Midwest Horse Fair 2016 ~ 2 of 2

Friday is our favorite day at the fair. We start early and end late. It's all about visiting with vendor friends we've made over the years, shopping, more shopping, visiting with local horse friends, and the rodeo. Highlights and photos were shared in my Midwest Horse Fair ~ 1 of 2 blog post.

We had a little extra time before the rodeo, and altho we don't aspire to do either, we watched a clinic called "Liberty & Brideless Bareback riding skills". Presented by my favorite trick riders, Jessica Blair & Madison McDonald. These down to earth gals are fun to watch & listen to and kept us entertained while they worked with their horses of various training levels. The early evening light shining through the entrance made me wish I had my camera...even more so when I found out they were not performing in the Friday night rodeo. We did however enjoy a sneak peak of what they performed on Saturday. Maddie did most of the bareback riding during the clinic, and - wow - can that girl ride!! 

On Saturday, we try to watch clinics that present information we can apply to where we are at in our horsemanship. To be honest, our expectations were low this year. There wasn't much that fit. Not sure why, when there are a gazillion clinics. You learn something new (or in a new way) from anyone you watch, on any subject, but if you can't apply it - it just gets lost. 

There were a few new clinicians that sounded interesting to me. Specifically Patrick King (not sure how to classify him?) Lisa Wysocky (therapeutic horsemanship) and Jec Ballou (dressage). However we never did get around to watching any them, not even Guy McLean's horse starting clinics (we've seen some in the past). Too bad, I wanted to hear more from him. It required talking an unmentioned person into watching them, and timing. Fair is alllll about timing!! There are eight learning opportunities offered most every hour, barns full of different breeds, mega vendors, musical entertainment and various competitions...timing can be a challenge, but ohhh, it's fun!!

So which clinics did we watch?? We were pleasantly surprised to find John & Josh Lyons presentations, fit where we are at. As you know, John Lyons has been around forever. Back in the day, I used to subscribe to his magazine. We did find John to be a bit long in the tooth, and he is still too preachy for me - but eventually concepts were explained well. We both really learned the most from Josh Lyons, his son. Primarily because he stuck to what everyone was there for, to learn about the training topic. He knows his strengths, as well as his weaknesses, and isn't afraid to share either of them. They both used a lot of understandable analogies to drive points home, and played off each other to sprinkle in some humor. 

We were drooling over Josh Lyon's horse...wow he was gorgeous! John let it slip out that he recently sold for a mere $185,000 dollars (gulp!).

I attempted to type key notes into my phone, and listen at the same time. I also snapped a few clinic photos with my phone. The things that resonated the most with me are in bold italics at the end of the clinic notes. Hopefully some of these make you think, as well.

Clinic 1: Lift, Pull, Trap: Three Rein Positions Everyone Needs to Know

The three rein positions that relate to three parts of the head/neck.

1st part makes them look pretty (LIFT position, nose back to poll).
If the head is even/down with withers, it's soft. Varies on discipline. A horse's head that is above withers, is excited.

2nd part controls height (PULL position, poll back to crest). Pull up, lightens the front end Pull to side is moving hind quarters. Reins lighten the leg cue. Could think D Ring on saddle to move hip (or conches, for front of horse). John used spots on his saddle a lot, in all three clinics we watched. I've since tried, it works.

3rd part evens pressure (TRAP position, crest back to withers). To soften & give, without resistance. Ride forward, and release gradually (developing the poll). Horse's head doesn't change position. Josh did an excellent job of explaining & showing the release. This is far from new for me.
 I try to do gradual releases, but the way he taught it really hit home. 

• Legs are the gas pedal, reins are the steering wheel
• Release means keep doing it, not stop (ex. dog sit & stay)
• Don't throw the reins away. To the horse, this means your done
• 50-50% legs & reins
• Change gait not speed
• Train for more then what you want

For confidence, ride where you can. Otherwise you are teaching the horse things you don't want them to do.


Clinic 2: Softness vs Responsiveness:

Speed Control:
• Move hips over on the ground, at a walk
• Moving head & neck doesn't work, they have to move hips
• Nose to base of neck. Relaxes neck & softens shoulder. Changes how they use their neck
• Bottom of the horse follows the top of the horse

Lope & Lead changes:
• Hurry up & then slow down speed
• For a slow, lazy horse = speed up (no slowing down)
• Softness slows them down
• To become less responsive, use more cue (aka legs) until you feel them soften/relax
• They should give us no pull and come back to you
• Cold is reins wide vs hot is reins touching = responsiveness

• Hips R > nose R (pick up right rein) > walk R (3 tracking)
• Teaches horses to always use their hips
• Start at a walk, you will be riding the whole horse

 Legs are typically inconsistent (ex. truck stopping)
• Build back pressure = where softened comes in
• If they come off circle, make small turn inside & try again until he stays on circle by himself
• Work on softness. Then work on speed. 
Work on horse placement last 
• If horse is too reactive, to make less reactive use cue often more
• If you want more reaction, use cue less often
• If you have trouble going straight, work on turning
• If they spook to the left, work on turning to the right

As you think differently, you are different.


By Sunday, we were tired. We typically go late and leave early. Everyone else must have been tired too, because fair was a ghost town. Midwest Horse Fair claims they set an event record attendance again this year, but if you ask anyone who was actually there...

We wrapped things up, said good-bye to our vendor friends, and try to catch a few more clinics. Below is the last clinic we saw on Sunday worth noting.


Clinic 3: Exercises for the Green Horse:

Replacement concept:
• Add on. Can you do this, and also do this? Eventually they stop doing the bad thing.
• To 
get rid of bad behavior, don't mention the bad behavior 

• Motivation, creates change
• Pressure without contact is valuable
• Spot, find one to work on
• Back a lot, because that is the stop
• Go forward, stop, soften nose, every 3 steps

• Walk forward, stop, look back at the line by rotating torso all the way
• No leg lift & take it their, as soon as they do - release at the line
• Add letting them do it (at release spot) without taking them their

Focus on what you want them to do, not on what you don't want them to do.


Have you ever learned from John/Josh? They've been to Midwest Fair before, but we've never watched them. We got the most out of the first clinic, and stopped at the Lyon's booth shortly after to talk with Josh. I wanted to ask him for input about the horse that anticipates moves, like Koda. Changing things up help, but it's always been a struggle with him. Josh gave me 100% of his attention, which is hard to do in midst of chaos. We talked about early body/mind signals & re-thinking differently.

Something about the way Josh Lyons explains things, has made me more aware of my interactions with Koda. It's been fun trying (and I mean, trying) to implement some of what I learned. So far, it's been well received.

Thanks for reading along! If you made it this far you deserve a medal, these are loong posts!! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

Years ago I did read some of John Lyons stuff even though I don't ride western. I'm happy to try and learn more from everyone. He was a little to preachy for me so I stopped reading his articles. Sounds like you got a lot of good feedback from his son. Glad you had a good time at the fair. I'm sure there's just so much to see and take in it must be a little overwhelming.

aurora said...

John is definitely way too preachy. I get that's who he is, but he would reach so many more people if he just would tone it down. Yes, fair can easily be overwhelming. The key is to be flexible & go with the right mindset. I love learning too, from any discipline. It's all relatable. Patrick King really interested me because apparently he blends various ones together. However I've found it's all about how they present information, if they can't do it well it doesn't matter how much they know.

Shirley said...

I don't mind preachy at all. I always liked John Lyons, I also used to suscribe to Perfect Horse. I have used lots of his methods and what I like about them is that they are safe, and anyone can do them.