Welcome to the February issue of Horsemanship Journal

Horsemanship Journal Front Cover

Although we don't ask our authors to follow particular themes for each issue, I find it interesting when themes emerge from different authors. In this issue, the organic theme is listening. Helen O'Hanlon discusses being willing to accept the answers our horses give us, even if it's not the one we expected or wanted; by doing so, we reframe the situation and change our language. Zoe Coade helps us understand the languages we use with horses to achieve lightness.

Freddy Steele and I explore how interesting we are to our horses! Freddy looks at this in the context of balancing positive and corrective training, and in doing so, generating attractive energy for our horses. I look back at my journey with my horse Tuff and my breakthrough moment following the 2015 Buck Brannaman clinic where Buck told me I needed to be more interesting for my horse.

Ross Cooper starts a new series this year exploring the impact of climate change on our equestrian lives. How does climate impact the environment we keep our horses in, how might it affect feed and welfare and what can we do every day at the yard to help?


Don't forget to check out what's inside the February issue of Western Horse UK


Happy trails



What's Inside the February Issue


Front Cover picture courtesy of Freddy Steele as Featured on Page 16.


February's Cover Stories


Is it 'No' or 'Not Now'

Helen O'Hanlon helps us to understand our mindset and listen to the answer our horse gives us. 

Many of us are all too familiar with sitting on a horse and being told to push them harder to get the job done, yet every part of us tells us that it's not the thing to do. Is there another way without sacrificing our confidence and our relationship with our equine partner? Thankfully, there is. When a horse says ‘no’, it can instantly instil feelings of panic and an overwhelming desire to do something to cause the horse to say ‘yes’. This response is driven by our predatory nature as human beings, but also by how we have been socially conditioned in our equestrian lives. 


“Reframing the situation and changing our language to a strengths-based approach can really change our mindset, approach and outcome.”


Being the Best Thing for Your Horse

Freddy Steele helps you to find the balance between positive and corrective training. 

Sometimes it can be hard to find the right balance of positive and correctional training in horsemanship approaches, both traditionally and using natural horsemanship methods. The ratio of one to another will also change depending on the horse you are training and their personality. Some people strictly use just positive training or just correctional training styles, but I think a combination of both is key in having a happy, responsive, obedient horse with the least amount of tension possible.

 “We want to generate that attractive energy and be the energy they are drawn to.”


The Future of Equine Welfare

Sue Palmer shares her learnings from The Saddle Research Trust 4th International Conference. 

I was grateful to watch the Saddle Research Trust 4th International Conference replay, presented online on 11th December 2021. Here I share with you some of my learnings from the conference.

 “Kinetics, the measure of the forces related to movement, is the gold standard way of measuring weight-bearing lameness.”

“Kinematics quantify speed, angle, and displacement. It uses 3D optical motion capture and IMU sensors.”




Strides to Sustainability | A Greener Start

In the first of this new series by Ross Cooper, we explore climate change's impact on our equestrian lives.

Everything we do has a positive or negative impact on this planet. As horse owners, trainers and riders, we have all seen an unprecedented disruption in this year's weather in the UK alone; the seasons are no longer predictable, pasture grazing has been lusher, and the weather is more interchangeable. How we keep our horses has restrictions to their natural ethology. We depend on the seasons to budget for feed, to gauge exercise routines, to be able to safely conduct exercise routines and for weight management. This year has resulted in the highest cases of illnesses, such as laminitis, I have ever seen, and increased price hikes in hay and feed. A changing climate increases costs and a decline in our horse's health.


Get Good at Building a Language

What does your version of lightness look like? Zoe Coade helps you to understand the languages we use with horses.

As an equestrian, building a language using yield, drive and draw can be one of the most life-changing and beneficial things you will ever do. They are the building blocks and set the way for the ABC's in everything you or I do, from day-to-day activities from working on the ground to riding. 


A to Z of Confidence with Natasha Fountain

Questions, Responsibility, Stress, and Training

We are nearing the end of this series of articles now, and I hope you are finding them a valuable tool to start looking at yourself, and what works for you and your horse. You are the important ones in this equation, and I hope that some of these words have challenged you to think about where you want to go and how you will get there.


PlusThink Like a Pony | Julie Goodnight - Unspoken Agreements




Am I interesting to my horse?

Throwback to 2015, Kate reflects on the learnings from the 2015 Buck Brannaman clinic

On day two, I asked Buck about my horse being obedient; I felt he was mentally elsewhere. He was responsive and respectful to my aids, but he didn't quite feel 'in the room' with me. Buck told me as nicely as he could that I needed to be more interesting for my horse. Essentially, Tuff has to tune me out to tune something else in (this also applies to horses that like to make war/crabby expressions with other horses).