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Buddy Uldrikson: Congress AZ Clinic, Apr 25-26 2009

By Mike Thomas

Clinic Pics

See bottom of page for slideshows from Clinic Day 1 and Day 2.
Buddy Uldrikson conducted a clinic that meant a lot to continuing students and also some brand new ones. I have been watching Buddy for the last several years and have watched him "remake himself" with each workshop, clinic and private lesson.

Learning how to conduct a clinic can be a confusing experience for a young person of 36. For Buddy and all others that have dared to "ride this trail of life", it means always and continually re-inventing themselves. Trying to find words to tell others what you have always taken for granted with the horse was not that easy for Buddy, or for many others. Buddy has had to continually reshape his mind to explain this way of his life, which has proven to be a project of love for horses and people.

This way of life requires incredible dedication; that he really find the needs of the rider and the horse, and diagnose the problems that are happening as well, to build a plan of study for each and offer it with a quality of teaching that turns out the very best for both.

Don’t ever be confused by the term "Natural Horsemanship". It is a marketing/publicist term; a catch-phrase, at best, and much overused. A horseman/horsewoman knows that there is no such thing, just as there has never been a "Horse Whisperer"!

There is only Horsemanship and Lifemanship. No two horses are alike and no two people are alike. Each horse and each human must find their way. No book, no magazine article, no video can replace real horsemanship/lifemanship. Learning to "Think" is what the Trinity Of Great Horsemen (Ray, Tom and Bill) spent their combined lives of 260+ years learning, and passed onto to us. It worked for them, it works for me, and I know it works for Buddy. It has worked with every horse I have seen in the last 69 years!

Learning to teach, not "train"

Three years ago, Buddy could only say, "Watch my horse go and see what he gets done... Did you see that?!" Of course not one person saw what he was talking about, so then he realized, "I have to change my life: learn how to speak; learn how to teach; learn how to communicate with people."

The horse was easy! The human was and is not easy. Working with people who don’t depend on the horse for their livelihood requires incredible insight by the teacher into their needs, and what is not working and is working with them and their horse. Both have very special and unique needs. Teaching is not "one size fits all".

These were the painful days for Buddy. The burning question was "I can get the horse to understand me, but why is it so hard for the human to understand what I am saying? Can’t they see what my horse is doing?" He had to realize that people who don’t live their lives with the horse, but still want to understand the horse, were seeking him out so they could understand the horse. They needed Buddy to tell them in words how to get there.

Buddy, at a young age, was discovering what Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, Bryan Neubert, Paul Dietz, Buster McLaury, Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrance, Joe Wolter, and hundreds of students of Ray and The Trinity of Horseman all had to learn and understand.

Teaching this thing called "horsemanship that is lifemanship" is the toughest road you can ever follow. You must learn how to explain your life with the horse. You can’t copy others. You must find your own way to get your message to others. Ray Hunt’s Memorial Pamphlet with a powerful picture said: "I don’t know how to teach this thing called feel!" (Due to family privacy the pamphlet and picture will not be shown at this time.)

I am proud and very pleased…

Buddy is on his way to being one of the best ever teachers of horses and people. He is already an incredible resource/reference person for people with troubled horses, or who just want to reach new levels of knowledge and understanding with their horses and their lives. To understand the horse is to understand one’s self!

Buddy’s education and experience

Buddy has a long background in the toughest kind of horsemanship in the most trying of conditions. He has worked on some of the toughest ranches, in terms of terrain and horses, that you can ever imagine, and many times riding a colt on its 2nd or 3rd (or 100th) ride, gathering cattle in not-so-horse-friendly country. He worked the kind of cattle that, when found behind a tree or rock after thinking they were hidden, might just "blow snot 10 feet, put a 6 in their tail, and sail out" over the rocks, jumping down into canyons or creeks or heading for thicker brush! Buddy and his horses just grinned, sucked up their gut, and covered the cattles' trail.

First and foremost, for Buddy, was to protect the horse but also to get the damned job done; the boss wasn’t up for excuses. Then if that was not enough he took wild cattle out of the mountains, or wherever, and that, my friends, is not for the weak of heart! He also mustanged and brought wild horses out of the toughest country in the west very successfully. The test for Buddy was to always take care of the horse you're riding first. Running across tough rocky country with one eye on the cow or horse and the other on rocks and huge drop-offs, while ducking cactus and tough mesquite and catclaw, and keeping your horse safe at a dead run, with lass rope ready, is an amazing experience!

Buddy wanted more for the horse

There are, thanks to the Trinity of Horsemen, Ray, Tom and Bill, many really good horsemen and horsewomen that I would be very proud to saddle and ride out with. The vast majority of them at this time have not taken the time, nor do they have the patience, to become a great teacher and explain the horse’s perspective to the mere human! They enjoy the horse they are riding and have ridden hundreds, if not thousands, very successfully.

But Buddy has made a commitment to teach others. He studies, thinks, worries, pushes himself to the very limit - for what? I have watched him for quite a while now, and he takes what he offers to the human and horse as a sacred endeavor! His whole life is dedicated to becoming the best possible teacher of horses and people. Like the great ones before him, his whole life is dedicated to the Horse and, yes, People… if they can learn to listen and think!

