Monday, April 7, 2014

Clinics Galore

The equine festival was very well organized with no shortage of volunteers and clinicians.  There were times when I couldn't decide between which of the four clinics going on simultaneously to attend, so I attended two, three or all four of them just to get a sampling of education from each.  Some of the clinics offered included information on communicating with horses, saddle styles, saddle fitting, saddle safety, equine dentistry, ground manners, horse packing, having an effective seat, developing a solid foundation on your horse, Reiki for equines, vaccination protocols, equine nutrition, and trailer safety.  Here's a picture from the bridleless riding clinic...

A lady from a horse rescue gave a clinic on rehabilitation of behavioral issues.  She was so patient with this horse and had a pleasant, relaxed demeanor...

The horse could rear, kick, strike out all it wanted as long as it kept a safe distance from her.  She just kept the pressure on until the horse gave the right answer, and then she released and let the horse relax.  She emphasized that it is particularly important that people use clear, black and white cues (no gray area) with horses that have behavior problems.  Consistency is what helps them see past their issues, develop trust, and learn what is expected of them.  There is no room for human anger and other emotions when rehabilitating horses with behavior problems.  I was so impressed with this woman's ability to remain calm and be understanding while working the horse toward more positive responses.

My favorite clinic was put on by an equine-assisted therapy program.  This was an eye opener for me.

At the time I showed up, they were demonstrating various exercises they do with clients who have physical disabilities.

They sometimes have riders develop their core by riding bareback facing forward, sideways, and backward on the horse while raising their hands in the air.  Of course, the rider is surrounded by helpers for safety, and the horses are top notch.  This client also was speech delayed, so they also asked him questions and encouraged him to call out hello to everyone to help with that.

Then they got into discussing some methods they use in treating mental, emotional and behavioral issues.  I was fascinated with the wide range of human problems that they treat with equine-assisted therapy, everything from war veterans with PTSD to recovering drug and alcohol addicts.  In the picture below, volunteers role played clients with addictions who were given the choice to lead a horse through an obstacle course alone or as a team.

They called the obstacle course "Temptation Alley", because there were carrots and hay scattered about.  The goal was to lead the horse through the course without it stopping to snack, thus giving into temptation.  The therapist said she can tell a lot about a person on how they handle various problems that pop up while working with a horse.

She also had them write down their reason for becoming addicted to whatever their substance of choice was, and she stuck those reasons to locations where there were carrots and hay.  If the horse grabbed a snack, the therapist read the topic on the sticker and facilitated a discussion on how that comes into play in the client's life, even if it was someone's else's reason for turning to drugs or alcohol.

It was a fun way to get clients involved in the therapy session, as well as being very entertaining for the audience.  I grabbed one of their brochures so that I can make donations to their program in the future.  Here is a link to the program's website.

The last exercise they did involved splitting the "patients" into teams of two, telling one team in secret that their goal is to herd the horse one full rotation around the arena clockwise, while the other team was told in secret to do the opposite.  So, you had four people running around trying to control the horse and drive it in opposite directions.

A mounted ranger rode up on his horse and called out, "What are those people trying to do?  I hope they aren't trying to catch and halter that horse, because that's not the way to do it."

Everyone in the audience who was in on the exercise burst out laughing.  One team eventually won out, but the therapist asked what else they could have done besides working against each other and struggling so hard.  Does anyone want to guess the answer to that one?


Cindy D. said...

I have a facebook friend who lives up there, and she was at the expo too. She also said it was fantastic!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Some of the clinic topics sound interesting and others not quite up my alley so to speak. It would be tough getting to each of them and being able to follow along enough to get the best of the information presented.

We all know horses are therapeutic. Ask any of us after a day with our horses how it went. I'm sure there's something good to come of it. Even a bad day with the horses, beats a good day at work! Lol

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

My guess is: communicate.



Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - That's right. I was waiting for someone to take a guess before giving the answer. No one ever told them that they couldn't tell each other what their assignments were, so if they just communicated that, they could have worked together taking turns moving the horse one rotation clockwise, and then one rotation counter-clockwise, and both teams would have met their goals.

achieve1dream said...

What a great expo. Sounds educational and entertaining! I volunteered at a therapeutic riding center and it was an amazing experience. Ours was mostly children with physical and mental disabilities. Riding horses really helped bring them out of their shell and was good for them physically. Thane for sharing the expo with us.