Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Mane Event Experience

When I first saw ads for The Mane Event Equine Education and Trade Fair in Scottsdale, I was excited and confused.  I thought I had researched it a while back, and it did not take place anywhere near me.  After going to the website, I saw that this was the 1st Annual Mane Event in Scottsdale.  That explains it.  It originated in British Columbia and has been slowly spreading around Canada and the United States since 2004.

I managed to make it out to the event on Saturday while my husband stayed at home to care for the animals, which freed me up to enjoy the whole day.  I usually avoid driving on the 101 freeway at all costs, because every time that I do, there is a really bad car accident that keeps me stuck at a standstill for hours.  One year I arrived at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show just as it was getting dark out and everyone was going home, because I got stuck in a traffic snarl caused by an accident.  The next time I attempted to attend that horse show in Scottsdale, I took the mountain roads to avoid the freeway, and got lost.

This time, there was an SUV flipped over on its side with its roof up against the center wall divider on the freeway.  Firefighters and police were trying to get to the people inside.  I hope they were okay.  This happened on the other side of the freeway from me, so I only had to deal with everyone slowing down to gawk, but I knew the longer I stayed at the event before attempting to come home, the better.  They'd need a lot of time to clear that wreck.

I suspect a lot of accidents in the Phoenix area are caused by blown tires.  You just can't drive on old or bald tires in this heat.  In fact, I saw on Warwick Schiller's Facebook page that he blew a tire on his way to WestWorld.

I find driving in Scottsdale to be frightening.  There are a lot of wealthy people, including sports stars and other celebrities, who seem to think they are above the law, so they race around in their rare sports cars and luxury cars at 80 to 120 mph in 65 mph zones wreaking havoc.  I feel safer in the ghetto.  I wish it were easier to get to WestWorld.  On the way home, there was a student driver near me.  I stayed with him for a while, using my truck to guide and shield him from all the insanity around us, but after a while, he started being a hazard for me by cutting me off and braking abruptly, swerving into the side of my truck, etc., that I sped up to get away from him.  As soon as I got off the 101, everything relaxed.

But back to the event...

It was considerably smaller than what I was used to with the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, which uses almost all the arenas in the WestWorld.  The Mane Event had a small round pen surrounded by bleachers in the vendor area, two speaking areas with fold-up chairs in the vendor area, and they were using one indoor arena and one outdoor arena.  It was kind of nice, because I could move from area to area pretty quickly while trying to decide which presentation appealed to me the most.

Since the population of Arizona is at its maximum between January and March, with most snowbirds leaving by April, the turnout was sparse at the end of May.  Again, I liked it, because I didn't have to work hard to find a seat or get into the bathroom.  I could walk around without bumping into other people.  It was a relaxing and pleasant experience.  I suspect that once the word gets out, future shows will be busier.

I did think that charging for parking was a mistake, as the price to get in was too high when you consider that the majority of the show was vendor booths, which you have to buy stuff from, and you are forced to buy food from vendors at the show, who charge way too much.  Many of the vendor booths were high end products that the average Joe cannot afford -- custom made hats for hundreds of dollars and handmade one-of-a-kind saddles that were a work of art.  If you are a newbie to horses, the clinics can be very educational and worth the highway robbery, but like at most clinics, the clinicians only have enough time to scratch the surface for the rest of us.

There was a trainers colt starting competition that took place in sessions over a period of three days.  I started out by watching a few of those sessions.  Apparently, the day before, several of the competitors got bucked off.  While I was walking through the vendor booths, a little 3-year-old boy was calling out to me from a booth.  I went over to see what he was saying.  He asked me if I wanted a sticker.  I said, "Oh, no thank you.  I'm having a hard enough time carrying what I've got."

He said something else I couldn't understand, so I looked at the young woman who was with him for translation.  I'm assuming she was either his mother or babysitter.  She was filming him with her mobile phone and laughing at everything he was saying.  I started to walk away when the boy called out, "Do you play Jenga?"

I said, "No, I don't.  Do you?"

