The first day of a multi-day riding clinic is always the worst. That’s the day when you find out that you’re not nearly as good a horsewoman as you thought, and your horse isn’t nearly as willing as you thought. Day one is a humbling experience. I spent last Friday through Sunday with clinician
Jerry Tindell, and my emotions were right on schedule. And, also on schedule, by the end of the weekend I felt incredibly encouraged and eager to keep practicing everything I’d learned.The clinic was held at a beautiful working ranch in Gilroy, CA. There were between 9 and 12 riders, depending on the day, as well as a number of auditors (people there to watch and learn, but not ride). Jerry began by explaining his philosophy based on years of working with horses and mules, and continued with insights and practice throughout the weekend. The highlights:
The 6 things are:
- back up
- move the shoulders over
- move forward with flexion
- hindquarter control
- stand still
If you have control over these, you have control over your horse. We have no control over what our horse might spook at, or what we might encounter out on the trail. But if we have good control over these things, we’re in good shape. These 6 movements are exactly what the boss horse uses to control other horses in the herd.
* The feet follow the nose. We have to control the feet to control the horse.
* You never fail if you recover. You only fail if you give up.
And why shouldn’t he? We ask our horses to go forward and stop at the same time. We ask them to back up by pulling forward on the lead rope. We ask them to move forward willingly, but rather than letting them do so we drag on them with the lead rope.Like I said, Day One was humbling. But, Jerry gave me some good skills to practice, especially for ground work. Because as avoidance-driven as Angel was on the ground, when I was in the saddle we were actually pretty good. He gives much more flexion in the saddle than he does on the ground. Our exercises in the saddle went well, and on Day Three when they brought out the cattle, we had a ball.
This was an awesome clinic, and I hope to attend many more with Jerry.