Tuesday, March 20, 2012

James Houston Clinic

What a great weekend I had!  It was my first clinic with Ollie and I can guarantee it won't be our last.

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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This and That with More On The Horizon

Spring is here in Lexington.  Daffodils are in bloom and a few blooming trees are beginning to open up their flowers.  It's always a promising sign of good things to come. 

This weekend Ollie and I are heading over to a clinic with James Houston.  I'm looking forward to it for many reasons.   One of them is that I hope to come away with new ideas and exercises I can work on with Ollie.  It's like getting more idea ammunition so I don't fall into a rut and bore him to death.   The videos from the Retired Racehorse Training Project gave me ideas which were super helpful.  Can't wait till Robin Coblyn, owner of Four X The Trouble (aka Tempyst) comes out with their other videos...

I'll give a full report from the clinic.  Another thing I'm excited about with the clinic is that I'll be heading over to a barn where horses from Touchstone Farm are being trained.  My friend, equine chiropractor and photographer - Shirley McQuillan - owns Touchstone Farm.  She bred and owns a horse named Rhett who is ridden by Jim Koford.  They are on a mission  to compete at the top levels.  I'm proud and happy for Shirley and her horses.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post some photos I grabbed at Keeneland one sunny morning as well as some photos of artwork in progress by my famous sculptor friend, Alexa King

Keeneland training track

Keeneland training track

Keeneland training track and a distant barn with a quilt

She Be Bunny (she was born on Easter day in 2009)

not sure who this is but it's a pretty horse

This is Bederman, a 3 yr old, not raced yet and in training with Kenny McPeek.

Hackney stallion sculpture in progress by Alexa King

Hackney Stallion

Alexa King

Monday, March 5, 2012

Miss Wendy - I Feel Violated

Toby was feeling a little violated this morning... his dentist came to visit.  

You gotta love an equine dentist that wears a Curlin Breeders Cup hat.  :) 

Ollie got away without having any work done.  His teeth were good.   But Ollie worried for his best buddy Toby.  Both went back out to hang in the snow.  No worse for wear.