After we moved to Wickenburg and retired, my wife Marian thought getting a horse would be a good idea. She owned a horse when she was around fourteen. I had no experience at horse ownership at all. We bought two horses and realizing we didn’t know what to do next, began to search for some help. After discussing an approach to training horses with a few local trainers and not liking what we were hearing, someone suggested contacting a fellow named Buddy Uldrikson.
We met Buddy and Kim when they started out at Old McDonald’s Farm. After a lengthy conversation and liking what we were hearing, we signed up. Thus began the transformation from horse wrestling and survival to the world of knowledge, focus, rhythm, timing and feel.
Buddy was riding about eight horses a day at this time which gave me a chance to go on trail rides occasionally to keep him company. I must say I was surprised that he would take on a sixty five year old as a project. When I would tend to slack off he found a way to keep me moving forward and ease me out of my comfort zone so I could improve. It says a lot about him as a teacher to put out his energy to someone simply because of their enthusiasm.
In the time we spent in the arena and out on the local trails I found Buddy to be a very genuine person. My roots are in the Midwest and we put a lot of stock in such things. I was also impressed by the fact that Buddy was constantly reading, watching tapes or going to other horsemen’s clinics to gain all the knowledge possible to further his own skills.
Being an analytical type, I’m sure I’ve driven him crazy on occasion with my constant questions. I thank him for his patience. I admire him as a horseman and am grateful to be able to call him my friend. Thanks again Buddy and good luck at the Mustang Challenge.
I don’t know when it actually happened, but it did. In fact I remember you saying it would happen; and, something about the way you said it and your belief in me, and my belief in me, and my belief in you because of how I saw you were with your horses; it did…. It happened. Me-and-my-horse felt like one. I wondered if it was your calming words of “you’re okay, you’re okay” in a moment of panic when I almost went flying off his back at his sudden choice of direction change, versus being screamed at over a microphone in front of 20 other riders: “Stop your ___-Damned Horse Now;” or, if it was the way you asked me if I was breathing (with laughter in your voice) one difficult day when I couldn’t recognize my “horse’s try” due to my own self-contempt. Then again, maybe it was the time you saw my struggle before I even knew it was happening, let alone what to do about it, and you quietly entered on horseback into the middle of the circle as I was “attempting to get the right lead;” and, you gave some supportive instructive words without interrupting my own attempt to “get it right.” Remember that, when you rode in and said “now when you can see my horse’s right eye, then ask for the lead by tilting his head to the inside, and using your outside leg?” Yes, what I’ve come to realize it that I think all-of-it is “it.”
I also want to thank you for encouraging me to go to the other clinics. I chose one of my own, which you supported just as much as the Buck Brannaman one. I learned much from the one I chose on my own; and, one of the main things I learned was that I had the right horseman in my own backyard who wasn’t world famous, yet was the right horseman for me-and-my-horse. It wasn’t that I didn’t learn anything at the clinic; it was in the way it was taught that I came home feeling disheartened and inadequate. It took a 15 minute conversation with you to “put the clinic in its proper place,” and give thanks for being home, ready to get back to work with someone who believed in me-and-my-horse, and my desire and commitment to learn.
And, then to attend your mentor’s Buck Brannaman’s clinic; well, that was quite a different story. I felt so comfortable, as there was no contradictory information to what you had taught me; it was all in alignment. The building blocks fit. Buck just said it a bit differently; and, had a different style. I learned so much at that clinic, in fact it was a turning point for me; the biggest turning point being riding my horse every day for five days and building on our progress; something that you had consistently encouraged me to do.
I used to wonder why people standing outside of a round pen watching a “horse-whisperer” work with a traumatized horse would often weep openly and bend over in compassionate pain for the themselves; until I was the woman on horseback and had the gentle attention and guidance of a “horseman.” I am grateful that you never questioned what I was doing when at times I had to look away off into the desert to the other side of the arena for a moment or two; sometimes it was out of frustration with myself; yet most of the time it was about taking a moment to assimilate and honor what had just taken place; a knowing that something within me had shifted, transformed; healed; softened, inside of me, which simultaneously “felt” like the same thing happened with in my horse. It is amazing what a little time and attention does for the soul. It is the work of the Spirit, versus the work of a hand.
Someone heard my call to become a horsewoman, and it took someone who believed that I could. Someone heard and saw the “try” in me and taught me to see and feel the “try” in my horse. And, someone was willing to take the time; time without spurs, time without a tie-down, or a long-shanked curb bit to overpower my horse; and, someone who was willing to work with me to “exist in relationship” with my horse. That someone was you Buddy.
So, with a warm heart-felt spirit extended, I hold it gently out to you and say thanks. Thanks for believing in your passion, so that I could have someone to help me reach mine.
Dear Buddy and Kim,
Hard to imagine it’s been close to 3 weeks now since I picked up the big guy. You must be at the horse sale in Paso Robles, then busy moving to your new place. No rest for the weary…
I am really enjoying this horse and am grateful for all the good work that you did with him. Especially at first, I find that he wasn’t as you had him, but it comes more and more as we ride. The last day at Harry’s, I asked to go out in the desert with another horse, so I could see how he’d react. I mentioned to Harry what you had said about him sometimes acting grumpy toward another horse, so the other horse (whose owner said did the same thing) and I did several patterns in the arena first, in and out, etc. No issues there. Out on the desert, we trotted up the wash abreast, separated out of sight, etc. No issues – they were great!
I’ve ridden out from home a few times – this went well, and we trotted and loped through the orange grove last weekend. I find that he moves off pretty well from me just “finding a trot in my body”, so that I barely have to use my legs. Just like you said. Thanks again for that. His lope has a long time between rise and fall, and I think that the earthquake center must register seismic activity when his hooves hit the ground…..
As you know, I’ve struggled with m ground handling and timing with him. Luckily I have a nearby perceptive friend who helped me see some things last weekend that I definitely need to re-shape. Nothing like a friend to let you know your major “faux-pas” that others are too polite to say!
Thanks again for your work. I am so happy that he came home with his interest in life/curiosity totally intact and not shut down, like so many others would have probably done to him. Oh, the logging yard on the edge of town will sell me some logs for him to carry his big feet over!
After the heat of summer is over, maybe I can arrange some time with you to work on our horsemanship. If you are still available for that, count me in!