After two weeks on the road and nine days of clinics, I am glad to be home from a busy and successful trip. We started the marathon with Rich and I at a ranch horse clinic/competition here in the Colorado high-country at Old Cowtown (replica old west town/resort) where we rode with two of my favorite trainers, Mike Majors (AQHA Versatility world champion) and Blue Allen (reined cowhorse world champion), both of Colorado. Rich and I had a fantastic time, and along with having good friends and good horses there, wining and dining and dancing the night away, it was a perfect weekend.
One day at home before we had to repack, retool and leave again, this time headed for the northeast, where we covered the great state of Massachusetts literally from one end to the other. Starting in Easthampton MA with a two-day ranch horse clinic at Heritage Farm, we had a great time with fifteen riders studying four different phases of versatility ranch horse competition: reining, trail, cowhorse and cutting. The horses and riders ranged from experienced to novice, making it a challenge to teach, but with the help of Rich and David Raucher (one of the owners of Heritage Farm) everyone worked cows at some level.
Next we headed to the far western end of the state for a horsemanship clinic at Berkshire Equestrian Center, which is one of the nicest clinic facilities I have worked out of. The clinic was excellent—all the horses were great and the riders had a great time learning and improving. In addition to the lovely equestrian facility, they also have a distinguished country inn with quaint and luxurious accommodations and exquisite breakfast. I’ll be doing more clinics there next year and we are thinking about some riding and yoga retreats there for the future. Let me know if that’s something that would interest you.
Since the first ranch horse clinic at Heritage Farm filled so quickly and without any promotion, we scheduled a second clinic—this would have to be Monday-Tuesday to accommodate my schedule. In spite of the tough days, this clinic filled too, showing the interest in the northeast for this type of training. With another 16 riders we worked again through the phase of this competition. Everyone left the clinic knowing what skills they must develop and the challenges they must face to train for these demanding and varied disciplines. As with most things, it always boils down to fundamentals—stop straight, move off the leg, have good body control over your horse. If you have good body control of your horse, you can master these disciplines quickly; and if your horse is cowy, you’ll really succeed in this particular sport.
After six days in a row of teaching clinics, Rich and I headed to the south coast of MA and caught a late ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for some much needed R&R. We spent three days relaxing with friends and enjoying the island life. This was Rich’s first trip to the northeast and he got to see quite a lot of it! We had a glorious day out on a fishing boat with our friends, followed by a lovely get together with cast members from the Horse Master shows we filmed there. Rich and I played tourist for half a day then we had a lovely picnic dinner on the beach with friends, eating fresh lobster and quahog clams. As our hosts predicted, the beach went from a total zoo to empty at about 5:00 and we had the beach to ourselves all evening until the dark and cold ushered us in.
On our final day on the island, we had fun at the county fair eating fantastic fair food and watching the draft horse pull. It was a little cool and blustery for the beach, as hurricane Bill approached. As we were ending our trip, the island was gearing up for the arrival of President Obama and his family. Regardless of politics, residents seemed excited to have the president visit and there were lots of signs of anticipation from merchants, residents and visitors alike.
It was a long journey home yesterday—17 hours of travel including ferry, car, plane, and train, leaving us both pretty exhausted. As I’ve said, one of my favorite parts of travelling is the coming home and we relished the day to hang out and rest at home. It is very fall-like today, here in the “heart of the Rockies”. We’ve already had a couple of nights in the 30s this month and the summer has been fairly cool and wet. A little dusting of snow today on the high peaks is a message to enjoy what’s left of summer (and to begin looking forward to ski season!).
Enjoy the ride,