Three things I have learned: 1.) The Downunder Horsemanship company and crew is absolutely amazing; 2.) Clinton Anderson is one of the funniest and no-nonsense people I have ever met; and 3.) Texas is really freaking hot.
I am having an absolute blast at the Clinton Anderson Ranch for the 10 Day Fundamentals Clinic. There are participants here from Colorado, Florida, California, New Mexico, Canada, and even Europe. While the majority are Western riders (I count my poser-self in this group with my brand new Wranglers and boots), there are a few English riders here to represent. All of the participants are extremely nice, only to be outdone by the clinicians and staff at the ranch. Days run from 9:00 to 6:00 with a two-hour lunch break, and we somehow manage to fit in philosophical talks and groundwork sessions in the morning, and ring and ranch riding in the afternoons.
The clinic has been going on for several days now and, while I had hoped to write blog entries more frequently, I am lucky if I have enough energy to shower and brush my teeth at the end of each day! While I am having a great time and learning a ton, the long days certainly wipe you out!
That being said, I can only imagine what is going through my horse’s head. Waylon must think I have delivered him to the inner depths because this 90 degree weather is certainly a change from the crisp autumn air back home. Also, the poor thing has never worked this hard in his life. He is like a teenager who is used to playing Nintendo on the couch all day with a bag of Doritos who suddenly gets kicked out and forced to get a real job. However, he has really surprised me and is being quite a superstar. His groundwork is getting really solid, and his lateral flexion under saddle is approaching feather-light. He even has a true Western jog and lope now (which is quite a unique feeling to this English rider) and his handle and ability to rate my seat is a thousand times better.
It is quite an experience getting to work with Clinton Anderson and receiving his instruction and feedback in person. He does not hold back at all, and his sense of humor is on another level! There is never a dull moment with him. His ability to read people and horses is like nothing I have ever experienced before. He is definitely a character, and there is no doubt that he is an incredible horseman. The clinicians are wonderful as well, and they are always willing to come early or stay late to help you with any problems you may be having. They are all so knowledgeable and have an amazing sense of timing and feel. And they are all great teachers!
The progress that all the participants and their horses are making is obvious, and I am happy to say that Waylon is improving each day. We have ridden all over the ranch including the ring, the obstacle course, through huge fields of broodmares, down ravines, in a large grove of trees (complete with resident sheep), through the pond, and all over the dirt lanes crisscrossing the ranch. Waylon is already a different horse, and I am learning something new and refining my technique every day. I am so glad that I have been able to have this experience and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the clinic brings!