I spent the last few days at a Buck Brannaman clinic with both Remi and Cerise. This clinic was made especially significant by the death last week of Buck’s mentor, Ray Hunt. I never got to ride with Ray but I did drive all the way from Texas to Florida a few years ago to audit one of his clinics. It was certainly worth the drive.
This was my sixth clinic to ride in with Buck and my second one on Cerise. I have also audited several. I remember my first clinic with Tess and how I was so lost with the concept of knowing what a horse’s feet were doing and timing up with them. Since Buck has started coming to Texas many of us have gone to all or most of his clinics. It has been such a pleasure to watch the changes in our horses and our skills. Even Buck commented on our progress and he is not one to lavish praise on his students unless it is earned.
My friend, Pat, rode Remi in the horsemanship 1 class and she did a fantastic job with him. This class focuses on moving the horses feet independently. This sounds simple but believe me it is not that easy to do this accurately. The weather was really cold so Buck flagged all the horses together before everyone got on. He had everyone tighten the girths before they turned their horses loose so no saddles slipped and then got all of them running together around to arena. Buck does not just let the horses run amuck but moves them with his saddle horse until they start to flow to where he wants them to be. He does not want any horses lingering in corners. He feels that more riders get hurt by horses ducking into corners than actually get bucked off. So he wants the horses staying smooth as they move around the arena.
It was great for Remi to be able to move out with the other horses. He watched Buck carefully so I would not be surprised if he has been flagged before. He was quick to come to the middle to stay out of trouble. Buck likes for people to get on from the fence and I assumed Remi would be good with this since I get on him all the time from the trailer running board. He was very nervous about Pat being over him on the fence and we never did get him totally good with it so I will work on this at home. Remi tries so hard to be good but he sure does have some troubled spots in him.
Once mounted he was great for Pat and they did fantastic. I think he loved the clinic and all the attention. He ate and drank perfectly.
Cerise on the other hand, did not eat anything for the first 3 days even though I got a pen for her to stay in with her good friend, Kate. I had not planned to take Cerise but I did not get Remi in good enough shape to do the horsemanship 2. This class has lots of trotting and loping plus working cows and roping. Cerise worked fantastic even though she did not eat well. She drank plenty of water and finally broke her fast the end of the third day. By the end of the clinic she was walking right up to the cows so I could throw my loop. Buck would rope on of the cows by the neck and then let us ride by and attempt to rope the hind legs. He would help us with our form and how we positioned the horses. I also took Cerise down to the end of the arena where the other cows were hanging out and stood around some and she got more and more comfortable with them.
Some people might wonder why I would want to learn to rope even though I don’t have any cows. It is just plain fun. It is also a fantastic way to get your horse gentle and working off your legs. If you are having to ride with the reins and your rope coils in 1 hand and build a loop and throw it while continuing to move your horse has to be pretty tuned in and patient. I hit Cerise in the head once and I roped her front leg and hind leg at least once. She took all of this in stride. At least I did not rope myself this year.
Cerise really did well in the arena work. I have spent so much time on getting her soft and working off my seat and legs. She still tends to get a little fast at the lope if I try to work on a loose rein and Buck had us do a good exercise for that. We loped down the fence then came down to a trot, made a half circle to go the other direction and leg yielded back over to the fence then struck off again at the lope. If Cerise was paying attention and going the speed I wanted we kept loping but the minute she started to speed up I would trot and change direction. She really started paying attention better.
All and all the clinic was great and there is nothing like a few good days thinking only about horses and hanging out with great friends all committed to good horsemanship. I hope Ray was looking. Madalyn