Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Our time riding in the Buck clinic.

Our time riding in the Buck clinic.
Our photo that was used as part of the art display titled "I'm here for the Horse."

For our 10 year anniversary last year my Husband gave me a great gift, riding in a Buck clinic with Opal.  I spent the last year working on things I felt I needed to improve on her, while trying to balance home life and my increasingly busy training schedule here at the barn.

Well, the time has come and gone, we have attended and returned from the clinic.  Yesterday I don't think I fully came out of my vegetative state until 5pm, I was exhausted, so was Opal.  I found her laying down and eating her breakfast.  

This is going to be long since I took notes and typed up my thoughts each day.   Here we go.

 Loaded up and ready to go!

Buck clinic

Thursday night arrival musings.

Well, we made it here. Rig pulled smoothly. Put shipping boots on all 4 of Opal's legs. She wanted nothing to do with the hind after a mile down the road, I took them off. 😑 Upon arrival, she had managed to get one of her fronts off too....brat mare. Just trying to protect her legs but noooooo....she's not having it.....for now.
What a neat idea for your mustang's tag.

I'm camping out of my trailer for the weekend. Hubby worked so hard to save up for me to come that I couldn't see asking him to spend another $400-$500 for a hotel room for the weekend. 

I'm parked back by the creek and can hear the frogs croaking and horses sneezing or squealing at their new neighbor. For now it's mostly quiet.

Opal got to roll in the soft arena footing so she's happy, camp came together fairly easily so I'm happy.  Could rain tonight - good thing I figured out how to tarp my trailer alone and spent time caulking the seals.

Another horse squealed. There's a few mustangs here- 2 from High Rock as well. Their owners seem pretty nice. There's a lady here I SWARE I know....but I can't place it. Yet.

Tomorrow is our first day to ride. I know I've done some pretty good work with Opal, and I know some of our holes, but I'd be lying if I said I was totally confident about it all, but hey, that's why I'm here right?  To learn and grow, to be better than I was yesterday, to keep moving forward.

Since sleep was miserable last night, I think I'm turning in early.

Friday's viewings:

Colt starting
Lots of mustangs here today. Buck's riders (people chosen by him to help with the colt class) are pretty quiet and impressive. It's good to see a quieter side of starting a horse. There's already some horses bucking at the saddles but the handlers keep going unphased.

Big crowd here watching today. Crowds usually don't get to me but for about a minute I found myself starting to panic.....they will be watching my session this afternoon. I've shown in front of crowds though so I'm sure I'll be ok.

Also, it's cold. Where's my sunshine!?!

With all the new experiences these colts/fillies are having and some of the explosive reactions, not once have I heard the handlers shout or holler at the horses to stop or quit.   Heck, if they are talking at all to the horse, I can't hear it. It's seems to be all body language and pets when the horse makes a good attempt.

Afternoon H1:
Raining pretty hard currently. Group is working on bending and flexion.

I didn't get to finish watching this class since I had to rack up and get ready for mine.

Evening H1 (my class):
Well we did ok. Had a few ah-ha moments and a few "well shit I fucked that up didn't I?" moments.

We worked a circling exercise tonight, trying to drive with out legs and not steer with hands (all good things to use in mounted archery).  Had to stop suddenly several times because while we were close to walking the same circle every track - others were lacking. Most people are trying so it's not all bad, most of them apologized at least - a few have little ring etiquette. Buck even called them on it.

He also suggested a few people change their bits out saying it was too much for either their level or the horse. I like that.

At the start of class Opal was tossing her head a lot 🙄 impatient nerves. She has also been super chatty and she's normally dead quiet.

Working on rolling the haunches was a challenge for me. For years on a circle it's been inside leg at the girth, out side leg back at the haunch. Mostly because it's been about controlling the shoulders or front end.

With this exercise its flipped so I caught myself having to correct my legs a lot. Her roll over the having is better going left than right - or maybe I'm better times up left....something I want to talk to Buck about today now that I've had time to process.

Opal didn't really care for the loud speakers, so we did a lot of one rein stops there. We and walked out of the arena and she wanted to rush out with the crowd, so we stayed behind working from the ground a few extra moments. All in all it was a decent day. I feel we didn't excel at anything, but we didn't totally suck either.

Tomorrow is another day.

