Day 1 of the Buck clinic was pretty incredible. I was so nervous, but actually relaxed pretty quickly because I was concentrating so hard. I've learned how much I haven't done with Snickers and how much work we have. I also realized how much time I have not taken consistently in order to accomplish certain basic riding elements. It's a whole different ball game when you are forced to work on something, that is very necessary, for hours at a time...compared to trying to do it for ten minutes and thinking it's just something you will never learn. It's also a completely different ball game riding in the clinic than observing. I didn't even see the other riders or notice the audience. I could keep my focus on what Buck was saying along with what my horse and I were attempting to do, but that was about it.
It is also quite another experience going to a clinic where it's not a complete marketing show. Doing his clinic is very intimate. He made the comment about not allowing video and his reasons. He included the fact that this is our time together and personal, not everybody else's time.
Snickers was not quite as fond of Buck...lol. She showed me a few tantrums, reminding me how spoiled she is and how much I have not made her do. After I watched the cow clinic, I went to saddle her up again to practice and do our homework for the evening. In the arena, twice, she did lines of bronco bucking in protest. The good thing is, that she is very easy to ride through this!! We just continued on and kept working for a good hour. She chilled out and I could really see the difference in what we were starting to learn together. I'm so excited to continue on this journey over the next three days.
Buck clinic Day 2......Completed exhausted. I hope I can finish this post before going to bed! Exhausted, but such a great day. Some really BIG stars came into alignment and feel very successful, even though it didn't happen until later in the day when I was practicing.
After Snicker's little tantrums yesterday, she decided to start out the day with them today in the clinic. She was being the total mare stereotype. I felt less confident today with what was asked of us, because I was so worried about her behavior. I asked Buck what to do if my mare was pinning her ears at others. He told me to get her moving. That was the last thing I wanted to hear, because I was scared of what that may lead to between us running into other riders or me falling off if she moved forward too much. But, I had to suck it up and do it! So, I felt like I was kinda working on her attitude and not the work at hand during the clinic. Almost felt like we regressed. But towards the end of the clinic, after hearing Buck complain about 'dull' horses and making them go, I began working on roll backs and then pushing Snickers forward through the feel of my pelvis tilting, then the slight movement in my legs and, if she didn't go, kick her. Oh, well she got it veeeeeery quickly. Some of these things I hadn't heard for the first time, and even had tried to work through in the past.....but I really didn't get it until Buck kept on about it, over and over. Some of the other things started to make slight sense too, but not that total 'aha' moment.
After watching the second clinic and having to go back and saddle her up to practice. I realized that Snickers learned to go more forward from those earlier exercises and Buck saying it over and over, making me do it, over and over. It's such a true statement when it is said that the rider often gives up just before success. You have to stick it out and hang in there....not just for ten minutes, once a week. While I have no problem executing those things with groundwork, it had been very hard under saddle for me. When I found that she was listening to my seat and leg to go forward, I was able to then focus on getting her soft/collecting/bridling her up. And once my hands had purpose and I was focused watching for the opportunities to offer release to her, I wasn't scared of her forward movement anymore. We were moving out, at the trot, way faster than she has ever given me before, and instead of focusing on how scared I was of the forward movement, and instead focusing on her so I could release to her, it all fell into place. And when that happend, Snickers got better and better, looking for that and the misbehaving went away. So hard to explain, but so freaking cool. There were all kinds of things going on in that arena and outside of the arena, and we were just both going on like it was our own little bubble. She was happy she was in her rectangle and I was happy in it too.
Buck clinic Day 3:
Did I already say I was exhausted yesterday? lol. Today was a good day. Feeling the confidence developed from yesterday. Snickers argued a few times during the clinic, but not like yesterday and no bucking streaks. He had us trying to back circles today...and I and my horse are pretty lost with those right now, but we tried. Things are still shuffling around in my brain, but coming together nicely. It's so nice to not be scared and bracing for something to go wrong. Now I am using much more leg as an aid and not thinking of using my hands. Snickers being bridled up is helping her keep her body in her rectangle, which is her peace. I am constantly seeking when I can release to her and she is seeking it, so we are always working together as a team now. After practicing this evening, I even rode all around the ranch, by myself. I rode up and down the hills and went to see the cattle, and it was so relaxing.
The final day 4 of the Buck clinic:
We continued with the same exercises today, feeling better about everything each day. We added short serpentines, and I actually enjoyed doing these. Those actually made me get the understanding of picking up her inside front foot, and placing it with the rein on the ground. I get how those reins are attached to the feet, not only the mouth. I now understand feeling your horse between you, as if it is your actual legs. I understand riding your horse, though not easy, like you are an athlete, not just a passenger. I understand not letting your horse being a bump on a log and that my horse can be slow, without being dull. I felt the joy of having my horse engaged mentally with me as a team, both of us understanding we need to search for that 'release' and be in peace.
I have struggled over these past couple of years, as those who know Snickers, about her noodle legs, always wondering what her body is simply incapable of doing. I asked Buck about it today. He told me that she may not be able to do the things his horse can do, but she can do what she can do, and there is nothing in that clinic that she is incapable of. He said to just ride her. :)))))
I have also struggled over the years, feeling like my two mares have had to always be in the shadow of my late mare, Cheyanne. RIP Cheyanne, this was Snicker's moment. She was a rockstar and we rode with Buck Brannaman for hours, for four days straight. We both were committed, and gave to each other each step of the way. She gave me her all. My fear has been replaced with joy, which she so much deserves to have from me. She is my very special, Snickerdoo.
A few pics from the clinic:
Very special picture here. This was the moment that I asked about Snickers having her hind end issues and how do I know if she is capable of doing these things physically? He told me that she may not be able to do everything his horse can do, but she can do everything she can do, including what was asked at that clinic. He told me she is not lame and to just ride her and enjoy her. :)