I haven't been to a clinic with Boo or with Bernadine in months, but last Saturday that changed. When I got the notice through email that a clinic had been scheduled I signed up right away. It's been my experience that if you procrastinate you lose because her clinics tend to fill up quickly. I wasn't sure when I signed up if Boo was going to be able to go. That injury to his jaw took a while to heal. I hadn't put a bit in his mouth at all since he had been injured. The day before the clinic was scheduled to happen, I went to the barn and decided to longe him in side reins to see how he behaved carrying the bit. The last thing I wanted to do was hit the ground because he wasn't healed up enough yet. I tacked up and took Boo over to the indoor. We started out longeing without the side reins. Once I had seen no adverse reaction there I attached the side reins loosely and continued to longe at walk/trot/canter. Still no adverse reaction. While I was longeing another boarder showed up to meet her farrier. Having someone around helped me to make the decision to climb up on Boo's back and test him out. I wanted to be absolutely sure that it was going to be Boo at the clinic rather than Baythoven. As luck would have it he was soft and responsive and we had ourselves a nice ride. I cleaned him up after the ride and clipped his bridal path. He's so fuzzy right now that I would have loved to body clip, but there just wasn't time for a bath and a clip. I cleaned up all my tack instead and put everything together so the DH wouldn't leave anything behind the next morning when he came out to haul Boo over to Crosby Creek.
The clinic began at 8:30 Saturday morning with an hour long lecture. We partnered up in pairs with a set of reins for each pair. We switched off being the horse and the rider while Bernadine gave us instruction in the finer points of handling the reins. We simulated different experiences that can arise while riding and what to do about them. The point was to have some idea of what to do to fix the different scenarios when they arose, using our seat and legs with only minimal use of the reins. After the lecture we all had our own 45 minute lesson.
I warned Bernadine that both Boo and I were a bit out of shape since the last time we had seen her. We started off getting Boo in front of my leg which is nothing new. Every ride starts of with getting Boo in front of my leg. I don't mind because it usually doesn't take much before he gets with the program. After we had him moving forward, we worked on getting him connected to the outside rein. We did this by spiraling into a circle and back out again. I found that I really needed to work on sitting straight, using my inside leg, and supporting with the outside rein. When he got it I would relax the inside rein and give him a good boy rub. We had to do this over and over every few strides, but we had many moments when he got it. I figured that's what we were striving for. Lengthening the time when he gets it. Lengthening the time when "I" get it. It seemed as if the lesson was over in no time at all. Boo and I were actually in better shape then I had given us credit for. Now I'm looking forward to working on what we learned on a daily basis and moving on in the next clinic.