Well, we’re back! Our amazing weeks in Texas have come to an end, and Waylon and I are readjusting to normal life. No more 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, no more blissful hours upon hours of riding under the hot Texas sun, and no more amazing — albeit gluttonous barbeque and Mexican dinners. If anyone is trying to get ahold of us, just look for the unseasonably tan girl in the parka and the horse with no hair and two layers of blankets. Who knew that a little time spent in the 90 degree weather would turn us into such wimps?
Although I can’t speak for Waylon, I must say that I had the best time at the Clinton Anderson Clinic. Although it only lasted for 10 days, I can honestly say that I now have a different horse. He is so much softer and more supple, and far more broke than when we left New York. Clinton says that the key to a truly broke horse is equal doses of long rides, wet saddle pads, and concentrated training. My horse is a living testament to the accuracy of this statement. Perhaps the greatest thing about a Downunder Horsemanship Clinic is that you live and breathe horse training for 10 solid days, and as a result you see huge improvements in a short amount of time.
On the last day of the clinic, it was abundantly clear just how far Waylon had come. We went out on the obstacle course in the morning, and right from the start I could see what Waylon was in the zone. By progressively working up to the more challenging obstacles throughout the week, Waylon’s confidence was soaring. I pointed him to a huge ramp jump that would have made him wet his pants just a few days earlier, and he cantered up and over it like it was nothing. He didn’t glance twice at the huge curtain flapping in the breeze, and the teeter-totter was old hat. When I accidentally walked him too close to a pedestal that I had to beg him onto earlier in the week, he half dragged me up there with him! If I asked him to go over an obstacle, he did — no matter how scary it was. No questions asked. I could hardly believe it!
For the afternoon session, we went out on a final ranch ride, and things just got better. Clinton had us do trot circles around trees (a favorite exercise of his that we worked on daily), and at this point Waylon was just showing off. He was so soft, supple, and tuned in during our circles that I almost slammed his head into a tree once because my aids were too strong! I am definitely not used to having that much control over his body off such a light touch. Next, we all went galloping through the edge of the pond together, which was absolutely magical. Such a dream! The day ended with a few team challenges in the arena to test our skills, and then a photo op with Clinton, the clinicians, and our certificates of successful completion of the clinic. Before we left for the day, Clinton gave us a tour of the private side of the ranch, and we were able to meet all of his horses up close, including Mindy and Diez. I was sad for the clinic to end, but I think Waylon nearly cried tears of joy. The poor boy was tired!
The trip back home is a giant jumble in my mind, and one of the few things I distinctly remember is our stop at Chick-Fil-A, also known as heaven. If you haven’t ever had their grilled chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and vanilla milkshake, then you have never lived! I would say that meal is the elixir of life, but I don’t want to undersell it.
If Waylon didn’t cry of happiness when the clinic ended, then he definitely did when he got off the trailer at home. Although he has had a few days off to rest and recover, we will definitely be getting back on the grind soon and continuing our journey with The Method. This whole trip has been an experience of a lifetime, and I am so grateful that I could share it through this blog.
Thank you so much for reading and for taking this wild ride with us. We did it!
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