Charlotte Dujardin has taken the dressage world by storm! Basically, as soon as she reached the top level she was winning all the major titles with her horse Valegro or known in the barn as Blueberry. At only 33 years old Charlotte will be around for many years and getting a glimpse into her life thus far was a treat. Often, you get to read about great riders after their careers are somewhat over. I feel like I got a peek into the current industry at this current time instead of looking back on an industry I've never known. More riders should put out books!
The book starts by walking you through Charlotte's riding as a child and how it was a family affair. She even left high school at 16 to pursue her riding. And at 21 she started her working relationship with Carl Hester, who she still works with to this day. It was interesting to think about the differences between the U.K. and the U.S. and being so much closer to all of your countries top riders instead of being spread out so far.
Charlotte's writing style is so comfortable and enjoyable. I feel like I know her and if we ever met we would already be friends. I liked that she shared her battle with depression. It's so easy to think that someone with so much success would be immune to those feelings. I love that she's contributing to a conversation that is worth having! Through her stories, we got a glimpse into what it takes to be at the highest level of the equestrian sport. I was shocked to read about how hard she is on herself, she would come out of the ring with a record breaking score and still talk about all the parts that went wrong. Some parts of this book were definitely hard to relate to, but all in all I really enjoyed it!
This book was brought to you by Trafalgar Square Books.
All opinions are my own.
May Book Club
Not going to lie I'm a little nervous to read this book, but I'm also so intrigued! A true story about a woman named Sonora Carver who entertained audiences traveling the country with the circus in the 1920's. Her act was to ride a galloping horse off a forty (sometimes sixty) foot tower and ride it's back as it plunged into a pool of water below. WHAT?! So, definitely going to be an interesting read! Buy it here on Amazon.
Book Review: Inside Your Ride
I have seen this book many times in horse catalogs and it was when I started listening to The PlaidCast that I heard Tonya's episodes diving deeper in to top professionals and leading rider's mental game. I'm always curious as to what makes the top in this sport tick and grabbing a copy of Inside Your Ride seemed like a natural next step.
The book is broken into 11 sections and are further broken down from there. I was surprised with how much content was stuffed into this book! Topics like motivation, confidence, focus, vision, energy, attitude, preparation, communication, resilience, competing and returning to riding are all well covered.
With so many valuable sections I found that I needed more time to digest what I was reading than other books. I could almost see this being a book I referenced back to at different times of the year when I was dealing with a specific issue. I found that I had already implemented many of Tonya's recommended techniques to handling my mental game, but I think journaling is something I need to try.
As I was reading I couldn't help but think that every one of my students should read this book. Becoming aware of the things that hold you back is such an eye opening experience and is critical to moving past it and I think this book puts to words many things that can stop riders without them knowing it. I also found this book helpful to myself as a professional. Just because riding is part of my job doesn't mean I don't experience fear and doubt. It also brought to the forefront of my mind on how to help mentally prepare my riders for their own riding and showing goals! And with IEA Nationals coming up in a few weeks I want my girls as mentally prepared as possible for the things coming ahead!
I definitely recommend that anyone who rides horses read this book! Riding is always more mental than it is physical and making sure you are ready to handle those setbacks is very important to a continued riding career of any kind.
Be sure to check out Tonya's work as a Mental Skills Coach for Equestrians!
April Book Club
Fresh off the press read Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin's new book! Read about her journey to the top of the sport and the incredible bond she has with her horse Valegro. I'm giddy with excitement to read about someone who worked their way up and fought to be the best she could be! Grab your copy today from Trafalgar Square Books and use the code BARNRAT to receive 20% off and free shipping!
The video below is the famous performance Charlotte and Valegro did in London with over 2 million views!
What originally drew me to this book was the title. I want to be a better rider, but I’m not a beginner. Denny Emerson, the author of this book is a Hall of Fame eventing rider who owns and operates Tamarack Hill Farm in Strafford, VT. As a hunter jumper rider myself I learned of Denny through Facebook. On his barn’s page they are always sharing inspiring and thought provoking posts. I didn’t realize this was the same person till after I started reading.
The book is formatted more like a textbook and less like a regular reading book. The sections of the book are "Wannabes" vs. "Gonnabes," The Riding Sport that's Right for You, Dealing with the Cards You Hold, "No Man is an Island," Nine Character Traits for a Successful Rider, The Body You Choose to Ride With, Swim (or Flounder) in the Vast Sea of Horse Knowledge, The Horse: A Rowboat or Yacht? and A Quiver Full of Arrows. And scattered throughout the book are interviews with top riders from all disciplines on their thoughts on what made them good riders.
