The IEA season is just around the corner and I'm getting my backpack all ready to hit the road! As a coach I want to be prepared for anything that might come our way, so below you will see everything I have in my current ring bag. I feel like I'm pretty set, but there is always that feeling of something is missing. Hope not!
Leading a horse might sound like something very simple, but in fact there is a correct way that will keep you safer than other ways. Below three commonly seen ways of leading are demonstrated. And like goldie locks and the three bears there is a way that is just right!
I don't know if I've ever related so well to a book. A few years ago when I was going to school in New Jersey I interview with Tik to work for him as a working student. At the time the job wasn't the right fit for me, but I am so glad I've been able to learn from him anyway.
In this book Tik talks about his different experiences as a working student all over the world. He worked for strict show barns, family ranches and everything in between. As he experienced the many different ways of running a horse business Tik learned that all of this information was going to be crucial for him forming his own barn. This journey felt very relatable to me and I think it is a powerful one necessary for any future equine professional.
Tik has a way of writing that transports you in to the moment, sometimes it maybe trailed off a bit, but it always brought you back to a very real place. I think books like this are very timely and we need to be reading more like this! Seeing success in the horse business is often a mysterious vague story. Many times it seems like the only way to making it is through family money. In this book, Tik shows a more tangible approach to those who are willing to work for what they want. So much can be learned by getting out there in different ways to learn. If that is something you can't do, reading this book will make you feel like you've been out on Tik's journey with him!
Did you read this book with us? What did you think?
This book club selection was brought to you by Trafalgar Square Books.
All opinions are mine.
Work boots are often forgotten pieces of every day equipment. I know mine are. So when Nikwax sent me Footwear Cleaning Gel, Conditioner for Leather and Fabric & Leather Proof I thought maybe my hiking/long days at a show boots could use the tlc.
Each product has a simple to follow list of steps on how to use it, so first things first, I sprayed off the large pieces of horse poo. Then using the super convenient sponge applicator rubbed the cleaning gel all over. It got nice and foamy which always makes me feel like it's working. Then I rinsed the suds off to reveal a much cleaner boot!
I then toweled off the excess water and started applying the conditioner. Using the same attached sponge applicator I rubbed the wax like substance all over. I let this fully soak in before moving on to the final step, waterproofing. The proof spray was a very easy step: spray liberally all over the boot. Once that dried I played around to see the difference, and now the water just rolls right off my boots! I hadn't thought much about taking the time to care for these shoes because they are great heavy duty boots but man do they look better! They even feel much softer to the touch.
It's always important to take care of your things to make them last longer, and with these Nikwax products I feel like doing that will be a breeze!
Check that out! What a difference! And look at those water droplets just beading off.
This would be a great book for beginners looking to understand more about horses. Dr. Hamilton goes all the way back to talk briefly about the history of horses and what shaped them into the creatures we interact with today. He explains how they have changed from being wild animals of the plains to domestic.
He then continues on to talk about basic horse/human interactions, like leading and grooming and how these simple tasks help you get to know, establish trust and bond with your horse. Hamilton then brings in the idea of chi and how our energy affects our horse. Now, don't let this turn you off because it sounds woo woo. Horses are prey animals and in order to survive all these years they have needed to sense danger without seeing, hearing or smelling it. The smallest thing needs to be noticed by a horse so they can determine if it is a threat or something to ignore. That means when you storm into the barn after a frustrating day at work, your horse absorbs all of that energy and can get just as jumpy as you are! He also talks about the power of intention, and I think this is where a lot of riders fall off the tracks. There needs to be an intention with everything you do with a horse and often times we're so distracted with so many other things the purpose and feel of the moment disappears.
While some of the sections I just skimmed over because they were basics I already knew, being refreshed on how a horse ticks is always valuable. Dr. Hamilton talked many times about if we want to truly partner with a horse we have to put our rushed, predatory ways aside and learn to have the patience needed to communicate clearly. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is around horses. Whether you are new to them, only around them because of someone else, or a trainer this book has many important topics and reminders!
August is just around the corner and the selected book is easily findable in stores. We will be reading Elizabeth Letts' second book The Perfect Horse. This book is about rescuing white stallions during WW2 that were stolen and were in danger of becoming dinner. Letts is the author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion so you know this one is going to be good!
I'm so excited about this interview! Today we are sitting down with Tonya Johnston a mental skills coach who helps riders overcome fears and hangups in the saddle. Her book, Inside Your Ride, is filled with practical tips to help you feel more confident. Read below about what her unique job is like!
TBR: What is your job title?
TJ: I have a master's degree in applied sport psychology, and I am a Mental Skills Coach.
TBR: Describe your position and your average workday.
TJ: I help riders develop their mental skills in order to be prepared, consistent and confident when they go in the ring. I have sessions with clients all over the country, Canada and Europe via FaceTime, Skype and phone. In a typical work day I may have sessions with clients, return emails, reply to Facebook and Instagram messages, work on writing projects, plan and organize my podcast tapings, book workshops with private barns and teams, write and review client notes, read magazines/articles/publications/books to stay current in equestrian sport and sport psychology, prepare for workshops or speaking engagements, talk to prospective clients on the phone and more. There is always a lot to do and each day is different depending on what is coming up in my calendar -- I love it!
TBR: What is the best part of your job?
