Every time Emily comes to town I learn more about my horse, myself, and life. This trip was just as good or better than the ones before.
My favorite part of this clinic was that it included a few new friends which is not always possible! The clinic is individual lessons that we all observe while not working with Emily so it goes deeper than a group lesson generally can. That also means we have less ability to take very large numbers and spots are ALWAYS offered to those who have participated in the past first before opening to the wider circle of friends.
Emily is so great to work with and learn from that people rarely give up a spot though sometimes other life things prohibit someone from participating and then we end up with an opening or two which happened this holiday weekend.
We also had some great young riders join us for the first time! I love seeing these young women begin to mature into not just riders but horsewomen!
Bonus is always getting to reconnect around horses with my ‘old’ horsemanship friends. Brandea and I have co-hosted the clinics before she moved and we’ve prayed and cried and laughed over it all for years. Now that she’s in South Carolina it’s both exciting because she’s beginning to take the horsemanship movement to new places but also sad because she’s only here a limited time. But she and her husband both came for the week and that was wonderful! (Oh and her horse too!)
My second favorite thing about this clinic is I came in with a horse that appeared to be injured. However since the fall I had a hard time convincing her she WAS indeed injured. She continued to act like she was fine even though she basically had a hole in her knee and exposed flesh healing from the inside out that refused because of where it was to stay wrapped.
I decided to use sulfa as an antibiotic because of how deep and close to the joint the wound was. I don’t run to antibiotics often but in this case I thought it through and kept her on them until the wound had closed the deepest part of the hole which was over a week. I began with saline cleaning twice a day in case of dirt or particles and then I used dynamite trace minerals (wound care line) drops, then antibacterial wound care spray and a bandage wrap with Neosporin at first. The vet wrap was always down before the next visit, but it made me feel better as the last thing I remembered was seeing the wound covered and I pretended when I came back it had just come down like minutes before I arrived. I also had K contained in my own little “hospital ward” for the first 4 days, and she basically refused to stay in there even when it was electrified. I saw the orange handle off each visit and I think it was Wyoming letting her out… but maybe I’m biased by the tats….
So I would come the first couple days in a panic and tell God that as a Father he had one really important job here: Keep the mare in the hospital confinement pen, and keep the bandage up!! Really one might think the God of the universe could handle that small detail for me.
He replied very clearly to me during that first prayer:
Daughter, you may SUCK (yes, that’s what I heard, I know it sounds a bit vulgar but it got my attention… apparently God doesn’t always speak King James…) at treating and bandaging wounds, but I am ACE at healing them!
Though I have seen God healing through process in this case, and I believe it was important for me to do the human things I know to be responsible for healing care, the healing itself has been miraculous. Each day more layers are growing toward the surface and it has never looked pussy, yellow or smelly etc. It has been healing at an accelerated rate, and the mare hasn’t take one lame or off step through it all.
Thus I showed up to the clinic with a wounded animal to work with. I was sure it was the right thing because the mustang mare isn’t traveling right now per her own decision that I cannot override, and no one really showed up in great need for me to step aside my own time slots. So I took that as the clear message to come work with the horse with her “weakness” and see what would come of it.
I am amazed at what we got from the sessions. Amazed.
I believe God when he says he has plans for us, plans for our good. I believe God when he says he works more in our weakness than our (perceived) strength, yet when he does it I’m still blown away.
We spent a few minutes on leadership (this mare always tries to control the world, I can work on leadership with her for the rest of our lives, and I love that about her! She always demands I be on top of it). I got on and we rode a little to see how it would go. It was fine.
I had been focusing on a better back up this year on my own and Emily helped me tweak that in my own body and improve communication. I found moments of real softness and impulsion going backward that I’ve never felt on a horse before and it’s cool!
Then we talked about my riding position going from the deep seat balanced elementary place to beginning to find more lightness that will invite her into more lifted balance through her topline underneath me. After years of working on my riding there is always more, but this isn’t exactly improving it (though I’m always improving for sure), it was a new level that is now the right time to play with. We spent a lot of time working on tweaking my own body and hand movements into a more refined place that changed things in K’s body that was fun to feel.
We also got into seeking the soft feel I’d been trying out on my own as well this year. I had experimented this winter and spring but had not felt success. With Emily and her guidance we had some nice moments of it standing still, walk and trot as well. That was really exciting.
One of my goals is to begin consistently finding a left lead canter because as much canter work as I’ve been doing 98% of it is right lead. That is definitely an imbalance I don’t want to continue. Yet all the digging on how to do this and trying different things had not opened that door yet consistently. I’ve seen her canter left lead on a long line but under saddle it’s rare.
It seemed obvious we would not be working on left lead canter with a horse with a deep knee injury on the left leg. Well we did not, however on the last session we DID work on the canter in the right lead which was just fine, but Emily was able to help shape how my body moves which was different from some of the advice I’d dug up from other experts. Also the way I ask for the canter I wasn’t happy with. I’d also tried to dig up the “proper” way to ask for a canter and it didn’t seem to line up with the riding style I had been building. When I talked it over with Emily she gave me a solution that I had not found in all my searching previously but it felt totally in line with what I was searching for, was MUCH more subtle and also put my body in place better than the other ways I’d read and tried.
I didn’t work on the left lead, but now I have a way better way to ask for and practice the right lead and the left will come in time.
Meanwhile it’s clear that I don’t need to compete in another 50 till later this year. God is so good in his grace he gave us a fabulous ride for the “comeback” ride in May so we know we are on the right track.
I have a new saddle to play with that I think will clarify some things my Balance Felix wasn’t quite doing well for her (it’s a still a Balance but a Nexus model and it seemed to set better than the Felix has been) and I have some new layers of physical balance to work into with her that will bring us to a higher level, and if I do some of that work through the summer I believe the rides this fall will be better than if I pulled us (without leg injuries) through the OD 50.
Instead Iva and I will go and drag ride and crew for Amy in the 100. Hope will get to come to ride camp and we’ll see how she does in that environment without a competition to muddy the waters. Iva will learn how to navigate an endurance ride trail with me guiding her and see what she needs to work on in order to succeed with her horse in the future. K will get a good training ride in without having to beat the clock on a hard 50 which will allow us to play around with some of the new things on a shorter “training” ride. All things seem to be working together for our good, and a glimpse of glory seems to be peeking through the weakness that terrible wreck brought.
The August clinic will be here before we know it, and if everyone who’s asked for a spot claims it, we’re already full… but I’ll keep the word out if we have any last minute places available. I think God should move Emily to VA permanently so we can have more access to her teaching brain, but so far he’s been silent on that one… Thankfully he knows best and I can trust I will have exactly what I need, when I need it!
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