Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Long Weekend Clinic

When it comes to riding, and horses in general, there is always something more to learn.  This weekend we had a clinician come up to do a clinic on general horsemanship and..... cow work.  Yes, Koda and I went head to head in the pen with a cow.  Now, I've never worked cows before, and I'm pretty sure Koda hasn't either, so thought "why not?".  It was a good time, learning how to read the cow and doing endless turns on the haunches, turns on the fore, one step here, one foot fall there.  It really got me thinking about how you must have each hoof under you.  It was pretty cool feeling Koda moving not just the specific hoof I wanted, but the distance that was needed to move the cow. 

The main exercise that I took out of this clinic was really getting Koda to work off his hind end, which he does have trouble with due to fitness and his conformation.  Most of the horses in the clinic had this problem too, so we did a cool little exercise where you walk exactly 10 steps forward, then back 5.  It really got all the horses "crisp!" off the aids, really using the seat instead of relying on the hands to halt and back.  We HAD to halt after 10 steps forward, only 10.  It was very cool to see Koda really working off his hind end when backing. After we did that exercise, we did some forward trot/canter transitions and because of the previous work we did, all of the horses were pushing up into the canter instead of pulling themselves forward. 

The two end exercises we did were with the cows.  The first one we did was cut the cow away from the herd (that was fenced) and place it at the letter A:

A is just to the left of frame.

Then we had to pen the cow into a separate pen.

I think Koda really enjoyed working with the cows, or at least he was very attentive to them!  Not scared, just alert and watchful.

The next cow exercise we did was essentially follow the cow around the pen.  Mimic the speed it goes, direction, everything.  It stops, we stop.  It canters off, we canter off.  This was a LOT more fun and more comfortable since I switched back to my close contact saddle for it.  Since I was the only english rider at the clinic, the clinician made a joke about how we can call my cow "Fox", since english riders follow foxes instead of cows :)

There were some ups and downs in the clinic, mainly because of the way some things were depicted by the clinician which I completely disagree with, BUT I was there to learn and not to contradict so I kept my opinions to myself.  The wonders of going to clinics is that you don't have to take everything they're giving you, just take what you want and leave the rest.

All in all, a good weekend full of friends, riding, and most of all, learning!  Not only about riding and cows, but about this very cool horse that I have the priviledge of owning. 

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