An Excellent Source for Developing Comfortable, Competent Riders
I don’t teach horseback riding, but I really admire those that do, especially those who teach beginning riding, as a good start in anything is so important. Being good at something is one thing; being able to teach that skill to others requires a special gift, and Gincy Self Bucklin was blessed with that gift. Her book “The Gentle Art of Horseback Riding” is a must have for riders at all stages and abilities, as well as a textbook quality reference for riding instructors.
Let me start out my review by noting that Gincy Bucklin is my aunt, but I don’t think this makes me biased – it makes me lucky! And I can personally guarantee that not only is she a top notch horsewoman, she genuinely wants people to be successful and happy with their horses, and for horses to be successful and happy with their riders.
"Hands on experience is the best teacher, and Gincy transmits this knowledge and
experience through The Gentle Art of Horseback Riding"
~ George H. Morris ~
Right from the beginning in the preface, Gincy makes sure that riders understand that unlike sports that use balls and other equipment, a horse is not an inanimate object – our errors as riders can damage a horse. Riding done well must be comfortable for both horse and rider, and the horse has a contribution to make as a teacher.
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This charming childhood photo of Gincy Bucklin having fun with her Shetland pony stallion "Shoebutton" is from my personal collection of Self Family photos.
"All through your riding career, you will hear people talking about a rider having a "good seat" or perhaps a "weak" seat.
What they mean is that the way you sit on a horse - which starts with the way your seat connects to the horse's back - is basic to whether you ride badly or well. By looking at that facet of riding from the very start, you are starting the process of building a solid foundation."
Gincy Self Bucklin
This book is illustrated with a wealth of photographs and diagrams: a tool box full of skills that start before the rider even gets on the horse, include stretching and breathing exercises, learning to center your body and understanding “soft eyes.” The chapters advance naturally, through gaining respect and becoming the leader, ground skills, dealing with fear related stress, rein handling, getting ready for saddle work, leg aids, and jumping.
Each chapter is rich with details and explanations: for example, “Handling the Reins and Preparing to Ride Solo” covers the proper way to pick up the reins, lengthening and shortening, loose vs. long, managing western split reins, carrying a crop with reins, and more. The well thought out design and format of the book; which includes tables, illustrations and text boxes, breaks down the information into easy to understand chunks. Also included are anecdotes and stories that help illustrate the importance of the principles and techniques that she teaches.
One chapter that beginning riders will find especially useful is called “Overcoming Your Natural Fear of Falling” which explains how to get on and off a horse and sit on him comfortably while taking the first steps with someone holding the horse. Included are instructions for how to get relaxed and confident on the horse using gentle exercises in the saddle done while the horse is standing still. Getting comfortable is what builds confidence. Gincy is a true expert on helping riders to become confident and free of stress.
There is too much information in this book to absorb it all at once, you will be coming back again and again, as a reference and an invaluable tool for boosting your confidence with horseback riding.
Gincy Self Bucklin has been teaching riding for more than 60 years. Her students have included recreational riders of all ages and levels, many of whom have also shown successfully and some of whom have become professionals themselves. While many experienced instructors teach only advanced riders, Gincy has also worked extensively with beginners and intermediates, believing that in order to be successful at the advanced level, riders must know and perfect the fundamentals from the start. She now works with instructors to share the teaching methods presented in her books.
Other books by Gincy include:
~ How Your Horse Wants You to Ride
~ More How Your Horse Wants You to Ride
~ What Your Horse Wants You to Know
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