Read Gincy’s New Article Series for Instructors

Gincy has been writing a series of articles for the ARIA newsletter, on what instructors can do to address the problem of novice riders being overfaced and getting hurt.

The series is called “Too Many Beginning Riders Are Getting Hurt: Why Novice Writers Get Hurt, and What We Can Do About It.” Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the series:

….Preventing falls is something we practice every day in our daily life, whether moving or still, standing or sitting. It’s a built-in skill, therefore it should be easy to apply to riding a horse, just as we apply it to riding a bicycle or skiing (sports which bear some similarity to riding.)

If this is the case, then why are beginning riders, in theory learning basic and therefore safe skills, so much more likely to get hurt than more advanced riders (or people who ride motorcycles?) Two reasons—overfacing and/or overmounting. Or, to put it another way, placing the student in situations where she is likely to lose her balance and therefore her safety, because her centering skills are not ready for those situations.

…We will talk about the best ways to approach these problems. That is, we want to keep our students safe while still giving them challenges that will keep them interested and enjoying their lessons.

We have just uploaded most of the series to the Instructors section of the website. To read it, go to the Articles page and start reading!

Make Sure Your Horse is Conditioned for Spring

Spring will come, even to Vermont. We have about 3 feet of snow on the ground, and it is still cold–either side of zero–most of the time, but the warm(er) weather is supposed to show up soon.

So it’s time for an important reminder to those of you who haven’t been able to ride all winter. Even though your horse(s) have been getting out and running around, that doesn’t mean they’re fit for riding. The horse’s back was never intended to carry weight, so hopping on him on the first nice day and going out for a couple of hours is going to cause serious damage. Continue reading

How the reins really work

Most people, even many riders, believe that the reins are used to control the horse, the way the brakes and steering wheel are used to control a car. Pull one rein to make the horse turn, pull both reins to make the horse stop. But is that really what’s happening? If you enjoy horse racing, you’ve seen countless jockeys riding at a gallop in perfect control of the strongest and fastest horses in the world. Just think about the size of the horse (and especially his neck, which is all muscle) and the size of the jockey’s arm muscles. No way can that jockey make the racehorse do anything just by the force of his arms pulling the reins.

And that’s the secret: the reins do not control the horse! Continue reading

Gincy Signs Her Books at The Cheshire Horse

Last month, Gincy spent the day at The Cheshire Horse just outside Keene, NH, signing books and getting new followers and friends. The occasion was the store’s annual spring sale, and we spoke to shoppers who came from as far as New York and Connecticut.

Gincy at her table at The Cheshire Horse, April 2014

Gincy at her table at The Cheshire Horse, April 2014

Continue reading

Gincy’s Spelling Lesson

Now that winter is leaving the Northern Hemisphere (we hope!) and summer heat is leaving the Southern Hemisphere, we thought you might enjoy a little Gincy humor about a particular way of exercising your horses on the ground.

In response to a discussion of the technique on the Riding With Confidence group, Gincy posted this:

“I don’t really care how you guys spell, but maybe you do.

“When I’m lounging, I’m lying around (probably on a sofa or bed) doing nothing except maybe reading.

“When I’m lunging, I might be fencing, or I might be a dog trying to bite someone.

“When I’m longeing, there’s a horse involved, who is hopefully going in the direction and speed that I ask for.

Are we clear??<G>”

Now let’s all hope for some ideal longeing weather!

Warm Horse, Good Horse – Featured Article

In the past, we have posted many of my articles and essays under the Essays tab. We are going to start featuring these essays in the blog now and then, to help you find archived articles you might have missed.  This week’s Featured Article is a timely subject for riders, and especially instructors, in the Northern Hemisphere, faced with riding in the oncoming cold.

Warm Horse, Good Horse

Nunnie snowThis is the time of year when many horse owners send their horses south for the winter. Why? Because keeping horses in training in cold weather is a tough job. Everything is harder for him in the cold, and you consider yourself lucky if he comes out of the winter going as well as he did the previous fall. For those who run a lesson program a big concern is keeping your students safe, since cold horses tend to be more ‘disobedient’.  However, there are things you can do to give safe, interesting lessons in the winter without spending all the time in the stable or lecture room.

That being said, on days when it was below 20 degrees at my southern New England farm, we did not have riding lessons. Depending on the group, we might have ground work in the stable with the horses, or a video or talk, or simply cancel altogether. The reasons for this were safety, and good practice, because even if the horses behaved, if the riders were cold they were more likely to be tense, affecting their riding, and if they fell, to get hurt.

We’ll talk about keeping people warm later on, but first let’s talk about the horses Continue reading

Autograph Bookplates are now available.

We’re happy to announce that our What Your Horse Wants bookplates have arrived, so you can now get autographs for your copies of Gincy’s books.

Our archival quality autographing bookplate

These bookplates were designed and printed for us by specialty printer Bookplate Ink, using archival paper and inks, so you’ll wear out your copies of Gincy’s books before the bookplates fade or wear out!

You can have up to 4 bookplates autographed, just by sending us a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Visit our Autographs page for full details. 

Building your confidence for the scary moments

Why do some riders have serious fear and confidence issues after a bad fall, while others with the same bad experiences seem unaffected?

This question came from a poster on my Riding With Confidence Yahoo group (the source of a lot of good questions and discussions!) The second part of this question, of course, is how to deal with those moments of fear when they recur? Here’s how I answered:

Keep in mind that emotions originate, not in our conscious mind, but in the body and reflex brain, a very deep level with which our conscious brain has no direct connection.  We can only reprogram ourselves by retraining the body, with repetitive, safe activity until it gradually learns a new pattern. That’s what the Seven Steps are about.  Continue reading

The Gentle Art of Horseback Riding – Gincy’s New Book!

Gincy’s new book, “The Gentle Art of Horseback Riding,” is now out.

final cover 1-2013In this book, Gincy’s approach to learning to ride is presented in depth, fully illustrated, and with new material and new techniques she has developed since the previous books. She offers more information than ever on how to become a good rider, from the very first lesson, on through the basics to the start of cantering, jumping and riding cross-country.

The book is also the perfect handbook for instructors who want a better way to teach beginners, a way that helps them become safe, capable and confident riders from the start, so that they will want to keep riding with you for a long time. Continue reading

Changing the World, One Rider at a Time

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.”
~  Mahatma Gandhi

When I was learning to ride horseback in the 1930’s and 40’s, the basic principles we were taught were things like, “Don’t be a passenger, be the boss;”  “Don’t let him get away with that!”  “Horses are stupid;” and, “You have to fall off three times before you can call yourself a good rider.”

All of which are based on a confrontational relationship, with the horse as rebellious, stupid slave, and the human as the necessarily aggressive master.

Since then, the approach to handling and riding horses has been gradually undergoing a change. Continue reading