Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day Four - 3rd day in the saddle part 2

Thanks again to Val and Trail Rider for the photos in this post.

This will be my final post on the clinic - and I'm leaving so much out, I feel terrible about it. But realistically I only have so much time to write and I'd like to start talking about where we are now, 10 days past the clinic.

Couple quick notes - KK asked about my saddle. Crissie checked it and it fits Smokey fine - although it may not in a few months, she said. It's an old big horn barrel saddle, via ebay. Light, sturdy, leather is not exactly in good shape (not even leather CPR made much of a dent). But the tree is solid and it fits.

I sold my other saddle (sob) at the clinic - to Robin. Her 45 pound roping saddle was hard on her older mare. She moved out much better with mine. Not knowing if it would ever fit Smokey, I couldn't justify keeping it and was relieved to find someone it could make happy. Not to mention that when Robin lifted it, she couldn't believe how light it was and nearly threw it over her horse completely.

Robin is on the right in this photo, and she's in the saddle in this picture.

Smokey and I discussed the options for our last day. To be honest I really didn't have another idea. I'd ask about collection.

I decided to ask largely because of something Mark said to K about her sorrel gelding. He noted that the gelding had underdeveloped hindquarters and riding more collected would help him use his body more effectively.

What could I do, or should I do, to ensure that this didn't happen with Smokey? Mark, gratefully, kept it simple. "Decide where you want his head and keep it there."

"Won't I be in his mouth all the time?" I asked.

"Isn't he in your hands?" her responded.

"Well, it's both, isn't it?"

Mark explained that I have to set the parameters and as long as I was fair and consistent - where he would find relief in carrying his head correctly, then he'd learn to use his body well.

So we got started. I was back to staring at my horse's ears, and quite quickly he was dropping his head and keeping it in the right place at the walk.

We headed out to practice under Crissie's watchful eye (she'd also helped us with standing still when I got in the saddle and our stops).

Pretty soon we were solid at the walk. So we stepped it up to the trot.

All of this was done with reins. Maybe because that's all Mark feels newbies can handle, maybe because he keeps things simple.

By the time we came back up to show Mark, we were cookin'.

The only thing we hadn't worked on at the clinic was cantering, but we'd come so far, it was time to take a collected victory lap and call it done.

So we did. At a trot.

We've had our adventures back home, where Smokey wasn't sure if all that stuff just applied in New Mexico. That first day riding at home we rode into the bushes. But that was the last of it. Smokey get's that this is the new normal. We're back to turning - as requested.

We still have a good bit of work to do to cement the clinic world although most everything is at the place it was when we left (after just a bit of regression).

Mainly we've got some speed issues at the canter - which turned into a gallop today ( more on that later, I'll be looking for advice).

But I'm not worried. I see our work coming together, our understanding growing and my ability to handle what gets thrown in the mix better than ever. I'm becoming the leader that's needed for this horse. I can breathe from my belly, ride with intention, feel my horse and, on occassion, stop with a mere thought.


If you get an opportunity, see Mark in action. Ride one of his clinics. Read any of his books (I have his latest Whole Heart, Whole Horse and got it signed by the clinic participants - it's great). He's not just an amzaing horseman - he's a great teacher, solid guitar player, and someone you'll be glad to share some time with.

(Auditors were invited to demos and dinner, by the way - pretty cool.)


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

So inspirational, my friend! I've enjoyed reading and watching your relationship with Smokey grow and I'm so motivated to participate in one of Mark's clinics with Apache one day.


ps I hope I sent my photos to the correct e-mail. I sent you over 20 photos a few days after the clinic and I noticed you didn't post any of them or mention you had received them. gah! Some of them were so cool, and I posted a few on my own blog, too.
Let me know, and if you didn't get 'em, e-mail me at twinville2atyahoodotcom and I'll resend them.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff - you guys look great in the pictures!

Jeni said...

Good times indeed! I've been looking for a clinic this upcoming summer or even in 2012 that's even remotely close to me.... so far not so much luck at that.

jill said...

Ah, learning to canter with a young horse...I so remember the horrible transistions, the diving into gallops,...oh the fun it all!
You'll be fine...eventually, takes time.
So glad you had a great clinic.

allhorsestuff said...

Lovely riding!
I used to move my hands around, and was taught to do so by one of my trainers. But it ends up trapping the horse and giving such irregular pressure in the mouth.
My sister now is my only trainer, and she says to have a STRAIGHT LINE FROM HAND TO BIT.
If you used your pointer finger to point(as reins are in your closed fingers) it will point to where the mouth is..OR...if your pulling..where the pressure is for the horse.

Thank you for the saddle info.That rounded skirt makes such a differance in how the horse may move more, I think!

I really liked seeing the tree-in it's raw form-on the horse.
The channel/Gullet has been one of the challenges for the 2 English saddles I have used..the gullet/channel narrows as it nears the back-and since so much of the horses action is pushes it up and also it sits dangeriously ON the SPINE!

I am looking on Marks Sced. and WA is maybe the closet...but a group setting, may not fit us right now.

Loved all you writings and can't wait to see what you have been up to of late!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

There's something very Zen about Mark's responses to questions. They are almost Haikus. I love the way he can adjust a rider's attitude in just a few simple words. I'm so glad you got this experience.

Unknown said...

What a fun that clinic must have been. Hopefully the lesson will carry on further.

You asked for the e-bay auction for my natural ride bareback pad here it is.
If you have any questions e-mail me

Dan and Betty said...

Well said. You captured the essence of Mark's approach in the clinic. Hopefully, my Rocky Mountain Horse Sugar and I can ride in one of his clinics some day.


Jan said...

Breathe, what a wonderful clinic it was! Thank you for sharing as much as you did. It was great fun reading about it here. Your writing about Mark's guideline to ride with intention has really inspired me. I used it yesterday with Buckshot at a reining clinic- it was a new location for him and he was nervous. I thought, very deliberately, "we are going to walk, from here, to there" and it worked great, helping keep my mind on our task, as well as keeping Buckshot focused. Thanks! And your photos are great- you and Smokey look great together!

Allenspark Lodge said...

I popped over here from BrownEyedCowGirls and wow, what a shock when the first pic I saw was Mark! I live within about 20 miles of him and have been fortunate enough to have ridden in two clinics of his, and audited one. He and Chrissi are such a fantastic team!!!

Learning from him and studying his books have made our Mustangs' lives much improved. Smokey is a pretty boy; enjoy him. It was just so cool opening up a blog site to see Mark.