Tuesday, March 22, 2016

RMHE: Weekend of clinics

Friday we rode in the Stadium arena at 10:00 am. J and I got there about 7:30 and spent the first hour picking stalls, filling hay bags and refilling water buckets. Ashke was not as happy this year, as compared to last year, and I blame Morelli ranch for that. I think he is so happy at the stable that he has no desire to spend time any where else. I noted that his leg was almost completely normal (Leslie had to really search to find any puffiness) but walked him into the wash stall to cold hose it any way. I also rinsed the two urine stains from his belly and then took him back and groomed him to shining whiteness. I tacked him up in his blue gear (bridle, saddle pad and breast collar) and thought he looked especially spiffy when I was done. There really wasn't any place to warm up the horses before we rode, so we hand walked over to the stadium arena from the event center.

Ashke turned heads. Like he was so gorgeous that people would walk into walls, looking at him. As we walked through the barn area under the Hall of Education, a woman came rushing down the aisle and gasped "oh my gawd, that is the most beautiful horse evah!!! Can I buy him? Is he for sale?"

I was offended. Really. I answered with a curt and resounding "NO!" and then replied in a slightly less hostile tone "not for love or money" over my shoulder as we kept going. That was before I realized that the horses in that barn were all for sale. It wouldn't have mattered. I think I would have been offended any way.

When we got into the arena, Tarrin had two sets of obstacles set up, one on each side of the long side of the arena. There were nine or ten of us, all told, with varying degrees of experience.

The horse to the right of Ashke and myself is Satori, with Leslie aboard.

Warming up while they were setting up.

Working the drums during our Friday clinic.
Tarrin really focused on Ashke and I doing the obstacles at a canter.

And then at the other end of the arena at a canter.

Working the double slalom with the garroucha pole.

Working the drums again.
Ashke was getting tired and his hips were beginning to strain.

Things I came away with from the clinic on Friday: we need to continue to work on him being able to maintain his bend around an obstacle from the neck rein, which means we have to work on his neck reining, he needs to move better off my leg and seat, which ties into the neck reining, and he has to get stronger in the hind quarters so he can maintain the proper bend instead of trying to counter bend at the canter. The counter bend was the only way he could maintain his right lead canter in the back. When he bends to the inside he loses the hind end and cross canters. He is getting stronger all of the time and this is something we can work on in the arena and on the trail. This goes back to his weakness in that right hind and how his leg had atrophied and collapsed under him when I first started working with him. Lots of lateral work and small circles. These are all things we can work on and I have a couple of exercises I've already implemented.

After the clinic, we tucked him into his huge stall with plenty of food, and went to find lunch and goodies. I ended up buying a customized blue and silver breakaway halter with his name on the side piece. It looks really good on him. We found food and stopped by several booths. We stopped and watched a clinic by Anna Twinney, who I had met briefly at her booth earlier that day. She had her three year old son asleep on her lap and I mouthed "three?" at her. She nodded and smiled. It was a connection. I was interested in her Reiki energy healing for horses, so we wandered over and watched. At the end of the clinic I walked up and had K introduce us, since K has taken a bunch of clinics with her. She recognized me from our earlier moment, and agreed to let me in her clinic the next day. I was pretty excited to see if Ashke would allow someone else (besides me) do energy work on him.

Then we headed back to hang with the horses until it was time to go to the Mane Event. This is a production put on by the riders who are at the Expo. It was not as good as last year: there were fewer performers and some of it was the same as last year. And the Dance of the Garroucha did not happen. It was still fun. I was pretty exhausted and it was time to go home.

Saturday, we headed in a little later in the morning. We didn't ride until 1:30 or so. There was a James Shaw clinic we watched. The riders in the clinic were riding Fjords and using Tai Chi to move between gaits. I am going to keep an eye out and see if I can take a clinic with him. I love the idea of riding the energy flows. Eventually, we headed back to get Ashke for the WE clinic. The Reiki clinic was immediately afterwards, so we would do one and then the other.

Tarrin had a course set up, some of which we did while handling the garroucha. Once the course was worked slow, we did a speed run.

 Tarrin explaining how to practice the drums to help Ashke strengthen his hind end and build the muscles he needs to get better.

There was a woman there with a very green horse who really wanted to learn WE.
Her horse wasn't real excited about the garroucha, so Tarrin had Ashke and I walk on one side of her horse, and she walked on the other holding the pole. 

It was cool that Ashke is such a solid presence that we would be asked to help.

You can see her horse dropping his head and relaxing, even with the pole right there.

This was our mini-course. We took it fairly slow, since Ashke was starting to tell me he was done.

Our speed run.

