We had to go to the clinic, so we were told, it would be really good, they break horses, we should go Thursday evening. It sounded interesting, added to the fact that it was being held in memory of Tyler’s (Ray and Brenda’s son-in-law to be) Dad, who had been a well regarded horseman. When we finished our work on Thursday we packed into the car and headed through Grande Cache, past Sulphur Gates turn off and down a track where there seemed to be a bit of activity. When we arrived it was all over! Bailey2 (B&R’s niece) greeted us as she had been breaking her new young horse. We chatted for a while and then left, determined to be completed more quickly the following day.
Some folks round here don’t call it ‘breaking’ any more as they don’t want to break the spirit of the horse and this was very much Larry’s approach. He wanted to work with the animal, gain its trust and co-operation, work with the horse not dominate it. When we arrived the following day the ‘clinic’ was in full swing but not quite what we expected. A smallish paddock was full of horses and riders, some were wranglers, some were people we’d met briefly and in the middle was a big guy in a white Stetson sitting on a calm bay mare who we assumed was his own for years as she was so responsive to him. We learnt later that he’d borrowed her for the week he was up as there are restrictions about moving horses in and out of the USA at the moment so he had to leave his own at home in Texas.
He was working with Bailey2 as we rolled up so it was good to see him with someone we knew. Her horse, Jazz, looked very calm so we were a little surprised until, I’m not sure what triggered it but, she got spooked, bucked and reared and charged through the other mounts to the other side of the ring. Bailey2 did a great job of controlling her and bringing her back to Larry as she is only 14 and everyone else was an adult with extensive horse experience.
The wranglers working with him seemed to have the short straw, they had to ride the difficult horses or provoke the ones to be worked on but certainly seemed to be enjoying their work. We had met a couple, Mark and Andrew, when they’d come up to Ubar where some of the horses were being kept and where the clinic would have been held if it had rained. It didn’t rain, the sun not only shone but beat down with avengeance. It wasn’t long before I was sheltering under a rather inadequate tree which provided the only shade in the vicinity; I even had to pinch bottle of water to ensure I didn’t expire. It has been around 30 degrees for these few days, exceptionally hot we are told and the fire risk has gone back to extreme.
It was fascinating to spectate at such an event as they are not really held for the general public, we just knew the right people. It would have been great to go to one of the shows when Ray was showing or even more, the Calgary Stampede which we miss by a week. We watched Ray practice on Topaz a couple of times and it is amazing to see what he can make the horse do, (see spins and sliding stop in photos below) just wish he would ride Trigger again as he is so beautiful in full flow. This clinic was held over a week and Larry gradually took the horses from unridden to completely ridable, teaching the reiners how to go through the process of maintaining what they have learnt and being able to repeat it on other horses.
Tyler, Mark and Andrew all rolled up back at Ubar on our final night when Bailey was going to try to ride Johnny. She had been lunging him regularly and had even managed to get a saddle on him. He’d jumped a couple of feet on the lunge with the saddle on, stirrups bouncing around, had looked great and behaved like a pussy cat. Some had teased her about not being able to ride him and she had him in the arena before everyone else showed up. Mark had managed to saddle up Jager, who had been taken to the clinic that day, and was riding him around, obtaining some element of co-operation. He (Jager) looked great and it was lovely to see him doing something.
The guys were offering advice and she allowed them to take on the task. Johnny didn’t like his synch (girth) pulled that tight and set off bucking and rearing, he’s a big horse. That gave an indication of what Bailey had been contending with so they decided to tie him to another horse as this can calm them down but also gives something more solid to hold him by so a heavy calm packhorse mare was brought in. Very gradually and gently Andrew started to get on him and eventually swung his leg over to sit on the saddle. Johnny looked a bit unsettled but was still. As Tyler started to move the other horse Johnny took off, literally. Joey pulled the kids outside and we dived for the corner. Andrew stayed on for a few seconds, the securing rope came undone, Tyler shouted ‘bale’ and Andrew was flung through the air whilst Johnny bucked and reared to the other end of the arena, he is a very strong horse! He calmed quickly once he was provoked to do more.
Bailey was upset but relieved that those who had teased her had now witnessed her problem. They made one more attempt to get on him with the same result but were ready for him with what seemed quite cruel tactics, make it unpleasant for him when he bucked, fuss him when he stops. There was much debate about whether it is behavioural or pain related and after much input even prior to this evening no-one is any the wiser. It does appear that in relation to horse issues there are as many different opinions as there are horse people. Hopefully Larry will be able to have a look at him whilst he’s in the area. Oh and Andrew is OK, bruises like that go with the job, no broken bones this time!