Monday, March 17, 2014

Preparing for a Great Ride - Suppling Positions

Every great ride starts with key ingredients in both human and horse. As I progress in my horsemanship journey, I am increasingly drawn to the importance of understanding balance and relaxations. I am finding that if I set it up that the reward in all my requests involves seeking balance with my horse and in a relaxed manner and attitude, then the possibilities of achieving a willing relationship are much greater.

This Tip for the Ride video shows how to offer the horse three yoga-type positions that flex and supple first in the poll area, then down through the neck, and finally into the rib cage. These are requested with forward movement, allowing for a more dynamic stretch. Following these suppling positions as you depart on the first part of your ride will relax your horse, let you find any areas that might be needing a little muscle message, and set it up for the horse to look for relaxation and balance as a reward.  Give it a try for your next few rides, and watch how much more supple your horse becomes, and how he seeks the comfort of a relaxed, willing body and attitude.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tip for the Ride Video ~ Preparing for a Great Ride

Here is the first Tip for the Ride of 2014...Preparing for a Great Ride

 Alice shows a series of exercises to supple the human while in the saddle. Starting with the arms, shoulders, core area stretches and moving to lower body parts of hips, ankles, knees, and legs.

These are effective exercises to use all year around, but especially in the winter months, as you can accomplish them on the ground too. Remember to add a little walking backwards to your ground routine, as it stretches that psoas muscle, so important to riding. (i.e. The psoas (sew-as) major is a long muscle located on the side of the lumbar region and connecting into the pelvis.) 

We ask our horse to flex and become supple...Now it is our turn!

Happy New Year everyone.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

T&T Winter Newsletter 2014

We are happy to share our Winter 2014 Newsletter and reflections of this past year as well. 2013 is certainly a time that I am very glad to see pass, as it was filled with great sadness, coupled with terrific joy. The joy part will move us forward into this new year. The memories will remain in our hearts.

To all of our friends, family, and clients...Thank you for all you gave to us this past year. Let us go forward with the 2014 theme of...

Living with a Resilient Spirit!

 Alice & Susan

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Applying Lariat Ground Skills from the Saddle

In a recent Tip for the Ride, Alice Trindle demonstrated the use of the lariat in developing ground skills for the human to aid in the sensitizing of a young horse or re-start project. In this months video, Alice works with the human to apply these skills from the saddle. With the help of Lynn (the human) and Cougar (the young horse) you will see how the feel, timing, and balance learned by Cougar from the ground with the lariat, are easily applied by Lynn from the saddle. By being vigilant about our posture, balance, and use of aids in the saddle, applied with focus, timing, clarity and consistency, the horse-human team easily develops that willing, effortless communication we are all seeking.  Lariat Ground Work Part II - Applied From the Saddle

As always, Alice is open to hearing back from you. Let us know your thoughts, experiences, and consider joining the T&T Horsemanship Journey. Here's what we currently have to share:
  • Quarterly eNewsletter
  • Tip for the Ride videos
  • Website including a rich selection of articles written by Alice in major horse publications
  • Clinics and Retreats at the T&T Ranch and in Idaho, Washington, and Montana

What's coming in 2014?

Horse Study ~ Human/Horse Continuing Education Course

    Join Alice in a detailed study of the horse and the principles she applies in developing specific skills that ultimately create a willing partnership.

Ask Us How to Join! 

541-856-3356 or 541-519-7234

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lariat Work from the Ground Up

Here we are at the end of October and 'ol man winter is knocking heavy on our Eastern Oregon door this morning. I have been woefully neglectful with my blog posts over the course of this summer and I apologize. The feedback we have received from so many regarding the usefulness of the Tip for the Ride videos is encouraging.
As many of you know, this has been a year of terrific lows and never to be repeated highs in my personal life. Thanks to you all for your kind prayers and thoughts. I look forward to sharing on paper very soon, the findings and feelings I am exploring as a result of my trip to Connecticut to visit Bettina Drummond. Suffice to say for right now...It was amazing! Much more to come as I explore further my understandings and comparisons of the development of the horse relationship between that employed by the traditional vaquero, and that utilized by the Classical Dressage masters.  What fun...keep watching!

