Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I (Honey) participated in a Foundation Horsemanship Clinic with Buck Brannaman April 19-22, 2013 in Morgan Hill, CA. I wrote about the clinic on DreamPower Horsemanship's Facebook page. That was really cool! I am the first horse DreamPower has allowed to post on Facebook! Here are some photos taken from the clinic in Morgan Hill, CA.
Day 4 – April 22, 2013
Today was the last day of the clinic. Buck and Martha made me work harder than I wanted to today. Finally I reminded her about my brood mare contract, which said all I had to do was stand around, look pretty and make pretty babies. There is nothing in my contract about carrying a rider or going to class. Then Martha reminded me that my brood mare contract expired when I arrived at DreamPower, so it wasn’t valid any more. She reminded me that all the horses at DreamPower have a job to do and one of the reasons we were at the clinic this week was to help figure out what my next job will be.
During the second half of class today, I was getting irritated when Martha kept asking me to do things that were completely new to me. She seemed to have forgotten that I’m a 16-year-old brood mare who is barely started with this riding stuff. Anyway, every time I got irritated, Martha would ask me to do the short serpentine drill Buck taught us. “Just like riding around the sagebrush on my ranch in Wyoming,” Buck said. Martha told me she rode around a lot of sagebrush at the Lazy L & B Ranch in Wyoming, and I think that was why she liked this exercise so much, because she loved the Lazy L & B. Anyway, every time we started doing short serpentines, I would forget how irritated I was and I did what she asked. That worked over and over! Maybe it’s like this thing I heard about called hypnosis – once the short serpentines started I kept forgetting to remember that I was irritated!
We did have fun at the beginning of class today. Buck talked about working from the fence, so Martha and I tried it. Garry had taught me how to come up to the fence from the first day I was at DreamPower, so that was old stuff for me. Yea! Something familiar! Martha got brave today and climbed onto me from the fence. I’m so short and the arena fence is so tall she had to climb down the fence a couple rails so she would land softly on my back. But I was comfortable by the fence, even with all the people and all the weird things on the other side. Martha looked kind of funny doing it, but we both had fun with the fence!
The other fun thing was we almost backed a circle today! Martha put the flag on the ground and we tried to back around it. Our circle looked kind of like an egg.
About half-way through today’s class, a nice horse got scared and her rider fell off. The rider wasn’t hurt but she and the horse were both really scared. Buck asked a helper to work with the horse with a flag for a few minutes. I felt sorry for the horse because I know exactly how she was feeling! I used to be TERRIFIED of those foam pool noodles. I would shake and clamp down with my tail and tremble when the pool noodle moved. That’s how this horse was with the flag. I felt sorry for her. I wanted to tell her, “It’s OK. It won’t hurt you!” but that is something every horse has to discover for herself.
At the end of class today Buck said to the riders, “Keep a bunch of plates spinning at the same time – that’s the only way to keep your horse from going nuts.” He said that everything we worked on this week is important and to keep working on all of it (don’t pick just one thing to work on at a time – keep working on it all or you will drive your horse crazy). I’m so glad he said that because, speaking as a horse, it’s true!
I liked Buck. He seemed to really care about the horse’s feelings and he wants every horse to feel comfortable and safe with their person. Buck said it’s the person’s responsibility to study and learn about horsemanship with dedication and a commitment to quality.
When the class ended, I was embarrassed at how cranky I had been for a little while. I felt like I want to be a good ambassador for this kind of horsemanship, where horses like me are treated with kindness and respect. Buck really inspired me this week-end. Then I got this idea that maybe I could inspire some humans – in just a little tiny way – who are struggling with changing careers or learning new things in the middle of their lives. It occurred to me that maybe if I can learn the things I need in order to have a new career that I’m really good at, maybe that would encourage a few humans who are feeling sad or discouraged, that they can start a new career or a new job and be successful at it. OK, I’ve got some work to do now! Thanks for reading my clinic blog. It’s been fun to share the horse’s side of things!
