Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tough Sucker 2011

When I think of a ride in the Owyhees the first thing that comes to mind is the magnificent Snake River. The Snake winds around through the desert and tall canyon walls, creating quiet oasis and beautiful ranches. The pioneers followed much of the Snake and the Oregon Trail still exists. And lucky us as Tough Sucker riders, we get the privelege of riding portions of the Oregon Trail. To trot where the oxen pulled wagons and the pioneers walked is an amazing experience. And from the dry hill tops looking back towards the river, one wonders how they must have felt leaving the river behind, and knowing that if they stayed there that it could mean death from the Indians. Recall the Utter Disaster blogspot from last October.

It is amazing that much of the Owyhees are as wild as they were 150 years ago. Minus the Indians. :-) But as you ride along its pretty easy to replay some of those old westerns in your head and imagine Indians popping up along the horizon. Hmmm maybe thats what makes Thunder look for something to jump at!

These Owyhee rides remain some of my favorites. And they must be the favorites of others too as riders drove in to the ranch near Oreana for the ride on Saturday April 16. It wasn't a big crowd but it was a happy bunch of riders as we started the day with no wind and a promise of sunshine. The first loop took us to the Snake River and it was peaceful and gorgeous. Even though the water was high and rapid we still had a nice spot for the horses to drink. The trail then went out to the Snake River Birds of Prey area and wound around the desert all day long. Some folks find the desert boring but it is chock full of beauty if a person just looks for it. Even the dry washes with their high walls can be entertaining especially when Thunder is on "Troll Patrol". HAHA.

I think the ride had roughly 40 riders all total on the 25, 50 and 75. Only 5 of us were on the 75 and Thunder and I managed to place third about 30 minutes behind the front runners. He was still full of spooks and playful moves, all in a days work of Keeping me entertained and improving my riding skills. We finished about 8 PM and it wasn't even dark yet. Hooray! We vetted in for the last time of the day with A's on his vet card all day long!

Except for a 5 minute rain shower, it was a sunny beautiful and warm day. So unlike Tough Sucker weather but I truly enjoyed it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Equine Dynamics Clinic

The first ever Equine Dynamics Clinic was held April 2 & 3, 2011 near Parma, ID., featuring Naomi Preston and myself, Karen Bumgarner. It was the result of, "Hey Naomi, you do the TTeam and I do the horse massage, I know they are different but yet they complement one another. What do you think of us doing a clinic?" She loved the idea, and it grew from there with an added day of "Connected Riding" techniques which she had learned from Peggy Cummings.

I had studied Equine Sports Massage from Equissage and Mary Schrieber, following Jack Meaghers proven methods. Along with techniques I had learned as a kid around racehorses and attending other clinics.

Naomi Preston has studied the Linda Tellington Jones' Tellington Touch, which stimulates sensory and helps the horse to accept training, become more focused and also aids healing. Naomi has many success stories she shared with us.

In my mind "dynamics" was a perfect part of the title of the clinic. The definition of dynamics is "pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action". And by the end of the weekend all could see it truly fit. The many ideas rolled together were truly enlightening and energizing. Our riding will be more in harmony to the horse, and his body will be better prepared for competition. I cannot begin to put it all into a blog. So much information! This is just a morsel of what was presented.

One of the things I really wanted to do was paint the major muscles as a visual aid. So I painted Blue, my grey Arabian gelding. This took me a couple hours but it wouldn't have mattered if it took 6 hours because I just had to do it.

Of course Saturday morning just as we were getting started, the wind was blowing and we could see rain headed our way. But everyone bravely ventured out for a few minutes to watch Blue trot around the small arena and watch how the muscles moved. Then the rain came and we ran for the house! So much for perfection. With the weather not cooperating it was a good thing that there was a lot we could do inside.

Naomi began TTEAM with showing us all the different T-Touches and techniques which we then practiced on each other. The moves are quite subtle and gentle but oh so stimulating as several attendees shared their success stories on Sunday. One person had an allergy attack Saturday night, she did the T-Touch over her sinuses and in 5 minutes was breathing normally. Pretty powerful stuff!

After the T-touches we also learned and practiced the massage strokes.

After lunch the weather was better. Naomi demonstrated some T-Touch, the body wrap and a few other techniques. Then I massaged half a horse. Everyone teamed up into small groups and four horses got massaged.

Anne McBee and Carol Fitzgerald with Blue

Afterwards Naomi introduced us to Feldenkrais exercises to raise awareness in or bodies, relieve tension and improve flexibility. We did a back exercise that made everyone feel much looser and more efficient. One person felt so much better she said she didn't need the chiropractor now! So now we were learning to use our dynamic energies as well.

We started Sunday with more Feldenkrais to loosen our entire spine. Then Naomi began showing us some Connected Riding techniques. Now that everyones backs were more flexible and we leeanred how to use our muscles more efficently, she showed eberyone how to put that to use for better balance. How when it comes to riding harmoniusly with the horse, our backs and pelvis are the key to "riding light". Again I can't begint o put all the information in here, afterall volumes have been written on all the subjects. You'll just have to learn from Naomi. :-)

Sunday - a nicer day and Blue displayed the different colored muscles as a visual related to saddle placement. I was surprised the paint hadn't washed off, it was just faded a bit.

Outside we saddled up and put it to use. Basically, a rider got on, sat as they would normally. Naomi critiqued and improved their position for efficiency. We saw how an arched back actually shortened the horse's stride. Some wanted to stop, Hollie got downright opinionated about it. It was amazing how a subtle shift of posture could have such a huge effect on the horse's movement.

Thunder, myself and Naomi

An important technique Naomi demnstrated was "combing the reins", which had the hands brushing the reins as the horse walked. This lengthened all the horse's strides and diffused any nervousness in each horse! Then as the rider combed the reins they would also "rotate" right and left to gain flexibility and engage the horse's hind end. It was all an eye-opener to all of us and even Naomi saw some revelations with the horses. Dynamic and powerful knowledge!

Anne McBee on Scarlet with Naomi Preston

I truly think we crammed several days of learning into two days. It was very full and there was so much more that we could have done. But everyone went home with new tools to make their horse happier and healthier as well as improving their riding skills.

I also have to thank all the great people and companies for donating items to our clinic. Thank-you Tonya Stroud, Griffin's Tack, Long Rider, Action Tack, Creative Sciences, Platinum Performance, Arius Products, Horse Tech, Select the Best, Ginger Ridge Horse Cookies, EZ-All, and Elete Electrolytes. All the goodie they supplied to participants were so very much appreciated!