A big fat YAY on this read.
Who Doesn’t Love Thelwell?
Enter for your chance to win a FREE copy of this 60th Anniversary celebration of Thelwell humor.
Step 1. Visit our Facebook page and post a comment on your favorite Thelwellian moment with your horse
Step 2. Give our Facebook page a like
Step 3. Share the link on your Facebook page
Winner will be announced on Facebook page on April 30th and announced in our next edition of the magazine with a photo and comments.
Halter/Bridle Combination MSRP $92.95
by Chelsea Smith
If you like to trail ride then you’re going to love the flexibility of this halter/bridle combo. The leather is heavy duty and the craftsmanship/stitching and hardware are of good quality. By simply removing the bit from the attachment you can convert it quickly to a halter so your horse can be tied up and/or graze in hand. There is a lot of adjustability for fit.
A useful piece of equipment that will give years of service. Recommended.
5 in 1 Horse Riding Jacket Rose Wind/Waterproof
by Chelsea Smith
This versatile jacket reminds me of that super amazing friend at the barn who is always happy to help you out no matter what. The person who is there to help you hold your horse for the farrier or vet, bring your horse in from the paddock because it’s late and you’re stuck at work, or help you clean your tack before a horse show. No matter what you need, this jacket is the perfect fix.
I tend to run cold, so I have both the inner quilted jacket and the waterproof/windproof outer jacket on most of the time. However, when it’s one of those chilly but dry Spring days, I usually don the inner jacket because it’s warm and very comfortable. When it’s a wet autumn day, I take the inner jacket out by unzipping it from the outer shell, and I walk around in the bright pink jacket that keeps my dry and feeling very sophisticated. There is Velcro on the cuffs of the outer jacket, which allows you to tighten or loosen the cuffs depending on your preference.
Occasionally, if it’s really wet, I’ll unzip the concealed hood and wear that in place of a hat, and then roll it up when I no longer need it on. When it’s one of those too cold/now I’m too hot days, I’ll simply take the outer shell off and slip it back on without compromising my comfort or losing too much warmth by removing the entire jacket. There are pockets in both the inner and outer jackets, so you never need to be without your phone or gloves, and the inner jacket has sleeves that can be removed if you get too hot in it. So now we’ve got a vest, quilter jacket, and a waterproof/windproof jacket, and a warm winter jacket perfect for wearing anywhere for anything. I should mention that I have not one, but two of these 5 in 1 jackets, one I keep for the barn, and the other I keep as my “going to town” jacket.
The longer back on the outer shell keeps the chill from blowing up my back and the side snaps on each of the lower sides of the jacket help me have more flexibility when I’m riding. I’ve washed this jacket a plethora of times, and these things are made to last. As in, no fraying, tearing, or dulling of the fabric colors. My jackets seem to have defeated the mischievous laundry imp that always tries to ruin my clothing in one way or another, and I couldn’t be happier with this product.
Philippe Karl & High Noon Part 2 DVD MSRP $49.95
By Chelsea Smith
This DVD follows the French riding master Philippe Karl and his Hanoverian High Noon as they progress to High School dressage. While it is fun to watch and a keen eye will glean a few pointers I was disappointed overall with this DVD.
There is little advice or direct instruction shared with the viewer and while it is wonderful to see horses ridden by a professional such as Mr. Karl, it would be a much more useful DVD if some insight was given into the training methods and specific details as to the aids and directions given.
Sorry, not my favorite though a nice production from Pferdia.
The Sound Equine Halter MSRP $79.95
By Chelsea Smith
Halters, I would argue, are fairly important when dealing with horses. I mean, how else are you supposed to catch, lead, shoe, and otherwise deal with a 1,000 pound animal that doesn’t speak your language? Unless you’re one of those horse people who can teach any horse to be extremely calm, still, and respectful in every single circumstance under the sun, I’d say you need a halter.
But not one of those cheap, nylon, never lasts more than a couple years, import from India halters— no, we need something that will last. A halter is something that you only want to buy for your horse once, and if it was made in America, then you could support your own country while doing so. With the black leather halter from The Sound Equine, you get several things: a tough, American made, handsome, comfortable, and adjustable halter that you will only have to buy once.
I love it— the strong black leather and brass buckles provide functionality and style, while the neat stitching gives the halter the sophisticated look I want at a show; my horse also loves it. He’s always happy to put it on. Or maybe that’s because we’re going outside? Either way, the halter is easy to put on and take off, and the rounded buckles make sure my horse is comfortable and safe. So try it. You’ll only have to buy it once, and when everyone admires your good taste in halters and horses, you’ll be the talk of the barn.
FITS Breeches Tech Tread Full Seat High Tech MSRP $127.99
by Chelsea Smith
Let’s talk about technology. Fabric technology. What if there was a pair of breeches that used environmentally safe ink and shoe tread technology to provide unrivaled gripping power for riders? What if this fabric was lightweight and composed of 14% Lycra to help prevent muscle fatigue while simultaneously giving the rider the correct amount of grip no matter where they are in the saddle?
