Friday, March 18, 2016

Rocky Mountain Horse Expo: Clinic

This year, High Country Working Equitation hosted a Tarrin Warren clinic, show and then riding in her clinics during the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. It was sold as a package deal and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. On Tuesday, we took a half day at work and since K was running behind, J and I headed to the NWSS grounds. We unloaded the shavings and got the stalls set up so we could unload the horses and walk them right into their stalls. Then we headed for the barn. J and I had already packed the tack trunk and trailer, so all we had to do is pick up hay and the horse.

Ashke seemed pretty interested to load on the trailer, although I do think he was regretting it by the end of the weekend. We drove north to pick up Eddy. K had her stuff loaded in her car, so all we had to do is load Eddy (who walked right on) and hay, which we plucked from the stack and threw into the back of the truck. K followed us down as we drove back down to NWSS. Once there, we unloaded the horses and got them into their stalls. This year, we paid a little extra to have a separate tack room and each of the horses was in a double stall (10' x 20'). We used the handtruck to unload (see, we can learn from prior mistakes) the hay and got the horses set up with slow feeder haynets, big buckets of water, and a mash. Then we organized the tack room, locked up the saddles and then went to wash the horses.

Inside his stall, wanted to go explore the grounds.

I don't think I have ever been so humbled by my horse's trust in me as I was when Ashke walked, shaking like a leaf, into the wash stall bay. J stood in front of him and we went really slow on the washing part. He shook the entire time we were in there. It was strictly fear from our last experience in the wash stall. He was so white and clean by the time we were done and I loved the Eqyss cream rinse conditioner I had purchased to try - it left his mane and tail soft and easy to brush out, even two days later. We wandered around the Event Center while he dried and scoped out the obstacles going up in the arena. I tucked him back into his stall with plenty of food, wrapped up in his BOT and ready for the night.

J and I went to help set up the dressage court and obstacles in the event center, then we headed home. Ashke was stabled between Eddy and Satori (and he bonded with both) so he could provide safety and security for both of them. All three horses handled being there very well over the week, although I do think they were all ready to go home by Sunday.

Wednesday was the Tarrin Warren Clinic. There were 18 riders for the clinic, so she worked with half of them in the morning and the second half in the afternoon. Most of the morning group were riders who were either new to WE or new to Tarrin, while the afternoon group was made up of the riders who had ridden with Tarrin before. The morning session started with a ride through the dressage test (mostly intro) and then the riders focused on the garroucha pole. This seems to be the sticking point for most new riders. It was interesting to watch the horses and riders begin to learn how to maneuver around obstacles with a 11' long pole tucked under their arm (for the one's who could pick up the pole, that is).

There was a break for lunch and then it was time for the afternoon group.

We started with the dressage test (which I have no pics of since the camera was having issues). Then we moved to the obstacles (which we were practicing on while other riders were working in the dressage court). When Tarrin finished with the dressage, she started working with us on the obstacles. She said that since we had all done the obstacles in the past, we would work on combining them and finding the holes in our horse's training. 

Livestock pen. Worked at the walk or the canter. 
We walked.

Walking a lot for our warm up.

He was not nearly as enthused this year as he was last.
I think the novelty had worn off.

You can see he has his ear canted to his left, staring at the lights they had lowered and were working on. That added an element I wasn't expecting.

Cantering the figure eight.

Waiting our turn and watching others practice. 


Cantering the garroucha.

Tarrin decided that the best challenge we could face was to work a bunch of obstacles while holding the garroucha.
It shows exactly where you need to practice.

We cantered between obstacles.

With the pole.

Bridge, then livestock pen, then bull.

Counter clockwise.

There were plastic geese in the middle of the livestock pen.
Ashke wanted to eat them.

Cantering back to deposit.


We talked a lot about lines and approaches to the obstacles.

Taking the jump again, because the next obstacle was to my left and too awkward to make without circling.

Hardest part of this obstacle is immobility.

Backed out nicely.

Again. Immobility.
We aren't so good at that.

We cantered a lot and the circles were small.

This might be my fav photo of the weekend.
He is not happy.

More cantering.
Itty bitty circles.

Boy has a bit of attitude.

Happy to be done.

He looks so strong here.

Three drums at the canter with a simple change between, through the trot.

We really need to work on bending to the right.

Side pass poles

And in the other direction.

Front Cross.

I got off to wait my turn. 
No need to keep my weight on his back when he was having to work so hard.

We had some really good moments.

I love the garroucha.

We cantered pretty consistently, until he got to tired to try.

Riding a small course.
He counter bends to make such a small turn.

The clinic was great, but I should have stopped cantering sooner than I did. We could have worked the obstacles at a trot, but I had hoped to canter between obstacles at the show. Unfortunately, I think the amount of work we did on Wednesday effected our show performance. I do know what I have to work on going forward and I have a plan to help Ashke and I figure out how to do more at the canter, more one handed and more off my legs and seat. We need to do some remedial training and strengthening with bend, so that is on the list too.

One of the things I need to figure out is how to ride him through these obstacles without as much contact as I had. He prefers to not have much contact and very light legs aids. It pisses him off when I touch him with my heel to keep his hip in when we are moving around an obstacle. I think he would be much happier if I rode him more "western", at least from a bit/contact perspective (not yanking on his mouth, but on a looser rein) and if I could make my aides a bit lighter. And if I could get him strong enough to hold the bend without a struggle.


  1. Karen, HI ,I give you credit for your persistence and your caring for your horse. It is something you love and it shows. Congratulations on your progress!
    Ashke is a work of art in progress.

    1. Thanks Sarah. I sure do enjoy having him in my life.

  2. I need to work on the garrocha badly!!

    1. I got a lot of practice last weekend. I love the garroucha, but kind of suck at doing obstacles with it.

  3. Hi, I'm new to your blog. I ride western trail and this year I am going to try the ranch trail.
    I am wondering if there is a English trail class where you show? Or was this just a part of the clinic training? I've got some great ideas from the pattern to set up in my own arena. check out my blog if you get a chance~
    The California Cowgirl

    1. We do Working Equitation, which has three phases: dressage test, Ease of Handling (which is what this post is really about) and the Speed test - which is the Ease of Handling course as fast as you can go. You should check it out!

  4. Hi, I'm new to your blog. I ride western trail and this year I am going to try the ranch trail.
    I am wondering if there is a English trail class where you show? Or was this just a part of the clinic training? I've got some great ideas from the pattern to set up in my own arena. check out my blog if you get a chance~
    The California Cowgirl

  5. So many grey horses! And you have the cleanest of them all. I don't know how you work that magic. I doubt I'll ever get Griffin so pristine.

    All of the obstacles with the garrocha?! That sounds tricky at best and I can definitely see how it would pick out weaknesses to work on.