Practical insights and principals from some incredible horse books I’ve read

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By , May 20, 2015 4:07 am

There are some amazing horse books published. Over the last week I’ve been spending a few hours each day reading & re-reading my horse books. Here is a short collection of my favourite thoughts from each book. My strategy was to read 20-30 pages of a book, and then go out to the paddock and work with my horse using one of these insights. It worked out really well.

My #1 favourite that I 100% recommend as being wonderful and easy to read, is TRUE HORSEMANSHIP THROUGH FEEL.

I also loved ENLIGHTENED EQUITATION (focused on riding) and the feel and timing insights in BELIEVE are superb as many riders share their stories of horsemanship.

I also have a second batch of books to read, and will do a review on them in a week or two.

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23 Common horse problems that could be caused from pain from a bad saddle fit

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By , May 19, 2015 10:25 am

I’ve recently had a bad run of saddle fitters in Ireland. I’ve heard bad stories and seen sore horses from munster, leinster, connaught and the north! It’s terrible. Finding someone who can accurately assess your horses saddle in Ireland is VERY difficult.


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Two saddle fitters told me my saddles fitted fine. But my horse’s pain and unwanted behaviour based on the pain, told me they didn’t.

The result was time off work, visits from an equine physio and a lot of unresponsive saddle fitters who don’t want to hear about their problem! You can read about my saddle fit disasters here.

Continue reading '23 Common horse problems that could be caused from pain from a bad saddle fit'»

Getting help from Bill Dorrance – True Horsemanship Through Feel

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By , May 15, 2015 1:21 pm

After a great clinic with Isi Brenner, I’ve been practising our groundwork and seeing good improvements. But I realised that I needed to know more about the WHY….

I’m familiar with various exercises and patterns. But I need to know when to do them, why I should do them, how much to do, what result I’m looking for, how to improve them, when to stop doing them and a bigger picture of where they all fit in with my horse.

So last night I started to look around my collection of horse books, and I found the largest book I had. It is True Horsemanship Through Feel by Bill Dorrance. Its been in my room for a good while now, but I can’t remember ever reading it. Doh.

So I cleared a few hours and sat down to get started.

The first thing that struck me was that it is really a dictation of Bill talking. So while its a large book, its very easy to read.

I’ve got up to page 57 in 24 hours (chapters 1 to 3) so as I read I started to take notes on the back cover. Here’s what I wrote so far:

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Getting inside my lovely horses head, at Isi Brenners amazing clinic – May 2015

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By , May 12, 2015 10:29 am

This weekend Isi Brenner was over from Germany for a 3 day clinic. I met Isi about five years ago at Steve Halfpennys horsemanship centre in South Australia. She was one of those phenomenal horse riders that just had an uncanny way with horses. And her breath of knowledge about horsemanship, training, equipment, (as she proved at this clinic) is vast. Last autumn I visited her in Germany to watch a Jeff Sanders clinic at her yard and managed to persuade her to run her first international clinic in Ireland!


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I have a lovely horse called Ozzie. He’s a sensitive soul with a pretty fast brain! One of the main things I wanted to get some insights was who to make him happier mentally and emotionally. He’s pretty good on the ground, and at halt in riding, but when we go faster he can get tense and nervous. Then we also can get head shaking, foot stamping, head scratching and he can look away to block out what’s going on. Continue reading 'Getting inside my lovely horses head, at Isi Brenners amazing clinic — May 2015'»

4 Simple Questions To Use To Find A Good Saddle Fitter (And how to avoid the many bad saddle fitters out there).

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By , May 11, 2015 2:26 pm

This weekend the German horse trainer Isabell Brenner flew into Ireland from Germany for a 3 day clinic. We had six horses and riders and over the course of the weekend in Tipperary we learned a ton from Isi who seemed to have a super-human insight to how to really help each individual horse. As a teacher, Isi was really easy to understand, really sympatheic and supportive and lovely to learn from.

By the end of day one, Isi had seen a worrying problem in most horse and rider pairs. Most of the saddles didn’t fit correctly.


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On day two, Isi did a saddle fit session with a volunteer horse, and found a lot of issues with the saddle fit. Then we all got a bit worried and asked Isi to look at our saddles too. The last thing anyone wanted was a saddle that was causing our horse any pain. She found lots of problems! Here are some examples. Continue reading '4 Simple Questions To Use To Find A Good Saddle Fitter (And how to avoid the many bad saddle fitters out there).'»

