We arrived at camp in the early evening, having caravaned up with Megan and Flo. Taco was bright-eyed and interested in his new surroundings. The farm was beautiful! It is on 40ish acres and Lee Ann Zobbe (LAZ) has been doing a ton of work on turf and fencing, not to mention a bunch of cross country jumps. We got the horses settled in and moved into our quarters over one of the two indoor arenas, an air conditioned big room. We were first to arrive so we got to choose corner spots for our air mattresses.
One of five barns (LAZ only uses one for her teaching/training/boarding business-- the rest are only used at camp and shows). Megan took this. Taco's stall was the first one on the right.
The West indoor with entrance to the air-conditioned lounge and our quarters to the right of the Airstream (it belongs to some friends/students of LAZ). Megan took this, too.
Then we helped LAZ move jumps for the next day's lessons, and fired up the grill for burgers (veggie burger for me) and fresh corn from the farm stand at the end of LAZ's road. Delicious! It was also at this point that I realized I had forgotten the six-pack of beer that I had promised to LAZ. Ooops.
We chatted for a while with Susan and Sharon, fellow students of Amy's, and Nancy, a COTHer from Ohio who also stayed in the indoor with us. I had exchanged emails with Nancy when she shared her conditioning schedule for the T3D to appear with one of the EVENTING USA articles I co-wrote, but we had not yet met in person. Then we went to sleep in air-conditioned splendor.
I had a dressage lesson with Mary Lowry of Alta Vista Farm in Kentucky and a gymnastics lesson with Peter Atkins of VT and FL.
Megan and Flo during a break in one of their lessons with Peter.
Mary and Amy know each other well, as they have both been students of eventing legend Ralph Hill. With Mary, as I wrote in my quick post from camp, our lesson was about 1) straightness and 2) setting ourselves up for success in jumping. Regarding the first, she was very adamant that the horse's chin should remain between the shoulder blades, and warned us to stay off of the wall of the indoor to ensure that we did not allow the horse to run through our outside aids. She immediately picked up on Taco's and my overbending to the right. To the left, our stiff side, she had me use an opening rein to ask for more bend. Regarding the second topic of the lesson, she introduced us to a favorite exercise of hers, the canter-halt-turn on the hunches- canter series. It is designed to build more "jump" into the canter. During the turn on the haunches, the inside hind leg in one direction becomes the outside hind leg in the new direction, and it is the outside leg that strikes off into the canter. Engaging it through the turn allows it to be ready strike off into canter and usually yields at least one stride of nice jumpy canter. We got some great transitions and canters that way. Then we added canter lengthenings into the mix. She had us add leg in the phase of the stride when the horse moved our hips forward.
After a short break, I put Taco's jumping tack on for our gymnastics lesson. Peter immediately asked us to warm up with high-quality working gaits. He reminded us that muscle grows stronger with use and that correct muscle strengthening will take some of the load off of the horse's joints, which tend to degrade with use. Then he worked on teaching us two things: remaining very present in the moment to what the horse is doing underneath you and lifting up out of the saddle on takeoff. He set up trot poles in a pick-up-sticks pattern that forced us to support our horses as they figured out where to put their feet. Then he added some fences and instructed us to literally stand in the stirrups at takeoff. The rider's keet must be at the girth for this to be possible (and we all know how my legs like to swing back...). This was completely new to me and felt strange at first, but Taco liked it because it allowed me to be much more still over his back. This technique would become even more important during our XC lesson with Peter on Thursday.
Here is one of our run-throughs:
Wow, I'm still only on Tuesday. Well, I will have to post a Wed/Thurs and Fri/Sat account later. So watch this space.