Well this is exciting! When I wrote my "Resolutions" I talked about how I really, really want to get into cutting this year. I've tried, time and time again to find someone to coach me. Although I've worked a flag a couple times (only once with a well-trained cutter), and took a lesson with a trainer (he didn't have an indoor arena, and they were so busy that regular lessons were a no-go), i've never been able to find someone to coach me regularly.
Well! I found a guy :) I was searching the Kijiji horse ads (as I do on a daily basis to keep an eye on whats going on in the market) and saw an ad for someone who wanted to exchange stall cleaning for free board/cutting lessons. I replied that I couldn't work for them, but I was looking for lessons, and did they have "lessons horses". They sure do! Excellent. So, I set up a time, and Tuesday night I headed out to meet with him. He's been down in Texas for the last 20 years, and is back in Canada, and is still in the process of moving all his horses/home up here.
His horses are to dieeeee for, their bloodlines are disgusting (in a good way) - absolutely loaded with the big names. He has a stud out of dual rey that is the most beautiful, shimmering red roan i've ever seen. I was smitten.
Anyways, he originally put me on a horse named "Bandit", who he said was his most bombproof, turn-back style horse. Wellllllllll... Bandit was a little excited, meanwhile he told me to be holding my reins one handed, with the slack on one side of his neck, so I was just getting used to that and Bandit is flinging around, all freaked out about the (totally not moving) flag. He was pretty shocked, and apologized profusely, but I didn't mind. Also, I think it gave him a bit of insight into the fact I can actually ride, which was nice.
So then we moved on too....
- super cute, CD Lights gelding, 5 years old (man cutters are trained early and bombproof young - always shocks me)
Bit: I honestly didn't even notice, obviously a shank bit. haha
Time: 2 hrs
Ride: I guess I'll call the cutting trainer my "coach", as obviously my trainer is my trainer haha. Coach told me he prefers to long-trot his horses to warm them up instead of loping them, as most cutting trainers do. So I most have trotted bandit for like... 30-40 minutes haha. I was tired and so was he. Due to his behaviour Coach got on Yogi first and kind of tested him out, then got me to ride him. He said he was a lot more intuned to my body, and that I really needed to relax and only pick up my hand if absolutely neccesary. Otherwise my hand should always stay on his neck, even turning the warm-up.
He also got me to sit "more like a cutter", but my body was having none of it. I think it's something I'll have to really get used to. He wanted me to have my legs on at all time (which you should anyways, but i've gotten in the habit of "hovering" my legs on Jingle's side because he speeds up the second he feels legs - something to work on), he also wanted me legs loose and more fluid, and my body more relaxed. I hate to call it slumping, or bad posture, because my Coach certainly didn't look like he was riding with bad posture, but it's definitely not as much as an upright position than I am use to. I had to really roll my sitbones back, and sit down, and very deep, and then relax my upper body so I could have a more fluid motion.
I'm rambling, and maybe Crystal can help me out here - how are you suppose to sit?! haha.
He told me we sit like this so that when the horse is performing cutting maneuvers they have an even momentum and your aiding in their energy flow from the front to back, and not disrupting it. Your aborsbing their movement, rather than hindering them.
Once I was getting my relaxed cutter position on (haha) he said we could work the flag. I thought I was "relaxed" in a saddle, but I guess i'm a lot more rigid than I thought. You know what's funny? I bet this guy would have found me a lot more relaxed 3 years ago, with a much worse seat.. what's better? I'm still not sure.
Yogi was awesome!!! To remind myself to keep my hand down and still I kind of pressed into his neck with my hand (something Coach told me to do) and it helped as a reminder that my hand was there, and should stay there - unless he needed correction.
Coach also noticed that he wasn't landed as straight and that my right leg wasn't working as effectively as my left seemingly was. So he had me bumping him with my spur on my right leg to remind him to track the flag and to straighten out a bit more. Towards the end he made the flag go back and forth a little more rapidly so I could actually feel that almost jumping back and forth motion cutters do. So wicked.
I honestly have no idea how long we worked the flag for - for me it felt like not even a minute had passed by the time we quit. I was pretty quiet afterwards, I really love working a flag. I forgot how fricken awesome it is, how amazing it feels, how cool it is that there is a sport based purely around a horse and a cow working against each other, a human and a horse perfectly in-sync. (Even if the sport sometimes diverges from it's roots). I really like how the Coach teaches - he's very nice, and softspoken, and was very encouraging. He told me I was doing the great the whole time, and was good at explaining how to fix my position/legs/what have you when I needed too.
After that we just cooled off the horses and he chatted a bit more about cutting and the theory behind it. He is headed back to Texas for about 10 days to pick up some more of his horses, but hopefully once he's back I can start doing regular lessons with him. He's not exactly cheap, but I really like it, so what the hell.
For Next Time: Focus on being more relaxed throughout my seat and legs, and work on being more straight and correct while working the flag.
Also Sidenote: Holy Hanna I am sore the day after! My arms feel like they took an absolute beating, and they were just sitting there holding the horn and the horses neck, and my legs are pretty gooey. My body, especially my arms, haven't felt like this after a ride in a long time haha.