Posted on: Mon, 05/30/2011 - 00:00 By: lisa

Mark and I are back home from the States now, having had a wonderful and inspirational time there, it started with the Californios, a favourite event of ours involving roping events using vaquero trained bridle horses in various stages of their training.

There was also a large selection of trade stalls, and needless to say we stocked up on goodies for our horses! We've been to this event before, and so knew what a treat it was to go there, this year though, it was great to see Steve and Irena there as well as our friends David and Sarah Firth from the UK. We had an awesome time catching up with friends whom we hadn't seen for a long time and also meeting new friends too, the ranching community is a very special one, you are immediately made to feel welcome and made to feel that you too belong to that community, lessons can be learned from these folks! When we could tear ourselves away from the trade show, we managed to catch a glimpse of some of the events from calf roping to Bull doctoring, and the new event called off the ropes which involves ranch horses who haven't been ridden for a long time, many only having just a handful of rides on them, and the cowboy who has never seen the horse before, has to assess the horse, be able to groom, saddle, ride it for a while and be able to rope off it, all to be done in 16 mins! This class simulates the life of a real working buckaroo, who would have just been told which horse to go and ride, he wouldn't have had a choice! the standard of horsemanship throughout the whole event was amazing. There was also another class for youth riders, again a ridden show and a roping part, its good to know that young riders are interested in bridle horse training!

Next stop after a very foggy and snowy trip from Reno to Santa Ynez was Light hands Horsemanship, 4 days of museum trips and education, we enjoyed talks from Dr Robert Miller talking about imprinting foals and the horse's mind, watched numerous demos from young horse starting to western dressage, and the highlight form me was meeting a lady who is very inspirational to me, arabian breeder and vaquero horsewoman Sheila Varian.

A quick trip south followed to then spend a few days training with Bruce Sandifer, an awesome horseman, who gave me SO much to think about. He gave me a wonderful horse to ride named Rhett, Rhett allowed me to take the time to learn the lightest feel on the rein and also to experiment with weight aids which is crucial in building the bridle horse. I knew i had used my seat more as i had managed to gain HUGE blisters on each butt cheek right where my seat bones are so there was no way of not sitting on them!! I did manage to ride the first day, but we had to make a quick pit stop in Walmart to buy a pair of padded cycling shorts to go under my jeans for the next day. Bruce also allowed me to ride his beloved horse Mooney, now I've seen Mooney at various events before and I ADORE that horse, he is truly stunning and extremely intelligent, it was an absolute joy and honour to ride him.

Mark rode also, again he rode Rhett and he did some reata roping, a reata is a rawhide rope rather than a nylon one, it has way more life to it and takes more skill to throw, Mark did a fantastic job and caught the dummy calf a few times, Hank (the dummy calf) was then dragged around the arena behind the ATV so we could have a go at tracking a cow and getting the horse to hook on to it, great exercises to get your horse and yourself to focus. We learn't so much from Bruce, i hope we can spend more time with him in the future. Back to reality now and time to put it all in to practise on our own horses. 

The silversand annual clinic is roughly a month away, so we will be busy getting ready for that, along with waiting for the arrival of Hubble and DJ's foal mind June. Busy time lie ahead!