Thanks to my friend Kelly Gage, we got hooked into the James Houston Clinic she was organizing. I seriously felt that we were just too much of beginners to go but I was completely wrong. I just needed to get over my self consciousness and accept that I wanted to learn more so I can be a better horseman. Once I got to that point, I was all gung ho for the clinic. My sole goal was to gain more training tools so Ollie and I can improve when I work him at home.
I went out in the morning to see some of the other riders and to see what little things I could pick up. It's always fun to watch other riders because I feel you can always learn from watching. On the first day, I was the last rider to go so I had some time to watch before I had to trailer Ollie over.
Once it was our turn, and James turned his attention to us the bells went off in my head. I was nervous! Why on earth would anyone become nervous in a clinic?! But there I was being a nervous Nellie for me and my horse.
I wanted Ollie to be worked by James and we quickly found out that we'd get the furthest by working him from the ground. Ollie didn't want to flex with his jaw AT ALL. In fact, he was being a total pill about it. Part of it, I think was that he was nervous too. But James did his magic using long reins and Ollie turned right around and became quite nice after a short while.
To quote my husband from his blog post on "Capture The Light" - Our friend Kelly Gage sponsored a private clinic featuring James Houston, a quietly confident English instructor. James had Ollie under his spell in a few short moments, seemingly telepathically. Pretty amazing stuff.
James is "quietly confident" and he had a wonderful way with Ollie! Sympathetic, listening but also pushing him to work as well. It was amazing to watch.
I was so pleased with the work James and Ollie had gone through. Our plan for day 2 was to teach me these tools.
Day 2 and back for more. Our ride was right after lunch so I had no time to watch the other riders. I got Ollie cleaned up and ready to work again. He wasn't too excited about it and fussed about going on the trailer. He lost the discussion and we got him the short distance over to the clinic. And back to work he went with James.
On day 2, Ollie was a much more pleasant partner and readily went to work. James was very pleased with him. That meant it was time for me to learn how to long rein.
I made a 3 minute video with a tune everyone will know. Isn't long reining just like line dancing???
Overall, I felt we had a great clinic with James. He taught me a valuable tool to use with Ollie to help him strengthen his back and help his flexibility - especially to the right - without the added problem of a rider. I'm not very elegant at long reining yet but just give us some time to improve.
James will be back next month and I plan on going again if I can work it around my busy schedule. April happens to be the Keeneland race meet time and every weekend is a busy workday for us. I hope I can fit Ollie in with James at least one day on a Sunday. We will figure it out.
Since I'm all about photos, here are a few more from our clinic experience.