photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ask Taco: Come Again Eventing Camp 2011 and Straightness

Q. Dear Taco,
Mom says that she might take me to eventing camp this year instead of Flo. Whatever. I was wondering if you were going. That would be cool, I guess.

A. Hey Mia,
I hate to tell you this, but eventing camp at Come Again Farm is a lot of hard work.  I was ridden twice per day for three of the days, then once the day after that, and then Stacy rode me twice at the combined test at the end of the week.  In order to do all of this riding she was doing trot sets and fitness work beforehand.  Not that it wasn't cool and fun (my personal favorite was the pace lesson around the galloping track), but you will get tired.  I think you are the kind of horse who doesn't mind that, however, so you will have fun.

As for me, I am not sure because Stacy is not sure.  I will have done another Training Three Day Event the month before, so it could be a bit much for me.  But we had such a good time last year and we heard that Becky Holder has already been confirmed as a clinician.  Stacy will have to decide soon since registration opens soon.

Best wishes,

Peter Atkins teaching us at the clinic last year.  I am the one all the way to the left.

Q. Dear Taco, 
Mom has been doing some work to develop what she calls my topline- really, i think she just has a fancy word for my butt and back- we have been walking hills 3x per week and spend at least 30 minutes walking during our working days. I'm on a 14% feed and in good weight. Do you have any additional suggestions? She said my topline looked really good when we were doing a lot of cantering (I LOVE cantering and galloping!) but it also caused me to get REALLY hot and stubborn since my breed also contributes to that (I'm half spirited arabian and half firey thoroughbred).

I also can tend to have some issues with straightness. I tend to want to either over-bend and lean and twist my neck (especially while cantering) which isn't really bending at all, or over-compensate when she asks me to straighten out by popping my shoulder out the opposite direction. I'm not sure she's communicating correctly with me, or maybe she can do something to help me stay straight and not be a wiggle-worm. We don't have an arena with a rail to work on or really any flat ground next to a fence. What ideas do you have?


A. Dear Boston,
In my experience, the trick to both a good topline and straightness is quality of practice, not quantity of work.  I get fit very easily, kind of like you.  But it has taken longer for Stacy to figure out how to ride so that I develop all of my muscles correctly and how to make sure my body is aligned properly on turns and straight lines.  I always do my best, of course, but I must admit that I will not reach my potential without Stacy's insistence and correct riding.

Stacy has figured out that she cannot learn all of this herself so she has enlisted help from Amy.  I like Amy but she tells Stacy things to do that make me work harder in dressage.  She rode me a few times last week and I had to work fairly hard, and then she worked with Stacy in a lesson this week to help her create the same quality in my gaits.  All of this exertion was worth it, I must say.  I look extremely fancy when I power up my hindquarters and float over the ground, and I feel like a million bucks!

You might be having trouble with straightness because your mom is doing some things inadvertently that might keep you from going straight, or she might not be doing some things that would help you align and push from your hindquarters.  Either way, some eyes on the ground will help her identify what she needs to do.  Yes, coaches and trainers do spell more hard work for us, but they also help us perform to our best abilities!

Best wishes,


Amy said...

Hey there I have been reading here a while and saw you mention Come Again Farm. I ride there and have taken lessons from Lee Ann and plan to be at event camp!!! Small world!!

Lauren said...

Hey Taco!

Did you and your mom have a good Christmas?

Happy snowy days!

Anastasia said...

Hi Amy, yes, Taco and I are big fans of Lee Ann and CAF! She is such a treasure for you to have up there in IN.

Lauren, Taco says that he had an OK Christmas but wasn't thrilled that he had to wait until today to eat the contents of his stocking. He is happy about his new Newmarket fleece, hind XC boots, and jelly curry comb, though.

Gina Hiatt, Ph.D. said...

Dear Taco,

What was in your stocking?