I know it’s taken me a while to get here. But I’ve been busy.
Now on to the good stuff.
Day four started off like the others. Serpentines, picking up a soft feel laterally, and asking our horses to move their hips in the four ways that you can teach:
Lateral flexion with rein & leg
Soft feel then leg to move over
Lateral flexion with NO leg.
One of the reasons you teach all of the above is that it helps your horse learn to learn. It teaches him how to search for the release, and it teaches him to think. Plus, you can never have your horse too good at moving their hips! We did some work on the rail. Walking, trotting, stopping, backing up, picking up a soft feel. All of that had gotten better on my sticky colt through the course of four days. Specifically the backing up. I think we may have even picked up and set down the front feet that day too (as is evidenced by the series of photos below), and that also went better. It’s all related folks. That’s why you can’t obsess if your horse is having an “issue” somewhere. Get him better at being soft, and something somewhere else will fix itself. Get him more free though his hips and something somewhere else will get better. Get his feet freed up going backward, and going forward will get better.
First the right, then the left!
Then we got into the turn arounds.
Now, those of you that have ridden with Buck, know he teaches what he calls a “cow-horse” turn around. Which essentially means that he teaches you to teach your horse to turn around on the outside hind foot, which helps him stay balanced and not “leak” forward in the turn.
To start this you send your horse’s hips one way, say to the left (with your right leg back and your left leg forward), and bring his shoulders through to the right- after the hips get to the “correct” place. For some, this is hard to grasp and hard to feel. While you do this, you shift your weight back and away from the direction your horse’s shoulders are going. So your weight would be over your horse’s left hind because that’s the leg we want him to use for the turn-around. You will ask his shoulders to come through as you feel his hips get “set” and you will open up on the right side, and use your left leg to send his shoulders through. It’s a dance. A 1-2-3-4 with the hind, to a 1-2-3-4 with the front. Eventually you will get where you can hold your horse in the turn for an entire revolution, but to start, we simply ride them part-way.
To the left, Dino is really great. And do you know why that is? It’s because I’m more effective with my right leg. So to the right, I really struggled. I had to ask Buck what was going on, because my colt was sticky. And so he watched and told me to get after him with my leg. I was having trouble with his head coming up, and Buck told me, like he has before, and like Zach has, and my mentor before both of them: “the head will come down when he figures out what you want him to do with his feet”.
As an aside, last week I used Dino quite a lot in our gathers, because Gump is injured and another one of the studs had a cut on his leg that had him gimping around. However, that gave me a chance to do some sorting on him, gatherering on him, and really help him learn to watch a cow. Which, I might add, he does pretty naturally thanks to how he’s bred. The first day I needed him to hustle to the right, we struggled. I think I still ride too heavy to that side, and it feels like to me, even though I’m getting more effective with my leg, that I’m in his way and he can’t get that right front foot up, over and out of the way quick enough. But by the second day it was better, and by the fourth day, we were turning around to the right in almost perfect frame.
After we worked on the turn arounds, we did a lot of rail work, where Buck just shoots off instruction such as “back a quarter circle right, the bring the forehand through and walk off”. I really struggled in this drill, and to be honest, I haven’t gone back and worked on it at all, though when you get to work real cows, you do a lot of those same things.
I know that this isn’t quite as in-depth as some of my other posts, but that particular conversation, about the turn around, was the only one I had with Buck that day. This clinic was more a reminder/refresher course for me of what I should be doing and things I already know but don’t do enough of.
Next year I plan to find a Horsemanship 2 class to take 1. because I’ve never even seen one, and 2. because I figure it’s time to challenge myself even more. Plus, I should have my choice of horses that are in the hackamore by then and that class is suited to the hackamore horse.
More about my time riding with Buck is below.
Day One from Iowa
Day Two from Iowa
Day Three From Iowa
First Clinic in Belton, TX:
Second Clinic in Steamboat Springs, CO: