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Babies (horses) and Beach Balls (massive)

May 3, 2010

I was lucky enough to spend this last weekend riding a friend’s horse in Debbie Bibb’s ‘Building the Ultimate Trail Horse’ clinic. Although trail isn’t exactly my chosen discipline, I definitely had a great a time and picked up a lot of useful information.

This will be a QnD synopsis since I’m getting ready for class, but I’ll add more (and pics!) when I have some free time.

Day 1: The first day focused on training basics. We worked on lunging, turning at the lunge, disengaging the hind quarters from the ground, not crowding, emergency stops, shortening the stride and lengthening the stride (through controlling the shoulder), how to spook in place, calming the nervous horse, the calm cue, and riding buddy-bound horses. The was definitely the more physically and mentally taxing of the days, but the most productive. Even though the horse I was riding is basically a rock star at everything, there were still some concepts she (or I) hadn’t been exposed to, and it was pretty nifty to watch the lightbulb blink on between her fuzzy little ears. She’s pretty stiff and pulls a lot, so getting her to do a fluid emergency stop was a pretty proud moment.

Day2: Today we put all our training concepts into practice by exposing the horses to all sorts of ridiculous stimuli. We walked over bridges, crossed water obstacles, went through a noodle jungle, and approached a massive 5′ beach ball. I spent a good majority of the day doubled over laughing. Watching a horse try to negotiate a hanging pool noodle jungle or learning how to interact with a giant beach ball is fantastic for a lot of laughs. There’s the initial look of confusion, a smidge of panic, a cautious approach, a requisite nose nudge and snort, the confusion, the consideration, and then the decision that the big bouncy colorful thing in front of them is a GIANT PLAY TOY! All the horses at the clinic were under 5 and the babies had a field day chasing, biting, nosing, and loving on the giant beach ball. My horse was in heat and alternately made lovey googly eyes at it and maliciously charged and attacked it. She also decided that a particular green pool noodle was the enemy and pinned her ears and snapped at it whenever we went by. Silly mare.

I really like Debbie Bibb’s teaching style and basic philosophies. She’s easy to approach, practical, and engaging. I’m definitley going to use some of things I learned on Beastie and hope to bring him to her clinic in October.

Speaking of Beastie…..I get to see him in FIVE DAYS! I can’t believe I’m ranch bound in less than a week. Yay! I’m sure there will be an entry on that soon.

Pics to come!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 10:05 pm

    Yes, it’s really interesting to practice trail riding skills. There are some hairy moments especially when the terrain gets really challenging. Like thirty degree slopes in thick mud when the trail is so narrow that the horse is right behind you. A forest after a big wind has felled a load of pine trees at right angles to ones direction of travel can be fun too.

    I think that what is most important for the rider (and you may have this already) is the sense of fluency that comes from being confident and having spent a lot of time in the saddle. Like so much time that riding is as natural as walking or driving (or, better still, more natural than those things.) When one is that fluent with horses, many things become a whole lot easier.

  2. May 7, 2010 12:05 am

    Sounds like a great learning experience.

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