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Nose to the Ground August06 Issue
July 26, 2006

A hearty "welcome" to our new subscribers. I hope you'll find Nose to the Ground interesting, useful, and fun to read. Following this month's article you'll find links to several past articles.

It's Summertime

It's been warmer than normal here (downright hot in fact) as has been the case in most of the country. There's the threat of forest fires but still it's a most wonderful time of the year.

The horses have their shady places and I enjoy putting cold fresh water in their troughs even though I know it won't stay cold for long.

We usually have enough breeze to keep the flies down but the fly spray is handy when we need it.

The Round Pen Revisited

In the last newsletter I shared my experience in building a round pen. At my wife's urging I added an extra touch. The top rail and fence are now painted a dark green color (matching the trim on the house and hay shed). Now, instead of saying "Nice round pen!" visitors say "Wow!".

Well. maybe not wow exactly but the new look is impressive and folks comment on it. A picture of our "world class" pen is shown above and on the new round pen page. Visit if you want to build a pen for yourself or your horse lover. Any comments would be most welcome.

Books and Magazines - A Good Day

One person's description of a "good" day -

"Have a good breakfast and enjoy a second cup of coffee. Take the dog for a walk. And in the afternoon, go see some horses."

Between our dogs and horses and the fact that my wife makes truly excellent coffee I must confess to having more "good days" than I probably deserve. I had one for another reason recently.

Earlier I mentioned being introduced to John Lyon's Perfect Horse magazine and I've taken quite a liking to it. So I was pleased one day recently to find the latest issue at the newsstand. I purchased a copy and on the way home stopped at the post office only to find the summer issue of Horses in Art in my mail box. Now that combination made for a "good" day of reading - two good magazines which I can recommend for your horse lover, the former focusing on handling horses, the latter on equine art (You can visit them at

"Give me a horse and I will lead before you the proof that God exists." - Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling - What Horses Reveal

I've also spent a few good days reading Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling's What Horses Reveal. Hempfling's Dancing With Horses has long been on my list of highly recommended books so I've looked forward to reading his latest literary effort. I've not been dissapointed.

This book is not a quick read, being a mix of the author's take on horses and his own personal philosophy of life. I feel that the translation from German makes for a bit more difficult reading although the grammar is excellent. I think someone with an 8th grade level of reading ability could get through the book but it's probably not the best choice for the pre-teen. Hempfling focus on how to "read" the horse and classifies the horse in 26 categories, with the categories being for the most part independent of the breed.

It's an education to work your way through these categories. I do think that this is a helpful book when it comes to trying to reach a better understanding of any horse. Even though this book follows Dancing With Horses and makes constant reference to that book it isn't really a sequel and you don't have to have read Hempfling's earlier book to get the most out of What Horses Reveal. I may even invest in the accompanying DVD in the future. If I do I'll let you know what I think. Even if you already "know" your horse this book is enjoyable reading. Two good sources are Powells Books, and the Back In The Saddle On Line Catalog (where I ordered my copy). Just type the title or author in their search engine.

A New Link

I'm always on the lookout for links to interesting sites although I try to keep the number small and give you an indication as to where I'm sending you. Sometimes I'm able to get a reciprocal link back to Your Guide ...., sometimes not, but a link to a worthwhile site is of potential value to you.

While you'll find much of what you need to know about western saddles on our pages, if you're contemplating purchasing a saddle and trying to find out as much as you can (a good idea) it doesn't hurt to check out other sources as well. One good source is Western Saddle Guide.

This is a relatively new web site but well put together and the sections on saddle parts and accessories are particularly informative. Fortunately the advice given by the author on what you need to know basically agrees with my own so you aren't apt to become confused with conflicting advice.

Horse Art - A Nice Photograph by David Stoecklein

Our local home and ranch store has recently added a home decor section featuring a number of framed photographs and prints. Their display includes a couple of works by David Stoecklein.

