Saw a number of clinicians in two days and all I can say is I’m glad I took notes because I would have forgotten a lot! Before I begin let me just say that these are my personal opinions, you may agree or disagree.  But it’s my blog 🙂

First, a small rant. And this is addressed to all the chatty women that were there and seemed to happen to be sitting behind me at almost every presentation. (I would say people, but the audience was predominantly women). Some of us are actually there to learn something. Okay? I know this may be the social event of the year for you, but some people actually want to listen to the clinician, not you yapping with your buddies about your horses/kids/problems at home etc. Oh, and when they make an announcement at the beginning at the presentation to turn off your cellphones, this means you! I don’t want to hear your cellphone ringing at maximum level playing Shakira’s latest and neither does the clinician. It’s rude. Period. Oh, wait, it’s an important call? Oh, okay then. It must have been real important because you wanted everyone around you to hear your conversation. (I do hope your friend picks up the beer before the store closes, I really do). Oh, and when you clunk me with your bags/purse/beer a simple excuse me/sorry would be nice too.

Is it just me, or does anyone else get p.o’d with these clinic socialites?

Craig Cameron
First on my clinic schedule was Craig Cameron. I didn’t know much about him but the topic was starting a young horse which is where I’m at with Jasper and the reason I went. Craig Cameron was a wiry man with a big hat and a definite cowboy from Texas.  With a heavy Texas drawl which he played up to the hilt. Personally, I found it a bit too ‘good ol boy’ myself. The audience looked to be mostly western type people. I think he had a pretty good rapport with the audience but he made a few women jokes that were annoying to say the least.  Women in the audience that asked questions  were referred to as ‘l’il darlin’. Bleck.
He used a stick which he jokingly referred to as his ‘zucchini stick’ , (reference to the Parelli ‘carrot stick’) that got a big laugh. The horse was a young appaloosa, that had not yet been backed which he had in a round pen. He began by rope tossing and making the horse move forward and then suddenly roped the horse around the neck. The audience applauded (at his roping abilities, I guess). The horse didn’t seem to mind too much. (I would have liked to have seen him try this on a draft 🙂 )
He then proceeded to longe the horse a bit in both directions then had the horse come in and he began touching her. He said ‘You can’t train ’em if you can’t get your hands on ’em’. (Well…DUH!) He mentioned that he lets the horse run away if she needs to and a horse is ‘never punished here’. You just need to make the ‘wrong thing hard and the right thing easy’. He then proceeded to do a lot of pressure release type work, worked his way around the legs, bent her head. In 30 minutes he was putting his weight a little on her back by climbing up on the fence and leaning over her. He did not get on, but concentrated on doing a lot of rubbing. I watched this mare closey to see how she was reacting and she seemed a little concerned but not freaking out.
In one hour he had a saddle on her and had her move around the round pen with it. She bucked only once and seemed to handle the saddle on her back well. He did mention patience and ‘leaving your ego at the door’ when working with horses. If the horse kicks out, he sends them forward and that ‘forward movement is the key’.

The session ended there. He was continuing on the next day with the same mare which I didn’t see, so I am not sure if he actually rode the horse, but I believe that was the plan.

To be honest, I was expecting a dog and pony show, but he was actually pretty patient with this young horse. But all in all, this demonstration was nothing new to me. It was the same cliches and process as many other clinicians, just packaged a little differently. Not disappointing, just a been there done that feeling.

I personally feel that starting a young horse for the first time in a clinic setting puts a lot of pressure on the horse. I only hope that if the horse was much too nervous the next day to actually be backed that he did, in his words  ‘leave his ego at the door’ and did not try to get on her.