Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Horsemanship Clinic

Sam's mom of How Sam Sees It called my attention to a natural horsemanship clinic being put on in our area this past weekend by the Parellis.  I didn't think I could go due to shaky, but previous plans, but as those plans fell through, I decided to go at the last minute since P.S. (Parelli student) could meet me there and bring me a ticket to get in.  So, I watched most of the show on Saturday with P.S. and some of her coworkers, and then drove out again on Sunday, but this time was able to get together with Sam's mom, who I have spoken with through blogging, but hadn't met in person until that day.  She owns some gorgeous horses including Friesians and a Palomino Quarter Horse, and we are planning on going trail riding together some day.

While at the clinic, we ran into Cut-N-Jump, who I am also planning to trail ride with again some day.  Isn't it funny how I spent years trying to find a trail riding partner in Nevada, even advertising for one, and never found anyone interested in joining me, and now I'm finding open-minded trail riders all over the place in Arizona?  It probably helps that there actually are trails specifically for horseback riders here.

The Parelli clinic was filled with sessions and breaks, alternating between educational lectures from horseback or with horses and entertainment with horses.  "Edutainment" is what they call it.  I've been to Parelli clinics many times before, but this was the first time I'd seen Linda teach equitation skills to students on horseback.  Her lesson on rider biomechanics was especially interesting.  She showed us what we can learn from rider mistakes, and how we can turn those mistakes into advantages by using those movements on purpose.

For instance, we can steer without touching the reins by simply turning our shoulders in the direction we want to go and putting a little more weight in the inside stirrup.  We can speed a horse up by leaning forward and slow a horse down by sitting back.  Linda rode her giant dark Oldenburg Hot Jazz, and they looked stunning in Jazz's white polo wraps.  I love the way that horse moves.  Jazz had a big spook at the bouncy ball and unseated Linda, but she held on and got herself upright again.  Everyone applauded, glad she didn't fall, because it was a long way down for her.  Of course, she followed up that spook by making Jazz push that ball all around the arena.

Pat told a mixture of stories from his past related to horsemanship, talked about his philosophy and experiences he had with horsemanship mentors who have changed his life.  From time to time he demonstrated his skills with horses.  When we left on Sunday, he was ponying a young colt around, teaching it to be light on the lead rope.  He used humor to get his point across, such as when describing how horses know everything we do, he brought up the example of trail riding.  The other riders may not  know who dealt it, but your horse does.  In my case, it's usually my horse who is doing the dealing.

At one point Sam's mom and I were sitting in the bleachers talking when Linda walked in to the pavilion to warm up for the next show.  She was looking up at us and smiling.  I smiled back.  She waved, and for some reason I looked at Sam's mom and the two of us looked all around us trying to figure out who she was waving at.  It suddenly hit me that she was waving at us, because no one was really around us, but by then her attention was elsewhere so she wouldn't have seen if I waved back.  Oops.  I think in the future I'll just risk embarrassing myself by waving, even if the person is waving to someone behind me.

At another time Pat was sitting on his horse right in front of us and Sam's mom said, "I love that little dachshund."  The Parellis have a couple of adorable long-haired dachshunds that were running around the horse park all weekend, and sometimes they'd come into the arena during the show.  All of the sudden I realized what Sam's mom was referring to.  Pat had his dog sitting in his lap while he rode around the arena and gave a talk.  The dog was the color of his saddle, so I almost didn't notice it.

There were a number of exercises they did that I wanted to try with my own horses.  I kept thinking that I've got to write them down or I will forget.  Sure enough, I forgot most of them.  I know... I can always join the Savvy Club and watch all the videos, and then I won't forget.

One really cool exercise I saw two riders do was that they lined up side-by-side, nose to tail, and one rider trotted his horse forward while the other rider backed her horse up at the same rate.  They stopped at the same time and reversed their roles, sticking to each other's side, but going back and forth along the rail.  It reminded me of the Pushmi-pullyu llamas of Dr. Doolittle.  That trick got a lot of applause.

Level 2, 3, and 4 Parelli riders participated in many of the demonstrations on a variety of horses and they did a fantastic job.  The audience got a kick out of this Appy that was happy to climb up onto one of those round circus pedestals whenever it got near it.  When it first happened, there was a burst of applause with a lot of oohs and ahhs, and by the end of the weekend people were so used to it that they just laughed.  You could tell the Appy was so proud of itself.

It may have reached 100 degrees on Sunday, which according to record highs doesn't happen much in April in central Arizona.  I'll bet the next time a horsemanship clinician comes into town they'll schedule earlier in the year.  One side of the arena had more leg room in the bleachers while the other side of the arena had ceiling fans.  By the afternoon, most of us were crowding together under the fans, but I suspect all the extra body heat cancelled out anything the fans did to cool us down.  It was a really nice facility, though.  On Saturday they had a barrel race going on in an outdoor arena at the same time.

