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  1. #101
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    I'm not afraid of being embarrassed, and I am willing to own up to and work on my sh!t - that is why I'm going, after all. The stories of crowding and horses flipping over and bucking people off is why I said I was scared. I think the clinic in Red Bluff is in a big space so hopefully it won't be too crowded.
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  2. #102
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    Feb. 2, 2007
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    My take away from this would be don't be AFRAID to go, but don't go in there thinking it's DEFINITELY going to be a life-changing experience. To some degree, it will depend on what you bring to it, how much experience you've had with this style of horsemanship, and what your personality will allow.

    For a class that's likely to have 20 odd people in it, you likely won't get any more individual attention then you ask for. You have to be okay with having to earn that attention. I never saw Ray in person, but this was apparently how he was wired too. The High River clinic (http://www.keithstewart.ca/clinics.php) is $650 + stabling fees, or $45/day to audit...quite a chunk of change. For that price you could get a clinic with other bridlehorsemen/women with more of an individual focus.

    I'd also suggest that, unless you KNOW the exercises that Buck will work on from having watched his videos/read clinic reports/watched a clinic or the movie, riding will be overwhelming. If you try to negotiate traffic, listen with one ear, and ride...it's a lot. You may be fine with that, but the people in my clinic that hadn't done the prep struggled. I knew the exercises and could focus on refining what I was doing. I didn't have to think about the basics of what was being asked, and that helped. I was also on a horse that didn't mind traffic and pressure.

    Then there's the negativity. I don't need to have my ego babied, or the constant positive affirmation that some require. Even still, it was a bit much. My personality style is to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise, but this isn't how Buck teaches his clinics.

    So, YMMV.


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  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocket Pony View Post
    I'm not afraid of being embarrassed, and I am willing to own up to and work on my sh!t - that is why I'm going, after all. The stories of crowding and horses flipping over and bucking people off is why I said I was scared. I think the clinic in Red Bluff is in a big space so hopefully it won't be too crowded.
    Just do your prep work and stay alert.

    If your horse has a big space bubble and can't deal with other horses coming in and out of that randomly, work on it. If you need your horse to fill in for you being nervous, know how much you can count on them. If you struggle recognizing when others can't handle their horses and you need to protect your horse from them, learn. If your horse hasn't dealt with large crowds and a bunch of unknown horses in close proximity, most of which will be radiating uncertainty, either make your peace with that or try to build up similar experiences.

    Otherwise, just keep your eyes open, and don't count on any particular level of horsemanship from your fellow riders.



  4. #104
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    Feb. 2, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisS View Post
    Can anyone tell me what to expect if you're bringing a stallion to ride in a Buck Brannaman clinic? All replies are appreciated, but I'd especially like to hear from anyone who has ridden a stallion in a clinic, and from clinic sponsors.
    As a fellow rider, I know I'd appreciate at least a blue ribbon in your horse's tail (or any others as appropriate).



  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by aktill View Post
    For a class that's likely to have 20 odd people in it, you likely won't get any more individual attention then you ask for. You have to be okay with having to earn that attention. I never saw Ray in person, but this was apparently how he was wired too.
    I did attend a Ray Hunt clinic. And it was his practice to be in the arena 45 minutes ahead of the start of the day's clinic to answer any questions people had -- whether they were auditing or riding.

    After lunch break, he also started by asking about any particular issues riders were having. And he was most generous to people who asked for help and tried to follow his directions. He rewarded the try in people, too, even if they were hopelessly green and ignorant. Ask me how I know this.

    I don't know if Buck Brannaman makes himself that accessible. But if I were going, I'd just keep my ears and eyes open and my mouth shut ... unless he asks for questions.
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  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post
    I did attend a Ray Hunt clinic. And it was his practice to be in the arena 45 minutes ahead of the start of the day's clinic to answer any questions people had -- whether they were auditing or riding.
    Very cool! I stand entirely corrected



  7. #107
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    Apr. 14, 2007
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    i am excited to go audit in september. i will bring a small notebook. I have read Buck's books, i know what he believes about people and horses and i feel he is doing a great service to the horses and owners. it's hard to please everyone. Some people need to have all the focus on them to be happy. I just want to come out saying i learned something.



