I've been trying to write up a post about the Celena Pentrack clinic Michelle and I attended at Sabiq Arabian Ranch two weekends ago.... stuff keeps getting in my way (like a 3 day splitting headache, and a car show, and shoeing appointment, and of course, work!) So, I'm going to do a clinic pictorial and recap what I can before I need to get to bed tonite :)
The weather has been unusually warm here in W. Wa. so we decided to wait until later in the afternoon to head over to Prineville. I definitely did not want to get stuck in Portland traffic with horses in the trailer during rush hour and it being 85 degrees and all.
I had most everything ready to go Thursday evening so I worked until 3pm and then headed home to get Cartman. I didn't really have time for dinner but I did try a new protein shake recipe- I used one meal replacement mix and instead of water I used a Starbuck coffee and milk. It was really yummy and helped me stay awake for the four hour drive.
We pulled into Celena's driveway about 10:15 and unloaded the horses. As luck would have it they had just gotten back from an evening ride and were having dinner. We had some salad and rotisserie chicken and everyone headed to bed pretty quickly.
Saturday morning was clear and sunny :)
We did a meet and greet with the other participants and talked about things we were hoping to address over the next two days. I was hoping to get some more instruction and practice on the horsemanship ground manner stuff that I struggle with. I've been having a few small problems with Cartman that have just started to pop up a bit more frequently. For instance, the misbehavior when we do an out and back and we turn for home that started on our first ride out on trail this year... Then the issue of him not wanting to follow but to always lead..... etc.
I've thought a bit about these issues and have the suspicion that his misbehavior stems from me being a bit too permissive with him and that starts on the ground.
Another thing I wanted to work on was getting my signals clear under saddle, kind of more refined I guess.
We made coffee and ate breakfast- Celena is an awesome host- she had all kinds of goodies out for us to chose from.
About 9am we went out and learned some yoga moves. I have never done yoga but some of the stretches felt pretty good! They offer a yoga class at the gym on Sundays and I think I might have to give it a try. It turns out I'm a little tight in the hip flexors- what a surprise! Lol.
After Yoga we got our horses and headed for the arena for groundwork exercises. Cartman and I definitely needed the refresher.... He was pretty good though and I Celena showed me how to get him to back off of me and follow less closely. I've been practicing this since the clinic and the other night I was able to hose C off with him ground tied!!! No sneaking off or leaning into me either.
It becomes so apparent when learning this stuff that you can build a real partnership with your horse through these methods...
Cartman likes Celena and it was quite interesting to see how he behaved differently when she was working him and then when I was!
After lunch break we saddled up and worked in the arena. I can't do all the concepts that we covered justice- so I will just say that I learned a whole bunch of interesting things about how we as riders affect how our horses move with our body position and riding style. I tend to lean a bit too forward with a closed hip angle- hey, didn't we just discover something similar to that in the yoga session? Hmmmm.
It was fun to watch the other riders as learned to influence their horses strides by posting lower and slower to slow down and posting higher to lengthen. I think we had some lightbulb moments!
After the second session of under saddle work, I was a ground helper for this one and got some good pictures, we all headed up the driveway for a short trail ride.
We hadn't gone too far and were riding along a canal when the resident stallion decided to put on a show for us! All was well at first, and I used some of the breathing techniques we covered in the arena to try and calm Cartman. It worked the first time, but when Mr Studly geared up for round two I felt like I was on a keg of dynamite. I circled Cartman and asked for a little room, Michelle and Cinnamon jumped out of our way... I was sure C was going to kick out- he was just pumped up. As soon as I felt him hesitate for a second I kicked out of my stirrups and jumped off.
Several other riders had dismounted and we all worked the horses from the ground. We backed up, backed him off, and made him move his back feet. In a few minutes C was leading attentively and the extreme excitement had dissipated. Whew!
So, there is one thing (actually there a many things!) I really like about Celena's teaching style and why I think she is one of the best teachers I've ridden with ( and I've ridden with a lot of different trainers in my life, despite what one would think after watching me ride). She never makes you feel bad about yourself or your riding.
The ability to take something that could be very negative (for example many trainers would belittle a rider for chosing to get off a horse and not ride it through the issue), but turns the incident into a learning experience that is positive for both horse and rider. This instills confidence and I ended up learning a new way to deal with this type of situation- so instead of avoiding a situation like this for fear of "failing" I can go on and work through it.
This is how I want my horse to be trained and taught. Always give them the chance, and set them up to be successful. It works for people too!
I've been doing a lot of training of staff at work lately (I am not a natural at training people) and this is an awesome example for me.
I was going to skip to Sunday but have to mention Saturday dinner. It was yummy- lasagna. I have not eaten lasagna for probably 10 years... it was devine- and gluten free noodles!
I stuffed myself at dinner with the lasagna and the cheesy bread but could not turn down dessert. Woody's cheesecake!!! OMG I was in heaven. I told Todd all about it when I got home, since cheesecake is his favorite dessert and all....
Sunday we continued on with our Yoga, another session of groundwork and then more arena work with more canter transitions and some ground poles. After seeing the photos I am committed to trying and opening up my hip angle a bit more. Ugh. What works on the trail isn't always that pretty in the arena :)
Oh my, its almost 10pm.... I gotta get to bed to be up at 4am. I will post some pictures though!