Friday, November 9, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and Arabian Horses - Jesse Saldana Clinic Part 5

Clinic Part 1

The schedule the second day of the clinic wasn't nearly as nerve racking for me. Not only did I not have to do any horses personally but our first scheduled horse was the last horse of the morning. Where as the day before I had the first horse of the day and had done two before the lunch break.

Daylight Savings Time had ended during the night, so we actually got an extra hour of sleep as well. However, in resetting the clocks, Dave had neglected to reset my alarm. The result was me springing out of bed fifteen minutes later than I had planned.

Since it was Sunday Colleen was off too, so I had Rachel call her as we were heading towards the barn to pick up the horses. Colleen made a run to McDonald's and brought us all breakfast instead of us taking the extra time to stop. There was no way we could do the drive through with the trailer and going inside would just add that much more to our lateness.

We managed to arrive at Creekwood Farms at quarter to 8. That gave us enough time to get the horses moved in, fed and settled before the clinic actually started. This was definitely a much less stressful day than Saturday had been for Grandma anyway.

It was nice to be able to sit and watch the other horses work with their riders, instead of running around behind the scenes getting my horses ready. There were several green young horses before Rachel's turn would come. Each horse was doing something different and it was interesting to watch Jesse Saldana's steady even instruction. Pretty much everything was fixed with driving the horse from behind, lifting up the ribcage and flexing.

Sunday's sessions were supposed to be fifty minutes long but most of the horse and rider combinations were tired out before that much time had elapsed. Still Rachel did a good job of keeping track. She managed to get her horse ready in enough time for me to warm him up for her.

As they called us into the arena, Jesse was already finished with the horse before us. So I just let him know that I needed a few minutes to warm the horse up. Sometimes Rachel's cues are a bit fuzzy with something new and the horse gets confused. I wanted the opportunity to show the horse what Jesse was going to ask Rachel to do. That way Dandy would be clear and respond appropriately.

I only took a few minutes to warm the Arabian horse up, then I put Rachel up on him and went to get Jesse. Before he entered the arena I let him know that Rachel is extremely dyslexic. She is confused by instructions using right and left. He asked about inside and outside as substitutions and I agreed that those would work.

I also let him know if she gets frustrated, she locks up and begins to do things opposite of the instructions. If he saw that, the best course of action is to stop her and manually show her what she's doing so she can correct it. Given a minute that way and some deep breathing, she usually can then pick up ok again.

It was really interesting watching Jesse dealing with Rachel. While he still was professional, he seemed to take on a fatherly manner. We could tell that he was being careful to give Rachel instructions she could follow and to keep her confidence up.

Of course, Dandy was Dandy. The Arabian horse loves that kid. He does his best to give her what she asks. People sitting on the rail watching the pair remarked about what a perfect horse he is for her. It was clear to everyone that Dandy takes care of Rachel. Even if he tests her now and then he never gives her anymore than she can handle.

Jesse's technique really isn't any different than what I do. I have been working for a while now trying to get Rachel to understand using her inside leg to wrap the horse around her leg and lift his ribcage. Having Jesse reinforce those directions makes Grandma's job easier down the road.

It was easy to see Rachel's brain was working overtime trying to process the instructions. Even though they are pretty much the same as mine Rachel was reacting like it was all new to her. Just getting them in different terminology was difficult for her to deal with and ride too. Through all of this Dandy stayed nice and even making it easier for her to get things figured out.

By the time they were ready to lope, Rachel was beginning to show some signs of confidence. Since the lope has been what scares her, I was anxious to see how she did with Jesse.

She's always afraid the horse is too fast when he's really not fast at all. Don't ask me why, but for some reason with Jesse helping her she finally figured that out. Not one time did she make that quick telltale grab at the reins that shows shes worried. They loped and loped and loped some more and not one grab at those reins.

The horse did get a bit longer than I would like to see him so I knew that Rachel had forgotten that she's not supposed to see his pole. The horse has such a long neck it's deceptive where the correct frame for him is. Had she remembered that, her ride would have been absolutely gorgeous. As it was it was slow, even and relaxed. It was clear that Rachel had finally figured out what speed the horse's lope really is.

Jesse worked with them until it was clear that Rachel was tiring. That's pretty much where he started to get a bit long. He stopped her and showed her to flex and bend the horse getting him moving off her leg. That was where the lesson ended.

I passed Jesse as he walked out of the arena and I walked in. He turned to me and said "I get over that horse, I just can't believe how responsive that horse is for her."

Next up, the afternoon session with Rachel and Scandalous Hope.

To be continued..............

Part 6

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  1. Wow! Whatta wonderful session! Glad to read things went well! :D

  2. what a wonderful day and session despite waking up 15 minutes late :)

    Dandy is stealing my heart.

    I can sympathize w/ Rachel.
    I cearly remember when I was about 13/14 yo and taking professional lessons for the show circuit. I felt like my horse was always going to fast at a lope when in fact he was practically walking his hindquarters. It was at the time when the Western lope turned into the sloooow lope (canter)in the show world.

    It was something I overcame but to this day, I can remember it causing me anxiety!!

  3. And to think some people treat their horses like nothing more than playthings or automobiles. What a great story. Dandy sounds like a gem.