Cricket as a baby........
Today I made too many errors on the way from the house..... I forgot my purse, GADS!, to go back and get it added 10 minutes to my drive.
Its over an hour from home to the location of the clinic, even 10 minutes starts to pinch the time cushion....... then I had to drop off the kids and the sitter wasn't there, she arrived after a minute..... I saw my main tank was about 1/4 tank, not enough to get there without concern. I switched tanks and the rear tank is empty..... have to get Diesel, OH WHY didn't I fill up last night?
The stress of dealing with this clinic has fried my brain.
Tanks full I head to the clinic. I arrived with little time to spare, Immediately tacked up and by the time I got to the arena the morning circle had started and warm up was over, I listened to questions and answers while I ground worked Cricket.
I practiced having her step across with the hind and walk in a 'united' way, all four feet reaching evenly around the circle, shorten the inside rein, wait for her hip to step away, move to her shoulder and wait for her to step back and off on to the new outside front leg. Backed some sets with my hand on the rein near the bit, she has seemed to have figured it out.
I worked her right and left sides and couple times each.
She was calmer and I think sore and tired, I ground worked her for maybe 8 or 10 minutes. Finally I got on, praying under my breath that she wouldn't buck.... she gave no inclination of resistance and I think was happy to stop and stand.
As the discussion went from topic to topic I was forming a question to Bucks desire to back off the bit, using only the soft feel and no use of legs. Buck has a habit of speaking at length about a topic until he has either answered the question or asked more questions to get the specific information. He always asks if that helped and when he figures he covered it from all angles he will ask if there is another question.
He happened to be looking my way and I raised my hand and said, "I have been pondering what you said on Friday about backing off the soft feel, why is that so important and how does the horse know the difference from the soft feel to back and the soft feel to yield?"
He said, " The horse is that sensitive, he knows the difference because he is so sensitive to the slightest shift. We confuse the horse by not being clear in our request, sometimes we ask nicely and others we jerk his face off, he learns to ignore the minor to react to the major, our inconsistency is the hurdle not the sensitivity of the horse."
He demonstrated the soft feel back up, he really does use seat aid and weight shift more than one realizes. Pick up a soft feel, change seat position from position 3 (relaxed on the pockets pelvis under) to position 2 ( sitting up evenly on both seat bones and inner thigh), tip the shoulders back very slightly behind the vertical, release the soft feel minutely in time with the front foot leaving the ground.
I asked for clarification about speed and how to rate it, he explained after the horse is backing reliably and cadenced and soft, fall out of time with the horse, fall out with the seat and the reins timing, the horse won't like so he will speed up as he does drop the seat and rein and pet him. Horse thinks 'Boy human you can't do that very good' after a few tries the horse figures to get the relief from the out of timing you are doing he needs to speed up then he gets to stop, Soon the faster he goes the faster he gets to make you stop.
Busk is so full of answers and often just his lecture will answer any question that may be stewing.
I was satisfied with what he said, and grateful he didn't acknowledge my being tardy.
Buck admonished those that missed the afternoon session, he told about how his bay horse had an issue and he felt his working through the issue was the high point of the clinic, he said it was sad so many missed it and he couldn't recreate it.......
I was sad I missed it too.
He sent us out doing serpentines, short serpentines, large serpentines asking for the turn with the leg, walking out with life and energy.... boy could some of the advanced horses there WALK. Their mecates swinging to and fro the hind legs were taking huge strides and their turns were fluid and sweeping. I had a bit of a chance to observe a few as we came along together, I really enjoyed that part. It gives me a picture to strive for.
Another fellow and I happened to be moving along down the rail, taking a short rein to the inside, let the hips step over and as the inside front leg reaches release and ride out with energy, he and I worked our horses off each other, as we turned together each horse shortened up to avoid the other, that was fun. I could feel the flow and Cricket was finally doing what I struggled with alone. His horse was very advanced and he made it look like flowing butter, it felt good to get a feel and relax with the movement.
A few minutes later we were struggling again, I heard Buck holler "Rae, stop jerking your horses mouth, ask softly!" I was kicking her again too, she was stiff, lazy and bracing..... I was tired.
