Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Clinic Break-Thrus

Okay, so I think instead of writing a full clinic recap (too much happens in a week to retell and give justice to in print), I'll just write about my BIG break-thrus that I personally had with Prin at the clinic Katie and I attended last week, and if I have time, I'll fill in with a broad recap.

I'm just going to start off by saying that this is just NOT my year for car care! Guess what happened today! My car broke down driving to Kris Fulwiler's place to audit a Karen Rohlf clinic! Not only did I miss the clinic, but my fuel pump may need replacing. YARGH! (more on that later) Anyway, with that out of my system...

I took Prin along with me to a week long clinic series with Farrah, and just had a fantastic time. The break thrus we had were mainly physical (okay, so the mental changed and the physical followed, but STILL!) and were HUGE.

Starting off, Farrah asked to use Prin early on to demonstrate a figure-8 pattern. Prin did great, but then did something mildly rude (don't remember what) and Farrah asked her to back up in response. Well, Prin completely flipped her the finger, figuratively speaking, and wouldn't back off, so Farrah REALLY got after her, and that's when she met Prin's swishing tail habit. After much energetic play and observation, Farrah turned to me and says "Does she do this a lot?" and I said "Um, yeah? I'm fairly sure I've mentioned it several times." and Farrah says "Hmm...It's interesting, it's almost like she's unaware that she's doing it! I'd say it was negative attitude, but 99.9% of the time, her ears are forward, and she's asking questions, but her tail is going." I responded with "I've noticed that! I have had trouble reading into it for exactly that reason. The tail isn't fitting the rest of the picture. It's almost like a nervous twitch that she's unaware of."

So, Farrah suggested that instead of playing friendly up front after I finished a game, I go straight back and love on her TAIL, to help her be more aware of it. So I did, and realized after one try that her tail was TIGHT! Which didnt' make any sense at all. I checked, and her lips were loose, ears floppy, head down, and yet, for some reason she bottled all this physical tension in her tail. So after every time I did something, I'd go back and massage her tail until it was loose and "Jello-y" as Farrah put it. Later on in the afternoon when everyone else was doing 2 rein driving, I did 1 rein on her head, one rein (savvy string braided in) on her tail. The observation I made was toward the end of the day, she was hardly moving it at all, and if she did, it was really at an appropriate time (if my phases were too high, etc) Very interesting.

Later on in the afternoon, Farrah put us riding a Figure-8 pattern, but instead of keeping zone 1 closest to the barrel, we were supposed to keep zone 4 closest. That was TOUGH, because I discovered that Prin was HARDLY using her hind end, and falling on her forhand...A LOT. Once she figured it out though, it was like someone flipped a switch. We also played with alternating engagement with flexibility on the figure 8, and just had a lot of fun playing with the body. OH! and we straightened out a very resistant, forhand-based back-up from atop Zone 3.

So anyway, fast forward to the next morning. I went down to Prin's pen to clean up, feed, water, etc, and the first thing I noticed was the way Prin was standing. Taller, straighter, HQ farther underneath her, and generally looking more comfortable. Very odd, but kind of neat, I thought. I went around, cleaning up and filling buckets, and then something else dawned on me. Prin has had a block in her ribs on the left, and tension in her left stifle, and has had mane flips (majority of her mane lies on right) to mirror that for as long as I've owned her. That morning, the flip that had been there for 5.5 years at the base of her neck was GONE. THAT freaked me out. I flipped it back, thinking "Oh someone must have smoothed it out this morning saying hi." Nope. Looked all wrong. Like it had never been there.

As the week went on, Prin just got more and more uphill, to the point I took out two shims from her pad! Her ability to collect, flex, bend, and engage went THROUGH THE ROOF, and the final night we were there, she offered me about an arena's length of true extended trot, which previously wasn't even in her ability to do in the PASTURE, let alone with a rider, and she also jumped a 3'6" or 4' tall cross-country fence bareback for me. And what's really neat is that since being home (tomorrow will be 4 days) the mane and posture has stayed, and the tail swishing is definitely going down! YAY!

So...HOW COOL?! Oh, and I also had the opportunity to test ride a Balance Zenith for a couple hours one day. Definitely like my fluidity better, but the Balance was VERY lovely too. Might think about selling my Wintec Wide and finding an inexpensive (haha, RIGHT) Balance.

So anyway, thats just some things we picked up. VERY helpful, even with Crest in some areas. And now...*poofs* I go to bed. Thank you all for being so patient and waiting for me to write something :)


Sarah said...

Dang...that's so cool! I had no idea that Prin changed THAT much at the clinic! And was it all because of being friendly with her tail?

I'm tempted (hell, GOING TO) try that with May's ears. Even if she's LB and agreeable, they're half back...and if I do a 'Wipe that look off your face!', she just looks at me with ears back even more.

And I really really really really want Farrah to come over here for a clinic...I'm definitely am going to have to email Lauren about that.


Emma Lee said...

omg i'm so jealous, my life is like turned upside down right now and i wish i could escape and have gone with you. : (

love you so much