Monday, November 3, 2008
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Black and Blue
This weekend I attended a clinic for gaited horses. I have a client who has a Spotted Saddle Horse and she wants him to learn to "gait." Example: http://www.nssha.com/
Something Old- I can ride western pleasure horses
Something New- I can not ride gaited horses
Something Borrowed - Some very awesome new training ideas
Something Black and Blue- How I felt when I was done
OK, so when I first agreed to do this, I thought, "this should be pretty interesting, and relatively easy." HA! Oh my god! Talk about going outside your comfort zone!!
So my day began with me getting Neon out of the trailer and tied up so he could get "dressed." He stood nicely by the trailer while we tacked him up and I figured since he was somewhere new I'd take him for a walk and let him scope things out. We went into the arena and he went off the deep end. He was NOT a happy Spotted Saddle Horse. He went Ape shit! Immediately I started lunging him and he was bucking and screaming, and rearing and boxing those front legs straight at my head. It didn't take me long to realize that I wanted to vomit all over the place LMAO!!!
I lunged him for no less than 1 HOUR! And I'm telling the gaited horse trainer "I swear he never acts like this! I swear he's a good boy!" Like how many times has a trainer heard that??? A minimum of a BILLION!!! So anyway, I go to get up on him, and I can feel the fact the screws are still loose. Too loose to proceed without a fight. So I dismounted and asked the lady if there was anything we could do on the ground for awhile. So we took him to the round pen and she made that boy WORK!! Honestly, I'd never really thought about gaited horses or their trainers any differently than any other horse training. Well with the exception of actual "gaiting." So as I'm watching this trainer work with Neon, I realized that this was one of the most AMAZING experiences! Talk about broadening my horizons! She was a phenomenal trainer.So everything was going FABS until she said to the owner of the barn "Hey, can you go and get the tack so we can get him ridden today?" I swear I almost vomited in my mouth, or maybe I did who knows... So we got him all tacked up and got back on him, up and down as if I was re-breaking this damn horse. Finally I was up for good, and he and I got into a few minor altercations before he decided that working was easier. So we're going and and the trainer is telling me "Well you're a trainer so I'm not going to be easy on you" *Gulp* So the trainer is asking me to walk him out, extend that walk. OK piece of cake, like a dressage horse. NOT! They expect gaited horses to really really walk out, and let me tell you how much pushing with the seat and thighs that takes!
So I've got him walking out beautifully, now it's time to find his "gait." Find his gait?!?!? So she has me trot him and then smooooooth him out. Smoooooth him out. Well I'm giving all the credit to the horse on this one, because when I smoooooooothed him out he was doing what is called a "Fox Trot" It's like a walk in the front and a trot in the back. It's a very smooth gait and can be very animated. It's like a western jog, but better. Absolutely amazing. So after our "lesson" is over the owner of Neon is way beyond thrilled! She really wanted to find his gait, and the gaited trainer found it. He did amazing by the time we were done. Everyone was really impressed with how smart Neon is. Well I'd already known that, hence why he didn't want to do jack shit in the beginning. The trainer who did the lessons, and clinics is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She gave me fabulous ideas that I can use on both gaited and non gaited horses. Truly well worth it.
So after un tacking Neon, his owner decided to let him roll in the arena. He worked hard, he deserved it. In the mean time we stayed and chatted with the trainer and owners of the facility we were at for at least another hour and a half. They were just such fabulous people. So the owners of the facility invited me back to ride one of their Tennessee Walkers, so I can really feel what the gait is like. WOW!! What an experience!!!! Oh and by the way, while we're all chatting it up, Neon is STILL running around like a bat out of hell in the arena. Stopping, rolling, bucking, flying around! A trait I learned that day as a "Walker" trait. They rarely run out of steam!!! "oh fucking great!"
All in all it was fun, the trainer was amazing, the owners of the facility went above and beyond for us and I learned sooooooo damn much! Really a beneficial experience. I would highly encourage ANYBODY to go outside of their comfort zone at times and try something different. Doesn't have to be gaited horses LOL, but just something out of the norm for you and your horse. I think you'll find it's well worth it to explore un charted territory. Oh and I will be sure to post an update when I go back to ride an actual already trained Tennessee Walker! WAHOOOOOOOOO