My personal disclaimer. These are my personal notes for how I interpreted the clinic and the exercises Buck was teaching. If someone reads this and wants to really see the exercises in action, check out his 7 clinic DVDs or his newer DVDs he sells that really take you through exercises step by step. That will probably make it really easy to understand. I am sure I may have fumbled a word or two in my notes, so they may be difficult to interpret.
Exercise 1- Neck bend and reach
- Position 1- Bring your horse’s head around while he is standing still.
- Position 2- Move your hand by your hip- Slide your left hand gently as the rein loosely moves through. Drop your left shoulder back, and your hand should land by your hip, falling behind your leg. At the same time use opposite side hand to bring opposite rein for some gentle pressure against your horses neck. Your goal is to cause horse to reach head to the side and reach out with the same side foot. Once you get reach release the pressure, and return to center and your original centered position. Ideally your hindquarters should be still.
“Master the Standstill first, before moving on to 2”
“When you’re bending left you are working on the left front leg”
“Master this on both sides before moving on to working circles.”
Exercise 2- United Circle to a smaller circle
- Bring your horse to a larger united circle pattern (larger concise circle placing your horse’s feet where you need them), use same maneuver as 1st exercise to bring his front legs around his hind, and when complete go united again.
- Use your reins and leg only as much as you need to guide your horse. Goal being to teach horse to yield to pressure. “Shape them up to be prepared for their next move.”
A working walk is very important to master. Initial goals to learn and master this is loose reins, wide hands keeping your horse centered. You need to have a rhythm in your body encouraging your horse to walk on and keep him alive. And this applies to all of your gaits.
Getting a Soft Feel
This is always a main theme for me sticking out when I watch the 7 clinic vids, as well as in Buck’s Clinic in Dover. This is like the Unicorn for me. Something a little out of reach for me. It is something I am constantly working on but still do not entirely have down. I kind of understand the process but haven’t gotten good at this yet. I can manage a working walk. I just have trouble asking for a soft feel while keeping my horse moving. I have soft hands for the most part, but I do need to change my bit to a snaffle. I am riding in a western curb bit now.
- Practice getting a soft feel on your horse with a bit in his mouth (Buck demonstrated this on the ground. ) But I have also done exercises for this in a halter like this.
- This is buck talking soft feel at a walk. I am sure it is a pirate vid but I enjoyed it.
- The magic seems to happen in the timely, proper release of pressure.
I really enjoyed this class just as much as the first one. There were some more experienced riders who were nice to watch. It was nice to also recognize that I could look at others and see the issues they were having and think in my head ow I would go about adjusting or correcting myself if I were in their shoes.
Buck instructed that (my notes and interpretation) “developing a soft feel, collection and engaging starts from engaging the hindquarters first.
Exercise 1- “When you get to the feet, the mouth is quiet.” -Buck
- Start in position 1… Hand with rein in front of the horn, elbow touching ribs. To bend head move hands to position two- Slide hand even with your hip and and out about 6 inches. Bend head with a soft feel to either side, pressure an release. Work on just this bend in the neck first. The timing of your release is critical, and the exercise should be relaxed and calm.
- After you get it right with the head bend use your leg to set the hindquarters back and forth. “Head first and then feet”
These exercise help with getting horses united by isolating either the front or the rear end. When you isolate the front end and reach with either leg and really strengthen both sides you can get your horse really balanced before you attempt to get that soft feel consistently. A lopsided horse laterally will never give to 2 reins properly.
- Work harder on the side he has more trouble with moving his HQ to get him level and balanced.
- be on the balls of your feet, not on the outsides of your feet. Athletic stance in stirrups.
- Protecting the environment around your horse is your job as the rider.
- If a horse is heavy going forward on his front end, back him up, get him level and then try again.
- Back up—-> Soft feel—->Try again
- “Every time you stop and back your horse, you have a chance to practice a quiet departure.”
- “A horse surging is a loss of balance.”
- “the more Maneuvers you have, the more skills you have and they are all tools.
The end of my notes! What a great experience.