Ok its been a little while since my last blog, and we have had a truly awesome yet incredibly busy time here both riding our own horses on clinics and also having fun with horses and riders while we’ve been away teaching camps.
We had an amazing clinic with Jeff Sanders back in May, Three days of high speed learning, I do not know where Jeff gets his energy from! I think at one point we had everyone riding in a hackamore, even ones who had never tried it before. The weather was a little unkind at times and it did feel like winter at one point, but it mainly stayed dry for us and so everyone who rode, managed to get a lot of work done and the improvements were huge over a short space of time.
May and June saw Mark and I in the States for a bit of a busman’s holiday, more horses and horse people, I spent a few days visiting with Eitan and Deb Beth-Halachmy and got to ride the beautiful Santa fe Renegade and Cheyenne Gold again while receiving tuition from Eitan - that is always great fun!
Next stop was Fallon Nevada, where we went to pick up a saddle which we have had made by Terrance McGowan, we have been waiting for this for two years and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it! Terrance is a truly awesome craftsman, his attention to detail is second to none, It is by far the comfiest western saddle I have sat in and it immediately puts you in a balanced seat. It is truly a piece of art. Terrance’s work has become so popular, his waiting list is now 6 years! At the time we wondered why the heck we did what we did, but now, we are so relieved we ordered two when we first met him and his wife Katy, Mark’s saddle is being made right now and will be ready in the next couple of months or so.
We were only supposed to spend a couple of days with the McGowans, we spent time in their shop, rode their horses had dinner and before we knew it we were leaving 6 days later. Some people you just love being around and we have made some truly amazing friends in these two very special people! During our stay in Fallon we also got to meet Jeff’s mum Jeanette and her husband Joe, oh my! what a hoot they are! We could have stayed talking horses all night, People with this much experience, you just shut up and listen. Two wonderfully kind and knowledgable people who took time out to spend with us.
Back into California saw us heading to the Western Horse Expo in Sacramento, where Eitan had asked me to be part of the Cowboy Dressage team for the next three days, This was a spectacular event. It is a huge event where thousands of people attend each day to see big name clinicians, we did three demos, again my partner for this was Cheyenne. It was good to see him again and of course Eitan and the rest of the Cowboy Dressage team, but our time was over all too soon as we were Santa Barbara bound next for the California bridle horse competition, this was a very special event where we met some of our dearest friends again Mike and Peggy Vatalaro, Mike is an awesome silversmith, I am very luck to own some of his work, again another artist and awesome craftsman! This was a wonderful event and we came home with a whole load of new friends too!
Back up the coast to Atascadero, and we spent a wonderful couple of days with Katrina Sanders, here I got to ride the famous Bunny while receiving tuition from Katrina. I had a great time and of course i got to ride my saddle again. Bunny was an absolute star, and I hope to spend time with Katrina again next year.
July saw a spectacular turn out for Steve Halfpenny’s camp, the weather was glorious apart from a few showers at night and we had horses and riders from all over the place, South of the country and West Wales were our furthest and then anything in between. Its a long time since we did a five day camp and I had forgotten just how valuable these camps this long really are.
One of the biggest eye openers for me was how our emotions impact on our horses and our ability to work through exercises. We watched everyone turn up the evening before, very excited and enthused about the camp, to the reality and enormity of the first day, to the doom and gloom and “I cant” of our limiting beliefs on the second day to the realisation of “I can” on the third, fourth and fifth day. A true emotional roller coaster indeed!
As everyone's emotions came to the surface we had the communal toilet roll pass round for mopping up tears of frustration, and of feeling hopeless and inadequate. I found it really interesting as people off loaded in front of everyone, the energy in the room lifted - I don’t think anyone realised just how brave they were being when they did this, or how healing it was to themselves and others!
Funnily enough once everyone got their “baggage” off their chests, they actually went back to work with a lighter better attitude and lo and behold, the horses were much lighter and less emotional too.
It never ceases to amaze me just how fabulous horses really are, the subtle signs they read in us and their ability and speed to change once we ask differently.
Amongst cooking for people, I managed to do most of the clinic with Grace, and I know I am biased, but that girl is truly awesome, She coped working in a big group, mentally she stayed with me and emotionally she grew in confidence on a daily basis.
This year's clinics with Steve saw the birth of Light Hands Equitation, his new program to help riders of all disciplines and abilities to reach a higher standard of horsemanship, through balance, feel and timing. So if you’re interested in learning more about this fun new program, check out the light hands equitation Facebook page and also the Facebook study group under the same name. Steve and Irena have kindly agreed to come back again next year and we are really excited as they have given us extra days - We now have them for eight days! We are still working out exactly how we are going to split the days, however everyone who came to this years camp has already booked for next year, so next years rider places are already limited!
Apart from Steve’s camp, throughout the year we have been doing regular clinics in West Wales, where we have a fabulous and growing group of really motivated and enthusiastic riders. The improvements they make each time we see them is outstanding and really is a credit to their dedication. These folks are so motivated that they have started their own riding club.
The light hands equitation club is for anyone who wants to improve their horsemanship among a calm non judgemental group of people, it doesn’t matter what tack your horse wears and it doesn’t matter what level of riding you are at, we have something for everyone. We give you a series of exercises which make sense to you and the horse, are progressive for you both and the most important bit we teach you the “how”. It’s easy to watch clinicians doing the work, but we want you to take the credit, so theres no secrets, we show you all the ingredients to help and develop your horse.
We have so much more planned for this group, we meet every other month but I suspect thats about to change to monthly clinics with a summer camp next year.
We also have a Yorkshire group in the stages of being set up, a group meeting is set for 23rd August here at our home, where we will be discussing further clinic dates, play days, as well as mini competitions and test days. There are also groups in the South East and also Ireland.
Light Hands Equitation is in its infancy but there are some really exciting time are ahead thats for sure.
August sees another busy month for us, we have horses in for starting, people coming for holidays with their horses for further education. We're off to Devon, to do a two day Cowboy Dressage clinic, then at the end of the month we will have our final clinic of the summer which is a two day camp with Jeff Sanders, These camps are always fun – check out www.californiabridlehorse.com to find out more about Jeff. We are so looking forward to having him back again and we already have dates for next year booked too.
Dates for all the clinics for 2016 will be published very soon.
September doesn’t slow down either, we’ll be heading off to Austria and Bavaria to teach clinics over there with our friends at the L&B ranch,We are so looking forward to seeing everyone over there again.
I think thats it for now, Check the Facebook pages for updates on clinics and of course our website.
Bye for now :)