I just returned from a 4 day colt starting clinic put on by Buck Brannaman. I took a 3 yr old pure polish arab gelding. I guess you could call it a miracle clinic in that on the second day we were riding our colts in a round corral. And on the forth day were were cantering in the round corral also. But I know my colt is far from being finished or even yet trusted out of the RC. I did not got to this clinic to teach my horse to ride. I went so that I could learn how to help my horse learn how to be ridden. And trust me, during the clinic I was often times used as the best example of how NOT to do something. But I did not go to show Mr. Brannaman how much ego I had, I went to watch, listen, and learn.
I have been endurance riding for about 8 years now. I do not consider myself a great horse person, but I like my horses enough that I try to learn as best I can. I did not learn to ride until later in life, although it was something I always wanted to do. Luckly the horse I have been riding is some what push button, although she has taught me a lot about riding. The two topics that have been tossed about recently really got my interest. One being the clinics and the other being the horse that wants to go.
Last year at the Alpine ride in Washington my mare decided that on the last loop we were going to canter all the way back to the trailer. Unfortunately most of the last couple miles of that loop is down hill. Not a great place to canter. I basically just hung on. I did have enough control to not let her pass the horse in front of me, so I didn't have a total run away. But also was very unsuccessful at slowing her down to a nice trot. I have learned about the one rein stop, ie pulling the nose to the knee at this clinic and will remember that to use more on my mare and the new colt.
So last night while working my colt in the RC we were able to go from a walk, trot, canter back to trot in a left hand circle very successfully. But when trying to go in a right hand circle at the canter the colt wanted to buck. I slowed and tried again a couple times with the same result. Wanting to be safe than sorry I got off the colt, tied the rein up, and sent him off in a right hand circle bringing him up to a canter. When he started to kick and buck, I put more pressure on him to go a little faster. When the canter became smooth I let him slow, then did the same in the other direction. Then I got back on and asked for the canter again. When he did it nicely he got lots of pets and praise. Thus helping the horse to learn that when he bucks, he has to work harder, but when he does it nice he is rewarded, with out putting my self in danger. That is the basis of what I learned at the "miracle" clinic.
So my feeling about such clinics is yes, they do seem to work miracles, but I don't think any of these trainers expect people to think that is all it takes to start a colt under saddle. If they are giving the spectators that impression, then they need to make the point clear, that these are the steps that need to be taken to get on the horse and be able to ride, but that these steps need to be repeated over and over until the horse and rider are comfortable and competent about what is happening when being ridden.
Not as green as my colt, but almost :)
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