He got a dissatisfied look on his face and walked around the table without answering.  Then he picked up a sticker and began peeling that back off it.  His mother was laughing really hard now.  She said, "He's going to make you take one anyway."

He walked up to me and surveyed me.  He started to put the sticker on my walking cane, but changed his mind since the surface space was too small.  His head came up to my hip, so he didn't have a lot of choices on where to stick it.  He ended up sticking it to my thigh.  I burst out laughing and said, "Well, that solves my problem, doesn't it?"

I suspect that incident will end up somewhere on the Internet, because it was just too cute.  I realized later that he was saying, "Why don't you wear it?" after I protested that I didn't want to carry anything else.  I looked up at the name on the banner above the booth and saw that it was colt starting competitor Brendon Clark's booth.  I said, "Is this Brendon's son?"

The woman nodded.  I told her Brendon did a good job in the competition.  He's originally from Australia and is a professional bull rider, team roper and calf roper.  I walked around the rest of the day with that CINCH sticker on my thigh.  I forgot about it and kept wondering why everyone was looking down at my legs.  Ha ha!  I didn't know what I was even advertising until I got home and looked it up.  Men's western clothing and accessories!

There were a couple of time slots during the day where they had two or more clinicians I wanted to see teaching simultaneously in different locations.  I ended up having to watch whoever was in the main arena, because my back was hurting after hours of sitting in bleachers, and I needed the seat backs in the box seats that the arena provided.  At the Scottdale Arabian Horse Show, those box seats are reserved, so it was nice that anyone was able to sit there at The Mane Event.

In addition to the trainers colt starting competition, I watched two problem solving clinics by Warwick Schiller, a saddle fitting clinic by DK Saddlery, a dressage clinic by Nicholas Fyffe, and a barrel racing clinic by Storme Camarillo.  I peeked in on one of Pat Parelli's clinics, but I've been to so many of his and Linda's clinics that I almost know what they say verbatim.

There were several clinics I peeked in on, but ended up leaving mainly because I don't like it when clinicians try to convince everyone that they are the experts by putting down, insulting, and making fun of other people.  I saw several clinicians telling stories about how wrong other people were and how right they themselves were, attacking past clinic attendees and Facebook fans over questions they asked or statements they made or things they did, and then when the clinicians asked if anyone had any questions at this clinic, you could hear crickets chirp.  Gee, I wonder why the audience didn't want to get involved.  Here's an idea:  If you give respect, you get respect.  Bolstering your own ego by talking about how stupid other people are and bragging about how brilliant or how right you are is never attractive nor convincing.  This is a trait I see in a lot of horse people that I find to be distasteful.

It is imperative that horse trainers and equitation instructors understand that they would not be in business if there weren't people with less experience and less knowledge than them.  We are all evolving and growing in our knowledge, and when someone is new to some arena of learning, they are essentially the equivalent of being a newborn baby.  How many of us would call a newborn baby "stupid" or "an idiot"?  No one.  So, why do adults have to put up with this abuse when attempting to learn something new?  I know it's got to be frustrating having to repeat yourself all the time and answer the same questions when you are a teacher, but that's your job.  If you don't have the patience to deal with repetition, it may be time to choose a different career.

Sorry, that's just something I had to put out there.  Food for thought for people working in the horse industry.  I find that a lot of trainers have all the patience in the world for the horses they work with, but very little patience for the people who own those horses.  However, they must realize that it ultimately benefits the horse if the owner learns from the trainer by being taught in a respectful, patient manner.

I enjoyed Storme's clinic.  She was so adorable and positive about everything.  At one point, when working with a rider, she said, "Your horse is trying to poop.  Keep going.  He can trot and poop at the same time.  I wouldn't want to try it myself, though."

Then she burst out laughing and said, "Who says that?  Right?"

The only person she made fun of was herself.  I loved it.

I only had my mobile phone with me, so this was the best I could do for pictures in an indoor arena.  Obviously, barrel racing is nowhere in my future since I can't even walk or mount a horse most days, but it was interesting getting a glimpse into the world of barrel racing and the types of maneuvers that need to be practiced to prepare for competitions.

