Sunday, November 2, 2014

Harry Whitney clinic

I went to a Harry Whitney clinic a month ago and haven't posted about it! There's so much to tell, but I'll try to keep it short and condensed. We had the benefit of a round pen so I took advantage of it and got some help with liberty work with Mac. The first couple days, Mac was really . . . how to say it . . . not coming from a place of relaxation. And it seems like Harry is all about getting the horse with you and getting the horse to work from a place of relaxation, so this was a great opportunity.

Harry helped me a lot with positioning my body, when to stand still and not drive Mac forward, when to step, where to step, how much to step, and it was amazing how it worked! I've always thought of Mac as a sensitive horse. I've seen the way he reacts to people who have a lot of "energy" or "presence" and he tends to be wary of those people or reactive to them. I didn't realize that sometimes I have more presence than I think I do! Where I thought I was dialed-down, I could still bring it down even more and have my communication be more subtle. It was great!

Mac was a great traveler, he made friends with his neighbors, and he came out to work without having any issues with being barn sour (to his credit, that really isn't his thing anyway).

When we went to work under saddle (in my old saddle, pre-new saddle), I told Harry I wanted to focus on working from a place of relaxation. So we did our ground/liberty work first, then when we were in synch (and it took less and less time each day), I'd get on. We worked on lots of changes of direction and transitions - Harry says to not get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over for too long - keep it mixed up. Of course I know that in my head, but sometimes I get so in the moment that I want to try to perfect what I'm working on and then I go on with it for too long. It was a good reminder.

Harry's clinic was good from the standpoint of getting a real intimate experience. Each person has their own 1-hour lesson and then everybody else audits everybody else's lesson, so there's always something to learn and watch and really get into one horse/rider combination and understand what they are working on. I learn just as much from watching other people as I do from my own lessons.

There was someone there kind enough to take some pictures, so here are a couple. This was liberty work:

I wanted to ride in the hackamore to get some one-on-one tips from Harry. Here are a couple photos from that:

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