A Phil Shipman Mini Clinic

Time for some ground work! You can’t control a horse’s feet from the saddle unless you can control them from the ground. Phil Shipman is a master of both. From the minute I brought Cheerio out of the paddock and he pointed down at the gelding’s hoof and said “move that one,” Cheerio knew he was in expert hands–and so did we.

Together, we worked on safe leading, on lounging at the walk, backing and forthing–what the Perellis call “the yo-yo game”–getting side passes and other dressage moves from the ground, and then on bridling–Cheerio is known for waiting until that moment when you’ve got only the reins around his neck and marching himself right off into the nearest stall or tack shelf.

By the end, though, he was a pussycat–at least for Phil.

Cheerio was like, I love you, man. You get me. You complete me.

And then he was a pussycat for me, and then for Kristyn (maybe not quite so much our devoted slave as in the picture above). He needs us to be consistent and persistent, and show him that what we ask, we’ll work to get. The more we do that, the closer he gets to the great horse he has inside. And in the saddle, later that day, he was soft and supple and ready to listen. More of that, please!

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