Rolling right along, aren’t we? It’s only taken two weeks for me to get to this post, but hey, at least we’re here!
Day three brought with it more of the same- lots of flexions before class started, moving out as we had on days one and two, some backing circles and turn-arounds, asking for and getting a soft feel at the walk and the trot, three of the four ways to move your horse’s hips, and finally, working “cows”.
Again today, my back ups had improved, to the point that we could carry the soft feel from the stop to the back up for several steps before I needed to stop asking and let my horse think on what had happened. Backing circles came even easier, and we did lots of half circles to change directions! We had lots of pretty stops from the trot- where he was elevated, rolled in through the jaw and round through his back as well!
Below- Buck working with a mare in the morning class that was having trouble backing up when asked from the ground- and we know, as good horsemen, that how our horse behaves on the ground directly affects how they behave in the saddle:
Instead of moving her feet she just wanted to move her head and evade the backing in a circle away from you:
Because, on Day One, we learned a new way to get the start of collection with our horses- in the elevation/flexion drills, Buck has changed the way he teaches you move your horse’s hips. There are four ways he uses, but he only taught us three of them. In Belton, TX, he taught us four. Here’s the methods:
1. Set your horse’s face in the proper elevation and lateral flexion position, and ask with your leg for their hips to roll away from you. If you were to have them bent left, their hips would roll right, and if they were bent right, their hips would roll left. You want to get this light! And I mean, light- where you can nearly think to yourself, I’d like your hips to roll one way or the other, and have it happen with very little pressure. The best way to achieve this, is to start with very little pressure to ask your horse’s hips to move, and then build to more to get the result you’re after. Horses are the masters of remembering what happened before what happened, so start small and eventually you can end there. Make sure that you’ve left the door open (removed any pressure/barriers) on the side to which you’re asking their hips to move.
2. Teach your horse to stand still while you rock his hips back and forth. This is done with the reins dropped, and slack, so your horse learns to tune into your leg. If he goes forward the first few times, and they will, you very quietly pick up your reins, set them back a step or two, and start again. Eventually they will stand there and rock. Maybe in the coming weeks, I’ll make a video of this to share with everyone! Dino is really good at it! Note: You should never yank or jerk on your horse if they don’t do what you don’t want- because they are at least trying something. They are trying to figure out the answer that you’re looking for. Patience is a virtue!
3. Ask your horse to elevate properly, while straight- no bend this time, and repeat step 2 from above.
4. This is the one he didn’t cover at this clinic, but did at Belton. I asked him if he still wanted us to do this- because he says in one of his DVDs that he knew about this method for 10 years before he used it and doesn’t want us to make the same mistake. This one you get your horse’s face bent to one side or the other with proper elevation and lateral flexion, with them rolled in properly through the jaw and poll, and wait. No leg, no nothing. Wait. Wait for them to move their hip in the opposite direction you have them bent. The purpose of this is to get your horse thinking on your intent. The reason he isn’t going over this one now, is because he wants you to do it only after you have your horse consistent at properly elevating with lateral flexion. So the answer was yes, do it, but not until you’ve consistently got your elevations and flexions correct.
Now one of the purposes to getting your horse freed up through the hips- in addition to backing circles- would be…wait for it…wait for it…lead changes- which we actually covered in this clinic! But not until Monday, so you’ll have to wait!
On to the cow work- we didn’t work in the rodear today. For those of you thinking, “what the heck is the rodear?” Never fear. I will tell you. Rodear means to round up or surround. In the Great Basin way of cowboying, and I’m certain they’d prefer to be called Buckaroos over cowboys, cattle are often worked out of the rodear. Which means you work them in the round. We worked out of the rodear on Monday, but today, Sunday, we just mirrored each other with our horses. And in case you’re thinking rodear sounds very much like rodeo that’s where the word rodeo comes from. The Gringos, well we butchered Spanish. Or something like that!
The goal of this drill is 1. practical application of the skills we’re instilling in our horses and 2. to help our horses get better in the turn around. They can draw off the energy of each other and that should help them turn around with a purpose. So you will walk, about 10 feet away from the horse next to you in as straight a line as you can, and when that horse stops, you stop your horse. When that horse turns, you turn your horse, all the while trying to keep them rolled over their hocks, properly elevated and rolled in at the poll/jaw when you gather them up to turn. And it’s okay for them to get beat- by that I mean that if you’re the cow in this exercise, and you stop, back up and turn and the person who is riding the horse, is late, they can catch up. Eventually their horse will realize that the sooner they get correct the less work it is on them, and before you know it you have a horse that makes correct, pretty, sweepy turns and does so with a purpose. I would like to try to get video of this in the next week or so as well, so we’ll see if I can get that done.
We ended the clinic with the cow work, and it was fun. Dino and I struggled through some of it, because he doesn’t naturally have a lot of life in him- he’s very lazy- which is my kinda horse, but he needs to learn, as do I, how to bring the the life up, and me how to build a fire under him which will bring his life up. Plus we have been struggling a lot with the right lead. It’s all my fault- what I am doing to cause him to have problems getting it, is unknown to me right now, but I will figure it out and that will help me with all my horses.
Tomorrow we’ll wrap up the clinic, and we’ll cover lead changes, and work in the rodear!
Previous Clinic Recaps: