The Mark Rashid Clinic

Today is a two cup of coffee kind of day. What about y’all? It seems every day this week has been a two cup day.

It appears as though I have been surprisingly void of any real, seemingly conscious thought to share. The truth is actually, probably the opposite, but we shall worry about that another day. I have not even taken very many photos. Weird.

But. We did do a thing last weekend. More than write home worthy. It has taken me a few days to digest the experience. And well, life keeps happening and has left me with not as much time for this space. Anyway.

I rode Lito with Mark Rashid.

Let us start at the beginning.

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See what I did there? You will soon find I have only four photos of my own to share with you from the whole weekend. I did get a few from one of the other participants of me riding on Sunday, so that is something. I also took zero notes. I intended to take notes, but when you are actually riding in a clinic, it is a lot going on. I did not get to watch as much as I wanted to either, but that is OK because hey, I got to ride!

We arrived on Friday around 4:30 PM. A little bit later than I had planed for, but all is well that ends well, right? Right. We unloaded and got settled in a stall while the last rider of the day finished his lesson. When the arena cleared out, I took Lito for a little stroll to have a looksee at the surroundings.

He was unimpressed by the pretty painted sticks.

After our stroll, I gave him his evening feed and tucked him in for the night to go check into my hotel and rustle up some dinner for myself.

Saturday morning I arrived at the barn at 7 to feed, take another walk around, and get some grooming in before the clinic started at 9. My ride time was at 11 so I watched the first lesson and part of the second before going to tack up.

I did a good job of keeping my anxiety in check once I got mounted in the area. It has been a long time, and a long time over due, since I have ridden in a clinic or taken lessons.

First order of business, bitting and conact. Lito has never really liked any bit I have put in his mouth and has always been fussy and worried about it every time we attempt contact. I have never really had or ridden horses that had bitting issues. They all just seemed to go happily in whatever you put in their mouth. Not the case with Lito and his fat tongue. I have tried different bits with no luck. It is one of the main reasons we have not really done much work towards getting collected and ‘on the bit’ and learning what all that means.

After going through a few transitions from the walk to the halt, back to walk and some turns, he suggested I try, if I wanted, a different bit with some tongue relief that he had for his horse that has a similar mouth. I replied in the affirmative. We gave him a minute to get used to the feel and then it was like a night and day difference. One minute he was shaking his head with his mouth gaped open and tongue flailing about and the next he was light as a feather and just there in the contact when he figured it out. Like floating on a cloud. Now we can start to build from there. Granted he still has a way to go and still has moments of confusion and worry, but nothing like before and I believe most of that will iron out with time.

By the way, I ordered that bit. I hesitated to do it a little because I did not want to be sold by a salesman trying to sell his own product. However, that really was not the case. He never once said, “buy this and it will fix all your problems.” He said, “hey, if you want to try this you can. Or I have a Myler you can try. Whatever you want. If you like it, that’s great, if you don’t, no worries.”

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This is a large block of text, so here is the bit I got to try Saturday. I ordered it earlier this week. I might also get the Myler.

The rest of the lesson we focused on getting a soft and solid contact (mainly me being consistent and keeping my reins shorter and being there for him, closing the gap. My reins seem to always be too long.) and soft and solid transitions. Halt to walk to halt to back to halt to walk to trot to walk to halt. Maintaining that contact for a few strides and then letting him stretch and relax. Building that strength. Feeling that softness and openness of the transition from inside me and allowing them to happen. This is something that Mark is so great at. Getting everyone to be soft and open, mainly by being so himself. Searching for the feeling of what we want so the horse can meet us there. To achieve the same feeling in everything we do. He did not speak down to anyone or make anyone feel small. He wanted everyone, no matter the level, to achieve that inner softness and openness and to get better.

After a break for lunch, which I couldn’t really eat because I was just still a little high, I worked with Mark’s student to reestablish the level we got to during my lesson and take it a little further.

By the end of Saturday, Lito and I were a bit exhausted and hungry and ready for a shower and bed. I brought a pizza and a bottle of wine back to the hotel and crashed.

On Sunday I did the same morning routine as Saturday and settled in to watch the first lesson.

Then at 10, Lito got a Masterson Method body work session! Y’all. That was amazing to watch and Lito was very responsive and gave big releases. Mark’s wife, Crissi is certified in the Masterson Method. It was fun to watch her work because she is so quiet, soft, and confident like Mark.

I do not have any photos or videos of his session, but this is an introduction on the method. There are many videos out there to watch. I wish I had videoed his session!

It was about this time that the wind picked up and changed the energy of the day.

My lesson was at 2, so I watched what I could and then got tacked up. While I was waiting outside of the arena, a gust of wind made one of the standing tents take flight and every horse thought it was going to eat them. Unfortunately, that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, but it gave us a chance to work through that tension and get his attention back on the task at hand by changing direction and going to do something else. Redirecting the energy. Not reacting to his responses.

I used a Myler bit that was similar to the bit I used on Saturday to see if Lito responded differently. I think he liked the bit from Saturday more than the Myler as he was a bit mouthy the whole lesson, but we got to a good soft place faster than we did on Saturday. It is all still new for him and with the tension/reactiveness caused by the wind, there was a lot going on. It will take a little time I think for him to break the habit of worry and tension created from the previous bits.

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Thanks to C for the photos! My boy working through it. It was so windy, I bailed on wearing my hat.

We did more transition work and building on what we did the day before. Being better about my consistency and defining the expectations. Teaching him where the boundaries are. Towards the end we got some really nice downward transitions keeping the energy, momentum, and push all the way through.

Afterwards we worked again with Mark’s student, G, but I probably should have opted out of that because he was just fried at this point. And I guess so was I.

All in all, I was quite proud of him. He handled himself very well. And. I will say. So did I. I am proud of the both of us.  It was a great clinic and I am glad I did it. We have more to build on and a next level to reach now. We both received compliments and I am over the moon.

The afternoon was wearing on, Monday was fast approaching, and we had a ways to go to get home. I packed and loaded everything and lead Lito to the trailer…

…Then…

He would not load in the trailer to go home.

And that is a story for next time.

Walk in love, dear readers!

 

Hey Howdy!

Did you miss me? Shh, I know you did.

I have missed you!

This past week has been a whirl wind, but a fun whirl wind.

In short, it was fun and Lito was amazing. By Friday he was more than ready to come home, but he did better than probably any other young horse that has never been exposed to anything close to this.

Saturday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise and ample time to do what we needed to do before we left. That included a quick water line repair. Again…let us not talk about that…and a shower glam session for the Lito man. Can’t be traveling when you aren’t looking your best. That’s what my mamma says.


He rode in a new to him trailer. One that he actually fits in. Even though he still likes to rub his head on the ceiling. He just has to work harder to do it. Lito got to ride with his bro for life, Ronan. I rode with my gal pal for life, R.



We drove to a friend’s place for the weekend before we made the shorter haul to where we were to stay and ride for the week on Monday. We were with 3 other ladies and their horses and we all had a grand and relaxing time.


He is the cutest.

Sunset.

Sunrise.



A much needed cocktail. All the excitement got to me and I needed to level out.

But what I really needed was this. An evening ride on Sunday and stumbling upon this at sunset. Serendipitous. Something I really love about the hill country is that it really puts life in perspective. Gives you a true sense of scale and how small we are. Similarly to how the mountains make me feel. I swear there is a cross somewhere on EVERY hill out here. When you get to the top of one, you can see forever and yet not see much of anything else besides what you are felling. Hard to explain.

This song reminds me of the hill country. Describes what the hill country makes me feel. We listened to it on Saturday morning, on the top of that hill where we were staying, before we left.


We did not drive like h***.

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When we got to our final destination Monday morning, Lito stayed in a box stall in a tent barn and acted like he was born in there. 

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​A front blew through Monday evening/early Tuesday morning and was quite windy. They ​delayed the ride on Tuesday, but Lito did not seem to be bothered by the wind. We rode every day this week with around maybe 90 other horse and rider pairs. He got a little anxious when the ride went to slow or got too crowded, but he really handled himself well. I had faith in him and I really think he had faith in me. You could really tell he was trying his best and trying to figure it all out. Proud of my loyal boy. He nickered every time he saw or heard me coming to his stall. Made my heart melt. He is such a gift.

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When it came time for everyone to pack up and leave on Saturday, for the mass exodus, Lito thought it was the perfect time for his mid morning nap. My horse is a freak and I love it. Poor kid took up every inch of that stall.

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He sure was happy to be back home in his pasture and with his heard. I am happy to report he strutted his stuff in fine form for everyone.

To spend a week with a bunch of Texas horsewomen in the country, just enjoying Texas, tradition, horses, and fellowship is nothing short of amazing. It was great and I can not wait till next year. Fun times were had by all.

R and Ronan stayed at the farm with us Saturday night before heading home yesterday. I went straight to my parents house to have dinner with them and get my Darcy doolittle dog.

Happy to be back with my Darcy dog, but not ready for reality! But. Reality brought us a cold front this morning. The air is glorious. Straight up feels like fall! I am going to have a fall cooking and baking session with my cousin tonight!

I hope everyone had a great week!

Back to the regular scheduled programming.

Walk in love, dear readers!

 

Memories Gained & Life Lived.

Are you tired of waiting to hear about our Hill Country adventure???

Well, I know I am tired. Tired because we had so much fun! I have a fun hangover. Seriously. Adulting is very hard today. Almost as hard as leaving the ranch on Monday morning.

It is hard to even know where to begin because I am so over the moon with my horse!

Let us just begin at the very beginning. This is going to be long, but at least there are good pictures!

On Thursday, I got to the farm after work at a fairly decent hour. R was able to leave work early and was ahead of her time frame for being able to make it to the farm with Ronan, aka Ro, before dark. When I got to the farm, I set directly to loading everything of R’s into the trailer and a few other things of mine that I had not loaded yet.

It then occurred to me that I might want to go check my horse to make sure he had all four shoes still securely attached to his hooves and that everything was as it should be. I could go on about how I was worried he would have pulled a shoe, which I was, and leave y’all hanging in suspense. Luckily for you, I do not have time for that! Too many other great things! He indeed did have all four shoes solidly in place and ready to go. I snapped a few pics of him because, well, why not. He is just so dang cute I had to.

How could anyone not love that face!?!? At this point, I knew that I could really get excited because all there was between us was one sleep and a drive and we were there.

After loading the trailer with everything I had, I spread shavings in the trailer and filled and hung the hay nets so all we had to do in the morning was load the horses. When I received word that R and Ro were going to be able to make it to the farm before dark (she was going to stay with a friend that lives near the farm where Ronan lives if it got too late so she would not have to haul in the dark), I set up the round pen with water and some hay for Ro.

I had all the horses up in their stalls finishing their evening feed before R pulled in. We unloaded Ro and got him settled in the round pen before introducing my Lito to him. I was pleasantly surprised how they immediately became fast friends. I was slightly worried Lito was going to be a turd since it was his home and herd, but they were like brothers from other mothers and have they same play styles…rambunctious and tough with a lot of bitey face. such boys! I can only imagine how they would be if we turned them out together! We kept Ro in the round pen (which is inside the arena) and let Lito loose in the arena so they could get acquainted over night. We kept the rest of our horses separate.

It the morning, it appeared Ro had won the night time bitey face game as Lito had the little hairless nicks of a looser all over his nose! After feeding them, they were feeling the chill in the morning air and ran around like crazies playing, causing the rest of the horses to do the same. We gave them a few more minutes to burn off some energy while we finished our coffee and got dressed.


Both horses loaded well and after a quick kolache and fuel stop, we were on the road to my Uncle’s ranch. 


It was an uneventful haul and we arrived around lunch time. Both horses unloaded well and stood quietly tied at the trailer while we got the pens set up for them. I was extremely happy when Lito stepped off the trailer like he did. He has always hauled well, but never anything over an hour. We drove over four hours, with a new horse, gained a little altitude, and ended up at a new place. He quietly backed up, stepped out, took a look around, and then cocked a back hoof and yawned.


Yes, I made him wear a helmet for the haul. I know. I’m crazy, but he is TALL. Our trailer is not small, but he does not have to try very hard to touch the ceiling. In fact, if he is just regularly looking at something with his ears forward, they are bent over by the top of the trailer!

We ate lunch, had a quick drive around, and then got ready to ride. 


I longed Lito for a bit and he acted as he always does. He was looking around more than I would have ideally wanted since he was not fully focused on me, but he was relaxed and responded to everything I asked. I rode him around the barn/house for a little to make sure he was responsive and with me. He was pretty mouthy with the bit and ready to go, but again, responsive. R and Ro were ready and waiting so we started off.

Lito was a little sluggish at first, but he soon figured it out. He was looking at everything, taking it all in, and was pretty relaxed. Both horses had some quick spooks (mostly at deer blinds), but Lito was there and with me every time I asked him to come back and relax. 





