Friday, June 17, 2016

Clinic report - last day

Finally it was the last day of the clinic and we both were exhausted. I didn't know how much I had in me and she had been so good and brave and bold and so I didn't go to the morning session. Instead, my friend and I tacked up our mares and headed out for a morning trail ride among the cows. The clinician had moved the cows from one pasture to another a couple days before (we were welcome to join but it was a little too much excitement with other non-clinician-visitors who were yahooing around a bit) and I had asked if it was okay to ride among them and they said yes so we did that. We went out with the cows and just went up a hill, walked a fence line, went down the hill, back up and checked the other fence line, and back down again (just a big figure 8 loop), leap-frogging along the way. Our other friend had decided to come out just as we were coming in so we all used it as a training exercise. Pony and I left the other mare and the gelding who had just joined and went back to the paddocks by ourselves while the two of them went out on a trail ride. It was a good exercise and Pony was very brave and bold out on the trail.

I didn't want Pony to be standing around in the paddock for the rest of the day, though, so after lunch I brought her out and tried more tarp work on my own. Someone else was in the round pen so I used the square area where the bridge was. First we did the bridge to reinforce something she was good at. Then I started with the alleyway exercise again, giving her big breaks when she walked through it calmly. Then I closed the gap and she'd rush and trot over it. But I was pleased with her even putting her feet on it, so again she got a big break with lots of pats and praise. Finally, I got her to calmly walk over it in both directions. She was so great! More praise and we left that area entirely to give her a big break.

Everyone was interested in cow work, so I got on and my friend and I waited in the arena as some people went out with their horses to bring the cows in. We did a little warm up of walk, trot, and canter, and then just walked around and/or stood while we waited. Eventually, the cows came in and we got to work with them! We took turns circling them and keeping them in a place or trying to move one or another and then trying to split them and walk through the middle. Pony was great and my friend was kind enough to get a little video of us taking our turn!

It was an amazing clinic experience. We worked on walk, trot, canter moving off the leg, baby lateral work, standing still in the big arena with lots of horses all around us. We worked on (and defeated!) our nemesis, The Tarp. We had two nice trail rides. We worked with and without her neighbor buddies. We played with cows. She hauled perfectly. We did everything I set out to do, and more.

I swear, I feel like this experience advanced her training by leaps and bounds - 5 days of clinic experience gave her more confidence and furthered her education by probably what I could do on my own in 6 months to a year.

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