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January 23, 2016: Herding Crickets, Again

Saddle Up arena, Lesson #6. On Sunday afternoon, there were eight riders and eight horses present. Those present consisted of all the Lemays (four total), their horses (this included Kyrbi, their older horse), Heather and Rio, Dick and Jokla, Claudia and Katla, and Frank and Giff. There was supposed to be nine people total, but one person bowed out. So instead of (as planned) having three riding groups of three, I had two groups of four.

I began by having everyone do stretches and shakeouts. I next gave everyone a handout in which I drew two horses – one being ridden correctly and one being ridden incorrectly. Next I had everyone walk around the far end of the arena. I hoped that the riders would make the connection between their walking and riding energy levels, but I didn’t get the sense that this happened. I’d put out obstacles beforehand, some of these included the wading pool (I filled it with water bottles), the star pattern with poles, a flag, fun noodles, and the like.

My plan was to have one group work their horses over obstacles while the second group was being instructed. This worked okay. Much to my dismay, I did not get to work with those going over the obstacles – this was because I knew that with guidance, that they

Saddle Up Sundays

Alys making adjustment

could have done better. However, I noted when I was working with the riding groups, the obstacle group people were totally involved in what they were doing, and all the horses were focused. A person can’t ask for more than that.

The first group consisted of Claudia, Frank, Dick, and Leah. The first three listed here were riding Icelandic horses. And Leah was riding Zorro, her Paso Fino. I had a list of things we might do listed in my notebook, but I soon abandoned it, instead providing individual feedback. Amazing, the horses did as asked then the riders did as I suggested, and used clear intent. This became most evident when the horse and riders went over the teeter totter.

The star of the first group was Leah on her horse Zorro, her brown and white pinto. I had her trot over poles and around barrels. The barrel work, I said, better focused Zorro and let him know that she had expectations. After a few nice go rounds at the trot, I had her canter, encouraging her to use her ‘skipping muscles.’ I could see when she did this that Zorro moved into canter. And when she stopped moving her skipping muscles, Zorro stopped.

Dick was harder to work with because Jokla was at times slightly fractious. After a bit, I took his mind off his physical self and talked with him how well Jokla was doing. I reminded him about last year’s trails trials classes – and how because Jokla was so wild, he ended up having to walk her. I also talked with him about last year when I was exclusively working with others, and this year when I was simultaneously working with seven others. This talk, it was good to do this at this particular point in time because this provided Jokla with much-needed time to regroup.

The second lesson – this consisted of the Lemays and Heather. During this time approximately six other riders appeared, all mounted. For this reason, things did get a bit chaotic. As I told Heather, who indicated that Rio was a bit nervous – imagine if you went to a party and there was no one there you knew – this too would make the horses’ human counterpoint nervous. Odd, a few people said that their horses seemed to like me. Fun being a horse magnet.

I was relieved when the day’s lesson was over because I was feeling dread about it prior to the lesson. But I did it – I worked with eight riders, all at various levels of expertise. Now, in my head, I will begin working on next week’s lesson.

Next: 26. 1/26/16: Happy Trails to You – A Conversation with Hrimmi

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