Colt class day 2: 

Buck's colt warmup Saturday:

Entered on foot at the walk.
Checked tack
Touching horse with flag
Backed 2 steps
Half circle right
Soft feel out and roll hind right
Back 3 steps
Soft feel lead out right circle
Rolling hind over then back to circle
Roll over with front follow through to reverse
Circling left
Roll over hind and back to circle
Searching for lightness in the lead
Roll the hind then the front to reverse circle
Circling right
Roll the him then front working half circles
Stopped and pet
Back 3 steps
Baked again 7 steps and sent out to circle
Rolled hind to stop then backed
Working both sides backing soft and circle
Roll hind, send the front through, back circle
Backed on soft feel

Mount up:
Flexed head left and right with pet
Walk circle to right, roll the hind, back to circle
Half circle rolled hind reverses
Trots stopped by one rein stop
Rolled hind then front brought through on circles
Trot and stops with one rein
Trot circles and reverse figure 8's
Halt with flexions left/right
Trot circles and short serpentines
Walk long rein circle
Short serpentines walking
Half with a back and long rein
Trot circles and reverses
Trot short serpentines
One rein stops from trot
Left lead canter circle
One rein stop from canter
Right lead canter circle
One rein stop from canter
Right lead canter circles
Broke to trot - picked canter back up
Left was canter circles
One rein stop and halt
Backed 2 steps, halt
Trot circle to right picked up right lead
Trot to halt and back - outside turn
Trot circle left with left canter lead
Halt with back
Right trot circle, outside reverse circle
Halt with back
Trot figure 8's, straight, turns to address "problem areas" in arena
Halt in middle with flexions
Horse took off at trot - corrected with one rein
Asking for soft feel at walk, backed.
Pulled out Lass, working with rope
Trot/canter circles with one rein stop when horse took over
Flexions at walk/halt

Dismount, back on soft feel
Back on lead rope
Hind and follow through with front
Exited arena

Hand to hip to get flexion to roll over hind shorten if need be

Don't stop when working half circles.
Collapse circle inside - circle out

Afternoon H1:
Didn't get to watch much as I was spending most of the time warming Opal up and working her on the ground and in the tack.

Evening H1 (my session)-
Well there was less head tossing but fidgeting of feet took its place. Tomorrow if she moves I'll work her while Buck does his answering of questions and explanations. Those can take a while sometimes. 25/30 people in a class, if 5-6 have questions and each question takes 3-5 minutes to talk about or demonstrate the movements on his horse....well you get the idea.

I found myself asking for too much flexion today with the one rein stops and roll overs. I'll have to watch that. It got better mid way through. Opal was better on her right today by the time we hit the arena, but would brace against bending left - so I chatted with Buck. His suggestion was to roll over the hind a few steps every time she braced. We sorted through that for now.

Our soft feel and backing straight is improving I feel. She's not bracing as much as she has in the past. We began to work on placing the front foot for the turn, we only got a couple successful attempts there - more work tomorrow on that.

More trot work today. Opal kept trying to just follow the butt in front of her, so we did lots of one rein stops at first, then we eventually got into a nice enough trot to sit.

Opal still isn't a fan of the voice coming from the speakers when she goes by. Buck suggested we avoid them until our rectangle was better.  At the end we made a few passes near them with no issues.

How am I feeling about this all?  A bit lost at times. Not lost as in I don't know what I'm suppose to be doing, but lost in that I am not always certain I'm correcting things in the right way or at the correct timing. I could blame it on the headache I've had all day, but that's just an excuse it's not the reason. There's so much going on and so many horses at different levels I feel like a straggler at times.

I guess if it was supposed to be all sunshine and lollipops I wouldn't be here 😄

I had a little bit of an emotional breakdown this morning. Frustration got to me. Not frustrated with Opal, but with myself mucking things up. Also I'm here alone. I've met some nice people here, but most aren't staying on site.  Those that are came with a group and disappear as soon as horses are put away to go to din we as a group. By 8 the only people out and about still are the guys working the arenas for the next session the next day. A few spectators have commented on how we are doing - all positive - I guess it would just be nice to have someone who knows us here to give feed back.  I'm sure that's wearing on me too.

At the same time there's such a crowd here I find myself thinking I might pull out and start working at 1 today instead of 2 just so I can have some quiet time in an arena with me and my horse without others external influences. Opal isn't a fan of the flags....she's got a surprise waiting for her at home - she will get over it.

Day 3:
Colt starting -
Buck's colt warmup Sunday:

Enters on foot
Working short serpentines and circles on ground
Checking for rolling of the hind
Backing with a soft feel

Mount up:
Checking one rein stops and rolling the hind waiting for him to stay soft.

