On Saturday the morning started out really nice, but then it started raining really hard and we could hardly hear Dr. Deb even with the microphone on. Then the wind started blowing and the horses were sure one particular corner was going to kill them. No one came off, but there were a few close calls. After the storm died down, Dr. Deb went back into the scary corner and we began to work on the shoulder in. Because our leg yielding at gotten so good and easy, it was time for the next step. She had us take the corner and leg yield deep into the corner and then keep our bend through the long side. We were only to take a few steps before going on straight. Liberty took to this very well on his left side, not so well on the right side, but got better all the time. Pretty soon, when we took them out of the bend we would take them across the arena, change the bend and the practice shoulder in on the opposite side. He has always been stiff about switching from his left to his right side, but that got progressively better all weekend. His trot circles also began to slow down and he began to lift his back over the cavelletti instead of just plowing over them.
Sunday morning we worked on cantering. We were given very few instructions, other than just sit on the outside of the horse. I was told not to trot too many times before I set him up to canter b/c he would have trouble containing his excitement and I found that to be true. I circled at a walk in the corner, sat to the outside (weight in my outside butt cheek) and made a canter motion with my body. We usually maintained the canter around the corner of the arena, but most of the horses didn't want to pass their buddies and go back in the corner by themselves. So we gave them a hard time going past the other horses, but as soon as they were past, we backed off, so they learned that the corner was a place of peace and rest. It's the same technique you use on a barn sour horse...let them go back to the barn, but make them work hard once they are there. Take them out to a field somewhere and let them have rest. Liberty cantered well and not too fast. Since we are still getting used to the bit, he is having a bit of trouble regulating his speed. It's all or nothing at the moment, but as he was realizing I wasn't going to grab his mouth or face he learned to be less reactive.
Sunday we also learned how to do a turn on the haunches...something I have never really been able to pull off well. She taught a really simple technique to stop the outside of the horse and move the inside of the horse...easy to do when explained with a horse standing there, but not so easy to write about here. She did warn us not to do more than 1/2 a turn and to use the year to build up to a whole turn since most horses can't do a whole turn easily and they tend to break loose behind when they aren't strong enough thereby setting yourself up for misery when trying to unteach the movement behind later.
We also watched more videos...We watched a great video about training icelandic horses and paso fino horses which showed the continuum of gait from pacey to trotty. The clinic was just wonderful. There were so many chances to hear stories and to listen to her ideas and opinions. Next year, I'm hoping we'll be back in the same place. We have been charged with bringing friends so that we can keep the cost down. We need more auditors and more riders.
Some things to know about Dr. Deb:
1) She is opinionated and believes that her opinion is the correct opinion...do not argue with Dr. Deb.
2) You can be having a perfectly innocent conversation with her or a fellow attendee and find out that she doesn't like something you like. Then she will tell you her opinion about it...This happened to me a couple times (I know that no one can imagine that I would be capable of putting my foot in it lol) I was talking about NATRC and how much I loved the rides. I made that comment that I don't really care that much about placing, I just enjoy the people and the rides and winning or placing is just icing. She said that I was lying to her and to myself (I don't' really think I was, but that's how it went) She said if I didn't really care about winning, I would ride DO so that I was outside the competition. Well, of course, I don't want to do that, so maybe I do care about winning more than I think. What made that conversation worse was what followed. She said that if anyone enters any competition, they need to go perfectly prepared to win or they shouldn't enter the contest. So, I have been cheating my mount a bit through the year, b/c I don't do everything I need to do to be a winner. We still can't open a gate...I just learned turn on the haunch. I'm conditioned and he's ready for that part of the ride, but I haven't put in the time for my obstacles. Another time I was talking about my Equine touch classes I have had and found out that she has had some very negative dealings with the people who originated the technique I have learned. I was told that they are crooks and terrible people and that I should run to the next county. If I want to learn real equine touch, I need to take a class in equinology...which I just might do. I had no idea that my organization was full of thieves and robbers and I would never have opened my mouth if I had known there was anything going on.
3) She does NOT like Pat Parelli...and she has good reason, but 'nuff said there.
Otherwise, being in her presence is like having your brain stretched and it's a ton of fun to be there.