Overall, I really enjoyed the clinic. The drive was pretty darn long (9 hours) but it was worth it. I learned a lot of helpful tools to put in my toolbox.
Because of my trailering issues ($$) I decided not to bring Apollo, so I worked with the clinician's horse Smokey. He's a 3 year old who had an injury and has had a lot less handling than the other horses on the farm. I can't say he was an easy horse but I am so grateful I was able to use him as it helped me gain some good trouble shooting skills. The focus of the clinic was ground handling/skills with a natural horsemanship focus. I was so keen to get some better skills trailer loading as Henry has been kind of so-so in this area.
Here's my buddy for the clinic, Smokey:
The whole purpose of me wanting to take this clinic was to develop my
skills on the ground to set my young horses up for success. I found
myself really reverting back to old habits whenever things got a bit hairy. I come from a very
traditional horse background (nothing wrong with that). I want more
of a partnership with my horses where I wasn't just forcing them to do what I asked - I wanted more of a conversation. I will always be a more
tradition horseperson but my mind is always open to improving my skills. I don't necessarily advocate for "natural horsemanship" as there are some methods of there that I really disagree with - but I do think the more things you can worth through on the ground with your horse, the better.
My wonderful husband made me this awesome care package for the road with lots of my favorite snacks:
I made little notes each day of the clinic in my phone:
I unfortunately was late as my debit card was compromised with "suspicious activity" and I had to got about 1 hr away to a bank branch to get a new card (ugh). We did roundpenning only this day and because I missed the introduction I was feeling a bit lost and frustrated. It was very different from roundpenning I've done in the past as you had to focus on where you wanted to go, not the "neutral girth area" as I've been taught.
I was so frustrated at myself for missing the introduction part of the day. I was really missing Apollo too. Even though he would have been a royal turd, I know him really well and it was strange working with a new horse.
We did roundpenning in the morning and groundwork in the afternoon. I really got into a better groove today (it didn't hurt that I wasn't driving around lost in a strange city looking for a bank branch at the start of my day either!). I end up holding my hands higher than needed (from years of lunging) and need to work on my coordination with the aids.
The other participants in the clinic are really wonderful and friendly. I felt like Smokey and I were clicking more this day.
Got this lovely ear burn on Day 2:
We did roundpenning in the morning and groundwork in the afternoon. The morning and most of the groundwork went well. I got pretty stuck at the end because Smokey was kind of crowding me and when I tried to push him out of my space (with a the rope/stick) he got super agitated and rushy. I was able to get some help from the clinician but I felt like a pretty big loser!
We worked through it and ended on a good note. The clinician and her husband hosted a tasty BBQ for us this night and it was nice to chat horse with the group.
We did a groundwork review in the morning and then took our horses over obstacles. Smokey was a bit nervous but I was able to get him to jump some barrels and keep his brain focused on me even though it was pretty much madness in the obstacle field.
The clinician gave me a big hug when we left and was very happy with my progress through the clinic.
Some good points about me: I am a quiet handler with soft hands (that's a big compliment to me as I have been working on that).
Some homework from Nettie (the clinician): I am a bit uncoordinated and tend to be hard on myself. Both of those things are very true. I have always had a hard time coordinating all 6 feet of myself (in the saddle also) and do beat myself up quite a bit.
A little late to the table but here are June Goals:
1) Try some groundwork techniques from the clinic with the ponies.
2) Get 15 rides in on Apollo (considering I have zero so far, that is a feat!) and update the new ride log I have created.
3) Start running again (this is for my mental health, which I'm sure the horses appreciate).
I want to keep June pretty easy as I had such a stressful May. In July I will set some bigger goals for myself.
I've decided (starting now!) that I will end each blog entry with an uplifting/motivating quote. :)