December 1-4, 2017 — BBEC/EQUU8 instructors Suzanne, Sierra, and Hailey trailered out to sunny Arizona for an exciting continuing education opportunity with Paul Dietz Horsemanship. The weekend clinic covered horsemanship classes in the morning and cattle working in the afternoon, where horsemanship skills are applied to livestock handling. Real life ranch work isn't like the rodeo...livestock are handled with care as to not run weight off the cattle and teach horses how to rate, watch, and hold the herd. With Bear Valley Farms hosting its own small herd of cattle, these skills will continue to benefit the farm for years to come (cattle working classes would be great for the summer of 2018!). Paul Dietz is an international clinician who began his career traveling as an apprentice for Buck Brannaman, learning from one of the most renowned horsemen in the world.
On November 20-21, 2017, EQUU8 and one of its students, Lilly — a teenager who has been blind since childhood, who has hopes of riding in the Paralympics someday — attended a clinic with Para Dressage coach and international Grand Prix dressage rider, Michel Assouline. Assouline is most recognized as one of the head coaches who led the British Paralympic team to win the gold medal in Rio in 2016). The symposium was held at Ride On LA at their Chatsworth facility, and Assouline shadow coached each student in attendance with each trainer, in this case Suzanne Hodges from EQUU8. Upon assessment of her riding, "I believe you will make it," Assouline encouraged Lilly, who couldn't hide the huge smile from her face. Lilly has been given a year-long assignment meant to keep her on course and will push the limits of her training thus far, inspired by the work of another blind Para Dressage rider, Nicky Greenhill. Stay tuned for more details in her Paralympic journey.
Over the course of the spring and summer of 2017, EQUU8 helped a novice rider reach his goals of successfully completing a 5-day men's pack trip in Tombstone, AZ. From grooming and tacking, to riding at the walk and trot—from the round pen to the arena and trail—Ron built his skills and confidence thanks to our lesson horse, Smokey.
" Suzanne and Sierra—I hope I did you proud. No opportunities for loping or galloping (thank GOD), but more 5-10 second trots than I could count. Though I never mastered the "trot rhythm," I never fell off or got into trouble, even though my draft horse almost went down (stumbled on rocks) on one occasion. I can not express enough my deep and sincere appreciation to you both for the time you spent with me and the knowledge and confidence you instilled. This was anything but a novice trail ride and the fact that I was able to participate every minute, of every day, over 5 days, is a tribute to you both. Without you, I would not have gotten through it successfully.
~ Ron "