Friday, December 28, 2012

A few memoirs of my Harry Whitney Clinic...(long)

Hello everyone, I have been asked how the clinic was other than GREAT, so here is a run down.  This is my interpretation, so this might be missing proper terms.  :-)   I will throw a few of the Harryisms in here too.
The original plan was for Wyoming to stay with a friend because her horse stayed there.  And I was going to stay with the other friend.  I got there early and Beth and I headed to the barn where the clinic was going to be held and talked to the gal.  She didn't want horses tied to the trailers during the day, and if we hauled our horses back and forth we would miss a lot of the clinic.  We were sooooo glad we stopped to talk to Nan - she had stall space and we decided to stall them there instead.
Here are a few pictures of Wyoming meeting Logen, Beth's mustang mare.
Wy:  "Mom, why can't she come in?"

Wy:  "Okay, I guess I will follow her around from here....nice butt!"

Wy:  "Oh goodie!  Look at us!  We are in the same pen!  And we have the same color was meant to be.  Red is the color of LUV!"
Wy:  "Hey baby, going my way?"
 Wy:  "Hmmm, things are looking good...mmmm, she smells good!"


Wy:  "I will follow you anywhere...I luv you!  Cuter butt without corral panels!  Wink Wink!"

 Wy:  "ACK!  Apparently the 'L' word is not allowed yet...LIKE...LIKE...I mean I LIKE you!  You can't make me take back the cute butt comment...nicker snort!"

 (Needless to say we didn't haul them together since I don't have a divider.  No problem since we were only 20 minutes away)

I know this is going to sound crazy, but this photo here was the most excited I had been all day!  Wy pooped when we left the house at 9:00 that morning....and had not pooped or pee'd until almost 4:00!  He was sucked in at the flanks and I was getting worried.....when this happened I hollered at Beth "Beth, he is pooping!" just like a Mom with a little kid that used the kiddie toilet the first time!  I was so happy...things were working.  Whew!

Now to the clinic...
Other than knowing there were 6 riders and we had a 'go' order, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought there would be structure as to what we started to work on and go from there.  Nope.  Harry says "Well, what do you want to work on?" and we have to figure it out from there.  I was thinking to myself "Besides everything?" and at the same time trying to narrow it down.  Luckily I had a wonderful horse who took over for me and I didn't have to think what we were going to start with...let the games begin!
"Don't work on what not to do....instead, work on what to do."

Day 1:  (No pictures from this day...but wish I had some!)  I already knew things were going to be different than what I had planned.  Wyoming was not a happy camper about being away from home and his horse friends (the day I left home he did not poop from 9:00 the morning until almost 4:00 that afternoon) , and he was a totally different horse than what I have here at home.  All I knew is we were going to work on redirecting a thought, and Wy's thoughts were nowhere close to where I was.  Harry likes to see things from the horses point of view - and Wy was very worried.
I let him loose and he blasted around the pen a few times.  My job was to get his attention - NOT to direct and drive him then draw him in to me.  I slapped my leg or stomped my foot to remind him I was there.  Now it was not perfect...but he started to pay more attention to me.  When Wy would stop and put his head over the panels, I made noise to get his attention, he would take off, and I would start walking after him.  Harry would holler "Quit chasing your horse!"  But darn it, my feet had a mind of their own.  I finally got myself to stop chasing him and just let it happen...and when it did, it was beautiful!  He CHOSE to come to me and CHOSE to follow me.  What a great day!
I also learned about lightness vs softness.  I was very light in my request for Wy to back up, but he was not soft when he did it.  When his mind is with me, his head will be lower.
"He roots his nose away from you; it is okay to jerk on the lead to get his nose back, but don't be the jerk on the end of the rope." 
I had to really work on this...timing is everything and even tho I knew it was coming, I would still miss it and my reprimand would be too late.  Even on day 5 I was going crazy because Wy was still doing it and I was still missing it.  Harry says that is okay...I will get it because I am aware of it now.
After our session I heard Harry say that Wy was about 10 inches shorter/longer...ha ha!  Yep, he was much more relaxed.

"Do as little driving as you have to; we already give our horses enough to run from."

"Popular terms we hear today are Disrespect, Control and Obedience."  A lot of horses are obedient but they are really not here with us."
"It's amazing what a horse will do when you let it."