  8. #108
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    Aktill, Ray was very good at speaking with people directly. Every morning of the clinic I did, his wife had to wrangle him out of his golf cart and into the arena- he was mobbed by eager listeners and he was eager to help.

    He also delayed us one morning to go get a girl's horse from a nearby barn. She came in to the grounds so embarrassed that she couldn't get her horse to load to come that morning- Ray jumped at the chance to go get him. And he did


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  9. #109
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    For example, Buck makes a different looking bridle horse compared to others that focus more on the hackamore stages, for example (Caldwell, Sandifer, Nichol). His emphasis on the snaffle and his leading rein exercises develop a different looking horse. It was cool to hear his take on things, even if ultimately I'm preferring the non-snaffle progression myself.
    aktill - I think your comment about Buck's horses developing a different look is interesting. Can you please explain? And would you mind explaining why you prefer focusing on the hackamore stages versus the snaffle?

    I've thought about this quite a bit and have always thought it was logical to progress with the hackamore first since it allows a young horse to reach with his neck freely and free up his jaw. It seems like a natural progression from the rope halter too. Moreover, I thought it was logical since a young horse's mouth is typically in a state of change for quite a while and I would think it would be less likely to cause issues. That's not to say that no young horses can go in a snaffle or that an ill-fitting bosal cannot cause issues. I've never made a bridle horse, and have started all my young horses in a snaffle. I'm only saying that it makes sense.

    I've heard Buck say that the bosal is just a bluff anyway. I think I understand what he means by that, but wonder if you feel the same way.

    Sorry for all the questions. I find this all so interesting, and I never have anyone to ask about these things!

    I have two horses right now that I hope to someday make into bridle horses. One will be just that, but the other is going to be a dressage horse as well. Lucky he's still young because it might take me forever to get there.



  10. #110
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    >aktill - I think your comment about Buck's horses developing a >different look is interesting. Can you please explain?

    Sure, with the caveat that this is just my own opinion.

    It's inevitable that any rider develops a "look" in their horses that represents what they believe in from a training perspective. The gear that they use, to some degree, influences that look as well.

    When I (or someone else...can't remember) asked Buck at the clinic what his general progression was in developing a bridle horse, he said he'd have a horse in the snaffle for about a year and a half, go to the hackamore for about 4 months, then go into the two-rein (often a half-breed). When I asked him why he preferred this progression rather than starting in a hackamore, he said that carrying the snaffle was a good basis for understanding bits in general, and reduced the "getting to know bits" uncertainty when he went to the bridle bits. There's a certain amount of time required to get used to carrying a bit, and he prefers that time up front when the horse isn't "on the payroll" yet, rather than taking time off later when they're already useful on the ranch.

    While I hate to use "traditional" here, the more generally accepted "traditional" California progression is to start colts in a stiff heavy hackamore (7/8 or 5/8), go down through a series of lighter bosals and bosalitas until you get to about 3/8, then move into the two rein (generally with a spade).

    Why this creates a different look in a horse can be summarized by a saying I've heard Richard Caldwell use, in that a "snaffle causes a horse to break at the poll, and a bosal causes a horse to break at the withers". I'm not really sure that's strictly true anatomically, but what he's saying is that a snaffle has no longitudinal component, and can only act laterally. OTOH, a hackamore by its nature has the effect of encouraging a horse to telescope its neck, .

    There's no doubting in my mind that, ridden consistently expertly, folks like Buck who extensively use the snaffle end up with a differently "shaped" horse then folks like Richard or Bruce Sandifer. I wouldn't say either one is less capable than the other by ANY stretch, however.

    >And would you mind explaining why you prefer focusing on the >hackamore stages versus the snaffle?

