I have had the privilege throughout my riding career of working with some very difficult animals. I've found that creativity is inversely proportional to wealth in this world and I've become quite inventive. I'd love to say that this is because I'm super smart in all things horses but the reality is that I'm just not afraid to look for answers to questions almost anywhere.
And with this in mind, we loaded up Gemma and Anneliese and I headed out to Corning for a clinic with Buck Brannaman. It wasn't my first introduction into his techniques but I did learn quite a bit sitting and watching the great variety of horses in the arena.
The three day clinic was basically an overview of his techniques to engage a horse's mind and body. Buck has a good sense of humor and quite a few good one-liners. I was eager to try them at home and if you've noticed me spinning horses in circles, just know that Buck made me do it!
His techniques are interesting insomuchas they are simple and not based upon punishment or tiring the horse out. He establishes a light contact through one rein stops which encourages a suppling of the neck and the movement of the haunches. He also utilizes small circles and serpentines to get the horse to follow its nose. Once proficient, he then asks the horse to move its shoulders in a light manner. Then he teaches them to back on a circle. The entirety of the exercises are performed in a bend but not from forcing the horse into bending.
Multiple things are being accomplished in the process. The first is the horse becomes more supple. The second is that the horse starts to lighten in its response to the aids. The third is that it mentally engages the horse so that the horse is listening to the rider and not focusing on the rest of the world.
It requires a great amount of patience and time. He shared stories of how much time he has spent on certain situations in order to accomplish his goals with the horse.
Anneliese and Gemma did a great job. I was very proud of how hard they both tried. I think it was an eye-opening experience for everyone.
Words of wisdom:
"A mare is as she has always been in season, just more so."
"Learn how to ride with integrity while you're doing something."
"No one has ever helped a troubled horse by pulling on two reins."
"Want your horse to live a good life? Get them good mentally."
"If a horse is dull to the leg, he will never be light to the hand. If a horse is light to the leg it's not a guarantee he will be light to the hand; possible but not a guarantee."
"You have to figure out what happened before what happened, happened."