Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Clinic Success!

First off, if you get a chance to work with James Cooler of Cooler Horsemanship... DO IT.  Seriously.  I don't care if you are a trail rider or grand prix dressage, he can help you understand how to move your horse.  He was entertaining and effective and he answered all my questions and was a superb teacher and mentor.  Plus I met some cool new people.  It was such a great weekend!
James horse taking roll in what James called "the best footing" he'd been in for a while.

Kate working with her horse at liberty.

We began the clinic Friday night with a demo by James, his QH Deuce, and his half-arab Indigo.  We sat and sipped wine while James gave us a rundown of the types of skills we were going to learn over the weekend.  He showed us some VERY cool at liberty work with his two horses, including having them practice cutting with each other.  James' wife, Kate, also did some cool liberty work with her arab/friesian cross.

The work began Saturday morning.  It was cold and I was nervous.  I haven't asked much of Huck in the 2.5 months I've had him.  He's smoother and softer than he was at first and he seems to have zero intention of disobeying me. But what would happen when we were being pushed in a clinic? For TWO WHOLE DAYS?

Well... I think I fell in love with my horse.

We had a little "moment" on Saturday morning.  I was late getting tacked up and I didn't really understand the first exercise... so we were one of 8 horses (a much busier arena than I'd had him in yet) going along the rail moving a 1/2 circle on the forehand, then a 1/2 circle on the haunches.  I don't really know what happened but he had a moment of tantrum and then we went back to working.  I think I was confusing him and then I overcorrected his confusion. He didn't buck but he sort of did a twisty jump forwards.  It was done in a moment and we kept on working.

By the end of the first day we were working on moving the hip to the inside while loping and I could NOT get him to move his hip.  He was tired, I was tired, and I had taken my spurs off earlier when we were working on spins.  I ended Saturday cold, exhausted, and a little down about not getting the last exercise.

Sunday began back with the same exercise and with my humane ball-end spurs he was right with me, moving the hip as I asked.  Then we did an exercise to help prep for lead changes, something I haven't really dared to attempt yet.  I know he is trained for them, but I wanted to wait until I had "professional help" before trying.

Tired pony. Good pony.

The exercise was to take the rail but then come down the center of the arena, pushing the hip in.  Then stop and side-pass towards the new direction and ask for a lope-off.  We did that a few times and then James told us to go ahead and try a lead change.  I was so nervous I didn't even hear his instructions, but luckily Kate got it on video so I could watch it after.  It's at the end of the post. We did it!  There was a little hesitation, but considering that was his first flying change in over 2 years I'm just thrilled! I think the bobble was anticipating the stop/side pass since that's what we'd been doing.

By the end of Sunday we were very very tired, but he continued to give me so much try and zero attitude.

I really feel like I have some great tools to work with this winter, as well as some confidence in my riding and my horse.  We've come so far in such a short period of time, I cannot wait to see how far we can go.

We're having James back in February or March and I am already excited!

Happy Riding!

Here we are with James, at the end of the weekend.

Rebecca and Huck's first flying lead change during the Focus in Reining Clinic last weekend at Black Swan Farm.
Posted by Cooler Horsemanship on Thursday, November 12, 2015