Tuesday 24 July 2018

Horsemanship Clinic

(Horsewomanship clinic? Would be more appropriate - there was one guy and about 10 women there, lol)

Have I mentioned how much I love my new schedule? Sunday, I had a day almost entirely free to do whatever I wanted. Crazy, I know.

I decided to get extra crazy and actually be social by auditing part of a clinic that was being put on near where I board.

Long, long, time readers might remember when I first bought Bridget I signed her up for a clinic. This was the same clinician. He remembers me because yeah, I was the person who toodled through an entire "extreme" spooky trail challenge, and escorted the other horses through, and then after was like "Actually my horse has only been under saddle for a week and I don't really have any steering or brakes. I actually signed up thinking this was a colt starting clinic, but this is fun too." Bridget is a rock, what can I say, lol. Clinician was inspired then to use her as a demo horse to learn tricks, because he thought she'd be easy. B gave out her first big NOPE to that, lol, and I got to see the depth of her stubborness for the first time :) So, suffice to say, he remembers Bridget quite well too.

My first ride on Midge, Midge's second(?) ride ever :)
Back in the time machine to a week or two later in 2014, when Bridget was not impressed by cowboy clinician :)
"Is this what he wants me to do? This is kind of dumb, come rescue me please."

Anyway, off I went to audit last weekend. The instruction today was pretty beginner/basic level, but it's always super cool to see everyone out there learning and getting the job done. It's a good reminder too, that good riding is good riding. Regardless of discipline, the important stuff is all the same. There was a lot of talk about moving the shoulders to stay straight while backing, rather than chasing the hind end. A lot of talk about forward solving straightness, about how the horse being soft comes from the seat and leg, not the hand.

For the trail challenge, they had a "carwash" thing (basically a tarp you ride under), poles to sidepass over, barrels to jump, a cloverleaf pattern over poles, a plastic pool to step in, and finally a halt and back up between poles.

 I was asked if I wanted to ride a lady's horse while she was away. I said sure, thinking I'd be warming him up for her, and it's good for me to hop on different horses. You all know how not brave I am on strange horses!

Then the clinician was like "Alright, let's start with T. Show us how to do this"

Apparently, this wasn't that kind of clinic. Random person auditing in yoga pants? Please saddle up and come run through this course. Sidenote: this one time GM came over to chat after a clinic and I got so nervous I couldn't even make words. It was awkward :)

Um, uh oh. I thought they were joking, but nope, they really were asking me to ride. OK then.

My strategy was basically to attempt it all quietly and correctly, not going for speed, basically tackling it like a dressage test or jump course and making sure I had him bending correctly. I tried to choose my lines wisely by giving him lots of time to see things. I've never ridden the horse before, but I do know through the grapevine that he's got a nasty buck and spook if he's pissed off or confused. Also, I had no stirrups, the old short person on a tall wide horse issue - my legs are shorter than the fenders on most standard western saddles.

Random pic of B to break the wall of text.

(Can I just ask for a minute, how on earth do some of you ride in western saddles? My hips were ready to pop out of the sockets and I felt about a million miles away from the horse. Also, I forgot how some western horses can make it feel like you are tipping into an abyss and there is nothing out in front of you...don't mind me and my giant saddle floating through space, pointing at the ground somewhere ahead, lol)

So, we jogged and trotted pretty much the whole pattern, and opted for the alternate slow route rather than jumping...buddy is not a jumper, and I had no idea if his owner actually intended for me to take him through the course in the first place.

Long story short, he was a good boy and pretty brave and went decently for me. Our time was actually respectable, and the clinician was very complimentary about my riding and how I handled the horse, which made me feel good. I was about a million miles outside my comfort zone riding a strange horse without stirrups and I know I'm not the greatest and can get pretty nervous riding in front of "strangers".

Sidenote: I think in the future I'd best avoid this clinician. It seems to me the whole lucking out into almost looking like I know what I'm doing thing has to end spectacularly at some point :)

I can't believe I forgot about this picture, also from the clinic years ago :) This is what a 6'4" tall cowboy looks like in my saddle on 14hh Bridget, lol. (Don't worry, he just sat on her for a few minutes for fun - no ponies were squished)
All in all, actually a very fun day. I'm inspired to try some similar exercises and courses in hand with Sophie, and the whole getting way outside my comfort zone thing was pretty good for me too.



  1. That sounds like an awesome clinic! And good for you getting on a strange horse in front of people (the in front of people thing really rattles me personally haha).

    1. All of it rattles me more than it should, lol. Even on my own horses, i dont like riding in front of others and anything thats timed or a test gets me nervous. I'm proud of myself for just doing the thing!

  2. You know I love these things- and so does Carmen. I bet your baby would love it.

    1. I like these things too. I would have taken Sophie last weekend, but the $375/day price tag kills me. I still want to do it, just going to wait until I can get my money's worth with a groundwork session AND an afternoon riding session.

  3. Whenever I ride Western (unfortunately somewhat regularly this year) I feel like I'm riding a saddle, not a horse. I'm also not accustomed to wide backed horses (but you are, I think?).

    1. I like round horses, and grew up in western saddles...but yeah, I guess I'm officially an English saddle lover these days :)

  4. OMG that last photo!! hahaha

    Unexpectedly riding a strange horse with a nasty buck in a clinic like that would seriously take more skill and bravery than I have for sure. Well done!

    Western saddles do come with different size twists in them as well so that can make a big difference to how wide they feel. I am reasonably comfortable walking in a western saddle since I have one for trail riding but I definitely feel less good trotting and cantering in it.

    1. Good point, the one I rode in was big all over, probably made for someone much taller than me. My hips are still sore!

  5. LOL, massive cowboy on little B! Ya, it is super weird being in a western saddle after riding mostly English--SO much leather and stuff between you and the horse!

    1. That picture kills me every time. I guess illustrates part of the reason why the big roping/steer wrestling dudes generally have big horses!

  6. those clinics always sound like so much fun!! what a cool day