Warwick Schiller's clinics were why I attended the event.  He has a wonderful way of communicating without a lot of repetition.  He completes his thoughts even if the horse does something to interrupt him.  If he does repeat a point, he finds a new way to illustrate it or say it.  He shows us as well as telling us.

Warwick Schiller on Bundy and Robyn on Petey

He gave a talk on what he calls "direction addiction" for those of us who have horses who go slow in the direction they don't want to go in and fast in the ones they do.  He said, "Choose where you work and choose where you rest."

The new-to-me phrase that I hope to remember every time I ride that he said was "First, you go with your horse.  Then he goes with you.  Then you go together."

In other words, if you have a barn or buddy sour horse who balks when heading out on a trail ride and tries to turn around to head back to the barn, let him head back.  Go with him.  Once you get to the barn or wherever he wants to be, work him hard.  Trot him circles.

Then ask him to go with you where you want to go.  He'll be more willing if you walk him in a straight line and let him rest at your chosen destination.  Soon you'll be going together instead of fighting each other.

He gave a demonstration on how to handle horses who get overexcited about being around other horses on group rides.  He recommends that you start in an arena with a seasoned horse and willing rider visiting.  He recognizes that not everyone can find a willing rider with a seasoned horse to help (Lytha -- this is for you...), so he made a humorous suggestion.

He said that next time you are out on the trail and your horse gets excited over seeing another horse, let him head over to the other horse, and start circling the other horse and rider while saying hello, introducing yourself, and chatting it up.  Just keep your horse's feet moving and don't stop and stand to let him rest.  The other rider will never know that you just used her and her horse to train your horse.  Once your horse learns that it always has to work around other horses, and gets to rest when moving away from them, he'll lost interest in the other horses along the trail.

After he offered that suggestion, I realized that someone did that to me once.  I ran into a group of four horseback riders in front of my house, and when I rode up to chat with them, one woman started circling her horse next to me, and then rode away and let her horse stand still at a distance while I talked to her husband.  She yelled out a few things to me from a distance, but wouldn't come close to talk.  At the time, I thought maybe her horse kicks out at or bites strange horses, but maybe she was just choosing to work her horse near me and choosing to let him rest away from me and my horse.

I know that I always come to a stop when I meet up with other riders, and we let our horses rest while we chat.  That's probably contributing to my horses being so excitable around other horses.  They not only get to meet a new friend, but they get to rest.  Although, in Bombay's case, I think he's mostly worried about where he will end up in the pecking order whenever a new horse comes onto the scene.  He expects to get his butt kicked, so he panics when he sees other horses.  This lesson definitely pertains to Rock, though.

Back to the visiting seasoned horse in the arena... you want to let your horse greet it, but keep its feet moving.  As soon as your horse stops paying attention to the other horse, walk off in a straight line, stop, and let him rest away from the horse.  As soon as he perks his ears up and looks at that other horse or gravitates toward it, go right back to it, and keep your horse's feet moving.  Start with the visiting horse at a stand still, then have it walk, then have it trot, then have it canter, and do fly bys.  Challenge your horse to pay attention to it and make him work near it every time he does.

He wrapped up his clinic by telling us, "If you are thorough, you don't have to be brave."


lytha said...

"First you go with the horse..." is a Tom Dorrance quote and I hope WS credited him.

Thank you for writing what you got out of the clinic. It turns out the most valuable tools to horse training are 1. friends willing to help with experienced horses and 2. safe enclosures.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like a great day. Funny about the sticker kid. I like the idea of keeping the horses feet moving when meeting other horses. Makes sense. "If you are thorough, you don't have to be brave." Like that a lot too.
Glad you were able to get to this without too much pain. You needed a day out.

I remember dropping my daughter off at Arizona State years ago and it was so hot I saw the rubber on tires melting on the pavement. Now that's hot! My grandparents and lots of relatives lived in Phoenix back then and I could see over the years how much the traffic and smog increased. It was a shame.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lytha - He did credit various people for quotes he used, I just started taking notes halfway through the clinic and forgot who originally said it.