I am notoriously conflicted about different ways to approach our relationships with horses.
When I call myself a mugwump there is a reason for it.
I see the value and enjoy the ride of a highly trained cowhorse. I am disturbed by many of the training methods used to get there. I want to have a relationship with my horse. I don't think 7 games, or 20 games for that matter, are necessary to attain it.
If you're a regular reader you all know you don't want to get me started on clinicians. But then you'll read me another day and I'll be telling you a clinic is where you should be. I think anything a horse owner does to better their understanding of their horse and how to ride it is a good thing.
I can't even knock the guy with the orange stick, well, yeah I can, but I'm fine with it if it gets people out in the barn with their horse. But clinicians irk me for some reason.
I have not been able to quite put my finger on my problem with clinicians. Jealousy? Oh yeah, as I’m envious of anyone who figures out how to make a buck in the horse biz. I almost ate my arm when I read that Stacy Westfall got to be on Ellen. C’mon! I’ve wanted to have lunch with Ellen my whole life! It’s so wrong…. So I jab and tease and fuss, hoping I can eventually come close to what my problem is.
I hit on it big time this past week. I was perusing a well- known horse magazine which regularly gets advice from a major name in the clinic world. The question was about correctly setting a horse up to spin. There was a photo of said clinician spinning his horse. A nice little explanation went along with the photo. On the next page there happened to be a photo of a major player in the reining world. He too was spinning. Same shot same position. Whoever laid out those two pages in the magazine will most likely get a big WHUP on the side of their pointy little head from the editor once they get an angry phone call or two from the famous clinician.
BECAUSE… He has his weight dumped over, he is looking down at the horse, his shoulders are tipped, he has the incorrect hand lifted higher than the other and his horse is over bent (parelli flop anyone?). He is very effectively blocking the horse’s shoulder, which stops his forward motion. I can't be the only one to have seen this.
When you look over at the famous reiner, it becomes glaringly obvious.
His horse is a spinning motion machine. The rider is looking where he wants the horse to go, his weight, hands and posture are perfect. The horse has plenty of elevation through his turn and is settled securely over his hocks.
I am aware the clinician is on a green horse. How do I know? Because the horse is wearing parachute cord mecate reins. The fact the horse is dumped on his front end, over bent through his neck and has his rib poked out is all rider error. Correct weight, legs and hands don’t change between green and finished.
I was looking at these two photos wondering who decided clinician boy should have all the answers when it hit me. Out of the blue. I don’t have a problem with what most clinicians teach. I have a problem with the notion a clinician knows the correct way to everything. Sometimes it's not about being partners with your horse, sometimes it's mechanics.
Clinicians are selling concepts, some good, some bad. Trainers are selling specifics. A reiner will sell slides and spins, a cow horse trainer will sell his turn on the fence.
The two are very much apples and oranges.
If I’m with a clinician, I’m going to go after theory, philosophy and basic approaches first, then see if I need any of their specifics. With a trainer I’m going to look at specifics and then keep an eye on their theory.
With both of them I’m going to ride my own horse and make my decisions I think will work for me and my horse. I can’t believe it took me that long to sort that out.
I still want to have lunch with Ellen.