Friday, May 31, 2013

Essential Reading~

I'm sure that all of you have a passion for something. It might be furniture, or crafting, or photography. Or it might be something more elusive- like golfing or worse- riding.

Riding is nothing like golfing, except for the fact that it looks super easy but  in reality is super hard- especially if you are doing it right!

I didn't learn how to do it right. I just learned to stick onto the back of that moving horse and never let go and never give up. It wasn't until many, many, many years after I first sat astride that I learned how to do things 'correctly'. I didn't take lessons until about seven years ago. Everything I learned until then was purely by watching and listening. It was trial and error (mostly error) and natural stubbornness along with a very small athletic ability.  But the one thing that I did then that I still do now is read. I've read everything I could lay my hands on.

Some of the very best things I've read have been written by reining and cow horse trainers. Somehow that discipline just seems to understand the freedom of movement a horse needs to be athletic. That is not to 'dis' dressage or any other style of riding! An upper level Dressage horse is poetry in motion. But for the non-professional rider- the weekend warrior or the mid level western rider- the principles of reining seem to be the easiest to learn, understand and apply to their every day riding.

Here are some of MY favorite books on the subject.

Al Dunning -Reining.
           Super simple. Easy to understand. Loads of instruction. Al Dunning has written several books on the subject and any one of them will address any problem you are having. I return again and again to his books when  I hit a wall in my understanding.( I don't say training, because frequently it is my non-knowledge that is in my way.Training would imply that I knew what I was doing and was trying to impart that on my horse).

Sandy Collier- Reining Essentials.
 Sandy is bar none one of the easiest clinicians to understand. She is no nonsense and straight to the point. She understands the riders mind as well as the horses mind- knowledge that is invaluable! Many times I have found that a Trainer can ride the horse,train the horse and show the horse, but trying to help the owner/rider understand the mechanics of doing the same- not so much!

Benny Guitron- The Art of Hackamore Training, A Time Honored Step in The Bridle Horse Training.
 Benny is the Guru of Hackamore horses. Even though riding with a hackamore is very different than riding in a bridle, the steps should not be overlooked. Too many riders just throw a hackamore on their horse with out the background to understand the reasons for doing so.It is truly an art form. Do yourself and your horse a favor and read this book from cover to cover!

Ray Hunt- Think Harmony with Horses.
Tom Dorrance- True Unity
  Ray Hunt. Tom Dorrance. True and complete horsemen. Solid Gold.

I'm sure there are many other books out there that people swear are the best. I have found these particular books to be the best ones for me. I hope you can find a nugget of help in them too.

These books are easy to find on ABE Books and some may even be on Amazon.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Yeah, it's like THAT!

So today I am galloping ( yes actually galloping, not loping) along, wind in my hair, concentrating on guiding the little missile known as Remington;  circling the arena on the left lead, thinking about breathing, and relaxing my pelvis  and lifting the outside and pushing the inside, and looking up...and I head across the middle of the pen and realize that I am heading on the diagonal across the arena- too tight to make the left turn I had planned on, so I straighten his body between my legs and shift my legs- inside leg forward a bit, outside leg back behind the cinch a bit, and I look to the right- to where I'm going and then... there I am.

 I'm now loping to the right, on the right lead and making a nice circle, and I'm waiting for the little hippity hop, of the back legs... you know the one. The one where your horse hasn't changed leads properly, so there's  a hippity hops with the back legs to catch up- or sometimes a break down and trot a step with a  pop into the correct lead on the new circle.... you know, waiting for THAT.

And it doesn't happen.

We are gliding along, galloping on the right lead, and still going about mach one, but he's guiding ok, and I'm sitting back, breathing and my brain is going, "Well shoot- he can't be on the right lead. He's gonna break down any time now," so I go around on the right circle again, a little tighter to force the hippity hop- but we are still gliding along, the wind in our hair.

So I cut across the arena again on a diagonal, and I put my left leg out a little and my right leg back a little and I lift my hand a bit, and keep him between the reins and look up and over and we glide into the next circle, and we are on the correct left lead and my heart is pounding and my mind is blown!

We circle the whole arena again, loping a little slower now 'cuz he's getting tired, and I ask him to slow up and he does, and then I squeeze with my calves and say whoa and he rounds up and gives and comes to a nice easy stop. No elevens, a nice easy stop, complete with a one step back up. And I rub his neck and try not to shout for joy.
And I walk him out and let him breathe wondering how in the hell that happened.

Because I've been riding for over fifty years and I've never had one change as smoothly or as naturally.

My Trainers voice is shouting in my head " I told you this Mutha' is a lead switchin' machina!"

And I recall all the books I've read, and clinics and tapes and videos I've watched about lead changing and how it is done...
And I recall all the hours in the saddle, and all of the different horses I've ridden seeking this... I and now- here it is. Done. By him. Alone. Because he wanted to and could.

Suddenly I feel like I am Bob Fucking Avila, Lynn Fucking Palm, Les Fucking Vogt or Mike Fucking Smith! I feel like "Yeah! I DO know what I want. I did know how to ask! SOMETHING CLICKED! "

Like Dana Device used to tell me, when I doubted- and riding Desi I did doubt- a LOT-

Horses are COOL! Horses are FUN!

Fuck Yeah!