TJ: I really adore everything about my job. I know it’s a cliché but it truly never feels like work. When I see and hear clients have an "ah-ha" moment or tell me a story from a recent show where they experienced the benefits of their mental skills I get so excited! It's fun to be on so many different teams and feel that my work spreads out into the world through such a great variety of people. Some of my favorite stories from clients revolve around them deepening their commitment to their process, and trusting that their competition results will then take care of themselves.
Also, when a client tells me they are enjoying their horses more, feeling confident and having fun it is absolutely the best!
TBR: What is the hardest/least desirable part of your job?
TJ: I am able work with clients all over world from my office which is phenomenal, but I need to get a treadmill desk - I honestly sit too much!
TBR: How many hours a week do you spend working? What is the work/life balance like?
TJ: There are weeks I work every day of the week for sure -- a blend of writing, client appointments, notes, emails, talking to parents, etc. but I think that is true for anyone that owns their own business. The great part is that I set my own schedule and so I can carve out family time and time to ride and show myself.
TBR: What advice would you give to someone wanting to do this job?
TJ: I come from a true sport psychology background, with my undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's degree in sport psychology. I really recommend getting an advanced degree that not only gets you a solid education in the field but also provides lots of supervised, applied experiences working with athletes. You want to understand the theory and research behind the performance skills you teach in order to be truly effective.
TBR: What is the range of pay for this position?
TJ: The pay range is wide because this isn't the type of job you can apply for - you have to build it from the ground up. You can expect to need a variety of income streams when you are just starting out.
TBR: What are 3 things you would want someone applying for this job to know?
TJ: Well, first of all - you can’t really apply for this job; you have to have the passion, strength and tenacity to build your business yourself. However, sport psychology has come a very long way since I started my practice in 1993. People understand that working on your mental game is essential and athletes are much more open about using mental skills coaches than they were back then. Therefore, you will find that riders are quite receptive and interested in your work which will be encouraging as you get started.
Have faith in yourself, it takes time to build your business but you can do it.
This can be hard to grasp at first but it is a positive when your clients don’t need you anymore! Your ultimate goal is to empower them to understand themselves and how they can best support their own riding goals. There is no room for ego in this profession. Never forget that it is all about your clients; it’s not about you. It can make promoting your business and marketing a bit challenging, but if you keep doing quality work people will find you.
Have you ever thought about riding in college? Did you even know you could continue your riding career while continuing your education?! Today we are highlighting just one of the many ways you can ride in college.
IHSA stands for Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association and is a college riding organization that offers competition in hunt seat equitation, western horsemanship and reining. There are over 400 schools in the U.S. and Canada that have participating teams! With so many schools offering IHSA teams the way each team is formatted can look different school to school.
Some colleges and universities offer their IHSA teams as more of a club sport where a handful of riders get together and ride at a local barn and then compete at the shows, while other teams are made of hundreds of riders with the schools having their own barn and horses and some even cover the expenses of showing and offer scholarships. As you are looking around for your perfect fit for a school, if you are interested in riding on one of these teams be sure to reach out to the coach ahead of time to see if their team seems like the right fit for you!
How does IHSA work?
Well, basically you show up to the horse show and draw a horse's name out of a hat and then get on and show that horse. The hosting team provides all of the horses so owning your own is not necessary to be on the team. A typical day at an IHSA show would look like this: You and your team arrive at a crazy early hour to watch the warm up of the horses. You have no clue who you might be riding so you watch them all to try and see if you can pick up any clues on what they might be like. Then there are meetings and things for the coaches and captains, so unless you are one of those, you do a lot of waiting. Then you find out who you are riding. Sometimes you actually get to draw your horse's name out of a hat but most of the time the steward will do the draw to save time.
Then you wait for your division (there is a lot of waiting). The levels range from 3' Open to Walk/Trot. What level you end up riding in is determined by your coaches at the beginning of the year and they take in to consideration your previous riding experience. Each coaching staff will have their own strategies on how to place riders but generally you want to be in a much lower level for IHSA than you would do on your own horse, or the horse you consistently ride.
The reason for this is because riding a horse you don't know either over fences or through a reining pattern can be very difficult! And this horse you randomly are assigned, yeah, you don't get to warm it up at all! You literally get on, adjust your stirrups and then are led into the ring to go show. You don't even get to walk the horse independently, someone is always there handling the horse. All of this is to make sure there is a level playing field and that no one is getting to know their mount better than the next person. Each class is judged on the rider exclusively to help level the playing field and account for some horses being harder draws than others.
Throughout the season riders compete in local shows hosted by different teams and earn points in each class to "point out" to the next division and to qualify for post season competition. After the regular season there is the Regional show and the top riders in each class from Regionals qualify for Zones. Below is a list of each zone and the states within that Zone. Then the leading riders and teams from each Zone participate in the National Finals that is held in different areas each year.
What are the benefits to riding on an IHSA team?
There are a few major benefits to riding on an IHSA team.
1) It is probably the most feasible way to horse show ever! Let's face it, riding and showing is EXPENSIVE but doing so through IHSA is an amazing opportunity. At the most you can only ride in two classes per show and every show costs the same dollar amount to enter, so for the shows themselves they never add up to being more than you expected! Now each school can be different on the other costs of showing so be sure to ask about travel, coaching, equipment, meals and practices. For the most part, however, riding on an IHSA team is the easiest way to continue riding and showing throughout college.
2) Riding is typically a very individual sport so being in a team atmosphere is usually missing in regular horse show environments. So cheering on your teammates and traveling together can be a totally new experience for some. But, it is so worth it and the people you meet on your IHSA team often become friends for life!
Did you ride on an IHSA team when you went to college? Tell us all about it in the comments below!