Besides, I was only going to be gone for an afternoon, so it wasn't like it took me a long time to load, and TC, bless his trucker heart, can hook up to a trailer so fast it will make your head spin.
When she had arrived the day before I was riding Killian. We had just been trotting circles in the arena. I knew that she and I were planning to go ride so I went ahead and put Killian away while she unloaded
This time I was on Trax, she was on Frosty and ponied Moon. Let me just say that having someone to ride with, and talk with, who shares the same interests, who is not constantly complaining(Simon), and who I did not have to worry about getting hurt (TC) was a BLAST!
We didn't make it ten feet off my road and a young guy drove past us and yelled "Hellllooo Beautiful!" at her, causing Frosty to spook into Trax, and we laughed our asses off over it. In fact there were a couple of times that Frosty would shy away from something, and one of the things I loved about it all, is that for her...it was just something you deal with when riding, and we rode through each incident as if it never happened. Its all you can do.
We had a great time, it was a wonderful relaxing ride and we made it back just as it was getting dark.
Then Cut n Jump came over and we headed out to the Mexican Cantina. All I am permitted to say is that the food was delish, the service was wonderful, and there were cervesa's and margaritas involved. I can't tell you much except that at least one of us comes from a long line of fainting goats, at least two of us have some pretty big opportunities looming on the horizon, and one of us does not know her left from her right.
Everything else is highly sensitive, top secret (as in secret squirrel) information which can only be shared on a need to know basis. I will tell you that we pretty much closed the place down and in order to get us to leave the kitchen staff turned their music up super loud as a hint to tell us it was time to go. So we headed back to my place and eventually called it a night.
Now back to the clinic.
I was surprised at how calm Trax was for the warm up. In fact he was pretty darn good all day. There were a couple of times that he got kind of wound up and refused to even stand still for me, but the clinician, Troy, helped me through those situations by reminding me of the things that I had learned from Jay and Mark, back in WY. Things that I had some how forgotten.
When Troy asked me what my background was I didn't know what to say so it came out as, "Er...Um...Horse has mental issues, I have no clue what I am doing...blah blah blah."
I then proceeded to back that statement up with riding like it was my first time on a horse (It kind of felt that way) and my horse proving that he knows.....NOTHING! Well not nothing, Trax can counter arch pretty well. (Thanks Mark Keil)
I did learn an awful lot though. For example, I lope circles all day long at home, but when it came time for us to do our circles we fell apart. This was a complete and total surprise to me. I know my horses shortcomings. He can't stop, he is heavy in the face, and his rider has no clue how to communicate with him.
But I thought for sure the one thing we would do really well was lope circles.
I could not have been more wrong.
Most of it was me. I was trying so hard to remember all the things I had been told about my riding position (elbows in, hands like this, look where you want to go not at your horse) that I was like a cement block on his back. Finally he yelled at me to relax and ride my horse, and I did and we did much better. It was more like loping circles at home. And Troy was so excited because we FINALLY learned SOMETHING.
I'm pretty sure that what he thinks we learned, is not exactly what we learned. What I learned is that when I lope circles at home, I have been letting Trax pick the route. Not happening anymore. From now on, he will follow my guidance. Not being able to chose where I wanted my circles to be yesterday was very frustrating for me. That was my fault because I haven't been demanding it in the past.
The other thing I learned from both him and BEC was more on those flying lead changes, and how to execute those correct lead departures. While I am on that subject I really need to throw a shout out to BEC. She on more than one occasion took time away from working on her own horse to help me to into action the task that Troy was having us do. I don't mean just explain it. But she really worked with me. It meant the world to me that she was willing to do that. Also I want to say that one of the most important things that was said to me during this clinic came from her.
She told me, "Stop riding the horse he used to be, let go of that and ride the horse you have today."
Then came the flag work and guess what...in order to do this properly your horse has to be able to stop and do a roll back. And damnit we tried. We tried our very best and a couple of times we kind of sort of got it. There was one time when I actually felt him stop underneath himself.
With that in mind, I now know what I am looking for and what it feels like. This is important to me because lets face it, I have never had a trained horse before. I have never even had a chance to ride a well trained horse before, so when people tell me that I should know what it feels like...well I don't. I can only imagine what it is supposed to feel like. Truthfully my imagination is not up to par in this area.
Truly I think that flag work was one of the most beneficial things for us, and I really want to set something up like that for us at home. But in the mean time, I can improvise I am sure. I can imagine the flag in my head and I do the routine. "Stop, back up three steps, turn with the head, now use your leg, now drive him out of it" Lather Rinse Repeat.
Then came time for the cows.
Now let me just interject that each rider ended up with a dirty rotten crafty little speed demon. And every single person worked those cows until they got some good stuff going on. It was thrilling to watch, and as per Troy's instruction I watched every person work their cow. I didn't just stop there either, I made Trax watch too. Where ever the rider went with the cow, I made him turn so that he couldn't help but see what was going on.
