Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Fun Reining Clinic!

(Written July 1, 2010) Last weekend I had a terrific time attending a reining clinic and picnic at a reining trainer’s farm! Eight of us went from our barn (where I board Buckshot) – seven riders, four horses, and all of the accompanying gear – to the reining trainer’s barn, to have a lesson, followed by a picnic. Although the weather was sweltering, in the high 90’s with beastly sunshine, it didn’t diminish the excitement of this wonderful outing. I was one of a few riders that had to borrow a horse as I didn’t bring Buckshot with me. After setting up, and finding a seat near D’s (the reining trainer – an excellent trainer, instructor and all around horseman) arena, I watched as eight of his other students rode into the arena and started warming up. Our barn’s four horses/riders slowly joined them. The horses and riders all looked great – well cared for, well turned out, well behaved. After a few minutes, D began the clinic with exercises/ maneuvers of reining that he had each rider perform, followed by his critique and suggestions.

A while later, after doing a number of maneuvers with each horse and rider, D called me into the arena and had me borrow a horse of one of his students. I mounted a lovely horse, but after a few minutes of trying, I wasn’t able to get him to canter (lope, in reining circles), despite how hard I tried. I wasn’t wearing spurs and perhaps this horse needed them to canter. Apparently D understood and told me to stand in the center. All of the other riders were standing near the center of the arena as well. D told one woman to bring her horse forward and to demonstrate a spin- legs out, lay reins over the neck, kiss to horse and as he moves around, to use the outside leg. Very nice – she was excellent at the maneuver. Another rider followed. Then, surprisingly, D asked me to come forward and spin. Now, I have never, ever done a spin on a horse before. My trust and respect for D is such that if he asks for it, I can go ahead and do it. So I did – and wow! How amazing it was to spin the horse! I felt the tiniest bit of dizziness at the end, but it was overshadowed by doing the maneuver! I did it! Not very well, of course, but I did it! The confidence boost was huge.

A bit later, D switched me to a different horse. This horse’s owner – a very nice woman – assured me that he was the school master horse and had safely taught many, many people to ride. So I was not worried about being on yet another unfamiliar horse. After mounting, we rode to the end of the arena and stood, watching the advanced students lope and gallop down to the other end to do sliding stops. I wasn’t ready to try this maneuver at all, but I listened carefully to D’s feedback to the students. One by one, D released the horses and riders with a “well done, now give that horse a bath.” He then turned to me and asked me to walk the horse forward and spin him. I did so, and this horse spun twice as fast as the first one! I was blown away by such a spin, and that I stayed on and, more or less, stayed in control. No, not in control, just stayed on. Wow! What a neat feeling, the sense of circular power under you, and how quickly that power turns off when you ask for the “whoa.”
D then told me to lope him in a circle. Well! As you can tell from my writings, I am learning to canter and lope, but am not yet very accomplished at it. Despite that, I trust D’s instructions and expectations, so I girded my insides with the thought, “okay, I can do this,” and started walking the horse in a large circle. After a moment, I gave the cues and –voila! – I was loping, and in a circle! I don’t know how long I loped – probably only a few revolutions, but I was doing it!! D was so kind – he even called out to the “audience,” “hey, everyone, look at Jan loping!” My smile couldn’t have been any bigger! Even though I was dripping with sweat, tired from the intense heat and humidity, on an unfamiliar horse, at an unfamiliar farm, I did it – I loped a horse in a whole circle! Wonderful!

I took the horse to the wash stall area and thanked his owner for sharing him. After I washed him off and got him back into her care, we commenced with a lovely picnic. The students and boarders from D’s farm, and the students and boarders from our farm meshed well- everyone was cordial and encouraging to each other. A very nice, unique, get together to be sure. I had a great time, though by the time we loaded our horses, and returned to the farm, unloaded all the gear, fed all of the horses and made sure everything was done, I was quite tired,. But it was a good kind of tired, the kind that comes at the end of a good day. And I had actually done reining spins on two horses and loped in a circle!

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