It's been a fun and relaxing weekend for both Rich and me, although our boys, Tucker and Dually, probably could've thought of better things to do. We've been at Cactus Creek Ranch, between Pueblo and Colorado Springs, for the annual "Nuttin' but Cuttin' clinic, sponsored by the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association and organized and executed by our good friends, Tim and Cindy Rose.
Friday morning I put a good work on Dually before we left since I was gone all week and he hadn't been ridden. Although he gets turned out and longed when I am out of town, it's not quite the same thing as working him. He's a horse that needs steady work to stay mellow and focused. After 4-5 days of no riding at all, he's a little hot under the collar. But a good hard workout usually changes his tune substantially. Then after a nice bath for the two boys, we were on the road.
The NVRHA clinics and competitions are always fun, with quite a bit of socializing thrown in for good measure. The people that are regulars become good friends and the "new hires" are always welcomed with open arms and the offer of a good cold beer. It's a diverse group of people—some experienced riders with accomplished horses and some just starting out on whatever horse they happen to have. Some young, some old—a nice even split between men and women.
This particular clinic is strictly ranch cutting—no competition—and only two days. There were three clinicians: Anne Hutchinson of Oklahoma, Jay Hensen of Kansas and Gary Campbell of Colorado, and a total of 140 head of cattle. We worked a half day with each clinician, then for the last half of the day on Sunday we rode through a mock class, just like it's done in competition.
I got some excellent work on Dually. As always, he's a little fresh at first and requires some correction to get his mind right. He's so cowy and quite athletic—able to make some really big moves on a cow—so it is sometimes hard to contain his enthusiasm. But once he realizes he has to fly right, he's all business. Nursing along his back injury is always a little tricky for me, but this weekend he worked really well and felt great.
Rich had some really nice works on Tucker too. Both of our horses are excellent cutters but it is always hard to let go of them and let them do their jobs. Laying your hand down on his neck once you've put him on the cow is a hard thing to do but you have to trust him to do his job and then correct him when he ,makes a mistake. Cutters are supposed to work with little or no guidance from the rider. But everyone gets trapped into thinking their horse is going to make a mistake and trying to prevent it by guiding him through the whole thing.
The problem with that is two fold: one, your horse will never learn to do it on his own if you are constantly micromanaging him. Two, no horse can learn anything unless you let him make a mistake and then correct him. We all learn through our mistakes (hopefully). I talk about this a lot in my clinics—let him make a mistake and then fix it—don't try to prevent the mistake in the first place.
Speaking of clinic, next weekend I'll be teaching a clinic at this exact same location, Cactus Creek Ranch. The clinic benefits "Renee's Friends" a group that raises money for breast cancer research. I hope there will be lots of people and I know we will all have a good time!
All the best,
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