We went about 8 miles that afternoon/evening (Map My Ride was not working) in around 3 hours. My Uncle’s horse, Cisco, loved our horses and our horses loved him. That made my heart happy. He has had that horse for over 20 years and he is one of the best horses around. They acted like they have known each other for a long time and Lito chose to graze by Cisco after his hose down.


We made some cocktails and had a walk around before feeding the horses and cooking dinner. While the enchiladas cooked, we watched the sunset while listening to the frogs in the pond and feeding the fish before our enchilada dinner on the porch.


On Saturday, we woke up early, fed, and ate breakfast. I longed Lito for a few minutes to see how his mind and body were, and we rode out.





When we got back for lunch, we untacked, hosed the horses down, and gave them some hay before having a mimosa lunch with sandwiches by the pool. Then Darcy and I swam while R tanned. Darcy LOVED the pool because there is a large, shallow wading section. She eventually felt confident enough to swim after a ball and then across the pool with me. I was so happy and proud of her! If you remember, she is not much of a swimmer and this is a pretty big deal. She then proceeded to bound around in and out of the pool barking.

Darcy came with us for our afternoon ride and we saw a beautiful fox! I have seen a fox on this ranch before many years ago while riding Cisco. Truly special both times. By the end of the day, we had logged around 17 miles (yay for Map My Ride working!). 









Darcy was a tired pup! We had some cocktails with cheese and venison sausage, from a deer harvested on that ranch, with honey mustard before feeding the horses and having cesar salad for dinner.


Sunday morning we again woke up early and had another great ride. I don’t think either of them spooked at all and they acted like they had been riding that ranch for years. We rode the furthest into the ranch on this ride. A little bit of the terrain and brush coverage got a little worrysome there for a bit, but both horses handled it. We covered almost 10 miles.



After lunch, we took naps and then took a drive around the ranch. We were going to go for another ride, but we got an invitation we just couldn’t refuse. The ranch foreman is also a pilot, I don’t think I mentioned that. He was going to go fly and offered to take us up in his plane to see the ranch from the air and enjoy the sunset. My initial response was, “**** YES!!!!!,” I excused myself for my language and told R we could do whatever she wanted. Her response was, “how often does someone offer you a ride in their plane without it being creepy or having any expectations?!” Needless to say, we went up in the plane and had a blast! I am so glad we did it and would not change it for the world! Well, really the whole weekend actually.





We cleaned a packed as much as possible Sunday night. We needed to leave in the morning by 7 because we had a meeting to get t by 5 PM back home. That meant an even earlier wake up call to get sheets washed and dried, beds made, stuff loaded, and horses loaded.

I may have cursed when my alarm went off in the morning. We got it done though and the horses loaded well, hauled well, and unloaded well. We got to our meeting in hauling clothes, but on time and happier than…I don’t even know what. A clam? I don’t really get that saying.

Each ride, we rode a different route, the weather was amazing, we flushed lots of wildlife (including pigs multiple times), rode through thick cover, and the horses got better and better. we saw each sunrise and sunset. By the end of the weekend we were not spooking at deer blinds anymore and we were walking with a purpose. Ro was made to climb mountains and really loves it. I think that really helped Lito. He really took to the hills and rocks. I am so incredibly proud of him and he really seemed to have a good time. We had a few sticky moments where he was unsure, but he was never unreasonable, just questioning and needed support. R and I took turns leading when we were not riding next to each other, both of us just enjoying the horses and nature. Every time I went out to check on Lito in the pen, I could have sworn we were at home by the way he acted and how relaxed he was. Each time, he nickered and walked up to me, ready to go ride.

People call the Hill Country God’s Country, and it truly is. His presence is palpable there and this trip was no different, especially to be there with this horse. I know this may sound crazy, but I could have cried several times while riding out there because of just feeling His presence, experiencing His gifts and creation, and all with my Lito.

We came home with even more confidence and trust. He is such a gift and I can not describe how grateful I am for him and to have this experience with him. I could not have asked for anything better!

Can we go back?! Today was extremely hard at work! I got through it with the memories gained, life lived, and lunch with my cousin.

Thanks to R for some of these photos!

I hope you enjoyed reliving our Hill Country adventure with me! On to the next!

Walk in love, dear readers!