The following are excerpts from my notes and content and quotes might be inaccurate. I am doing my best to repeat what I wrote down in my notebook from the Buck Brannaman clinic I attended.
I have learned a lot from Cooler Horsemanship. Much of what Buck said in his clinic I have heard from James Cooler, but auditing the Buck clinic for four days really allowed things to sink in. One thing I have been working on a lot lately is riding from my seat and I loved watching the following:
"Walk, trot, canter with a loose reign, then one can collect".
There are three seat positions, actually four.
Position one: On pelvis for a moment (and obviously used for jumping) when asking a horse to go faster, but then it is immediately into position two.
Position two: Athletic stance - straight up, on balls of feet.
Position three: Feet forward, deep pockets.
Position four: Your butt hits the ground.
Class Exercise: Ride with your seat while walking on a loose reign.
Talk about out of sync... some horses took off and others never changed pace. Some riders didn't loosen their reigns even though they thought they had. A few did a nice job. The worst offenders seemed to be a dressage and an english rider. And Buck did not go easy on them, but he was honest.
Buck encouraged some to use their legs to get their horses going.
"It is impossible to have a horse light to the hand that is dull to the leg. My leg is pushing on an air bubble, especially the lower leg. (and my leg is saying) "I have every intent to kick you if you don't listen to this good deal." Buck went on to say that legs were only used for transitions, not for maintenance of impulsion.
"Riding is supposed to be discreet. If my horse starts to slow, I might kick a fart out of her."
(a side note: I tried this on Oberon. He slowed, I followed through and gave him a BIG kick with both legs. He really jumped forward! Since then, all I have had to do is pull both feet out from his sides and he speeds up. I have not had to wollup him again since!)
Of course, no Buck clinic is complete without a few quotes from Ray Hunt "See how little you can do to get them to trot".
And so, as the class went 'round and 'round the ring, Buck kept offering advice.
"Try to make it invisible. Slow walk to fast walk ... liven up YOUR body.
|I believe the horse above was Buck's "green" horse - which I found amusing as most people's horses never behave|
and listen as nicely as this gelding.
Fascinating and my notebook is full of advice:
Lateral flexing - Buck looks for a soft feel, pole slightly higher than the withers, ears level, with head turned; it doesn't have to be all the way back to the riders foot.
Longitudinal flexing - he is looking for the proper elevation of the head. The head WAY down (like the western pleasure show people like - he called it the "new fad" - holds the rib cage and spine down... spurs do NOT lift a horses back.
So how does one raise withers without getting the horse dull to our hands and legs?
Well, Buck said the pole must elevate to the proper position, the withers must rise so the horses hips can engage.
And there are exercises for this. I will highlight them in my next posts.