"Pulling on both
    reins offers your
    horse multiple

    a) get braced & tight
    b) buck me off!
    c) rear up
    d) ignore, there's
       no hope."



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Last weekend I met with Susan Coale, Erin Gates, Mimi Gardner and Kim Schnittger on the 6th anniversary (!) of our riding safari on the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. We had our usual potluck and once again watched the fabulous slideshow compilation of photos that Erin put together. And, as usual, marveled at the persistent longing to return that has not diminished with time...

Hmmm, what to do?

Well, I know there's interest out there among many equestrians to join us on a return to riding across Africa with the wildebeest. But are there enough people who have the skills? Can you ride a thoroughbred in open country in an English saddle with proficiency? No guns are carried so if/when the ride is threatened by wildlife, our only hope of escaping unscathed is to gallop off on moment's notice. No whining, "wait, I lost my stirrup; hold on, my reins are too long..." Those refrains are known as a lion's delight. 

Joking of course but one does need to be able to ride. Interested? Let me know and I'll give you the particulars. We're talking at least a year away but never too early to start planning. Fun monthly potlucks as we prepare for the ride of a lifetime!

Lions and Elephants and Giraffes, oh my!

There are a couple of spectating events coming up that I'll be traveling to you might want to consider joining us for.
The first, organized by Buck Brannaman: http://www.brannaman.com/roping/index.html
We're driving down Friday and possibly have room for one more in one of the vehicles. No charge for spectators at the event. Will be a chance to catch some great horsemanship. Buck has hand-picked the pros involved. I'm looking forward to talking to them about coming and riding colts with Buck at 2014 clinic... more on what's shaping up there in future email.

The other event is the 4th annual Legacy of Legends held at the South Point Hotel/Equestrian Complex in Las Vegas. This one organized by Buck Brannaman and Carolyn Hunt. http://alegacyoflegends.com/

Talk to anyone who was there last year and you're sure to hear all about Buck, on a green youngster, help Jayton Lord (Ray's grandson) get a first ride on a way touchy colt.  They kept all of us on the edge of our seats as both riders pet their horses in the midst of whirling chaos that gave new definition to 'offer your horse support if he starts to get scared.'

Several top clinicians, including Buck, who worked with Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance gave presentations each day and the trade show left us all coming home with top quality, hand-made gear. The 2014 line-up is yet to be finalized but is guaranteed to be first quality. As you may know, all proceeds go to scholarships for those wanting to make horses their livelihoods. A good cause.

I've got room reservations so check with me if you want to join our group of all the usual suspects. Or click on the site to reserve yourself. You could stay elsewhere in Vegas and travel to the venue each day but really, it is so much more convenient to stay in the hotel there. And staying in another hotel would involve the expense of cab rides...

I've got a couple of local mini-clinics coming up in November. Ride for 1/2 day. All levels horses/riders welcome.

The first is at Maggie's Farm on the 10th. Flier at end of this email. Feel free to copy and post. Pot-luck afterwards for auditors and riders. Bring photos of riders on horses and we'll talk about details of what's going on while we have lunch.
Please call Susan Coale to reserve to ride. (831) 429-9604

The other is at Bear Creek Stables on the 16th. Call Nancy Cole for info and to reserve to ride. (408)204-4144. I'll also be doing a free demo at Bear Creek Ranch on Nov. 9th. I always tell my students to go see a trainer/clinician before you sign up to ride, that way you know what you are getting into. In that spirit, I occasionally do free demos. Contact me if you are interested in hosting either a demo or mini clinic. (831) 457-2224.

There's a new addition to the Student Speak column on my site you might find of interest. Written by Natalie and her trusty steed, Chip! http://www.thinkinghorsemanship.com/students.html
My site is somewhat neglected due to strong preference for being out there with the horses and not in front of computer!
So Natalie's addition is most welcome.

I like to share things that I have been working on in these emails. Give you possibly something to think about that might prove helpful to your pursuit of good horsemanship. This time I thought I would articulate my thoughts on the following question:

QUESTION: "You say you are more of a coach than an instructor, what does that mean?"

ANSWER:  Well, as you may know, my initial training was at school in England to become a certified instructor through the British Horse Society, parent organization to Pony Club and governing body to all things equestrian in Great Britain as well as many other parts of the world.  English riding, of course! And English riding is based on the military experience. Everything is organized around 'how things are supposed to be done'  and more significantly, 'how to effectively use force to get those things done.' Since the mechanization of transportation and the military, that overlay to equestrian pursuits is slowly eroding but still permeates much of the approach to horses.

I was given a formula approach to teaching: instructing. The instructor's goal was to produce uniform adherence to 'how it's supposed to be done, by the book!' There are some good aspects to that of course, but imparting information according to such a code, leaves much to be desired when we consider humans and horses as individuals, unique living beings and not as mechanical objects that simply require whatever force necessary. Ray used to tell us, "you don't just turn a dial!"

This was really brought home to me when I started helping my students prepare for competition: coaching, which includes sports psychology. I loved figuring out how to best prepare each rider and horse for the challenges facing them in the competitive arena. Yes, they all needed the skills instructing imparted, like heels down or the ability to shorten a stride within a combination or halt from a canter or whatever... but the way to best get those things varied considerably depending on who I was working with. I increasingly used metaphor and creative tactics to help my riders and their horses successfully do their best under the variety of stressful circumstances that is competition: Coaching.

I don't want to give the impression that a coaching approach is just for competition. Any goal to better your horsemanship can benefit from good coaching. I find there is an element of seriousness on the rider's part when being coached that is not there to such a degree when riding for instruction. That is probably the most fascinating aspect of coaching for me. It's not just the information, it's the desire. I take every moment I am working with a student seriously and when they do also, the horse can feel the try there and it's more, much more than just successful execution.

With all that in mind, you might want to consider the types of questions you ask yourself about working with your own horse. Try to shift from, 'how is this supposed to be done?' to 'how can I get this done in a way that works for me and my horse?' 'How can I offer my horse something he can understand instead of using force?' Make it his idea.

If you come up with something you think others might gain from, write it up and we'll put it on Student Speak.

Okay, that's it. Let's go to Africa, Santa Ynez, Las Vegas, Maggie's Farm and Bear Creek!

Where ever you head with your horse, I wish you happy trails,  Bonnie

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