Days 2, 3 and 4 were all great.  I was practicing my skills on getting his thoughts to come back to me...redirecting them from the other horses, people, birds flying in the rafters, horses running outside the get the idea.  Wy charged thru the gate on day 2 but it was not bad so I didn't notice.  He came thru the gate, rooted his nose out, then hurried his butt thru and I turned around to shut the gate.  This was the perfect example of the things I have done at home and since 'they were not bad' I didn't pay attention to them.  Wy should not root his nose away from me and he sure shouldn't hurry his rump thru the gate.  Eye opener - I like many have become complacent with my horses.  Now I need to fix it.  We practiced going slow thru the gate, moving one foot at a time and just staying there.  This is when Harry came in to take over a while.  It was fun watching him...well, Wy didn't think so.  Hee hee!  Wy got his world rocked sideways again!  :-) 
At one point I saw Wy do something I have never seen him do before.  When Harry was pushing him, lots of movement etc., Wy seemed like he turned himself into a trembling ball then just exploded forward.  I was glad that Harry was about 6" to one side of Wy because I really don't know if Wy saw where he was going.  That really bothered me a lot...that Wy was so distraught that he exploded like that.  I asked Harry about it the next day and he said he was not worried.  Sometimes a horse needs to be pushed to the edge of something in order for him to know it is okay.  Harry said that right after the blow up Wy came right back - so his thought was redirected back to Harry.  Harry is right, Wy did come right back down to Earth and was listening again.  Seeing it that way made me not feel so sad.  It also made me realize how much work I have to do.

Wy:  "Um, I don't think so.  I have already seen you cowboy and how all the horses respond to you.  We like our Mom's better!  They are easier to push around...I mean hang out with." 

Wy:  "I already went thru the gate and I thought I did just fine.  Why do I have to do it again?  MOM????  WHERE ARE YOU????"

Wy:  "Um, okay, I went in and now I have to go out again?  Aren't we wasting time?  Last night I got to run circles and that was fun!"

Wy:  "Fine, you want me to go out?  I will go out.   HEY MOM, WATCH THIS!"

Wy:  "I'm sorry, I'm sorry...I didn't mean it!  I promise to pay attention to the best of my ability.  But please understand that even tho I am trying to keep my thoughts on you, they are everywhere else too.  What?  Forward?  All you had to do was ask...and ask again...snort snort!  OKAY, I GET IT. sense of humor..."
Somewhere during one of these three days I decided that Wy's brain was like a house of mirrors.  Something happening in every mirror and Wy trying to follow them all. 
Harry mentioned several times about how we all become complacent at home, and that made me think of something else.  I start all my guys with saddling and no halter.  I don't know why - it is just something I started doing.  So in reality, saddling should not be an issue.  Wy had not been saddled for 2 yrs and I did notice that he flinched when I brought the saddle pad up, but once I rubbed and wapped him with it, I could get it and the saddle on.  The flinching should not happen...I became complacent.  So I decided we would work on that in the pen.  I did that days 3 and 4.  Saddled him in the arena full of noises and moving things. 
"There's nothing there to see until you see it.  Then you wonder how you ever missed it."  (This is one of my favorites!)
"We need to learn to block the wrong thought and set up a new thought, and let them think it is their idea."
"Horses are gamblers by nature.  They play for the intermittent reward."
I learned how to cue Wy to cootchie up to the fence (or anything) so I can get on!  The funny thing is, what he had us doing is different than what he had Beth and Logen doing.  Different person different horse?  I don't know...but I like how he showed me.  Wy was doing real good with it until I petted him over his neck on both sides while I was standing on the block, then he heard one sound that made him jump, then he heard it again and he scooted past me.  It scared him and he related that sound to me petting him.  So I am starting over, but that is okay.  I hold his lead rope up, then bump bump bump.  The second he moves his hind end the correct way, I stop and pet him.  Oh my gosh, it was so much fun learning how to do that!  I can't wait until we have more time to work on of the other gals riding has her horse do this and it is smooth as pie!  
I also need to remember to pay attention to everything Wy is doing.  Example:  Wy was doing as I asked (he can multi-task) but he was looking past me.  I need to work on keeping his thoughts on me.  Or if I am leading him I need to be aware of where his thoughts are.  On me or is he looking at the other horses with ears tipped forward and head in the air?  I think almost every one of us heard Harry say "Where is your horses attention?"  We instantly knew where their attention was NOT.  Ha ha!
We were finally to day 5, and I wished we had 5 more after this!  The night before I was reading Beth's books by Tom Moates, and I got to thinking about what I wanted to work on the last day.  I knew I wanted to practice what I had been learning because my timing and technique are still rusty.  But I also decided I wanted something different - something to rock Wy's world one last time before we had to go home.  I wanted audience participation!  He was so reactive to everyone and every thing that I figured having some clapping, stomping, whatever, would not hurt.  He would also worry when someone approached him, but he would instantly relax once they petted him.  We wanted the approach response better too.  On this day I was first up instead of last (traded spots with someone who wanted to go last so her trainer could be there).  I let Harry know what I wanted to do and why.  He said we needed to have a petting party. 
We started out with 6 people in the ring circling us.  They all walked one direction while Wy and I stood in the center.  Poor Wy was in a panic...he just could not keep up with everyone at the same time.  And when Harry had the people hop a couple of steps, Wy hopped too!  Ha ha!  He was like a cartoon horse....snort, jump, then land with all fours splayed out a bit. 
Then we walked the opposite way as the group and that was not so bad because Wy could watch them.
Then Wy and I wove in and out of the people.
Then we stopped in between each person, and that person (who was holding some sort of object...we had flags, fold up chair, jumping block, blankets) would approach and pet Wy, then walk away.  We did that a lot! 
Then we worked on two people approaching on each side. 
We worked our way up to the Gauntlet.  There were 3 people on each side and we started out the same way...with one person approaching and petting, then two.  We worked up to the whole group coming in on him at the same time and touching him with stuff.  It was a great way to end our clinic!  Oh don't get me wrong, we have so much to work on, but we had so much fun and learned so much.
One thing I loved about this clinic is the guaranteed one-on-one time.  There is no way for someone to fall thru the cracks like we see in bigger groups.  Not everyone is comfortable asking questions...well, with this format you get comfy asking questions real quick.  :-)
Then we got to watch the others too and ask all the questions we wanted.  There was also question/answer time after we got done eating lunch. 
Harry talked about other ways of doing things, and said they are all effective, but sometimes he thinks there are better ways.  That is what I want to learn.  I am grateful that I learned about 'direct and drive'.  That is what got me started a few years ago.  I am also very blessed to be learning about this too. 
People are not patient.  They want to hurry.  They want to take shortcuts.  They don't want to WAIT FOR IT. 
Harry talks about how most horses he sees do a good job, but they are zoned out, there because they are made to be there.  They do as they are asked but are not a participant.  Harry helped us to help our horses become a participant.  There was one horse in particular that any one of us would have loved to have.  She was also the perfect example of doing things because she has always had to do it...but I did not see it in the beginning.  By the time the clinic was over, that little mare was more interested in what is going on.  Seeing the transition made it easier to understand.   
Harry also talked about a belief system and a habit.  It is easy to break a is not so easy to change a belief system.  A belief system might be from worry.  If a horse believes it should be doing something, how much proof would it take to change his/her mind?  I wish I could explain this one better and I wish I would have asked about this before we left so it would be more clear.  Oh darn, I guess I will have to go back to the next clinic!  Ha!

