Those of you who, like us, reside in the Northeast are waking up to snow this cold Friday morning, with blizzard warnings in the forecast and a weekend ahead that promises shoveling, perhaps skiing, but maybe not SO much riding!

So what can you do when winter weather keeps you out of the saddle and in front of the woodstove? Here are a couple of ideas on how to continue to grow as a horseman while staying snug inside:

50FIMI[1]1  Improve Your Vision, “Feel,” and Timing

Adapted from 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING by Wendy Murdoch

Sit in your favorite chair and look around, becoming aware of your face, especially the area surrounding your eyes. Do you feel pulling or tightness around your eyes? Do you narrow your eyes to focus on specific objects? Are your eyebrows knit together?

Close your eyes and use your eyelids to “press” your eyeballs back. Open your eyes and stare intently straight ahead. What happens to your balance in the chair? Usually people notice that “pressing” back with the eyelids shifts their weight backward, while staring ahead shifts it forward.

Excessive tension in the muscles that move your eyes and the surrounding facial muscles, such as you would notice in the first steps of this exercise, creates tension in your entire body. And the smallest balance shift forward or back in the saddle is sensed by your horse, who then shifts his own weight to compensate.

In your chair, practice “softening” the area around your eyes so your eyebrows broaden, your cheeks soften and drop down, and you feel the corners of your eyes relax. With your eyes open, recreate the feeling of your eyes resting back in their sockets (as they were when you “pressed” them back with your eyelids).

With this simple change in how you look at the world while sitting in the saddle, you can ease tension in your horse and shift his weight off his forehand and back toward his hindquarters.

KnowYouKnowYrHorse250[1]2  Determine Your Social Style, Your Horse’s Personality, and How You Can Best Work Together

Adapted from KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE by Eunice Rush and Marry Morrow

Download the Human Social Style Questionnaire and the Horse Personality Questionnaire from the KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE page on the TSB website (CLICK HERE).

Take the two quizzes to determine if you are an Analyst, a Powerful, a Mediator, or an Advocate; and to see if your horse is a Thinker, Worker, Actor, or Talker. This can be the first step in determining what you need to do to change your personality to better match your horse’s, as well as giving you ideas as to the kinds of training techniques and riding styles that will help him learn and perform his best. What kind of match are you? Take the quizzes to find out!

Dressage-w-MBS-300[1]3  Create a Mind Map of the Training Scale Using Images, Color, and Your Favorite Exercises

Adapted from DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL by Linda Tellington-Jones with Rebecca M. Didier

Popular psychology author Tony Buzan wrote his first books on “Mind Mapping” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His books, lecture tours, and now software ( have popularized his technique of diagramming words, ideas, tasks, and other items around central key words or ideas, providing a graphical method of generating, visualizing, and classifying ideas. It is a way of using both the left and right brains when organizing and studying information–and a great way to get a better understanding of the concept of the Classical Training Scale and how you can apply it in your work with your horse, both on the ground and in the saddle.

Choose a central word or idea from which all other words and ideas will radiate. Tony Buzan recommends keeping this to a single word, as that gives you more room to “play.” You can use “training” and “scale” together as one “idea” or perhaps begin with your name, or your horse’s.

Use color and an image to illustrate this idea. What do you picture when you hear the central word or words spoken? For “Training Scale,” perhaps you think of a golden pyramid, such as the ones in Egypt. For your horse, maybe it is the symetrical white diamond on his forehead.

Radiate outward with the principles of the Training Scale: Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness, and Collection, and give each an image (what comes to mind when you think of Rhythm? Musical notes?) and a color.

From each principle within the Training Scale, map out further,
with exercises, techniques, bodywork, and sources of inspiration that can help
you and your horse “find” what you’re looking for. Scribble down anything that comes to mind—cavalletti for Rhythm? Carrot stretches for Suppleness? Illustrate whatever comes to mind and allow yourself to get excited about new ideas you can try to implement when the snow melts!

7ClinicswithDVD-Series300[1]4  Watch All the Free Sneak Peek Lessons from Buck Brannaman 

From 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN by Cedar Creek Productions

Visit the 7 CLINICS YouTube Channel (CLICK HERE) and watch all the short, free lessons from the new DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN. We can all learn so much from Buck, even in three or four minutes! You’ll come away with new ideas of how to better communicate with your horse and take your partnership to the next level.

MYHOMY[1]5 Read a Great Horse Book

At TSB, we love great horse books, whether they’re instructional or fiction, classic works or brand new. As the snow piles up and you hunker down at home, pull something great off your bookshelf and lose yourself in it for an hour or two. Race across the sand with Alec and the Black, feel your pulse quicken as you turn the pages of Thunderhead, rediscover what it means to connect with a horse in Alois Podhajsky’s My Horses, My Teachers. Wherever the magic is for you, find it. Even just for a little while.

All these books and DVDs are available from the TSB online store, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whatever the weather!