One of the things I liked the most was the way Emerson talked about subjects that are very real in the equine world. Financial advantages and having existing connections place some riders leaps and bounds ahead of others and he did not shy away from talking about those points. But the uncontrollable conditions riders have, either positive or negative, were much smaller in number and importance versus the things everyone can change. We all have the power to become more compassionate riders. We all have the power to keep learning about best horse care practices. And all of those things, make us better riders.
The final chapter Denny talked about filling your quiver with arrows, and those arrows are different skills and strengths. He said that each of these arrows are things we can take ownership of and add to our quiver. And that was a very inspiring message to be able to take away. I am definitely not a rider with a financial upper hand so reading about all of the other different things I can do to become a stronger rider motivated me.
This book is pretty compact and can be a quick read, but with so much valuable content it is best read in small chunks where you can digest and put into practice what you just read. I highly recommend reading this book if you want to become a good rider!
March Book Club
Happy Valentines Day! Hope you get to spend this holiday with your true valentine (your horse)! To celebrate we are announcing March's Book Club pick. Drum roll please. Next month we will be exploring the mental aspect of riding by reading Inside Your Ride by Tonya Johnston, MA. Tonya is a mental skills coach located in California who specializes in equestrian athletes. She can be found sharing her knowledge in many clinics across the world and just most recently presented at the Gold Star Clinic West at HITS Coachella. Tonya also hosts an episode monthly on The Plaidcast where she interviews top riders and hears about how they prepare for top level competition. So pick up your copy of Inside Your Ride today on Amazon!
Can you believe that January has already come to a close? And that means our first month of the book club has wrapped up too! If somehow you haven't read this book yet, or seen the movie Harry & Snowman, watch out there may be some spoilers ahead!
I originally picked this book up a couple of years ago and read it then and I absolutely loved it! Rereading it flooding me with the same emotions all over again.
The book starts describing the dire situations that both Harry de Leyer and the future star Snowman were found. Both worked hard and the grey plow horse bound for slaughter found his luck when Harry made the truck diver unload every horse so Snowman could come home with him. Originally hoping the grey could be a useful school horse at the all girls Knox school, Harry quickly found out the horse would excel at that job and so much more!
Not only does this book outline Snowman's special story but it also gives you a history lesson on what the equine industry in America was like in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. Now it's hard to imagine any of our horses at the barn being used as a military mount but back then the memories were still fresh. Horses were in transition from tools of work to companion of sport.
Another unique thread to this story is the pursuit of the American dream. Harry de Leyer and his wife immigrated from Holland and found themselves working long hard days to provide for their family that eventually totaled six children. One thing that I think rings true to this day was Harry's willingness to do whatever it took to make a career around horses. He spent his days riding whatever was around and doing all of the heavy lifting himself.
But the top levels of the show jumping sport weren't far from Harry's mind, especially after Snowman showed off his ability by jumping out of a field with a tall fence to get back home. Once Snowman had made his point clear that he would not be sold and that he was Harry's forever, the two were inseparable. Going to horse shows became a new normal for the pair and even some exhibitions when Harry and Snowman would jump over another one of the de Leyer's horses.
In two years time, from 1956 when Snowman was pulled of the truck headed for the slaughterhouse to 1958, Harry and Snowman had become sports celebrities after a huge win at the show at Madison Square Garden. Reading about the grandeur of the show, and the emotions Harry experienced after winning make any rider want to experience that themselves. And who knows maybe one day find their own $80 champion.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion is a New York Times Bestseller, was written by Elizabeth Letts and originally published in 2011 by Ballantine Books.
What was your favorite part about the book? Comment below to keep the conversation going!
February Book Club
Are you enjoying your January reading of The Eighty-dollar Champion? I know I am! As February approaches it's time to announce our next book. This month we are jumping to the topic of rider improvement. Each month will focus on a different area, entertainment, riding advice and mental training. So, our book for February is How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson a world class eventing rider and USEA Hall of Fame Inductee! The Barn Rat has partnered with Trafalgar Square Books to bring TBR readers a 20% off discount when the code BARNRAT is used at checkout! You will also receive FREE shipping and thanks for supporting a small equine business. Happy reading and be sure to check back in at the end of February for a book review!
The Barn Rat Book Club
I'm so excited to announce that The Barn Rat will be launching a book club starting in January! There are so many amazing books out there that touch on riding techniques, rider exercises, mental toughness, training the horse, true stories and fiction. So for 2018, each month we will be reading a book from a different topic area. Mainly focusing on entertainment, riding advice and mental training on a rotation each month. Our first book will be The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts. You can get your own copy on Amazon through the link below, we will start reading in January and there will be a book review at the end of the month. Happy reading!
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