I didn’t really do Harry Whitney justice in my last post about him.
Putting together the two weeks of clinic that we did, and seeing it in terms of where we were at with our horsemanship just before we left for the States, it has actually been near perfect for us.
So where were we at when we left. Well, I’ll try to explain. For some time now I have been uncertain about just how far I should go to get what I want from my horses. You know that old chestnut, ‘use as little as possible, but as much as it takes’. Well, on the ground I’m pretty ok with that, and that shows in the success I have there. I now realise that I have been seriously losing out on my riding simply because I have imposed all sorts of limitations on what I can and can’t do while I ride my horse.
I never ever want to forget that moment when Mark said to me, ‘Do what you have to do – it’s not about what it looks like, you have to get the job done’. Even after he’d said it about four times it still took me three days to get it done – boy was that horse glad when I did get round to it. Suddenly the horse was free and off we went.
So then it was off to Harry’s.
I was quite nervous waiting to meet him, and so relieved when I realised what a nice bloke he is. I can tell you now 100%, anyone, just anyone, could talk to Harry – he is one of the most approachable, humble, kind and knowledgeable about horses people I have ever met. Another worry I took to Harry’s was, I have been very careful about watching trainers – since I realised that I liked the way Mark works I have not seriously looked at other trainers. Sarah has looked at loads and she often comes back worrying because she doesn’t like what they are doing, or she thinks we should be doing more. She often comes back and says ‘I think we should be doing such and such’, which we try for a while and then we just go back to what we do best. Actually I do admit that we add in stuff from here and there, and of course we work out our own stuff as we go too.
It didn’t take me long of watching Harry to see that his horsemanship is very much along the lines of Mark’s (or the other way round!). As Harry said to me, the horse is the common factor, and if you come at it from a certain direction you will end up at a similar place. So that’s interesting isn’t it – which direction are you coming from. To put it bluntly, what is your purpose? Is it to win, to look good, to make money, to be better than anyone else, to prove to yourself you can do it, to improve your life, or is it…..nah, it's not for me to say.
No, that’s a cop out there by me isn’t it – so is your purpose to be the best you can be for your horse all the time, and anything else that happens is a bonus or not. That is the purpose I am aiming to find in all my work.
I am not going to get into summing up Mark and Harry’s work, or as someone asked me when I got home, ‘so who is best then?’ It was just so good to have what we are doing here kind of confirmed and pushed on by watching these two guys work. Would I recommend a trip out there to work with either of them? For sure I would. When Sarah and I were discussing the utter irresponsibility of what we had just done to our finances by going on this trip, I asked her would she be happy to not know what we have just learned. ‘No way’, she replied, and neither would I be either. Of course I know there is more and more still to learn, but that’s horses isn’t it. It’s fun!
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