Elena, Katrina, Buck, Noah, Melanie, Ricky and Jamie

We recently experienced a road trip to Oklahoma for a Buck Brannaman clinic followed by an at home clinic with Ida Hammer. My dear friend and co-author Jamie Caton flew in from Sun Valley for two weeks to enjoy both clinics. Katrina Matz who rides for Wildwood and my niece Elena Smith traveled with us to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to audit Buck’s clinic. We all participated next in Ida’s clinic at Wildwood along with fellow staffers Steve and Travis Thaemert.

Buck schooling his own horse before a session

Buck always has so much to share with his students and auditors. The Horsemanship class included riders from 10 years old to senior citizens on horses and mules alike. It is a special treat to watch Buck school his own horses before each session. He simply and softly shows how a horse is supposed to look and go under tack.

Katrina talking to Jack, 10 yrs old, the youngest student on his appy mule
Buck teaching the horsemanship class in Pawhuska, Oklahoma

We all enjoy learning from great clinicians because they leave us with pearls of wisdom. That alone helps us think through issues in our everyday experiences with our horses. Here are some of Buck’s pearls from this clinic:

“Ray Hunt used to say that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but you can still make a purse. It will hold just as much only have a different wrapper.”

“Ray used to say the only reason we bend a horse is to influence where his feet go. The more advanced horse bends less because he knows where to put his feet.”

 “Straightness is defined by having the horse’s weight evenly distributed on all four legs.”

“Life in the horse is determined by the lightness of the aid and the punctuality of the response. Always offer the horse a good deal first but that good deal has an expiration.”

Jamie, Katrina, Elena and Melanie visiting Ree Drummonds ranch house where she does her Pioneer Woman cooking show on the Food Channel

One of the highlights of this trip was enjoying dinner each night with Buck, Noah Cornish, and Ricky Quinn who travel with him. And even if you don’t know the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, from the Food Channel, her Mercantile in Pawhuska is the best place in town to shop and eat!


Day 1 with Ida Hammer – Exploring the Equine Hoof

Upon returning home from Oklahoma, we prepared for three days with whole horse trimmer Ida Hammer.  Local friend, Mary Cours Burrows, organized this clinic with her mentor and Wildwood was the host. The topics for the clinic included:

  • Exploring the Equine Hoof
  • Beginner Trim Class
  • Hoof Wear Patterns   

On day 1 Ida’s lecture using Power Point showed the inner structures of the distal limb below the knee.  Her preserved cadaver specimens of all the bones and tendons brought it all into perspective. 

Day 2 Beginner Trim – Everyone has their own hoof to trim

On day 2 we were all given a cadaver leg to assess and map before trimming. Ida helped each of us learn proper tool handling and trimming techniques.

A review of the structure of the hoof before we begin to trim

I’m feeling a bit uncoordinated learning to trim my hoof

At the end of the class, Ida dissected one foot to further explore the anatomy of the distal limb and see it from the inside out. It was fascinating and so educational.

Day 2 Ida dissects the hoof by removing the sole to expose the inner workings

Ida reveals the coffin bone and reviews the importance of the frog and digital cushion

On day 3 we explored hoof wear patterns on several horses. We watched movement and then Ida would make adjustments in their feet and we would watch the horse again. Videos were also taken and then shown side by side on her screen. It was fascinating to observe positive changes in the whole horse in the “after” pictures.

Day 3 Hoof Wear Patterns
Ida trimming to improve horse’s movement

Some of Ida’s pearls of wisdom:

“Everything shows up in the feet that is going on in the body… and everything shows up in the body that is going on in the feet.”

“ Long toes cause under run heels which puts pressure on tendons and ligaments.”

“ Horses that are healing need to be with friends, to see and touch them. They need rest and don’t get REM sleep if alone as they don’t feel safe. That is the horse’s nature and how he is wired.”

“Muscle memory is not muscle memory. It is memory that comes from the brain.”

Ida doesn’t take credit for this quote but I believe it sums everything up nicely:

No foot No horse…  Know foot Know horse!