Day 3 – April 21, 2013
Can I just say that this clinic has been the most fun EVER? He-he! It’s fun to be a princess! There are two or three people grooming me every morning when we get ready for class. Do you know how cool it is to have SIX hands grooming you at the same time?! And, I get to eat a LOT – seems like I get to eat every time I turn around. And the best thing of all – today Buck had all the people clap for us horses, for a very long time, while we were supposed to stand still and enjoy the clapping. I felt SO important! Now, I know he was really trying to help the horses who were upset by the loud noise of the people clapping. A few of the horses were really, really upset and they were jumping and twirling around and kind of freaking out. I don’t get that. The people were clapping for us! They like us! I just stood in the middle of the arena, did not move a foot, and enjoyed every moment with hundreds of people clapping just for me. I love this!
Yesterday in my report I forgot two important things. The first thing is I wanted to say a really special thank-you to my DreamPower sponsor, Dyan Adinamis, who paid the tuition for me to participate in this clinic with Buck. Thank you so much, Dyan, for making this clinic possible for me!
The second thing I forgot yesterday was Martha’s “win” for the second day. This is important. Martha’s “win” on the second day was that we achieved our goal. She set riding in this clinic as a goal for us back in December and we’ve worked together pretty hard since January to reach that goal. And yesterday we did it together! It feels good to set a goal, work hard and then achieve that goal.
Today Buck was talking about learning horsemanship and he said, “Don’t work at it and make yourself miserable. Work at it in a way that you enjoy it. Work at it – but make it a joy!” I’m glad Martha and I have had fun working together this week.
Today I spooked for the first time at the clinic. Martha and I were riding along the outside of the arena and she didn’t realize it, but we stopped directly in front of one of the loudspeakers for the P.A. system while Buck was demonstrating working with a tarp on his horse. He flapped the tarp hard and the crackling noise of the tarp came through his microphone to the loudspeaker and it sounded like the world’s largest tarp was crashing down on us! I jumped and ran off about 4 steps before Martha reminded me to stand still with a one-rein stop. We have practiced so many one-rein stops, all I needed was a little reminder to stop and I did.
Martha’s biggest challenge today was remembering the riding drill where I move my hindquarters to the left and then move my front legs over to the right. She told me she used to do this with Nick years ago, but it had been so long she didn’t remember what to do and it was seriously awkward today. I hope she figures it out soon because her confusion confused me!
We practiced backing in a circle again today. It was better than yesterday, but we still make a pretty pathetic circle. Buck said, “If it makes you feel any better, I’ve had Olympic level riders in my clinics who couldn’t back a circle.”
My biggest challenge today (beside the loudspeaker) was tilting my head (a LOT!) when Martha asks for a one-rein stop or flexion to the right. Buck told her to wait until I make a change toward the correct position and then release. I did make her wait what seemed to me like a long time, just to see if she really meant it, but then I did improve my position. It actually feels better to hold my head properly!
Buck’s understatement of the day was, “Riding with refinement and quality – it’s a lot of work and there’s a lot to think about.” No kidding. Buck said all he is trying to do these four days is give the humans a lot of information, so then they can go home and practice everything with us horses. I hope Martha and I keep practicing when this clinic is over – we are having fun learning new things!
Day 2 – April 20, 2013
Today was an “interesting” day. But first, I have to tell you the coolest thing! The cute paint gelding in the pen next to mine – my new BFF – I found out he lives at the same ranch I do! We are neighbors at WoodMyst Farms! His name is Jessy and his owner told Martha we can still visit each other when the clinic is over. I am SO happy!
Martha and I were talking after class today and we each chose a “challenge” and a “win” for today. My biggest challenge was the spectators who were sitting high along the top of the fence and in the judges’ stand and the announcers’ booth. I’d never seen people sitting up that high above me before and I kept thinking about the mountain lions my mom used to tell me will jump onto a horse’s back from high above. Martha kept telling me they were people, not mountain lions, but I had to stop several times and look, just to be sure she was right. I thought people were supposed to have their feet on the ground, so they looked a little weird up above me.
