Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jody Strand Clinic - A Cold Cold Morning

Part 1

The morning the Jody Strand clinic began, I drug myself out of bed and forced myself up to go observe the first day of the clinic. My riding slot was not until the morning of the second day but I have always learned a lot by watching. Besides clinics are a nice way to touch base with other Arabian horse enthusiasts in the winter time. Those opportunities don't come often and I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends.

I dressed in as many layers of clothing as I could get on and still move. Sitting around in an arena for eight hours or so watching others ride is cold work. I threw my heatable cushion into the microwave to assure at least my tush was warm and folded up about four lap robes to take along with me. I grabbed a couple of bag chairs but I decided against my usual tablet and pen for note taking. At least I knew I was too tired for that. I justified it by telling myself I could hardly read my notes what the heck. Then I stepped out into the cold moist morning air and wondered what in the heck I was doing going off to some cold barn when I could be snug in my warm bed.

Still I pushed to get myself into the car and down the road. I managed to get myself lost getting to this training facility...........a facility I'd been to dozens of times in the short time it's been there. I guess that should have told me I was too tired to be doing a clinic but when I'm tired, I guess I'm just not that bright. I had clinic on my mind and clinic was what I was going to do.

I had some trepidation once I got to the facility. I knew the woman who pretty much let me have it at the Region 5 Championships would be there. I hadn't thought about that when I'd decided to come. Now I just hoped she would be professional and leave me alone instead of preach at me about what she sees as my irresponsible breeding practices. We'd been in the midst of the horse show before so people around didn't seem to deter her so this time I was going to try and keep my distance.

Going through the front doors I realized not many people were inside even though there were a number of vehicles in the parking lot. The first person I saw was that woman I was trying to avoid and I was thinking I'd made a terrible mistake. Public confrontation is not my thing so I quickly headed off like I knew what I was doing, maybe I'd be OK. I couldn't help but wonder why people have to treat others this way. It makes things uncomfortable for everyone.

I was already thinking this clinic was not starting off well. Then I spotted my friends, Crystal and Mike Baker. Seeing them made me forget about the chasm between that woman who used to be my friend and me. I went straight over to where they were sitting and asked if I could join them. Crystal and I would be able to compare notes on what we thought about each horse and what its issues might be. That would be fun.

This clinic had been partially sponsored by DST Arabians. They had contributed funds so that kids could bring their horses to this clinic for free. Kids could also audit for free. DST had made this contribution a couple of years back wanting to help a child show who would not normally be able to afford it. The way the rules are written it wasn't OK to do this with show fees so it was decided the next best thing would be to provide access for the kids to a nationally known and respected trainer. Jody Strand had fit that bill perfectly.

Because of this sponsorship over half of the people at the clinic were kids with their horses and of course parents and even friends. There were 4-H level kids on up to those either showing or planning to show in the Arabian circuit. There were also people there who had brought their horses the year before. They were back to get more help from Jody. Others who had been auditing the clinic the year before had returned with horses this time. There were newly started horses and seasoned show horses. That made for a nice cross section of riders and issues to resolve.

I learned a long time ago that everything always goes back to the horse going forward. If the horse isn't doing that properly, it cannot do collected work. It might seem like an over simplification because a horse can exhibit more different behaviors in the avoidance of a task than one can count, but it is not. They may look like different issues...........but fundamentally they are all the same.

What is different is what it takes to communicate to each horse what it is we want. As riders we must find the way each particular horse understands before we can get it to do what is so simple for us to see. That is the part that is difficult. Each horse is different so each has a different way of evading lifting up its back and stepping deep underneath itself.

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

Scary Behavior

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a rotten start to the clinic, hope things got better