The next series of Tip for the Ride videos will be showing some establishment of very basic movements and attitudes between horse and rider, both on the ground and in the saddle. We start with this ~ Ground Work Using the Lariat. 

Our model student is Cougar, a 3 year old Missouri Fox Trotter, owned by Lynn M.. We had already played with Cougar in the round pen using the lariat several months earlier, but our consistency over the summer was rather hit and miss. This video shows a way of safely working with the horse to "sensitize" him to things coming in and out of his vision, feelings and sounds on both sides of his body at one time, all with forward movement. For the human this exercise helps establish your employment of the 'Horseman's Protocol' with clear intention (picture), all while you multitask properly handling the lariat, the coils, rhythm, timing, with a positive attitude.

The results of becoming handy with the use of the lariat on the ground will directly relate to the saddle, which will be the follow-up video. So, go out to practice with the lariat first, then head to the round pen for a little 'sensitizing' with your horse.  Call or email or Facebook me if you have any questions or comments.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Last in the Series ~ Winter Horse Play

Well somehow I got behind on posting the last two articles for our Winter Horse Play series in Just Horses Magazine here on the blog. Sorry about that, but hopefully you have been practicing your Work in Hand all winter long, and are out now applying these principles in balance while up on board!  (Tip for the Ride videos for Parts III & IV are coming. Please stay tuned!)
If you have found these interesting and rewarding, consider coming to the 5-Day Work in Hand Clinic here at the ranch in Haines, Oregon on May 4 - 8, 2013. Give us a call...we'd love to have ya!  (541-856-3356)  Alice

PS: Idaho Horse Expo is April 19-21, 2013. I'll be presenting all three-days. The focus in the main arena will be on specific exercises/patterns to ride to supple your horse. Hope you can come join us and please stop by the booth to say 'Howdy'.  

Winter Horse Play ~ Part III

No doubt about it, winter is here, and I imagine for even the most hearty among us, it is often a little difficult to bundled up to go out for ride.  This Winter Horse Play series will give you some great ideas for ground-work exercises you can do to warm up you and your horse, while ultimately developing self-carriage and self-confidence in the both of you.  Give these work-in-hand maneuvers a try for just 20 minutes a day, a few days a week, and I guarantee you will see a huge difference next time you ride.

Review: If you are just joining us, review the elements of Work in Hand, how to make the rein triangle, and watch the Tip for the Ride videos, Part I & II. ( As always, remember to start your sessions in a positive attitude, reviewing your Horseman’s Protocol, and picturing a balanced, rhythmic outcome.

Haunches-in:  You will recall that in Part II of this series, we concluded the exercise pattern that involved a leg-yield to the wall with a step in front of the horse’s shoulder, and then a slight backup or rein-back. This was a great exercise as it laterally engaged the inside hind foot towards the outside (outside of the bend) shoulder. The backup asked the horse to round through the back, release the energy through the small of his back, and drop the croup.  All good suppling movements.  Now you are going to ask for a new type of lateral movement. With the haunches-in maneuver you will be asking the horse to carry his energy from the outside hind foot to the inside (inside of the bend) shoulder. As example if the horse has just completed a leg-yield with a slight left bend, he was carrying his energy from his left hind foot to his right (outside) shoulder. This time as you step in front of the horse’s shoulder at the wall, notice that his haunches may be slightly off the track towards the inside of arena. Now is the time to ask for the horse to move forward with his haunches remaining slightly in, as you step backwards down the track.

Use of the Whip & Positioning: As with most work-in-hand, the use of the whip is an important tool in accomplishing communication with the horse. The whip is not a discipline device, but rather an extension of your thoughts to help convey to the horse the movement for which you are asking. In accomplishing the shoulder-in or leg-yield postures you used the whip to push energy on the line in which you were asking the horse to move. In the haunches-in and half-pass postures you will be using the whip to draw the energy in the direction of travel. Picture that you have Velcro on the end of the whip and on the horse’s inside hind leg. Your job is to create a search in the horse to follow the movement as you pull the whip from the Velcro on the horse.  It may take a tap-tap-tap with the whip to get your horse to think about what it is you are asking of his hindquarters.  The second before he makes that first attempt to move his haunches away from the wall towards the inside of the arena…pull the whip away and backup a step in your feet. You will be amazed at how fast your horse will come to this, and soon will mark on your body positioning and intention with very little use of the whip.