I turned her again and woosh, there was the flow, and there was Buck with his flag. He has flagged her in time with her front leg and she flowed off it like butter. We turned again and he flagged, woosh flow.... turn again, woosh flow, I commented "that was nice..... just do 500 more", he said "only 500?", I said maybe "501" he chuckled.
I told him "This horse was gee hawed around for 3 days and (I gestured handing him my rein) and told 'there ya go'", he said "I don't give a damn what happened, that person that calls himself a trainer is a liar" I came back, "that may be, but I'm having to deal with it too."
I told him I ride by myself and don't have someone to flag her for me....he said "you can do this, just flag her yourself, remember the timing and feel of the front foot."
I thought to myself RRRRIIIIIGHT! He was very pleasant, I valued that discussion and I really wished I could ride with him for the next week.
Buck asked us to move up to the trot, long trot " Cricket can trot well but she carries herself on an arc to the left, moving a right circle is hard, she continually drifts to the center, pushing her over is nearly impossible and using the left rein only arcs her more to the left, it was so hard, as she continually drifted to the center to pull her to the outside try to get her straight, all the while asking for a soft feel, lather, rinse, repeat.......
He was hollering at many riders, "stop pounding your horses back, rise to the trot". He was tired of floppy, sloppy riders.
About 1/3 of the group were pretty green riders, had no equitation and had bare control of their horses, they didn't know a lead from a diagonal and I'm sure were struggling with even going around the arena at a trot.
Cricket has a smooth trot but after about the 4th lap I started posting, which made it harder to her bent left, drifting to the inside of arena, pull to the outside, straighten, find the soft feel, keep her moving forward, long trot..... soon Buck called out "Rae, you're are on the wrong diagonal"..... DRAT!..... Note to self, Don't let it happen again.
Buck pulled a few riders to the center for discussion, and on we pounded at the long trot. He called out "I didn't forget you..... take a soft feel, at the walk make a half circle, and pick up the long trot again".
I think we make 10 laps or do at least, Buck called out "Keep asking for the soft feel, hold it for a few strides, keep asking" He lectured about how the long trot is the most useful gait for training, how posting is important and how covering many miles at the trot is beneficial for the horse"
Buck lectured, we trotted, "take a soft feel, at the walk make a half circle, and pick up the long trot again."
I called to him and said "She's lovin' this (going to the left) she is cheating and flexing her poll but not tipping her nose to the right, not arcing her neck to the right, her bad side" Buck said (and he was smiling) "Horses don't cheat, lie or fake" I corrected my statement to say " she is not arcing to her bad side", He told me to keep asking for a soft feel, keep asking to flex to the right, keep asking to move her ribs left, get her straight and ask her to soften to the left arced right. He said I'd have to double up her bad side and do less on her good side.
Then he sent me back out at a long trot.
Riding in traffic was good for Cricket, she had not done that and because everyone was moving at the same gait and the same speed it was helpful. I was able to move her along and she moved freely and passed the horses, then a black and white pinto kicked a hind foot up at her, we were more than 10 feet away and at no risk for getting kicked. Cricket was horrified that could have happened. I dont think it ever occurred to her that another horse would do such a thing.
Now she was worried that every other horse might do the same.... so much for freely moving through traffic. Every other stride she threw on the brakes so to not get within range should someone decide to kick her. Of course no one did but it made for a hurky, jerky long trot.
Buck called us into to the discussion circle. WHEW! I bet we trotted for 40 minutes.
Buck told a story about a clinic he did and this fellow and he clashed, and how Buck really wanted to rip into the guy, as the day went on it became more difficult by the hour. Then he told abouthow he decided to help the guy and offer to help him as much as he could.. He soon came to like the guy and it became pleasant working together. Ultimately he realized he was wrong about his opinion toward the guy. He assumed wrongly about the guys ability and his skills and his desire to do the right thing.
Buck was humbled and sorry he was quick to judge the guy and he was in fact wrong about lots of things related to the guy.
As he told that story I felt he was apologizing to me, not in a direct way but certainly with the story.
Buck has a very unusual way to make the stories and the telling say more than just the words. I was appreciative of the how the day went and how he helped with the flag, and how he relayed the story.
There were lots of questions and answers, I just listened and soaked up his lecture.