OH!  Clarity....very important with our horses.  We need to be clear with our requests.  I have heard that many times, but me being the example of bad clarity because I am not consistent was the real eye opener. 
I am so happy I got in on this clinic.  Before I even got there I told Brian I was already planning on attending next year.  Now I know it to be fact...and I have a whole year to plan for it!
Thanks Beth for letting me stay with you all week.  I was very comfy and had fun.  Beth is a photographer and knows all about self portraits.  :-) 
Oh, the morning of day 5 I decided to try to saddle Wy in the middle of the alley way instead of in the ring.  He did great!!!  Woo hoo!  Harry mentioned that I already had him saddled instead of doing it in the ring, and I told him how I did it.  I was proud that Wy could stay relaxed while I did it.  Another beauty of this clinic is I had 5 days in a row to play with Wy, to work on being consistent.  No chores, responsibilities, etc.  I need to find a new way to prioritize horse time.
Even tho I did not ride Wy in those 5 days, I still feel like I accomplished a lot.  I know I could have got on him and we would have survived it.  But in my mind I was thinking that me getting on him would only worry him some more, and I didn't want to give him something else to stress about.  We were making too much progress for me to let my ego get in the way...and I didn't want to disappoint Harry either.  I don't know if it would have or not, but I was not going to take a chance.  For some reason it was important to me. Harry and I both know that a lot more work needs to be done with Wy.  Harry also said that a lot of work can be done from the I need to learn when that time is.  The good thing is I will be riding him at home and at a friends place, so we will be working on some of the riding things we saw.  
The first day I put the saddle on Wy, his rear cinch was on the third hole and still had room to spare.  I am usually on the second hole and it is just about snug.  He was so stressed he lost weight quickly.  He is home and back to normal.  That is something we need to work on too.  If I plan on traveling with him he needs to be somewhat relaxed and eat well.  I have plans for that, and I have plans for warm bodies to have more petting parties.  :-)  Poor Wy....he doesn't know what he is in for.  Ha ha! 

I know this is long...but there is no short way to tell what we did.  There is even more I could probably find to talk about.  It was that good!
So, for my first clinic I was not disappointed at all.  I can't wait for next year!  :-)  Harry is an amazing man with horse sense...and his style fits into my personality and what I am comfortable doing. 