Ashke is showing more and more willingness to work the obstacles at a canter. He offered canter during the speed run through the double slalom. He wasn't as "on" as he would have been in a show, but he was also getting really tired by the end of the ride on Saturday. He was also telling me he was a bit back sore from all the collected canter and small circles we were doing. I told him at the end of the ride on Saturday, that I wouldn't ride him any more that weekend. And he would get the next week off. As much as I wanted to ride with Tarrin, he was telling me he was done and there was no reason to push it if he was sore. I want him to love doing this, not hate it cuz it hurts.

After the WE, we went to the Anna Twinney clinic. She was doing the chakras and used him as her demo horse. She said his throat was closed (didn't want to communicate), his heart was closed (not really closed, just very, very full) and his sacral-illiac was closed (this was the one I was expecting to have issues considering his ongoing sensitivity with his sheath). She paired us with some of her students, who offered a chakra balancing and reiki energy. He was really not happy and showed it by shoving me with his nose, flipping his head up and down; just anxious behavior. He had picked a girl he wanted to work on him, but she was sent to a different horse. Instead, two other women were picked to work on him. On of them he liked okay, the other he did not. He flipped his nose, whinnied, fretted and stomped. He pinned his ears and flipped his nose at her. He shunted off the energy from the one he didn't like and it ended up tangled inside me. I had hoped that the energy work would help him, but he really wasn't very receptive, which was just fine, since it is his choice and they leave it up to him.

After that clinic, we bedded him down in his stall and went home. By that time I was so sick J had to drive. I was nauseous with a migraine. I wasn't hungry and just felt very ill. We had cold cereal for dinner and about half way through I asked J if she would smudge me. We pulled out the sage and she did, which took a while since the other energy was pretty tied up in me, but finally I felt the pall lift and I felt a hundred and ten times better. I need to remember to shield the next time I'm involved in energy work like that. And holy smokes is Ashke strong.

Sunday I was kind of done with the Expo. I was exhausted mentally and physically and the excitement of last year had worn off. I planned to enjoy Ashke's clean status one more day, watch a bunch of clinics and planned to pull out as soon as K was done with her final clinic. As we were driving in, I got a phone call from the Twinney group asking if Ashke would be a part of Anna's Round pen clinic that morning. I said sure, not really knowing what we were signing up for, but since it wasn't under saddle, I figured he could handle it. They were interested in having him be a part of the clinic, since he is stunning and would garner a lot of attention.

Anna was doing a clinic on communication with horses, in the sense of using eye contact and body language to speak to the horse. It's kind of what Parelli thinks they are. The horse was working at liberty and it was really wonderful to watch. It was very interesting because I don't usually work Ashke in the round pen, partly because of his haunches and partly because it bores me to death. I will, on occasion, toss him in the round pen to blow off steam, where upon I sit on the mounting block and let him lose his mind around me until he quiets, or I am using it to check for soundness. In this case, Anna was opening a conversation with him.

We weren't sure how it would go, because he was kind of a basket case in the arena outside of the round pen. The horse working with Anna first was very sweet and intent and completely ignored the screaming white idiot I was flying around the arena. When Anna took him I wasn't sure how he would do, but he locked right onto her, listened to what she was saying and offered a very nice canter when asked. He was very receptive to her style of communications and backed, turned, and moved out at the slightest ask, whether in touch or eye contact. Anna told me after that he had done better than she was expecting based on how he was acting while waiting.

After that clinic, J and I went to the early clinic with Tarrin. At one point K was struggling with Eddy (who was using the garrocha as an excuse to act out) so I went down into the arena and took ahold of Eddy's reins then handed the garrocha to K. I held the left side rein next to the bit and walked Eddy around the course, while K handled the garrocha. Eddy was a little spooky at first, but overall did very well. The second time K was supposed to do the garrocha, I just went down and put my hand on his neck. K was able to lift the garrocha out of the barrel, do the obstacles (I let them get further and further away from me as they went) and return the pole to the barrel without Eddy throwing a fit. Huzzah!!! Huge breakthrough for the two of them.

After that we got food, got the truck, loaded all of the stuff from the tack room and waited for K to finish her clinic. This year was much better as Expo did not require we stay in the stall until four. We managed to have everything loaded and headed for home by 2:45. Both horses unloaded without incident and we headed home.

Overall, the Expo was a success. I learned a lot and so did Ashke. L has already talked me into doing a ride in the Mane Event next year, so there is that to look forward to, plan, practice and come up with costumes for.

1 comment:

  1. I got exhausted just reading about all of the activity. It sounds like a wonderful expo and great experience for both you and Ashke. He worked hard for you and it sounds like he never checked out on you mentally which is great.