The photo that really struck me as something special was titled "The Lesson". It portrays several young cowpokes (both boys and girls) on a corral fence watching a cowboy working a horse. This would be an attractive item in the household, my suggestion being either the living room or a childrens room. You can view it on our Gifts for Kids Page. A source for "The Lesson" is where you can either buy it framed or unframed.

Another photograph I liked was "Trails End" which might appeal to you if your looking for an interesting photograph of a western saddle.

Article - Becoming and Expert With Horses

They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano

I've often wondered just what it takes to become one of those folks who can walk into a small arena with a half-wild, half-frightened, highly spirited horse and within a minute or so have the horse standing gently by my side. Yes I'm talking about the someone like Hunt, Dorrance, Roberts, Hempfling, etc..

Do they have something the rest of us don't? Certainly. Can we get some of that? Maybe.

But does there also have to be a little gift we were born with to get us on our way? We're not all natural athletes and many of us could practice the piano for years and they would still laugh when we sit down to play.

Obviously becoming an expert on horses takes a combination of time, patience, perserverance, years of study, practice, passion, and of course some horses. If you're lacking in just one of these you probably won't get there.

Now that does not make you a slacker or a loser. Don't get me wrong. Most of us are pretty happy just being able to be comfortable around horses, enjoy being with them, and able to handle them safely and without an abnormal amount of difficulty.

Most of us are in the "intermediate" range where we're well within our comfort zone and doing just fine. As much as we love horses we don't really want to take those extra steps that would make us true experts in the art of horsemanship. Still when I read books and articles either by or about the better known trainers and horse gentlers I at times wish I could find myself in that select group but always wonder how to get there.

Grandmasters and Horse Gentlers

There's a very interesting article in the August 2006 issue of Scientific American. It's titled The Expert Mind, and addresses what it takes to become an expert at anything. The subjects chosen are chess grandmasters so if chess is a game you enjoy you'll surely enjoy the article. Chess is chosen because it's a straightforward game lending itself to study and experiment and yet requires years of study and practice to attain the grandmaster level of expertise. The question posed is whether what these chess players have in common can carry over into other fields as well. Is there a special gift you must have from birth or is it all just plain hard work?

If you're born with a certain gift that enables you to mingle with the elite of the chess playing community do you need to be born with a special gift to place you amongst the great equine handlers and trainers?

Consider the chess grandmaster who can look at the situation on the chess board at most stages of the game and make the appropriate move within a very few seconds.

Now consider the horse trainer who can get a frightened or angry animal under control is an amazingly (to the casual oberver) short time as well - one of those folks who can glance at our horse and tell us what the problem is (usually us) without running an extensive series of tests.

Each one of us is blessed with certain gifts that allow us to do well and sometimes excel at different things. We are fortunate indeed if we recognize these gifts and can do something about developing them. So there may be something rather unique about those who excel in the art of horsemanship.

But the bottom line suggests it is primarily things within our control -
study, perserverance, practice, and passion
( and yes, having some horses) that can take us to the top of the profession. So there is good reason to hope. But there are years of hard work involved as well.

Read What the Experts Have Done

I think you'd enjoy the article if you get a chance to read it. And if you, or your horse lover want to know more about what it takes to significantly advance or rise to the top in the world of horse trainers and gentlers, see what the experts themselves have to say.

Some excellent books are:

  • Pat Parelli's Natural Horse-Man-Ship
  • "True Unity" by Tom Dorrance

  • Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling's Dancing With Horses and What Horse Reveal, the latter will tell you a great deal.

  • Buck Brannaman's "The Faraway Horses" and "BELIEVE - A Horseman's Journey"

All are reviewed on the page on Books on Horsemanship.

Submit an Article

If you've authored an equine article you'd like to share, please contact us. Of course you'll get full credit and a link to your website when it's published.

Links to Past Articles

  • How to Build an Inexpensive Round Pen - Some posts, electric braid, a home made gate and a touch of green paint produced this "world class" pen.

    See you next month.

    Bill Savage

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