    As much as it seems like a cop-out, there's just more "life" in a hackamore.

    I normally ride my horse in a 3/8 center-hung bosalita, adding a spade a day or two every week when I don't mind the extra cleanup. Once a week I also take a dressage lesson from a lady I really respect, and to keep life easy, I switch over into a snaffle for the lesson.

    I injured my knee skiing over Christmas, and as I was healing up, I didn't bother with lessons. 6 weeks later, when I switched into the snaffle for my first lesson (having ridden with the hackamore for the whole time), the snaffle just felt...heavy. And a little dead. I'd done a clinic with a bridleman in that time, and compared to riding in the two-rein or hackamore, the snaffle really doesn't do much to help the horse in any way, shape or form.

    By the time you're in a bosalita, especially, your rein work and weight is very light and soft, or the horse is running through the bridle. A snaffle, to my mind, just doesn't have that delicacy.

    Hackamores are also especially nice for the winter months, since there's much less to clean and/or warm up.

    >I've thought about this quite a bit and have always thought it >was logical to progress with the hackamore first since it allows >a young horse to reach with his neck freely and free up his >jaw. Moreover, I thought it was logical since a young horse's >mouth is typically in a state of change for quite a while and I >would think it would be less likely to cause issues.

    Agreed (you're talking about telescoping the neck). For youngsters staying out of their mouth as they're shedding caps and growing teeth has to be less distracting, though as Buck said, they'll have to get used to a bit at some point with this tradition.

    Some will say it doesn't allow direct flexion of the jaw, but I personally feel freedom in the POLL is actually the greater gateway to the spine then trying to lever on the jaw, though to each their own.

    >It seems like a natural progression from the rope halter too.

    I'm not a big fan of the halter as a riding tool. A simple sidepull has less propensity to slip and twist, and provides a clearer lateral cue. For familiarization rides a halter is more familiar though, I suppose, if the rider chooses not to do work in hand in a snaffle or sidepull.

    >I've heard Buck say that the bosal is just a bluff anyway. I >think I understand what he means by that, but wonder if you >feel the same >way.

    I don't actually feel the same, though that's a common saying about the bosal. In a nutshell it means you can't FORCE a horse to do anything with a bosal, and that you can get a horse running through one. Fine, but I've seen horses run through double bridles, so are those "bluffs" too? There are also some incredibly severe bosals out there that will do more damage than any snaffle bit could too, were someone so ham-fistedly inclined.

    >Sorry for all the questions. I find this all so interesting, and I >never have anyone to ask about these things!

    No apology required! It's fun to discuss this stuff with people who can speak about it objectively.

    >I have two horses right now that I hope to someday make into >bridle horses. One will be just that, but the other is going to >be a dressage horse as well. Lucky he's still young because it >might take me forever to get there.

    Good luck with that! If you find the right dressage instructor, you'll likely find that there's little in there that will be different then what a California bridleman(woman) would use...especially those leaning towards the French or Portuguese schools. I find my weekly dressage lessons and the twice-yearly clinics I take with the bridle horse folks to be almost completely complimentary, with only a little difference of terminology and tack.


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  11. #111
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    Dec. 19, 2012
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    aktill, I enjoyed reading your detailed response even though I don't really know half of what you're talking about. Can someone explain what exactly a bridle horse is? I've not heard that term before until reading this thread. I also know nothing about spades or bosalitas.

    On topic: I read Buck's book Faraway Horses many years ago and enjoyed it. I thought the movie was interesting and I'm curious to try his DVD set but I'm not sure if the rope exercises would be clearly explained or not. I'm more of a "show me in person and then I'll try to copy it" kind of learner.



  12. #112
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    Feb. 20, 2012
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    Sure, with the caveat that this is just my own opinion.
    Understood. Thank you.

    It's inevitable that any rider develops a "look" in their horses that represents what they believe in from a training perspective. The gear that they use, to some degree, influences that look as well.

