Sometimes we need to seek out the perfect cover image for one of our new books or DVDs. Usually, we have a general sense of what we’re looking for: a specific discipline, a particular movement, or maybe a certain moment that shows a compelling connection between horse and human.
In the fall of 2016 we re-released the bestselling classic DRESSAGE IN HARMONY by the great dressage master Walter Zettl. In its original format, Zettl’s book cover was unillustrated, and we thought it was time for this wonderful work to have a whole new look. Our search for the perfect cover image led us to a very special photograph by Coco Baptist, which shows a glowingly happy rider, a soft and connected horse, and Walter Zettl beside them–the open and positive presence for which he has come to be known over his 65+ years of teaching.
Little did we know that this rider was Lori Northrup, the founder of the Parelli Foundation, and the horse was a Tennessee Walker! We were thrilled to discover there was such an interesting story behind our perfect book cover, so we caught up with Northrup recently to find out more about her and her horse Magnolia.
TSB: You were awarded New York’s 2016 Horseperson of the Year in recognition of the work you do with the Parelli Foundation and Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH). How did you get involved with these organizations and why are they causes close to your heart?
LN: I had founded the Parelli Foundation (originally called the Parelli Education Institute) for Pat and Linda Parelli in 2012, and we grew it to fulfill their mission of making the world a better place for horses and the people who love them, specifically through education for therapeutic horsemanship, youth, horse welfare, and for those who want to teach others. It has been a wonderful journey, and I’m proud to have been able to be involved with advancing the Parelli Natural Horsemanship movement, which has changed my life for the better!
About 15 years ago I read a novel called From the Horse’s Mouth (Rhoman Books, 2002), which dramatically brought the cruelties of the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses to my attention. I had bred, raised, and trail-ridden Tennessee Walkers for years, and was moved to join the volunteer effort to end this abuse. That book led me to join FOSH, where I served as Board member.
TSB: Can you share a story about one horse you’ve had over the years that taught you an important life or horse-related lesson?
LN: Magnolia, the Tennessee Walking Horse mare featured on the cover of DRESSAGE IN HARMONY, was born on our farm, bred from our own mare and stallion here at the farm, and has been the highlight of my horse-learning journey over the past 15 years. From starting her with Parelli methods, to trail riding her all over New York State and Arizona, to my becoming a 2-star Instructor in Parelli, to wonderful dressage lessons with Walter Zettl, to fabulous gaiting lessons with David Lichman, and to circus performances with inspiration from Katja Schuman. Magnolia has done it all with me and is a very special part of my horse journey.
TSB: You are founder and chairman of your own company, North Park Innovations Group. How have balanced your professional life, horse life, and volunteer work over the years?
LN: Life has ebbed and flowed from focus in each of these areas. Right now I am working more professionally than I have had to in the last 20 years, so my horses are getting lots of free time! But as it’s the dark, cold part of winter, we are all just as happy with that arrangement, I think. The volunteer work has been extremely rewarding over the past 15 years. And my horse life is always a very special treat, even if it’s just cleaning the barn in the dark, early mornings!
TSB: How did you come to ride with Walter Zettl? How has his teaching impacted you and how you work with your horses?
LN: Thanks to my dressage instructor Trish Hutchinson, who is now also our Farm Manager, I was introduced to the possibility of riding my gaited horse with Walter Zettl. Although I’m a “early beginner” when it comes to my dressage understanding, each lesson has been a wonderful discovery. Walter Zettl’s vast knowledge and gentle appreciation is a treasure.
TSB: If you could share one lesson you learned from Walter Zettl with other horse people, what would it be?
LN: To see a master of dressage be so willing to be patient with a lower-level student, and one on a gaited horse, was quite amazing. Walter Zettl showed me that there’s no reason for me, and for others, not to feel comfortable and confident learning from him.
Photos courtesy of Lori Northrup.
DRESSAGE IN HARMONY by Walter Zettl is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
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Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.