PERSONAL: Female. Education: Has earned a Ph.D.
CAREER: Author. Horse trainer and riding instructor; developer of Holistic Horsemanship program. Gives lectures and clinics internationally.
MEMBER: United States Pony Club, American Medical Equestrian Association.
Riding for the Rest of Us: A Practical Guide for the Adult Riders, Howell Book House (New York, NY), 1996.
The Horseback Almanac, illustrated by Susan Spellman, Roxbury Park/Lowell House (Los Angeles, CA), 1998.
The Parent's Guide to Horseback Riding, Roxbury Park/Lowell House (Los Angeles, CA), 1999, revised edition, Trafalgar Square (North Pomfret, VT), 2004.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Horseback Riding, Alpha Books (Indianapolis, IN), 2000.
Superior Saddle-fitting: A Step-by-Step Guide, Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA), 2001.
Choosing the Right Bit for Your Horse, Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA), 2001.
Keeping Your Old Horse Feeling Young, Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA), 2001.
The Horse Behavior Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about How Horses Think, Learn, and React, Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA), 2004.
Editor of In Search of Your Image by Jill Hassler. Author of Horse-Sense (electronic newsletter). Columnist for Riding Instructor, Equine Veterinary Management, Ride!, and Texas Horse Talk. Contributor to periodicals, including Dressage Today, Equus, Practical Horseman, Horse & Rider, Trail Blazer, and Trail Rider.
SIDELIGHTS: Author, lecturer, and clinician Jessica Jahiel is an expert on horse behavior. A certified riding instructor, Jahiel trains horses, teaches dressage and jumping, and is the creator of Holistic Horsemanship, a systematic approach to developing balanced, willing, forward horses and thoughtful, tactful riders. Jahiel, who publishes widely on equestrian issues, has a regular column in Riding Instructor and answers online questions on Horse-Sense, her weekly electronic newsletter. She is also the author of several books on riding, training, and horse management, including The Parent's Guide to Horseback Riding and The Horse Behavior Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about How Horses Think, Learn, and React.
In The Parent's Guide to Horseback Riding, Jahiel addresses a variety of issues, including how to select an instructor, safety concerns, and the financial considerations of owning a horse. Horse & Rider contributor Jennifer Forsberg stated that "despite being basic enough to guide the nonhorse-oriented parent," The Parent's Guide to Horseback Riding is "also insightful enough to be of genuine help to the equine-savvy." In the illustrated 2004 work The Horse Behavior Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about How Horses Think, Learn, and React, Jahiel answers common questions raised by horse owners. According to Nancy Bent in Booklist, Jahiel "provides extensive answers based on a vast knowledge of equine behavior, both innate (nature) and human-caused (nurture)." In Horse & Rider, J. Forsberg Meyer called the book "a handy and entertaining reference."
Jahiel told CA: "I don't remember what first got me interested in writing—I've never not written. I've been writing ever since I was a very small child, although at age five, I wrote fiction, most of which had to do with castles and magic rings and princesses having adventures (probably involving horses). I would like to write more fiction some day, and even have a few books outlined, but they will have to wait. Right now there are too many nonfiction books in the queue.
"I wrote my first non-fiction book Riding for the Rest of Us: A Practical Guide for Adult Riders out of sheer frustration. In my role as a riding instructor and clinician, I could see that certain issues had simply not been addressed in the vast literature of horses and riding. I'm very fond of recommending reading material to riders, but at lessons and clinics and lectures around the world, the same issues came up again and again, and alas, there was no suitable book for me to recommend. I finally just sat down and wrote the book that I couldn't find—a work specifically aimed at adult riders who needed to reconcile their work, their families, and their passion for horses.
I'm most influenced by the horses I work with, the riders I teach, and the thousands of people who write to my Horse-Sense newsletter with questions about every aspect of riding, training, horse management, and horse nature. Since some readers are experienced horsemen, and others are relatively inexperienced, while some are absolute beginners, I have to answer questions very clearly, and on several levels at once. This is a constant challenge, and it has changed—and, I think, improved—my writing.
"No one can read my handwriting—I can't even read it myself—so I do all of my writing on my notebook computer. Newsletter, articles, books—everything is done on the computer. I write in bursts. Once I've outlined a book, I'll ignore it for a while and let the ideas percolate whilst I focus on getting my articles and columns out of the way and try to 'clear the decks for action.' When I begin a new book, I'll typically write for twelve or fourteen hours a day for a week or two. At some point, I'll shut down the computer and do something completely different for a day or so—and then I'll sit down and begin another few weeks of writing. This sequence is repeated over and over until the book is ready to send to the publisher.
"The most surprising thing I've learned—and have had to learn with every article and book I write—is that the process of writing invariably takes at least three or four times as long as I expect it to take. I never realized just how much time I take to research, outline, and write, say, a two-page article, until I began doing expert witness and consultant work on horse-related cases, and had to track my time precisely. This was a real revelation, and provided an answer to my perpetual question 'Where has the day gone?'
"Of my books, I don't have a favorite; perhaps it will be the next one, or the one after that. I don't actually think in those terms. The book that's on my mind is always the book I'm writing at the moment. As soon as I've sent the manuscript to the publishers, I begin thinking about the next book. I suppose it's the author's version of 'Love the one you're with'—I'm not monogamous, but I'm consecutive.
"I hope that my books about horses will explain horses to their owners and riders in such a way as to inspire patience, compassion, and a deep and abiding interest in horses, classical riding, and classical horsemanship. I hope that my books about riding will help readers to understand that they can become riders and horsemen without being young, wealthy, and incredibly fit … and that although becoming a rider does require effort and dedication, riders should have patience and compassion for themselves as well as their horses. Many riders are so self-critical and so unreasonable in the demands they place on themselves that they get in the way of their own progress, and lose the joy that they should get from riding. One of my long-term projects is to combine Zen with classical riding in a form that ordinary riders will find easy to understand. I've done this in my teaching for almost thirty years, because the two are so closely related!"
"'Be here now' sums up both disciplines. The essence of classical riding is calm awareness of being in the moment—something that comes naturally to horses, but not to humans. I've been working on the book version of this project for more than fifteen years, but I'm always tweaking it and adding to it, so other books keep moving ahead of it in the queue."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Nancy Bent, review of The Horse Behavior Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about How Horses, Think, Learn, and React, p. 1682.
Horse & Rider, December, 2001, Jennifer Forsberg, review of The Parent's Guide to Horseback Riding, p. 79; September, 2004, J. Forsberg Meyer, review of The Horse Behavior Problem Solver, p. 40.
Jessica Jahiel's Horse-Sense Newsletter Online, http://www.horse-sense.org (February 13, 2005).
Jessica Jahiel Home Page, http://www.jessicajahiel.com (February 13, 2005).
http://Prairienet.com">Prairienet.com, http://www.prairienet.org/jjahiel/ (March 12, 2005).