    When I (or someone else...can't remember) asked Buck at the clinic what his general progression was in developing a bridle horse, he said he'd have a horse in the snaffle for about a year and a half, go to the hackamore for about 4 months, then go into the two-rein (often a half-breed). When I asked him why he preferred this progression rather than starting in a hackamore, he said that carrying the snaffle was a good basis for understanding bits in general, and reduced the "getting to know bits" uncertainty when he went to the bridle bits. There's a certain amount of time required to get used to carrying a bit, and he prefers that time up front when the horse isn't "on the payroll" yet, rather than taking time off later when they're already useful on the ranch.

    While I hate to use "traditional" here, the more generally accepted "traditional" California progression is to start colts in a stiff heavy hackamore (7/8 or 5/8), go down through a series of lighter bosals and bosalitas until you get to about 3/8, then move into the two rein (generally with a spade).

    Why this creates a different look in a horse can be summarized by a saying I've heard Richard Caldwell use, in that a "snaffle causes a horse to break at the poll, and a bosal causes a horse to break at the withers". I'm not really sure that's strictly true anatomically, but what he's saying is that a snaffle has no longitudinal component, and can only act laterally. OTOH, a hackamore by its nature has the effect of encouraging a horse to telescope its neck, .

    There's no doubting in my mind that, ridden consistently expertly, folks like Buck who extensively use the snaffle end up with a differently "shaped" horse then folks like Richard or Bruce Sandifer. I wouldn't say either one is less capable than the other by ANY stretch, however.
    Thank you for explaining that so well! I’ve read that the generally accepted “traditional” California progression actually skips the snaffle altogether. Interesting how different horsemen adapt their methods to what they find works best for them – especially since they are typically making horses for a purpose and a job in a real world environment.

    I’ve noticed that the overall look of bridle horses differed from one horseman to the next, and although some looked similar, there was a difference in shape and how the energy flowed through the horse (for lack of a better description). I always wondered what this was, and I think maybe that was what I was seeing.

    As much as it seems like a cop-out, there's just more "life" in a hackamore.

    I normally ride my horse in a 3/8 center-hung bosalita, adding a spade a day or two every week when I don't mind the extra cleanup. Once a week I also take a dressage lesson from a lady I really respect, and to keep life easy, I switch over into a snaffle for the lesson.

    I injured my knee skiing over Christmas, and as I was healing up, I didn't bother with lessons. 6 weeks later, when I switched into the snaffle for my first lesson (having ridden with the hackamore for the whole time), the snaffle just felt...heavy. And a little dead. I'd done a clinic with a bridleman in that time, and compared to riding in the two-rein or hackamore, the snaffle really doesn't do much to help the horse in any way, shape or form.

    By the time you're in a bosalita, especially, your rein work and weight is very light and soft, or the horse is running through the bridle. A snaffle, to my mind, just doesn't have that delicacy.

    Hackamores are also especially nice for the winter months, since there's much less to clean and/or warm up.
    Really interesting! I think I understand what you mean when you say the snaffle is "dead" feeling. I had an opportunity to ride a nice hackamore horse my friend has. Although I had no idea how to work the horse, and it kind of terrified me because I didn't want to take away training on my friend's nice horse, it was an incredible experience. His horse was light and soft and it was worlds different than riding in a snaffle. After that I really wanted to learn how to make a good hackamore horse.

    Agreed (you're talking about telescoping the neck). For youngsters staying out of their mouth as they're shedding caps and growing teeth has to be less distracting, though as Buck said, they'll have to get used to a bit at some point with this tradition.

    Some will say it doesn't allow direct flexion of the jaw, but I personally feel freedom in the POLL is actually the greater gateway to the spine then trying to lever on the jaw, though to each their own.
    Like a dressage horse learning to work “through” as opposed to just compressing the front end or hinging at the poll?