One lady in the audience turned around and asked us what "collection" is.  A bomb went off in my head as all these memories came flooding back of when I first started working with horses.  I remember spacing out every time that friends, horse trainers, or equitation instructors got on a roll talking about either "collection" or "lead changes".  Those concepts seemed so esoteric to me.  I couldn't grasp them, and I didn't understand why they were so important.  I just wanted to ride a horse without falling off back then.

In fact, just recently my horse trainer pointed out that Gabbrielle was "cross-firing" and she would have to correct that.  This was the first time I heard of that term.  I just called Gabbrielle "an uncoordinated spaz".  I didn't know that you could actually train a horse how to move its legs.  I just figured horses do what nature tells them to do, but once I compared it to me holding a pencil incorrectly throughout most of my years in elementary school, only to have one teacher finally catch it and put in a lot of time re-training my hand and brain on how to hold a pencil the correct way, then I suppose it makes sense that horses don't always automatically know how to move optimally at the various paces.

The Parellis did talk quite a bit about lead changes.  They put two different colored polo wraps on the two legs that move together to help the audience see the lead changes easier on the horse involved in the demonstration.  They even brought out a young man to imitate a horse switching leads.  He did such a good job that I think any residual confusion I had over the matter had been resolved.  I've never been able to tell if my horse is on the wrong lead from the saddle, but then I haven't spent a whole lot of time in recent years going in circles and changing directions at the canter either.  I'm more interesting in communing with nature from horseback.

I remember the first month I owned my first horse, the seller was showing me how to lunge him in the round pen.  She was trying to describe the meaning behind "picking up the correct lead" and would crack a whip at the horse to try to get him to switch leads.  I just wasn't seeing it.  Then when I lunged him, if she yelled at me that he was on the wrong lead, I'd just crack the whip and say "switch" and wait for her to tell me if it worked or not.

I'm still not adept at anything along the line of "flying lead changes", but I do know the difference between the feel of a "collected" horse vs. one that is not "collected", and have since then become a big fan of teaching "collection", and have been fortunate enough to have mentors who successfully taught me how to teach it to my horse.  Good horsemanship is no small feat.  There's a lot to learn, and in some ways I'm amazed at how much I have learned in my 13 years of horse ownership, while in other ways I'm discouraged because I know I still have so much more to learn and can't possibly live long enough to learn it all.  So, as usual, I press on and just do the best under my circumstances.  It's the journey, not the goal, that benefits us most.


Sam said...

It was great meeting you! I learned a lot from the clinic, and also was reminded of a few things I forgot! I'm excited to get out and try a few of the "7 Games" on Baron to see if I can get him to stop jumping in my lap every time he gets startled! Thanks for coming out on Sunday and for driving!


Cut-N-Jump said...

It was good seeing you there and when I can get this mare shod at least in front, we will have to hit the trails. It would likely do her some good. I know she hauls well, just need to work on other things.

I did watch part of the clinic with the girl on the paint horse. I will politely decline comment on what I seen and my opinion of it. I was merely there to pick up the Dynamite for Mondo.

Tickets? People had tickets for this? I parked out back and just walked in. Nobody ever asked me about a ticket... lol

Hahaha! Word verif is Monarchists.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I parked out back and walked in too both days, but kept my ticket with me just in case there was an issue. I was supposed to be wearing a bracelet had I turned in my ticket, but I didn't want to give up my good seats to go stand in line at the front gate and do it the right way. Of course, I kind of forfeited entering the drawings for free stuff, but that's okay. I bought what I needed, and I blew all my cash on food at the vendor stands. We weren't supposed to bring in our own food and drinks, but you can't stop anyone from bringing their own water with them in Arizona. They could die... especially in those long lines on Saturday. I had to wait until after the lunch hour to eat, because there were just too many people. I learned my lesson and ate before the lunch hour on Sunday.

Reddunappy said...

I have been to one Parelli event. Really enjoyed it.
Parelli has given me some more tools to deal with things that come up, that I didnt have before I learned some "Parelli" LOL

Parelli did make me look at things different. When my mare acts up now, I dont get mad, like I used to when I was young, but now it makes me laugh! I can let her work through it and go on from there.

I have been riding for 41 years, got my first pony when I was 5. Nope! you never stop learning!! Love the journey!!

Breathe said...

It's been an incredible journey. The clinic sounds great, I've wanted to go, but Parelli never seems to get closer than Dallas...

achieve1dream said...

Aww so lucky you got to meet Sam's mom! I would love to meet her. :D I hope you two get to go trail riding together soon. :)