Saturday, May 30, 2015

Me as a Clinician

More on the Bar SZ Experience

Okay, so you have to know that I thought the event I would attend this year would be similar to the very same event as last year.  We were meeting with the Downunder Brumbies, a meet up group to practice techniques and exercises we learn from Downunder Horsemanship.  Some of us know a few things better than others and the reason we meet up is to help each other.  Last year several members held 60-90 minute sessions on subjects in which they felt confident.  There were about 14-16 participants last year.  This year, I volunteered to show people how to get their horses to move toward a mounting block, a nifty little aid for all you trail riders.

This year there were nearly 40 participants and the main draw was a Certified Downunder Horsemanship Clinician, Jeff Davis.  Our sessions were scheduled to run concurrently on Sunday. Okay, you've got a choice:  amateur John with his mounting block exercise or, Ta-Daaa, Certified Clinician.  Heck, even I wanted to watch and learn from Jeff.

As time nears for my demo, Jeff, being the classy guy he is, encourages people to walk out to the big arena to watch me do my thing.  As I was walking out there I heard him over the PA and I got a little boost of confidence.

I had taught this exercise to my horses.  I had never taught it to people.  I had never taught it to horses I had just met.  Not sure if this was going to work, I wasn't really sure I wanted a whole bunch of people out there.

The first gal brought her horse into the pen we had used for the team penning.  It had a good fence.  I started talking to the group and explained the exercise was easy and the real benefit would be learning how to refine your timing and feel with pressure and release.

I started working on the horse and nothing.  A little more...nothing.  Come on buddy, work with me here.  Finally, I got the ever so slightest of tries and gave a good release.  I am sure many didn't even see it.  "What?  That little step?"

I started over and on the second try I got a little bigger effort.  Some people saw it, others were skeptical.

The third try, the horse took a huge step toward me.  Ah, now I knew why I loved this exercise so much.  We went on and I mounted from the fence.  Then, the owner worked the horse.  I moved to the next horse and tried to get his owner to do it.  My teaching-to-people technique needs to be improved.  I had to help her.  All in all, about 6 horses learned the exercise in an hour and many came up to me afterward and told me how much fun it was to have their horse work for them like that.  I must say it was a pretty good feeling....and I got to work with six strange horses.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Riding in a Group and Moving Cows

We headed up north to hang with the gang known as the Downunder Brumbies.  We had rented the entire Bar SZ Ranch for the long weekend.  The Bar SZ was once the home of famed Quarter Horse Doc Bar and is located in a remote area of San Benito County.  The ranch was almost at capacity with forty guests and maybe 30 trailered-in horses.  The group had arranged for certified Downunder Horsemanship Clinician Jeff Davis to spend the weekend with us.  Last year it was a Brumbie helping Brumbie situation which is why I volunteered to do a little clinic on using a mounting block.  It's hard to compete with Jeff.

We arrived late Friday.  The temperature dropped substantially and we opted to socialize as opposed to having a night ride.  Saturday morning Jeff gave a basic horsemanship session.  To my surprise many of the guests were not familiar with the Method.

We watched for a bit then went for an hour long trail ride around the ranch. Jessie was a bit on the muscle and really walking with purpose (not relaxed) down the trail.  I did a number of yields, bending, backing and nothing seemed to purchase an effect.

The afternoon included some Team Penning.  First order of business:  get the cows.  About 10 or 12 of us rode out (including Jeff) to bring the cows in.  All the horses and the energy was fueling a frenzy.  Jeff was riding one of the participants' horses who had no prior knowledge of the Method.  I watched and did my best to mimic Jeff.  He stayed very calm.  We had an opportunity to chat on the trail and he gave me some great pointers.   Jessie calmed a bit but started softening a whole bunch.  The one exercise I've had problems with is the bending at the walk exercise and this was the main one Jeff recommended.

We did the Buddy Sour exercise.  We had twelve horses lined up on the trail and each of us got in a little work.  We managed to get the cows in and do the sorting.  It was a whole lot of fun.  I've posted a bunch of photos on Facebook.  I don't have any on this computer, but I will write another post about my mounting block exercise and the rest of the weekend soon.