Then came our turn.
Out walks Lazy Lulu, who I am quite sure is a direct descendent of one of Michael Johnson's dairy queen cows. She was a beautiful little Charleigh (sp) who was just
She stopped to smell the flowers, and looked up at the sun in the sky and I'm pretty sure I heard her singing, "La la la la la"
Then she saw Trax and said, "Well Hello there pretty pony, do you wanna be friends?"
And of course Trax, who doesn't have a mean bone in his body, says to Lulu, "Why sure!"
Then they touched noses and skipped off together to play hopscotch.
And I had no clue what to do with a cow like this. The tiny scrap of confidence I was holding on to shattered, and I looked to Troy for guidance. Bless his heart he tried to talk me through it. But in the end he just called for a different cow.
So what I learned from the next cow was that we have a long ways to go before we are ready to properly work a cow. Troy finally told me to quit following the cow and send the cow where I wanted him to go. Once I was able to do that we did much better.
Now this is where I feel the need to interject a revelation that I had last night which totally connects with what he was telling me.
Back when I first got Trax, we were invited to help some folks drive a herd of cows on an 11 mile trek. At one point we were pushing this herd through a gate and one big old heifer squirted off down the fence and it was up to Trax and I to go stop her. She had a good ten feet on us, but I pointed him where I wanted him to go and gave him his head and we caught in an instant and without me even saying a word he turned and cut her off and spun her back down the fence where she joined the rest of her herd. So knowing that he is capable of doing such a thing, why on earth do we have such a hard time in the pen?
I can tell you why. Or at least I can tell you what I believe.
That day I KNEW that we HAD to stop that cow. I rode my horse with complete conviction. I saw the entire maneuver play out in my mind before it ever happened and my horse, who on this day was completely unhindered by my lack of confidence, got the job done without a single misstep. Those were back in the days that I didn't realize that my horse didn't know anything. I believed he could do anything. I had no fear, no trepidation, and complete and total confidence in my mount. I also had no clue of what a crappy rider I was.
Perhaps ignorance really is bliss.
Those days are long gone, and I do want to be a better rider, and I do want my horse to be better...but my confidence in both my horse and myself, to perform in this sort of venue, is completely gone and I have to find a way to get it back.
The more I think on it the more I think that this may be one of the roots of our problem...ok problems. I am so sure that we can't do this that or the other thing, that even when I give the command, in my mind I am convinced that it isn't going to happen and so it doesn't. This is especially true with stopping. I don't envision the stop, I envision the fight. I don't sit the stop, I prepare for the brace.
I am not sitting here trying fool myself into thinking that this is going to fix it all. Trax and I need help. Most people, or at least everyone at this clinic, can pick up on the reins and their horse will drop his head. Trax lifts his. I don't know how to change that. Someone is going to have to teach me. Until we get that, none of this other stuff is going to happen. I am pretty sure it is going to take someone who is willing to ride my horse and teach him and then let me get up on him while they instruct, and teach me how to do it. Just like what I was doing with Mark Keil.
Anyway, after the cow work BEC decided to head home. I was about done but really felt like I needed to end on a positive for my horse so I moseyed on over to the trail pattern. We worked the gate, not perfect but successfully. We backed through a series of L's without a single fault. Of course no one was there to see that! We side passed over a telephone pole....4 times. We did all kinds of things and it was good and I thought to myself, "Well he's not a bad trail horse"
At one point I was chatting with one of the other gals by the trail obstacles, and she said to me, "Oh he must still be pretty young huh?"
"Um....no, he is about 13."
It is hard to explain to people about his back ground. I finally just said, "He's a blown up rope horse"
And she smiled with a look of sincere sympathy and rode away.
I did attempt the log drag (with me on the ground) but Trax made it clear he was not ready. I didn't push the issue. Not because I was afraid, but the space was limited, and I know that for working on his fear of ropes space is a must. I have to give him room to work through it and to do so there would have had us crashing into other horses and obstacles. I chose safety for my horse (and others) over winning this time. I know how to work on this. We have done if before and we just need to do it again and then never stop doing it.
CNJ did come out and watch and she did get some of my cow work on video. But I will not ever share it. In fact, there will never be any showing of the video that BEC took either. It isn't pretty and it isn't good. It is my own personal training tool and that is it.
I don't know if my post reflects that I had a great time and it was a great clinic. Troy Rogers was a fantastic instructor and he did help me alot. I learn so much from watching the others ride and from watching Brown Eyed Cowgirl ride. Let me tell you....that girl can ride!
I can't believe that throughout the weekend I only took one single photo. Here it is. Lunch Break.
I am anxious to get to work on my horse, and myself. I am also looking for a trainer who can help me the way I need to be helped. I might check with Charlie Hill to see if he is willing to ride my horse as well as working with me. I am not sure he does that anymore as he is getting up in years and has a lot of physical limitations. I guess more will be revealed.