Let’s imagine all of the positive aspects of such a pair of breeches: We could stop wearing chaps— those things are so bulky!; we could ride for longer without our legs protesting loudly during the ride; we could be nice and cool while riding for longer during the hot summer months; and we could stop worrying about our grip and focus on our seats! Well, engaged reader, guess what- we live in a world where this fabric technology AND this magical pair of breeches do exist, and you can find it in the new line by FITS. This particular product is called the “FITS Breech Tech Tread Full Seat,” and gives us more than the aforementioned positive aspects of donning such a pair of breeches— convenience.
With machine washable fabric that sheds a variety of small (and annoying) particles, such as shavings and dirt, and a cargo pocket suitable for holding a phone or whatever else one might need, these breeches are incredible. Comfortable, lightweight, and practical, FITS offers this product in four different colors: Lead, Coffee, Black, and Sahara. I highly recommend giving these breeches a try— if not, I’ll still be sailing by you with my Kastel Denmark Christine Soft Shell Riding Jacket, only this time I’ll have the best breeches around on, and you’ll be stuck wondering where you went wrong. But we’d both already know the answer to that, wouldn’t we.
Christine Soft Shell Riding Jacket MSRP $98.99
by Chelsea Smith
The following are generally considered to be oxymorons: stylish and comfortable; lightweight and warm; water resistant and machine washable. However, the Christine Soft Shell Riding Jacket from Kastel Denmark is all of the above, with an interior liner that compliments the exterior of the jacket, both aesthetically and functionally.
If you’re looking for an article of clothing to wear while riding that looks and feels great, but won’t fall apart with extended use, then this is the jacket for you; however, if you’re more than happy to continue wearing your restrictive, cumbersome, and hard-to-clean (and let’s face it, probably unflattering) excuse of a riding jacket, then go on ahead—I can say that I’ll be sailing past you, looking and feeling fantastic on my mighty steed, while you sit stationary on your strange pony.
Equifit's D-Teq Splint Boots MSRP $220 Front $205 Hinds
Probably one of the best impact absorbing boots available on the market right now. The high tech Equifit product line released this boot in a variety of colors, and may also be customized with barn logos and special color combos. The most popular seller is the Black Ostrich.
The amazing feature of the high tech washable liners that go from soft to hard on impact make this a stand out product. The workmanship on the boots is excellent.
Offered in front and hind leg designs. I saw a definitive improvement in my horse's confidence with strides up to the fence after using these boots for a short period. Useful for all disciplines not just jumping. A super product to protect your horse. A big YAY from me.
Anatomically molded outer shell:
Virtually unbreakable shock absorber
Three 1.25" wide straps to eliminate pressure points
Transform from soft to rigid upon impact
Mold to leg for custom fit
Breathable & cool
Easy to wash and quick to dry.
Yay or Neigh??
EZ Breech by Devon-Aire MSRP $99.95
The new and improved, two-in-one riding breeches! Chaps and breeches- the best of riding apparel! This product is the ultimate cross between Western and English riding styles- the grip of chaps, sewn into the form fitting, elegant style of English breeches. One may inquire as to the bulky nature of chaps- how does that work with breeches? The answer is quite simple- relatively flawlessly. The chap aspect of these jods is cleverly designed to move with the material into which the chaps are sewn.
If you are looking for something that will increase your leather on leather contact, but hate having to remove or adorn the (sometimes) awkward chaps and despise having to wear chaps around the barn, this is the perfect compromise. While these jods are, most emphatically, not chaps, they do offer a perfect middle road.
If you are a rider concerned by appearances- you want some of the Western chap functionality, but not the look of Western riding, the EZ Breech works in your favor. These breeches sport a boot-cut, are very comfortable to wear, in addition to being very easy to care for (machine washable, AND retains its elasticity). Material is a comfortable and easy to wear 5% Lycra and 95% Elastin. These breeches maintain their shape, and provide necessary support while in the saddle.
Colors available include tan, chocolate and black and a range of ladies sizes from S through XL.
The Yay or Neigh Column is written by
Chelsea V. Smith
Chelsea V. Smith, is Assistant Editor to the team. Chelsea recently graduated from the University of Vermont (UVM) with a Masters in History, and also holds a B.A. in History with English and International Studies minor, from Susquehanna University, P.A. During her time at UVM Chelsea worked in the writing field, dedicating a year to working on a project to train professors how to teach writing skills to students of all levels within the University. Chelsea is a published writer, has presented her writings across the country as far West as Montana, and has presented her published works up and down the East Coast including locally at the Historical Society of Gilboa, NY.
While Chelsea has had to put her equestrian activities on hold due to work, travel and study schedules, she has trained in multiple disciplines including hunter/jumpers and also dressage and has worked with several noted trainers in those disciplines.