Half-pass: While the haunches-in maneuver is important for suppling, it is critical for many of the types of jobs we will be asking of the horse under saddle, that we quickly ask for the half-pass. The half-pass carries the energy from the outside hind foot to the inside (inside of the bend) with the shoulder leading, but on a diagonal line. This is not easy for either horse or human!  However, if you have your haunches-in working well along the wall, simply start to backup as you draw the horse’s hindquarters, on a diagonal line towards the inside of the arena. At first your horse may only make one or two steps before loosing the bend in the direction of travel. No problem…simply reposition your body for the leg-yield, change your picture and leg-yield back to the wall to start over.

It may sound daunting on paper, but watch the video. You’ll pick it up quick, as will your horse, and you simply will not believe the benefits.  Watch for Part III of Winter Horse Play on the Tip for Ride videos, and join the blog. (

 Winter Horse Play ~ Part IV

It’s hard to believe that we are just about through with our ‘Winter Horse Play’ series, even though I am truly ready for some spring riding!  If you are just joining us, take a moment to review the past three articles and Tip for the Ride videos discussing various Work in Hand maneuvers to accomplish with your horse from the ground to keep him light, supple, and ready for riding.  Visit:

Review:  In Part III we added ‘haunches-in’ and ‘half-pass’ maneuvers to the Work in Hand dance. These postures required the horse to carry his movement into the bend, or into the pressure or suggestion of whip and/or leg-aid if you were on board. As example, if the horse had a slight bend to the left, and was traveling on a left-lead, then the half-pass posture would find the balance moving from the right hind foot, laterally towards the left front foot…from outside hip to inside shoulder. This is much more difficult than a leg-yield or side-pass maneuver, and requires greater balance, self-carriage, and engagement from the horse. So why would us ‘Western-type’ riders need have this posture in our bag of movements for use under saddle? One, it is a great suppling and strengthening exercise. Second, it sets up the posture for balanced canter departs, lead changes, and correct haunch-turns. In short, it helps to position the hip and hindquarters for many necessary jobs be it on the ranch, out on the trail, or in the dressage arena.

Half-Steps & Beginning Piaffe: Ok, I bet I have really turned you off with these ‘dressage-ie’ terms! But give me a chance, and you simply will not believe the benefits acheived when you are in the saddle, no matter what discipline you are pursuing. Half-steps are accomplished when the horse re-balances over his hindquarters, drops the croup, flexes the hock, and lightly lifts his hind feet in rhythm. Easy! To get the feeling on your two-legged horse, stand on one foot with a flexed knee, erect back,
balanced shoulders, and pick up your heel on the other foot. Now switch…heel up - toe down on one foot, while you balance on the opposite leg. Note the amount of strength this requires in the weight-bearing leg. Next, add some rhythm switch from toe to toe. Ta-Da…Half-steps and you are feeling the beginnings of piaffe.

Team Approach: I find the best success in teaching my horse the beginnings of piaffe by employing a human friend to assist. Start at the wall where you will be standing at the head of the horse, your reins in the ‘rein-triangle’, and you body perpendicular to the horse’s shoulder. Your job will be to impede the horse’s movement either  forward or backward, and create a search in the horse where he lowers his croup and half-steps.

The job of your human team mate is to help the horse search. Using a whip that might be a little longer than a dressage whip, and preferably with a light, wispy popper , your friend will lightly and rhythmically tap the croup. At first the horse may want to bring the haunch in, or back up, or even kick up. Hang in there with a clear picture of those half-steps in your mind. The second before you feel him begin to search in the right movement, have your friend quit with the whip, praise the horse, and move forward on a loose rein. It will not take long so that when you move into position at the head and your friend just raises the whip over the croup that the horse will respond with the half-steps. You may also accompany this with a click or kiss to help establish rhythm.

Again, it may sound daunting on paper, but watch the video. You will be amazed at the gymnastic benefits this will give to your horse and the life-long benefits you will experience under saddle. Watch for Part IV of Winter Horse Play on the Tip for Ride videos, and join the blog. (


Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter Horse Play ~ Part II

It truly is feeling like the winter season here in Eastern Oregon, and I find it is more difficult to get motivated to get out and ride.  This Winter Horse Play series is a great motivation because it only takes a time commitment of 15 to 20 minutes, and gives me some quality time with my horse. These exercises are similar to a good 15-minute Pilates and Yoga workout combined, with mindful movements that develop rhythm, balance, and lightness.

