California Riding Magazine • July, 2014

Book & DVD Review
3-Minute Horsemanship;
Healthy Stables by Design

3-Minute Horsemanship
Written by Vanessa Bee
Reviewed by Dianne Chapman McCleery

Vanessa Bee, horse trainer and founder of the International Horse Agility Club, has written the intriguing book 3-Minute Horsemanship. She states, "When the teaching session is short and ends on a positive note, horses learn more quickly... and so do we." Bee also says, "What really matters is the quality of the training and how you finish the session." Then she tells you how to get quality into your training and how to recognize when you are finished. Because many of us are in a time crunch, we feel like we have to squeeze more into a shorter period of time. 3-Minute Horsemanship allows us to step back, ask for less and ultimately get more done.

3-Minute Horsemanship starts with 35 ground exercises and 25 ridden exercises. Bee then gives us 15 real-world scenarios that combine different ground and ridden exercises to achieve various goals. The real-life scenarios include trailer loading, standing to be mounted and "spook" busting. If you work through this book, you should end up with a "safe, sane, well-trained horse."

The introduction does a great job in explaining why "3-minutes" and how to ask a very precise question and then interpret the answer. Bee explains why the answer is either "yes" or "no," never "maybe." These exercises are about being exact in what you are asking your horse, using small, achievable goals.

Each exercise starts with "Why to do this," and "How to do this." Then Bee goes on to "How do you know when you've done it," "What you can do if it doesn't happen," and "Other things you can do with this exercise," plus a "Helpful Hint." With this much information, each exercise seems achievable.

From the very beginning with Ground Exercises 1 and 2: "Being Still Around a Horse" and "Measure a Horse's Personal Space," I found value in this book. In this "hurry-up" world, it is easy to get in a rush and forget to pay attention from the start of your time with a horse.

I've enjoyed incorporating the 3-Minute Horsemanship philosophy into my horsemanship. When I work with a horse now, I find myself being more precise in what I am asking and being willing to move on once I get a "yes" answer. I find the "3 minutes" is a good length of time for my attention span.

Dianne Chapman McCleery is a writer and editor who rides with a natural horsemanship trainer in the Sierra Nevada foothills.


Healthy Stables by Design: A Common Sense Approach to the Health and Safety of Horses
Written by John Blackburn with Beth Herman
Reviewed by Gwyneth Talley

Healthy Stables by Design is a dream barn book for every kind of equestrian. Architect John Blackburn takes you on a tour of 14 different designer barns across the U.S. His designs are drawn from versatile backgrounds with emphasis in well-being and health of horses. This book offers a new approach on some classic designs to shelter our beloved animals with a twist on modern functionality.

Blackburn is meticulous in the details: ventilation for the best possible air-flow, lighting, drainage, solar energy, manure composting, washing stables, and even, wheelchair accessibility. From Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs to Southwestern atmosphere, the designs and pictures flawlessly navigate regional regulations and planning commissions to be as functional as they are gorgeous.

What makes this book helpful is that there are projects for every size of equestrian property: from a modest 10-acre ranch in California to a parcel of 88,000 acres in Montana for 10 horses or more. Even if the reader cannot afford these luxurious stables, when undertaking renovations or building a new barn, the insight and planning that is put into providing for the safety and housing of our athletic equine companions can inspire barns on a smaller-scale.

From numerous photographs from blueprints to enticing photography Healthy Stables is an easy read for anyone with an interest in barns to those planning out the best possible option for your stable.

Gwyneth Talley is new to California and has been a trail rider her whole life.