Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sarah Vanecek Groundwork clinic.

Max and I participated in our first clinic yesterday  :) There were was an obstacle course set up and the clinician also focused on lunging, side-lunging and long-lunging.

It was freezing so unfortunately I didn't take a whole lot of pictures. I wish I did now that I'm nice and warm in my comfy office!

I opted out of the obstacle course to focus on lunging for Max. He's generally good with it but we have had some scooting  moments. Plus I wanted to make sure I wasn't picking up any wrong habits.

So we started out with talking about the correct position and set up for lunging. She spoke a lot about position and energy. She had me pinch the whip under my armpit and hold it back at first.

Of course, he had to be a good boy that day >.< so I couldn't really recreate the scooting off he sometimes does. But we did work on lunging with a lunge whip and getting him to feel that it's okay to see the lunge whip in my hand - that it doesn't mean I'm going to chase him with it.

She told me that when he is doing what I want him to do, to relax my energy and look at his body and keep my eyes soft. Then when I wanted a canter transition, she had me visualize what I wanted him to do, look right into his eyes and raise the whip slightly. I didn't even have to say anything. Like magic he transitioned nicely. Then as soon as he was cantering, I moved my eyes back to his body and lowered the whip.

Earlier on he'd toss his head and snort when I lifted the whip...she said that he was probably a little offended by it! By asking courteously, quietly and from the heart, we had a nice smooth transition without any of the drama. It was just lovely. She expressed some surprise at how well I was handling the lunging, that I wasn't over-reacting or under-reacting and to not change that when I work with him.

My most favorite part of the clinic? After working with us and seeing how we got a long she came up to me and told me that it was a real treat for a first-time owner, who was also new to horses, to have a horse like Max. She said that my energy was well-matched with his, and that it was rare to find such a sensitive horse with such a good mind. In the wrong hands, it would be a disaster, but my personality was just right for a horse like Max, and that he could teach me to be really smooth with aids which was a real pleasure to see and teach.

It was a fantastic feeling. I admit there have been those days where I have doubted myself... am I the right owner for Max? Will I ruin him with my lack of knowledge, lousy confusing aids and endless worrying?

It was nice to hear from a natural horsemanship professional that we were a good match. Very VERY nice.

And of course, it doesn't hurt that he's cute as a button!! ^.^

 Braids were a must!!


  1. Congrats on a productive clinic! I just love his big blaze and kind eye - such a pretty boy :)

  2. ooh he's so adorable on those braids!! sounds like an excellent clinic and clinician too - i love her points about using our own energy and body language to communicate quietly. my mare is SUPER sensitive to that stuff too, tho it's so easy to forget or unconsciously tense up... glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Yeah!! I never realized how little it takes sometimes...because there are those days when he just feels like he's moving in molasses! Until he sees the whip, then he's off to the moon!

  3. I'm definitely lacking in my groundwork knowledge, but I had a similar lesson revolving around lunging and it was a big "ah-ha!" moment for me

    1. I love those aha moments!! I hear ya about groundwork....on a positive side of the weather over here being c-c-c-cold and Max having the occasional lameness time-off, we've been able to focus on groundwork a little more. Hopefully though we can head back into riding more soon ^.^