Review: If you are just joining us, review the elements of Work in Hand, how to make the rein triangle, and watch the Tip for the Ride video. (  Remember, it is important to start every session utilizing the Horseman’s Protocol to become present, think, picture the end product, allow it to happen, and finally reward the effort.

Shoulder-In or Sideways on a Small Circle:  After stretching your horse over his topline with the Bolero exercise in both directions, develop good posture and self-carriage in yourself and pick up your rein triangle.  Establish a feel or contact on the outside rein and look for your horse to pick his balance up and back. The poll should be the highest point, with a relaxed jaw, and an attitude of “I am ready”.  The movement you are picturing will be for the horse to move around you sideways on a small circle, with the hips of the horse swinging a larger circle then the shoulders. The balance moves from the inside hind foot across under the body to the outside shoulder. The rhythm at the walk is four-beats, but you will primarily be concentrating on a two-beat flow from inside hind to outside rein. Your positioning, in good posture, is at the shoulder, and ideally your body acts as a post that the horse is rotating around, with you pivoting on the foot closest to the nose. As you compress the air with your whip hand, think about accepting the energy and the movement you have created into that outside rein. This is not with a huge amount of down-pressure in side-two of your rein triangle…just a suggestion or a ‘feel’. The horse should weigh nothing your hands. Finish the exercise with slightly more contact on the outside rein to invite a ‘balancing-up’ on the outside hind foot to a halt.

Shoulder-In on a Larger Circle to Square: Now that your horse is beginning to understand the Work in Hand positioning and use of the outside rein for communication, let’s take this movement into more dynamic applications. Begin by picturing yourself and the horse moving sideways on a fairly large circle of about 7 meters. His hips will still be making a larger arch than the shoulders, but now you get to move with the horse. Position your toes under the nose, and walk the circle or square geometrically, forward, and in good posture.  Your shoulder blades should be over your seat bones, with heavy elbows, and belt buckle up. You will be tempted to push with your shoulders or slow the movement by drawing your hand on the bit towards side-two of the rein triangle.  Remember that the brake (actually spelled ‘break’) is simply a feel or a little more downward pressure in side-two. Think of a ‘half-halt’, a little interruption on the outside rein to balance the horse.

Leg-yield to wall and backup: Now geometry really comes into play. It is your responsibility to become vigilant about placing your toes, shoulders, and energy on the lines that you will be asking your horse to follow. You will be asking the horse to travel sideways and forward, with the shoulders leading a bit, on a diagonal line to the wall or fence. Before reaching the wall, step slightly in front of the shoulder, with a little down pressure in side-two of the rein triangle. Stop on the wall, with your belt buckle now parallel with the side of your horse, and facing towards the stirrup.  From this position, after the halt, back the horse primarily with your intentions and body language, using very little rein pressure. You step forward, as your horse moves back. Next, prepare to pivot on the foot that is furthest away from the horse, bringing your belt buckle now facing forward in the same direction as the nose of the horse. Walk out on a straight line with relaxed rein position, allowing the horse to stretch forward and down.

One-hand Work in Hand: A variation on the departure after the backup, is to develop your rein triangle in one hand, and depart with self-carriage.  To accomplish this one-hand positioning, start by developing contact on side-one of the triangle. Now, with the hand closest to the tail, reach up to the mane line, and run the rein over the top of your thumb and between the ring and little fingers. Let your hand run down side-two of the rein in this position to approximately the point of the shoulder. Next reach up with your free hand, shorten side-three, and place this rein in your other hand, running between the ring and little finger also. As you depart forward, turn your shoulders perpendicular to the horse. By keeping a heavy elbow and slight downward pressure you effect side-two, or the outside rein. By releasing pressure or giving a ‘feel’ back to the horse with your ring finger, you develop an ‘active’ inside rein, or release on the side-three of the triangle.

OK…time to head out and give these postures and movements a try.  Watch for Part II of Winter Horse Play on the Tip for Ride videos, and join the blog. (