How to design a mobile horse field shelter

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By , December 14, 2014 1:24 pm

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So as winter rolls around again, my two horses live outdoors on grass. While the fields they live in have ditches & trees at the edges, they don’t really protect from all of the weather that we get in Ireland.

So I wanted to get a field shelter for the horses, as when it gets really cold, rainy & windy, it can get pretty miserable.

First up, I asked some friends, hit up google and found out what are generally very good qualities to have in a horse field shelter: Continue reading 'How to design a mobile horse field shelter'»

Jeff Sanders Clinic Report (Frankfurt Nov 2014) part 2

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By , November 27, 2014 10:25 am

This is part 2 of the writeup from the 2 day Jeff Sanders clinic in Germany in Nov 2014. It was cold but FANTASTIC!

Travers (looks like HQ in)

– Sit on your inside seatbone
– See the corner of your horses eye.
– Do travers @ center, before you do lead changes. This is the key to good constant lead charges.
– Figure 8 = this is Jeffs least favourite way to teach lead charges
– Lead changes start in travers in walk.
– Only ask for 3 steps of travers, then walk in straight.
– Front end stays walking forward, HQ goes to one side.
– If it is very good, do walk-trot-walk Continue reading 'Jeff Sanders Clinic Report (Frankfurt Nov 2014) part 2'»

Jeff Sanders Clinic Report (Frankfurt Nov 2014) part 1

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By , November 11, 2014 3:08 pm

Last weekend Maura & I flew into Frankfurt to watch Jeff Sanders teaching 12 German students. Many of my Australian & English friends had recommended I go, so I was very excited to see what would happen. It was lovely to watch the advanced German students & Jeff is a wonderful teacher. I learned a lot. Very easy to understand, kind & humble. It was great to meet so many new German friends as well :)

The clinic was split into 2 groups of 6 riders.. intermediate & advanced. All were super riders. Here is Jeffs website, and yes – we invited him to Ireland! Here’s a video so you can see Jeff riding:

9:00am 6 horses Intermediate Group Day 1

Bosal (hackamore) fitting

Hackamore should lie above the soft nose cavity. There should be 1 finger space behind chin. Just enough room to chew/swallow. It should be snug all round, and even pressure all round. Soft hackamore = will spread a little on its own. If the hackmore is too big, it’ll move around a lot on its own which you don’t want. You’ll use a 5/8s hackamore for 90% of the time. Continue reading 'Jeff Sanders Clinic Report (Frankfurt Nov 2014) part 1'»

Grackle & flash nosebands – and why you should avoid them

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By , September 14, 2014 8:54 pm

Do you know:

Horses can’t swallow unless they can open their mouth a bit. So if a horse has it’s mouth clamped shut with a flash or whatever it’s a bloody uncomfortable experience for them. The long strings of drool are very different to just seeing a moist mouth.

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In a very extreme situation a horse with the mouth clamped shut could drown on it’s own saliva.

Want to learn more about training & riding horses without the usual gimmicks? Find out more about the amazing Irish Horsemanship community right here.

Life Is Not An Emergency – Lessons from a Grey Horse

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By , September 5, 2014 4:07 pm

Tomorrow I am going abroad with work, which (to my conscious mind) I was looking forward to. It took me by surprise then when I woke up this morning with a sense of sadness. My first thought was that today was the last day I was going to ride my horse this summer. I didn’t realise how much I was going to miss it. Then my logical mind wondered why I would feel like this?

I started riding in April this year, as I was away from Jan – Mar with work. Since April I’ve ridden Oz 80 times. Not bad for 5 months. I know this as I’ve been keeping track of every ride & writing down our daily progress, including clinics and ‘horse related’ activities.

Yesterday a book I’d ordered arrived in the post. It was Mark Rashids ‘Nature in Horsemanship’. Crissi his wife & one of Ozzie’s favourite people wrote the foreword, and I loved this sentance:

“[Horses] offer us the opportunity to experience something that is less about thinking, and more about reconnecting with a wisdom that we don’t often tap into.”

It was with this thought in mind that I set out today, to ride Oz. Continue reading 'Life Is Not An Emergency — Lessons from a Grey Horse'»

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