Where do I start? Probably the beginning, but it may come out all jumbled up because a lot of it already is a complete and total blur.
Paddock Boy and Little Cowboy and I arrived at Flaming Heart Ranch Friday afternoon and got Buena settled in a pen and set up camp. I had the great privilege of sitting on the ranch house’s porch with the ranch owner and Ray chatting for a while. It was great just chatting about all kinds of things. At one point the ranch owner left to help his wife with some things in the house and it was just me and Ray sitting there. I wasn’t nervous, but was definitely dumbstruck and we didn’t talk much, and when we did, it wasn’t about horses. Just idle chit chat about his health and the weather and “things.” It was really nice, to say the least. His memory sometimes is a bit mixed up and we spent a good chunk of time trying to remember one of his quotes that the ranch owner had tried to repeat. It’s one of those deals where if you thing real hard to remember something (like where your keys are) you can’t remember it, and the harder you think the worse it gets, but you can remember it instantly hours later of course.
Saturday morning it was already starting to show signs of being a warm weekend. We spent the first hour or so listening to Ray go through his many dialogs. He asked folks if they had any questions or help with anything. The first two people didn’t, but then he got to me... And I of course mentioned my difficulty in helping Buena become not so bothered about things around her rump and hind legs. Well, that’s what set Ray of on his dialogs... :-) It was good, though, because I think everyone there just loves listening to him talk. He repeated many things that weekend, and everyone just kept their attention pretty much solely focused on Ray. MANY times throughout the weekend, I felt that he was looking at and talking directly to me if I was in front of him. I don’t know if he spent more time looking at one person or another, but to me, it felt like he lingered on my eyes quite a bit. I felt very grateful and honored.
Once we started riding that morning, I can’t for sure say everything we did. I know it was a bit of a jumbled mess doing snake trails and weaving in and out of folks coming the other direction (what Ray always has his classes do). Some folks didn’t understand the instructions for that very well, but by the next morning things were all sorted out.
Liz and Buena weaving with Carolyn Hunt and her horse.
Saturday afternoon was one on one time with Ray in the round pen. Each person got to ask Ray to help them with a project while everyone else watched. It was AWESOME for everyone. He mostly helped folks with some ideas and on learning how to become very precise. I am pretty sure that everyone felt the same in trying to execute what Ray was telling us to do. Sometimes his words didn’t come out of our hands just right and he was very persistent until we each got the task arranged right and got precise. Carolyn worked with 2 of Ray’s mares first in the round pen. One had gotten to sucking back 90 miles an hour and the other hadn’t been roped off of (dallied) before. Well, the paint mare had the privilege of having the gray mare tied to her saddle horn and they got to work on 2 projects at once. Carolyn did groundwork per Ray’s instructions. That gray mare really got to fighting coming forward when surprised by the paint mare switching directions and taking up that slack pretty quick. It was pretty western every once in a while, but they both got lots better. I won’t report on all the rest of everyone else’s one on one time as I don’t remember much, if any of it. Each person did fabulously, though. It was great!
Liz and Buena wait for their turn outside the round pen.
I asked to be put last so that Paddock Boy could watch and take pictures. Little Cowboy had finally gone down for a nap when the one on one lessons had started. Luckily, by the time it was my turn he was up. Paddock Boy got some great pictures.
I knew my project immediately of course. It was that rope work with Buena that I had been working on for the last few weeks/months. I could not pass up the opportunity to do something like this under Ray’s watchful eye. I wanted to make sure I was on the right track. I told him I wanted help with my feel, timing and balance in this area and he said he’d do his best to help me out.
Liz listens to Ray in preparation for getting started.
Man! The things we miss sometimes. And the things we think aren’t okay that really can be. I found that it is okay to corner your horse if you can’t get them stopped. You are just letting them escape if you don’t. I hopefully won’t make that mistake as much in the future. I found that each and every little movement affects your relationship. I heard him say while I was working (and he said it about other folks, too) “That mare is controlling her.” Sheesh!
Liz finally uses the wall to corner Buena to keep her from evading and escaping.
I also heard him say some really nice things about my rope-handling... I was very honored about that. I wasn’t swinging a loop, but each time I picked up my slack to rebuild a loop, he said I was doing a good job. It took quite a while sometimes for me to get my coils and halter rope all organized so I wouldn’t get tangled up. “Take your time. I’m not trying to hurry you.”
“Put your rope up under her tail. Pick up her tail and get that rope up under there like a crupper. Take more slack out of your rope and get that rope up under there. Don’t let her move away from you. Get that rope up under there.”
It was an amazing chunk of time! I don’t know how long it lasted, but it was so good. I heard many words of encouragement from everyone watching. And when we were done Ray continued to praise me. As I left the pen, everyone clapped. I teared up, but I don’t think anyone saw it. ;-)
Ray’s hand on the rail as he oversees Liz and Buena in the round pen.
To view the rest of the pictures from day one, please visit this link: