Book Review: Horse Agility Handbook: A Step-by-Step Introduction to the Sport, by Vanessa Bee
Horse Agility is an exciting new sport which combines the Natural Horsemanship concepts of groundwork and relationship building with the Dog Agility competition methods of free movement and enthusiasm over obstacles, while a trainer directs from the ground. Vanessa Bee is the founder of the International Horse Agility Club, which started in 2009 in England, and now has members all over the world. She has written the Horse Agility Handbook to spread the word about the fledgling sport.
Current popular clinicians like Clinton Anderson, Pat Parelli and others have popularized groundwork methods which create trusting and respectful relationships between horses and trainers. Numerous demonstrations show horses performing amazing feats for these clinicians at liberty. Vanessa Bee has taken their ideas, adapted and turned them into a competitive sport.
The goal of Horse Agility is to work horses at liberty over obstacles, similar to obstacles in Dog Agility competition. Bee watched how Dog Agility competitors trained, handled and competed their dogs. She noticed the enthusiasm the dogs show for the sport, and the fact that the handlers use no restraints or whips or threats. She thought, “What a fun thing to try to do with horses!”
Bee’s book outlines her training methods, gives directions for building obstacles and courses, and provides information on how to start a club and manage competitions. The book is full of photographs showing body language communication between horse and trainer. There are explanatory photographs to help the trainer understand what the obstacles look like and how to approach training the horse to traverse them. Horse Agility also appears to be a great way to keep the trainer fit, as many photographs show the trainer jogging alongside the horse in the training process.
I recommend the Horse Agility Handbook as a guide to fun new ways to work with your horse. Horse Agility looks like a new way for both horses and humans to stay active, interested and challenged, while have a great deal of fun!
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