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More Buck and a little bit of O.R.C.A

So, it has been a hectic few weeks for BN Spired Horsemanship. We have been teaching, training, and attending back to back to back Buck Brannaman clinics over the last three weeks…. on top of working my “normal” day job! 

I took this past weekend off to recharge and reset and to give the horses a break, and this week we got back to work. As we returned to our routine, I recognized a few key thoughts that I wanted to share.  I am a pretty analytical thinker, so applyng Ray Hunt’s principle of “ORCA” to our last few weeks helps me to process where we are and where we need to go.

ORCA stands for: Observe, Remember, Compare, and Adjust. This principle is a key for success in my horsemanship- both on a daily work session and in a bigger sense. So, here are a few of my observations:

First and foremost, the focus and awareness garnered riding with Buck in back to back clinics was priceless for my progression and my horses’ as well. I rode Flash in my 2nd clinic in Lake St. Louis over Labor Day weekend, and the progress this little green OTTB made over the course of three days was phenomenal. I made the comment to a friend that he came further in three days than in the last month. This just showed me what discipline, awareness, focus, and a great mentor like Buck can do for our horsemanship. 

Flash and I- Day 2- Buck Brannaman Lake St. Louis

The second observation I returned home with is how far my Warmblood Zeus has come over the last year or two, and especially our trajectory the last 6 months or so. I attribute all of our progress to Buck and the horsemanship he so graciously shares with anyone willing to learn and apply themselves.

From hauling to stalling for long periods, to doing groundwork in a storm in a barn aisle at 1 am, to being a good leader and example for Flash, and riding solo in pristine arenas he has never seen- this guy was SOLID! In each new location, no SPOOKING (!) or hyperactivity, no feeding off other horses energy, and complete focus on what we were working on and giving me 100% every ride.

Buck was asked at both clinics how he keeps his horses quiet and focused with so many new places and traveling and being stalled 24/7. He responded, ” When this stuff (horsemanship) starts working, and you are getting to the horse’s feet- they start to become less troubled mentally. This mental peace is what allows them to keep a good frame of mind, regardless of the environmental factors.”

For me, this is a HUGE change I have seen in Zeus at the last 3 clinics- especially compared to ones prior. He is super calm, relaxed, and not impatient in his stall or riding.

It makes me feel so hopeful for our continued progression, and I actually feel like getting him to the Hackamore stage by next fall is completely possible. I feel so blessed and excited to work with him every chance I get and cannot wait for our next adventure.

Zeus and I cantering on a loose rein at lunch time- Buck Lake. St. Louis

So, now that I am home and have done some reflecting- I realize that often the hardest part of ORCA is the “Adjusting” portion. Often, it is easy to have momentum at a clinic- when you are motivated, have no external distractions, and are super focused. When you return home, keeping the momentum going by “adjusting” your game plan is often a little harder to achieve on your own.

For me, it comes down to keeping the same level of expectations for myself and my horses as I had at the clinic. I have to remember what each horse progressed to, and start from there- not from the place I was at before I went to clinic. This is a key factor to understand when progressing horses in a positive and timely manner.

So, I ride them where they are- not where I left them last week, last month, or even a day ago. I try to check off each progression and move on until we reach our full potential for the ride. I also work to remember to make my horse a winner each ride, but not to avoid progressions that are “hard”- that is where our learning really takes place- right at the edge of our abilities.

Buck Sharing Wisdom in Lake St. Louis- Labor Day Weekend

So, I am going to keep striving to remember all I learned from Buck over the last two weekends, and keep learning daily from my horses. I am off to another clinic this weekend with the awesome Barb Gerbitz and hope to share more knowledge in next week’s blog. Until then- keep riding, keep THINKING, and keep believing.


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