Working circles and rolling the hind in smaller circle

Working short serpentines, directing and placing front inside foot - circling as needed to get proper flexion and foot placement/reach

Trot with one rein stop when horse takes over or braces. Reconfirmed feet to be reached. Working full arena/circles/reverses - mixing up the pattern. 

Trot circle with bend. Fixing the bend as needed.

Correct timing will be difficult when the horse braces. Make sure to do equal amounts of work on each side.

Feeling if the hindquarters are left or right to know what lead they are on. Circles are easy to feel the lead.

Canter work, right lead. Stopped with one rein. Left lead circles. One rein stop when too fast/taking over the ride. Reconfirming lateral flexion

Backing on a soft feel.

Working the gate. Galloping/trotting around arena away from it until it's no longer trying to head for it.

Dismount once quiet and exited arena.

One rein stops when horse doesn't want to stay halted after the release.

Hand positions:
1) in front of leg
2) out and back by hip

Evening H1-

I feel my warm up went better than class did. I started getting ready at 1:15 today (Friday was 2:45, Saturday was 2). Opal was much less jumpy about things, stayed with me better, but still wanted to rush the gate and follow a horse out. We backed out instead.

I kept her moving a lot during the Q&A phase of the start of class. Circles and rolling the hind were better at the end when I got my leg out of her and asked with less.

Reaching with the front out of a roll over we just aren't getting. Maybe partially due to my shorter reins I use for archery/daily use, I'll try swapping them tomorrow.

Didn't ask questions today just kept trying, just kept moving.

After 3 days we have:
some decent flexions
ok roll overs
getting better at carrying a soft feel
our backing has improved

There's just so much I'm not getting, and it's obvious in the increasingly advanced stuff as the days go on. I have a lot of homework to do.

Day 4:
Not much notes wise today for any classes. Most of today is spent fine tuning.  Buck did some backing on a circle using the slobber straps on his horse. He mentioned later that night it would do Opal some good.

Something for me to keep in mind to get Opal back with me and not solely use the one rein stop is to do circles and serpentines. (Sometimes tough in this arena with so many riders)

Working sets were introduced today.
10 steps forward, 10 back
9 forward, 9 back
8 forward, 8 back
All the way down to 0. All the while looking for straightness and lightness, and soft feel.

In our evening session we started out pretty nice, until the opening of the rein to bring the front back and through. After 2 days we still couldn't get it. I asked Buck to see what I was doing wrong. Turns out I was not waiting long enough and was rewarding with a release at the wrong time. So he had me wait and hold the flexion...and hold...and hold (about 2 minutes or more holding)...and as he rode up to he he said "when I say release, you drop EVERYTHING" I said ok thinking she would figure it out - nope - he helped her by giving her a bop on the nose with his reins - she finally moved and he told me release!  I did. It wasn't a hard bop, just enough to get her to move.

We had a talk about the feel of it and what I need to work on in my position and on ground to improve it. He also assisted another time the opposite direction, but no bop was needed. Opal knew he meant business. He also gave me the 'now you know what it is you'll never not wait for ever again' chat.

We also had a talk about leg positions and hand positions. In the reaching move my one leg wasn't far enough forward and needed more rhythm and my guiding hand was in the correct location, just too high. Something I've always struggled with is being aware where my body position is. One reason I never made a great equitation rider. I've never been as fine tuned in that as my jumping trainer Michael or my sister Stephanie.

In working on these things it's shown me (and been pointed out) that she's a little pushy and can be dull in her movements - also things for me to work on because she can move  nicely at times. We also talked about my leg needing to mean more so she will respond better with less down the road.

At the end of day 3 I felt so awful that I honestly thought for a few moments about coming home a day early. I was so overwhelmed and felt like we were getting any of it going. Hence the list of things we did improve on I typed up the previous day. I needed to think about what I had gotten right so I could keep going on day 4.

At the end of the day my new friend and I went to thank Buck and a few people wanted pictures with him so I ran to get my phone.  As he stood next to me I asked if Opal was real bad off and he said "no, she's a nice little pony you've got" so at least I haven't wrecked Opal 😊 and I've got lots of homework to do.

First day home post clinic:

I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I went out to give Opal the hay net she hadn't finished only to find her laying down eating the last of her breakfast....I think she feels how I feel.

We roughly spent close to 20 hours in the tack over 4 days, that doesn't include out groundwork time. She's earned a break I think.

A few days ago I was thinking "if only I could go to the next weekends clinic, get a few more days in, more time in, maybe we'd get it more."  Now I know we need to do our homework and if we did hit up the next clinic in Reno, we'd just have the same issues with little to no improvement. For now, we will work on what we have and go back hopefully next year.  


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