Trainers or Horsemen-Teachers?

The words "to train" imply something that one might do to their hair to achieve a better but superficial style, and is one-dimensional at best. To train a horse implies that the rider will ride the horse in an extremely confined discipline, and over time, the horse will, through this repetitive action, make it. Some do not. Of course the trainer takes all the credit and gives nothing to the horse. If the horse makes it, they tell everyone "I are one hell of a good trainer!" If the horse does not make it, "Well it was one of the most stupid horses I ever saw! He’s going to kill somebody - you’d better get rid of it!"

I do not want to be misunderstood here.

There are a lot of people who are called trainers who have, over time, become good horsemen and horsewomen, and they are respected by all of us.

But the truth is that anyone who wants to can hang out a shingle that says, "I Are A Horse Trainer!", and sure as heck, he/she is one, and the public will not know if that person knows anything about a horse. No license is required and most systems of certification are pathetic substitutes. God help the horse!

A Horseman/Horsewoman is capable of working with all horses, all breeds, for any discipline, for any purpose, and the horse always wins. Horsemen/horsewomen are "multi-dimensional" and will sort out each horse's problem with the human, and in every case, find a solution where the horse will always win. It is about the horse and teaching the human to understand the horse from the inside out, not the outside in! It is not about bits, gimmicks, draw reins, severe bits, spurs, crops, tie-downs, or other junk sold in tack shops. It is about the human learning how to make their ideas become the horse's idea, and the two become willing partners.

Buddy is a great horseman in the making. He will tell you he is not one yet, but someday he hopes he will be one. I think that he is definitely going to make that high honor in his own mind and there will be a huge grin on his face, that day in the future! In my mind, and that of many others, Buddy is well on his way and he will never look back.

Another note about horsemen/horsewomen who have made the horse the centerpiece of their life and search every day to find ways they can offer more quality to the horse: they can’t wait to get together and ride with each other. They can’t wait to share some of their newest discoveries and observations about hundreds of different horses. They truly respect each other and can hardly wait until they can share their knowledge with each other at another time. True horsemanship isn’t just about developing respect with the horse; it is also about respecting and honoring fellow horsemen/horsewomen.

This level alone of Lifemanship explains everything in Horsemanship, explains the very high standards that we hold about truths of Life, and Life with the Horse.

The Clinic: April 25-26, 2009

Buddy once again re-invented himself. It was obvious at the start he had no clue about how it would go. This is a real sign of a great teacher. You must determine the needs of each horse and human, and then make a plan and exercises that will be safe for the horse and the human.

The Class

Dave and Monette Groff from Apple Valley, CA were there after near five clinics and much progress. The Dynamic Duo from Laveen, AZ were there: Deb Russell/Lucy and Niki/Smokey, her friend. Almuth Mason/Face/Dutch were there, with Face having a lot of problems which worked out real good, and Dutch was a real friend to her in the cow working.

Judy and Big Red, a Tennessee Walker with great attitude. Bonnie and Mikey (Western Pleasure Horse with neck broke at the withers, not the poll) who with wide experience in AZ knew instinctively, with great attitude, and got a lot done. Irene with Thelma, who only had a few weeks of exposure to the horse; Buddy was awesome supporting her "real try", with a dedication to life that should be admired by all of us. She did a super job. Cary with areal nifty athletic gelding who rode only one day. Jim and Black Magic, that came in with trouble, and both learned how to win with each other. Jeana Davis with Jackpot the mustang and Nancy Keim, with a TB off the track. Jeana and Jackpot the mustang have been working with Buddy since the Mustang Makeover in 2008. Nancy's Thoroughbred had a great attitude, which can be seen in the slideshow below. They got along well.

The Results

Buddy figured out how to keep each horse and student safe and still help them learn a great deal. He figured a lesson plan that would settle each horse and rider but made sure they learned how "to hustle their horse up" to cut off or move a cow.

Every exercise was well thought out and the humans and horses won, big time! One only needs to review the pics and video clips to see how well they came out. Beware - there are some upsetting pics, especially at the start, but have patience reviewing them, because these are real people and real horses, and they all ended well.

Thanks to Buddy (Himself)

Whistle, Grin & Ride! Ray Hunt (Himself)

Quote from Ray Hunt, circa 2007, while watching Buddy work on the groud with a spooked-out colt that could explode in any direction (laughing while watching), "That boy is a good hand, his arms are like bungie cords! They know when to stretch, they know how to make a great change on a scared horse!"

Ray loved that moment. In my mind, Ray saw one of his strongest teaching principles: "Adjust to fit the situation!"

Clinic Slideshows

Start the slideshow by clicking the white triangle. Slideshow controls are at the bottom of the image. If they vanish, you can see them again by rolling your cursor over the image. To read captions, pause the slideshow by clicking the Pause control (two vertical lines). If you see a little blue "movie" icon in the lower left of the image, it means there's a movie in there. Click the blue icon to see the movie.

Clinic Day 1