Friday, June 26, 2009

Welcome to the Natural Gait Workshop

From Jane:
9:45 "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," and here at the Natural Gait we've got a little of both, so we're enjoying our introductions in the air conditioned Natural Gait dining hall. We are missing Steve and Ross, whose truck broke down yesterday about an hour and half from here. With the help of The Natural Gait manager they managed to pull the horses in around 1:30 am, but now they've gone back to fix and/or collect the truck.

Doc just started the workshop. "Comfortable horses don't have wrecks," he explained. As drivers and as horse people, our job is to make the horse comfortable.

As we introduce ourselves, we hear a variety of stories. "I hear Fjords are born broke to drive," says one participant. "I'm here in case that's not true."

Another participant tells the story of how she had a wreck because she dropped a line, and Doc uses this as a launching point to emphasize the importance of sitting on the lines. One of his mentors, Addie Funk, would never ride with someone who wasn't sitting on the lines.

We all have something to share and we can all learn from each other.

Barb is here to learn from Doc, but also to meet Mo, a horse that Steve feels will be just right for her. Mo is a homebred horse horse at Wildwood Sleigh and Carriage. Mo is a great horse, but Steve's teams are either sorrel or black. Mo, unfortunately, is a bay. Will there be a love connection? Stay tuned.

1:15 We're out in the area to learn about holding the lines. Another Addie quote, this one about folks who drive with completely slack lines: "They aren't drivin' those horses, they're herdin' 'em!"

Doc demonstrates starting, stopping and guiding the horses. Then it's time to try it out. The driver is always pleased when the "horse" doesn't wander all over the place. The person acting as the horse is pleased with how helpful it is to have more information from the lines, which prevents them from wandering about.

3:00 Harley Weyer has graciously brought his Belgian team, Tom and Charlie, and folks are getting some practice driving them in the arena. Tom and Charlie recently pulled a covered wagon across part of Iowa. In the meantime Steve has harnessed Val and Cole, his black Morgan team and Theresa has harnessed Opal as a single so that participants can practice with a variety of horses.

During the driving practice, Doc sat down with those who have brought their own horses to find out what they'd like to work on. Later he helped them adjust harness.

(Later) It wasn't blogged at the time, but the workshop went until about 7 or 8 in the evening. When Doc is working horses, he puts all aside and stays with it until he's done and everyone has gotten what they needed for the day.

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