My “win” for the day is I rode along the two arena fences lined with lots of spectators sitting in chairs. Martha told me, “Don’t worry, those are 500 new friends” and I said, “Cool! New friends!” I am so proud because in the first two days of the clinic I have not spooked one time! I am learning to control my feet and not run away when I feel startled. I feel like I am becoming more confident and that feels good!
Martha told me her biggest challenge today was a riding drill where she was supposed to reach her inside hand and rein every time my inside front foot left the ground in a circle. Let me tell you – that was a FAIL. It would have been really funny if she had not been so frustrated. Still, I was laughing. She was really trying but she did not understand how to do it! I knew how to do it, but she sure didn’t! After dinner tonight, she and I went back into the arena to see if she could figure it out, and she did. In class today, Buck said, “At first this drill will make you want to get drunk.” I don’t drink, but I could see his point. I heard a spectator tell Martha, “The entire arena looked like a giant can of worms.” He-he! I don’t think it’s good when the arena looks like a giant can of worms.
Martha’s other challenge today was backing me in a circle on the ground. Now, I already KNOW what a circle looks like! But please tell me, why would a horse EVER want to back in a circle? I do not know why. Sometimes Buck asks us to do things that do not make sense to me. But I am only a horse, so I do what he says even though I don’t understand it. Martha could not figure out how to get my feet to back in a circle. She and I kept looking at the ground together to see how the circle looked and honestly, all either of us ever saw was a messy pile of dirt. Never saw a circle today!
Something else really cool happened today (besides finding out Jessy is my neighbor!). I feel like Martha and I might become really good friends. Martha and I both lost our best horse friend in the past couple of years. Martha’s very best horse friend, Nick, died two years ago and she told me she still feels very sad when she thinks about him. My best friend, Classy, died last year, and I still miss her. But after the clinic today, I felt like maybe Martha and I could really become good friends and have adventures together, like she told me she and Nick used to have. That made me smile because I think you have figured out by now, I am all about making friends! Gotta get ready for class now!
Day 1 - April 19, 2013
Today was the first day of my clinic with Buck Brannaman. Martha said I earned an A+ for my work today. It seems she was not expecting me to be so relaxed and focused on my job.
There are 24 horses in my class besides me. I’ve never seen that many horses in one arena before! But it was OK because all I had to do was pay attention to Martha, and I did that. So I don’t know what the big deal was. A few of the other horses got pretty excited and a couple times I almost got run into. Buck told Martha to whack one of those horses on the butt with her flag when he kept trying to run into our space. But that didn’t bother me at all. I just kept making circles “united” and “drifting” like Buck said to, no big deal!
Today we worked on the ground for the whole three hours. Do you know how many circles you make on the ground in three hours? Right – left – right –left. We had done a lot of ground work at home, so I was happy that I knew how to do most of what we did today. We are working on making it better and more consistent, but it was nice to not feel silly in front of the 300 or so people who were watching today.
This is the first time I have stayed away from home overnight by myself. Martha was worried I might not be happy or that I might be worried because I don’t have any friends with me. Ha! Silly woman. You should see the cute gelding in the pen next to mine. Ooo-la-la! He is CUTE and we are BFF’s now. I already got his phone number.
We didn’t take many pictures today because Martha was so busy worrying about whether I might kick at another horse and a bunch of other things she imagined might go wrong (that did not!). I don’t know why she doesn’t trust me more. I trust her, so it seems like at this point, she should trust me, too!
I can’t really see my tail, but Martha said my tail was the whitest and cleanest it has even been and it looked beautiful. I hope she gets a photo of it tomorrow, so I can show Lexie! That’s it for now. Gotta get ready for class!