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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
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!
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
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
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
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