Another HOT day except today the humidity came up and the lack of a breeze was stifling even at 9am the air was heavy and the temp was rising fast.
I ground worked Cricket at home a little, untracking her hind end and asking for soft feel backups from the ground, we loaded and unloaded from the trailer a couple times for good measure.
We arrived early enough to tack up and do lots of lead throughs and backing. During warm up I focused on getting her to move forward freely. She has a habit of shutting down and uses any opportunity to stop and freeze up. Cricket was a little tight but much more relaxed and showed little inclination to be high under me, she was still bracing on her right side and not flexing and I had no ability to push her ribs with my right leg. Our steering had improved and I didnt fear getting bucked off.
During the morning circle Buck talked about the homework he assigned to the gal that got bucked off and her horse, she said she did it and her horse seemed much more settled. He talked about the fact her herd-bound horse and his buddy were standing side by side, he explained that was the worst thing she could do and how it contributed to her problem the day before. He admonished her to get creative to disrupt that habit.
I thought to myself, you did good for doing your own homework and I also noticed an improvement in cricket.
Buck asked for questions and one fellow was fascinated about getting the horse to yield and getting the horse to 'turn the eye'. How the horse needs to be comfortable to lose you in his blind spot (behind the rump) going from right eye to left eye and vice-versa. Once the horse is comfortable there and knows you won't surprise him he will really yield and accept things more readily.
I had no questions for the morning.... I was still a bit shell shocked from the day before. I was also a bit frustrated at the chatting, I really wanted to get to riding.
He sent us out doing short serpentines again and half circles powering out of the half circle with some energy. After a while he asked for larger serpentines cue with the inside leg at the cinch, ask for the turn with the leg first, rein only if necessary.... always the lighter feel "Ask for more by asking with less".
Buck called out what he wanted sort of like dance steps...... "step across hind legs 1-2-3-4, sweep through the front legs 1-2-3-4"
“Turn a half circle to the right. Make sure all four feet are reaching evenly, when you are done walk them out.”
“Walk with life, as if your life depended on where you were going.”
"Step across hind legs 1-2-3-4, sweep through the front legs 1-2-3-4"
Then he asked us to do sets, we did many sets of sets at the conclusion of each set we were to walk out with some energy, asking for a soft feel, he reinforced that even though you may be on a certain number in your set if you found a very soft feel and the horse was very light to call it good, pet the horse and walk out, OR maybe the horse needed to go back up a number and if the soft feel is gone it may take more steps again to get it right. "A horse should back like he trots, with diagonal pairs, anything else is wrong".
Walk ahead and ask for the soft feel, always teetering back before the release.
There again confusion sets in as the desire to practice the exercise exactly as explained is trumped by getting the soft feel and working through the brace.
Cricket was much more calm although I still felt she was bracing and stopping at first opportunity, she was not moving out freely and we had a hard time walking out. It seemed like I had to nearly constantly kick her to keep her moving.
The air was so hot and the sweat was pouring off me, it was hard to have fun and I was still wishing I rode Domino, he is so easy to ride and very willing and forward.
At the last circle Buck was congratulatory to several riders, noted improvement from several riders, and how their horses were doing better. He talked about being a quitter, "never quit" he boomed!
He shared how he held no regard for quitters and wouldn't tolerate those that do. He talked about safety and good fitting equipment, "Buy the best you can afford and make sure it's quality, don't buy junk, take pride in what you have". He talked about how sorry saddles are bad, how poorly shaped fenders and tight stirrups are bad, "Either get your sorry saddle fixed or get rid of it, get your saddle FIXED" ....
So much for my beloved hand forged rawhide wrapped oxbow stirrups on my favorite saddle..... glad I didn't use them on this clinic. My saddle is not sorry but I suspect he would not have been pleased with my choice of stirrups. My favored trail saddle won't fit Cricket so I rode Dear Honeys saddle even though its much too big for me.... it has turned fenders and roper stirrups. Its NOT a sorry saddle.
I was curious at my desire to please Buck..... they guy certainly has a way to make you think, and I mean really think. Is he talking about horses or people? Do the questions help horses? do they help people? is there a difference? Does being a great horseman mean you will be a great human?
He noted that Cricket was improved but still admonished me to lighten up and not be so serious. He told me I had no business trying to ride her yesterday. He asked me how I was doing, I said "OK, but I had other errands to do and needed to leave right now." He said "OK! see you tomorrow". He said it so nicely and with genuine interest. HMMMMMMM, that was nice.
I still pondered taking Domino for the last 2 days, but then would Buck think me a quitter?
OH great..... now I have to ride Cricket, I'm not going to not bring her and have him think me a quitter......
What to do?
More of Bucks quotes,
"Some people can't ride a swinging gate in a windstorm, what makes them think they can ride a horse."
"Ride your horse like you want him to be."
"Don't ride a sorry saddle, lots of production saddles are sorry"
"If I could I'd issue Monel stirrups to every clinic rider, its too dangerous to have tight fitting stirrups."