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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Tik Maynard Clinic - May 4, 2019

Ellie and I traveled to a local, private farm for a Tik Maynard clinic this past Saturday.  I admit, though I own his book, I have not started it yet (bad me), but I knew Tik's methods and philosophy interested me. When I saw the opportunity to clinic with him a few months ago, I happily sent in my entry fee.

We were paired with Chelsea, the woman who rents the barn, for an in-hand "horsemanship" lesson.  I had wanted to practice with Ellie over fences, as she needs to build her confidence and I figured in-hand would be an ideal place to start.

I immediately liked Tik and his mannerisms.  My lesson was right after lunch, so while I was not able to watch anything beforehand, I did stay for the two lessons after mine.  Ellie was alert but not spooky in the indoor, and she investigated the audience and various jumps, etc. in the corners with her typical friendliness and curiosity. She loved the mirrors and I let her check herself out.



Tik had us begin by just moving our horses out around us in walk and trot. He had worked with the other handler before, and her horse was clearly more advanced at in-hand techniques than Ellie.  But Ellie was willing and obedient, and Tik was gracious enough to point out that my techniques were great for Pony Club (specifically changing directions), but he wanted me to do them in a different way. He wanted Ellie to halt facing me and move out from pressure on her shoulder rather than me positioning in a more classical lunging stance (if that makes any sense).  I guess I knew that, but I am not well versed enough in horsemanship techniques to remember.  I never felt embarrassed or inferior, but instead felt like I had a lot to learn and he was excited to show me.  He took over Ellie a few times through the lesson, which is great for me as I am a visual learner for sure.

The only downfall to the entire experience was that in a semi-private hour lesson, you really only get about 30 minutes of direct instruction.  So after the initial instruction, he had me move to the back part of the arena while he worked with Chelsea.  Once I felt I had much improved my technique with halting and moving Ellie around me, I opted to stand and watch Chelsea. I don't know if that is what Tik wanted me to do, but I learned as much from watching her as I did practicing on my own.

Tik set up barrels for us to jump. He started working with Ellie to show me his technique and then I gave it a try myself. The idea is that if the horse stops, you don't chase after them with the whip.  If they stop, which Ellie did, he kept her straight facing the jump and did not let her duck out.  First, he wants the horse to sniff the barrel and then you can ask them to move off.  If they stop again on the next approach, which she did, then you wait until they are reaching to sniff/look out over the barrel/jump.  Ideally, you do this on both sides four to five times and if they are still stopping to look at it (which Ellie did, because she thought that was the game, to stop and lick the barrel haha), then you use the whip behind as encouragement.  But the idea is to NOT chase them over it in a frenzied way but to keep the introduction as calm as can be, and allow the horse to investigate at its own pace.

After Ellie had done all her checking out of the barrels, she attempted to go over on her own from a standstill as seen in the photo below.  No Ellie, good try but not quite.  She moved the canter barrel towards herself with her hoof and was like uhhhh, is dis what you want, Mom?


The next time around and she jumped it just fine!  This was a great way to introduce jumps to her in a non-threatening and relaxed manner, because Ellie is definitely a hot ticket and once things get a little nervewracking for her, she resorts to rushing.  And then she can ignore my half halts and we end up fighting each other and pulling and it can fall apart easily.  She has never seen barrels like this nor jumped them before, so it was a good lesson for her.  I can see myself using this to introduce banks and ditches too!  I wish I had done this with her last spring over the big log she kept stopping at when we had our first XC school, but alas Tik's technique was not in my wheelhouse.  

So, of course, I am now going to steal my husband's white barrels he dragged home for a project to make Ellie jump them again hahaha.  And I feel as though a field trip back to the farm where we schooled last year is in order!  


this is the adorable little farm as you drive in
my rig is the grey truck/white GN on the left
Tik is coming back later this summer to the same farm, so I hope to work with him again!

Comments

  1. Sounds like a fun outing! Ellie has the cutest face! I just love her! And totally steal the barrels - what else could they possibly be used for that is more important? lol

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    1. Right??? He wasn't impressed but he also isn't using them haha.

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  2. That sounds like an interesting clinic. Good job team Ellie.

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    1. It was super interesting and made me think about things in a different way. I hope to work with him again!

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  3. i've heard so many wonderful things about Tik, sounds like his approach really worked well for Ellie!

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    1. Yes! He was super with her and all the horses/riders I was able to watch!

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