    I'm not a big fan of the halter as a riding tool. A simple sidepull has less propensity to slip and twist, and provides a clearer lateral cue. For familiarization rides a halter is more familiar though, I suppose, if the rider chooses not to do work in hand in a snaffle or sidepull.
    I never thought of this. So, you work your young horses on the ground with the snaffle or sidepull before your first ride? And is your first ride is with a sidepull or hackamore?

    I was talking about a rope halter for the first ride then transitioning to the hackamore or snaffle for the next ride. I started my colt in a rope halter since he had the biggest wolf teeth I’d ever seen extracted just before I was going to start him under saddle. I waited a week, but didn’t want to put a bit in his mouth at that point so we rode in a rope halter for about six rides. I agree that the rope halter does slip around a lot and wasn’t the clearest cue for flexing laterally, but it was all I had at the time. Lucky for me he’s a pretty gentle, good-natured colt so we got along fine.


    I don't actually feel the same, though that's a common saying about the bosal. In a nutshell it means you can't FORCE a horse to do anything with a bosal, and that you can get a horse running through one. Fine, but I've seen horses run through double bridles, so are those "bluffs" too? There are also some incredibly severe bosals out there that will do more damage than any snaffle bit could too, were someone so ham-fistedly inclined.
    I think it must be as hard to make a good snaffle horse as it is to make a good bosal horse since I’ve come across very few really good snaffle horses who work properly. I come from a classical dressage background and used to work for a trainer who’s stable was right next to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. He was an incredibly gifted horseman and had the lightest, liveliest, happiest horse I ever rode. In the evenings, I would go over to the LAEC and watch the dressage horses with the big name competitors …and cringe. If the horse wasn’t dragging the rider around the arena, it was rearing or flipping over backwards. The dragging horses were the snaffle horses, the rearing and flipping over backwards horses were the double bridle horses. I did see quite a few horses who were so calloused in the mouth that they could drag their riders around in a double bridle too. No one looked happy and no one was having fun. It was a learning experience for me because it showed me what I never wanted to do to, and never wanted to be.

    Good luck with that! If you find the right dressage instructor, you'll likely find that there's little in there that will be different then what a California bridleman(woman) would use...especially those leaning towards the French or Portuguese schools. I find my weekly dressage lessons and the twice-yearly clinics I take with the bridle horse folks to be almost completely complimentary, with only a little difference of terminology and tack.
    Thank you so much for all the information! I truly appreciate it. I am unfortunately at a loss for dressage instruction right now since there is no one in my area who I would like to take lessons from. There are a few dressage trainers here, but they are not teaching what I want to learn. The same holds true for bridlemen/women. There are none here that do what I want to do. There are lots of cattle ranches and lots of cowboys, but none that follow a path I’d like to take. I do try to clinic as much as possible though.

    And I think that’s what draws me to this type of horsemanship – the similarity to classical dressage. Their principles and goals are so closely aligned that it makes sense to me.

    Thank you again for all your help, insights and information. It’s very much appreciated!!



  13. #113
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    Martin Black has some videos on the Bridle Horse on Youtube, might be a place for interested folks to start if they are unfamiliar with the term or idea.

    Lovely posts, aktill, very informative.


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  14. #114
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  15. #115
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    Martin Black is a treasure.


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  16. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboymom View Post
    Martin Black is a treasure.
    Keep quiet about this please, we like him in his semi popular state


    5 members found this post helpful.

  17. #117
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    So, the only thing that really intimidates me about these methods are that you need to be pretty handy with a rope. I am not. I can throw a lariat pretty well, but certainly not well enough to get it right when the timing is important.

    How good a roper do you have to be to follow Buck's methods?



  18. #118
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    You don't.



  19. #119
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    He uses a lariat a lot. What do you use instead?



  20. #120
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    Well...for what? And what do you want to achieve?

    I mean if you want to learn to lead a horse by a hind foot, then yes you'll need some modest rope skills. But if you wish to only develop your own saddle horse- I can't see why you must use every tool he has.



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