Monday, November 7, 2011

A Long Weekend Filled with Horses!

I took last off from work last Thursday and Friday, so I had a nice long weekend. And the weather was beautiful! On Thursday, I went out to the barn and rode Buckshot- a wonderful day with him.

On Friday, I went to the Equine Extravaganza. At the John Lyons booth I had a chance to meet him and tell him how much I appreciate his work, his teachings and his horsemanship. I was thrilled to get to thank him in person, and let him know that there are horse owners appreciative of his work. He was very nice, shaking my hand with a firm grip, and answering with a modest, gracious demeanor. As I walked away, a little in awe, one of his coworkers walked with me, and she thanked me for my comments, saying it means a lot for him to hear such comments. I’m glad I thanked him. I also bought two of his books, which I am enjoying reading.

The BO and I looked at all of the other booths- we were more interested in the vendors than in the clinics this year- and oohed and aahed over lots of things. I didn’t spend very much money- I bought the two John Lyons books and a set of replacement leg straps for a horse blanket. It was a good day. In years past, I have gone to clinic after clinic and become exhausted from the walking and the listening and the shopping. Now I have adapted a more abbreviated strategy, and spend a shorter amount of time there, allowing me to enjoy myself more.
Oh, one other name drop- I met Jane Savoie also! I was in awe of her as well. I only talked to her for a minute and couldn’t think of anything interesting to say but it was a fun, awesome moment for me! I do appreciate that such famous clinicians travel to Virginia for the Equine Extravaganza.

On Saturday, the weather was perfect- sunny skies, in the fifties. The arenas had several sections with very muddy footing so the riding was a bit limited. We rode in the arena, and then went down the trail, to the other arena. After just a few minutes at the walk in the reining arena, we headed into another trail and then returned to the main arena. I coaxed Buckshot back into the arena to do more trotting work. We worked several times on rating; both at the walk and the trot. He responded well in both gaits.

He was in a good mood, so I decided to head down the farm road. So out the arena we rode. A few feet outside of the gate, Buckshot slowed, then stopped. I talked to him and got him walking and we went toward the road, and then, little by little, down the road. It took a lot of urging on my part, as Buckshot was uncertain about it. He walked a few steps as I squeezed, then when I relaxed my legs, he stopped totally. I said “walk on” and squeezed again. He walked two steps and stopped. I said “walk on, you’re doing fine, Buckshot” and he walked two steps. So it went like this for a while. I didn’t get angry at him. Eventually we walked further down the road than ever! When we reached a certain fence post, I stopped him (which wasn’t hard), turned him around, and – instantly, his forward energy returned! I praised him for his progress, and got him back to the barn and dismounted. Oh, I feared my legs would be sore the next day, though….

I do hope that I can get him to walk down the road comfortably eventually, without constant urging on my part. I want him to feel good about it and walk his normal walk. Next time, I think I will take treats and give them to him from the saddle as we go. That may help his motivation.

On Sunday, we had lovely weather again. We went to the reining trainer’s clinic. There were a lot of horses this time- about twelve horses and riders. We worked on an exercise for circling that helps to direct the horse to get the correct lead at the canter departure. For example, say you are working on the right lead departure, from the walk, as is the norm in reining (as opposed to the departure from the trot). I would lift the right rein up, open the door with my right foot (that is, lift my foot and lower leg away from the horse) and tap/kick with my left foot behind the girth, to get the horse moving in a circle to the right. Add the kiss when you are ready to do the canter.

I have forgotten what he said about how you are actually moving the hind legs in a particular manner that sets up for the canter. I think I want the left hind leg to move toward the right, to go under Buckshot’s belly, so that his right hind can, oh, no, that doesn’t sound correct. For a right lead canter, I want to free up the right front leg, but I am confused about what I want to do with the hind legs. For that, I remember the basic cue of tapping with my outside leg. Well, anyway, it worked well at the clinic and I’m looking forward to practicing it next weekend. When the clinic was over, I cooled Buckshot down with lots of walking and grazing, and then we loaded up our horses and returned to the farm. It was a great four day weekend for me!

Today, I imagine Buckshot is glad I had to go back to work and gave him the day off so he can recover from his hard work! Good boy! I hope you had a good weekend also!


Carol said...

I'm so jealous! I love John Lyons and I can't think of a dressage clinician I like more than Jane Savoie. She is so easy to understand and makes so much sense. If those two had been giving clinics I would have had to watch.
Sounds like a great weekend with Buckshot. So nice to have the days off.

Carol said...

Just for clarification - I've never met either of the two clinicians you mention - just read their stuff and watch videos.