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December 7, 2014: Clinic Day #3, Further Thoughts

Last night I spent the night at Gregory and Brit’s place. They own and manage the Saddle Up Arena where the de spooking clinic is being held. They were very accommodating, and of course, I had a wonderful time. I was actually brazen enough to invite Pete and myself over to their place for dinner. And then Pete was brazen enough to ask Greg if I could stay the night.

The very cool thing about things like this is that one gets to know the clinician and pick their brain about various topics. I’d been picking G.O.B.’s brain all day anyways, but of course I never seem to know when enough is enough. He was nice enough to quietly listen to my


Heather and Rio go through fire

questions and answered them in a very kind and thoughtful manner. He did not brush any of them off, or act like any were insignificant. He’d also done his research; for example, he knew that there was some transference going on in relation to horses’ monocular vision. And he was right in acknowledging that while the prevailing thought was turn your horse away from obstacles when passing, that it is now to turn towards it.

Eating dinner together was also a lot of fun. The man is an adept story teller. And in being a policeman, he’s also very perceptive.

And so today began with a power point presentation on drill team formations. I never before gave any thought to the fact that horses and riders have specific formations that they follow in dealing with crowd and vehicle extraction management. There are numerous formations – I really can’t fathom how they do this in the midst of what most certainly has to be general mayhem.

After the power point presentation, the group first worked on going through obstacles, then after going through fire to get over, under, and around them. The fire scenario complemented the concept of chunking down in that first the flames were high and smoky. But then they burned down. The more timid horses were then able to go through them when they were smaller and in this way gain confidence. This then made them realize that this wasn’t such a big deal.

Very impressive, to see horses go over a bridge that on all sides was surrounded by flames. This, considering that yesterday, some of the horses either balked before going over the bridge, or skittered across. The obstacle work was at first piecemeal, but then became less so. By the end, the horses and riders were going over the bridge, through the PVC tarps, past the PVC/fun noodle stands, and around the police car with the barking dog and lights and sirens going. A very tall order, indeed. And oh yeah, let’s not forget that there was plenty of smoke involved in all this.

The grande finale was the drill team formations – en mass, the horses had to surround and walk alongside the police car. And they had had to go through smoke to get to it. I stood on the back bumper and took photos. And I harassed the riders some.

I am so looking forward to attending the July clinic. This will be the week before the competitive trail ride clinic, so this will raise my level of confidence. It was fun to audit this, but the next time around it will be even more fun to be a participant.