Here are a few afterthoughts I had later....
I was trying to think if I have ever seen someone and their horse that complacency didn't play a factor.
I am still thinking...even something as simple as the horse making like they are a parrot and sit on our shoulder, then we pet them while we are chatting it up with our friends. They are totally in our space and if they spooked from something who is in the way?
There was a lot of "ACK!  I do that!" going on and all of us would laugh.  The big things were obvious...the small things...not so much. 

Another thing Harry said a lot was "That was better, but not perfect" or
"That is pretty good, but it could be better."  Always strive for better....  if you keep doing what you have always done, you will always get the same result. 
Another thing that came up....threat vs. promise. How many times do we hear parents
tell their kids "If you touch that again...." then we hear "I told you, if you touch that again....".  We threaten our horses but don't follow thru.  We can stand there hooting and hollering, and waving our arms around like a Banshee, and that is fine.  But if that is not working, we need to turn that threat into a promise...make ourselves bigger to remind the horse you are there.  And if you are waving your arms, be prepared to keep on waving them until you get the result you are looking for.  You quit early & you taught them what they already know.  All stuff we have heard, but told in different ways by Harry.
I am already a monster....ha ha!  Harry said this and Harry does it this way.  Okay, I don't have Harry Worship (yes I do)but he says things in a way to make me think differently.  He does not give us the straight answer to anything...he says the answer in a story and we have to figure it out.  And if we have a question we better ask so he can tell us another story to figure it out.
I also like that he doesn't hesitate to say which methods and what equipment he doesn't like, but he did not outright slam anybody like I have heard some of the others do.  He also talks about some of the other methods being effective and working, but he wants something different from his horses.  I did not feel like I had to filter out the junk to get something I can work with.

A friend asked if I was happy I took Wy...YES!  I learned a lot more with Wy than I would have with Tripp.  Not to say I would not have learned anything with Tripp, because I would have, but Wy took it up a few notches for me.  I have a very different horsenality to work with here.  He is
very different than he was a couple years ago, and Brian said the same thing Harry did (Yep, BrAin is brilliant too...ha ha!) and that is "You are training the horse you have here now."  Bingo!  
Like I said...this is long.  There is no short way to talk about the experience.

Here are a few pictures of the week.  I will have more when I get the CD from Beth.  We had to take pictures for each other.

Here are a couple of ponies at the farm that ran back and forth outside of the arena with the group of big horses.  It was a great distraction and a way for us to practice our new skills of keeping our horses thoughts with us instead of the fun going on outside.  :-)

It was cold but bearable...except the morning it was in the teens!  Not as in 19 being almost 20!  It was more like 13 almost 12.  Brrrrrrr......we all laughed because if we had to jump in the car and go to the store, we would be squawking about it.  But sit us in a clinic for 8 or more hours in temps like this and you did not hear a complaint out of anybody!  :-)

 Sillouette of Harry...

This was funny.  Harry rode 3 of the horses at the clinic.  What an honor to have him ride your horse!  That is a goal of have a horse advanced enough for Harry to feel comfortable getting on.  Anyways, here he is showing us how he gives his cues...we all got to feel his calf between him and the horse.  The movement was minimal...but what was real neat is a cue to walk was Harry moving his leg as if HE was doing the walking.  Same thing with back, move sideways, etc.  Very neat stuff!

Harry is also a photographer, and one morning he got there early and was getting some fun photo time with the ponies.


Harry checking out his work of art...

Here are the ponies again.  They were cute little things.  I have not been to a lot of big farms but have seen many while driving down the road.  The horses and ponies at this place were the happiest and most fun I have ever seen!  Lots of running around playing...they were a joy to watch. 

This little gal belongs to someone who comes to the farm.  She was trying to talk Wy into visiting with her.  :-)  

A treat did the trick!

Okay....a little petting is okay.  

Early mornings was pooper scooping time, and we also took time to let the horses stretch their legs in the indoor pen and the outdoor round pen.  It is cold and I am bundled up....but not too bundled for a self portrait!  Hee hee!

This is a dressage barn, so they have a big mirror on the wall.  Neat photo opportunities here!

Wy:  "Hello!  Am I too sexy for my stall?"

Wy wanted a picture of him and his new friend Copper.

 This is Wy most of the time...wondering what was going on everywhere else.  Which is fine if he brings his attention back pretty quick.  We need to work on the 'pretty quick' part.  :-)

This was my first clinic and what an experience!  The group of people there with their horses were wonderful too.  Everyone had a story...and they were all very different.  The auditors were all fun too.  Almost everyone there has been a Harry follower for a long time and they always come back ready to learn more.

Nan is the gal who has this place, and she made sure everyone was comfortable.  What a neat lady and a neat place.

Told you this was long!  :-)

I will sign off now...

Until later...Karen and Tripp who says he is keeping his mouth shut so he doesn't have to go next time either.  

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