Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Caledon Clinic

Caledon is somehow always an adventure.

The day started out well enough -- the alarm *did* go off and I actually *did* get out of bed.  Even before the backup alarm!  hahaha if you know me at all, you know the backup alarm is very necessary.  So it's about 4am.  After 3h sleep.  And first thing I do is check my phone to see what chaos has ensued.  

Message from the girl who was supposed to do morning chores saying she can't make it.  Ummmm really?  Frig.  I don't have time for that worked into the schedule at all, and who am I supposed to call at  5am for backup?

So I text Steph who was meeting me at the barn to ask if she beats me there could she please feed everybody and bring in the outside horses.  I figured as long as we got them taken care of before we left, I was reasonably certain I could find somebody to help with stalls later in the day.

All good.  So I'm just about ready to leave and Steph calls me.  Never a good sign when my phone actually rings.  Nobody calls unless something horrible has happened.  Her car is dead.  Not just one car, but TWO cars are dead.  She's stuck.  Fortunately we only live about 15 mins from each other; unfortunately, she's in the other direction.  Really unfortunately, I don't leave a random extra half hour in the am before shows, so we're now going to be *very* late AND have to cover am chores.

*sigh* So before I go to pick up Steph, I send a text to all the riders at the barn.  Can you please bring in *all* the horses???  And, a special one to Kennedy who works for me and knows the system -- can you make up and feed breakfast?

While I'm doing this, Steph texts me -- she's caught a cab and will meet me at my place.  Saves us 15 mins.  Sweet.

So eventually we get to the barn, forsaking any idea of breakfast on the way.  And I have to tell you, my girls are awesome!  I know what show day nerves do to people, and this was the first outing of the year for girls who are in their first or second year of showing.  So barely controlled chaos was pretty much what I'd been expecting.  It's what would've been normal.  But no, when we walked in, all their horses were ready, haynets and water jugs full, and all the other horses had been brought in and fed.  I was super-impressed!

The trailer was a little late arriving, but not tragically so.  And as it pulled up, we got all the horses turned back out -- fastest turnout ever!  When you have as many hands as horses, it's a really fast job *g*

And it's not yet 6:15am. *sigh*

hahaha ah well.  Horses loaded like prostars.  That was awesome.  Trip to Caledon was uneventful, albeit amusing when the entire train pulled into Tim Hortons on the way :)

Upon arrival, Steph supervised the unloading while I went to check in and find out where they wanted me to be for the day.   I scrounged a pen for my scribe and took some tables, chairs, and labels down to the dressage ring, before heading back to the trailer to check on the girls.  I met Emily and Rowan (who both had 8am starts) on the way so that was a good sign.  Sent them to warm-up and went to touch base with Steph who was covering for me for the day.  Since I'd be coaching all day, she was in charge of everything else!  Amazing :)  Totally made it possible for the girls to be there and for me to focus on what I was doing and not have to worry.

So at 8am, Rowan was in my ring and Emily rode with Jess the next ring over.  Rowan's first test was fairly tense and rushed -- I suspect there were a fair amount of nerves there (I never realized I was so scary! hahaha).  But we worked for a bit and her second test was stunning!  I didn't get to see much of Emily's, but the odd time I looked over it looked like it was going well :)

I was supposed to teach Olivia and then Kennedy, but I asked Jess who was teaching in the next ring to trade with me.  I love teaching my girls, and I don't think they'd have been terribly upset to ride with me *g*   But the whole reason I encourage them to go to clinics is to hear from somebody else!  So she was cool with that and I taught the people who were supposed to be in her ring instead.

I had so much fun.  Have to admit, teaching low-level dressage, especially at a high-energy first-of-the-year clinic, can be painful.  Some years you spend four hours trying to explain the difference between a circle and a corner, or the whole time getting a horse to chill out.  But this year I had really good riders on awesome horses.  Every one of them worked super hard and the difference between their two tests was noticeable   It was so. much. fun!

The down side is, I have only the vaguest notion of what my girls were doing at this point.  Bella was being her absolute evilest pony self to Olivia in dressage.  I saw something that resembled rodeo going on in that ring at one point!  But she dealt with it and it all seemed to be under control, so I didn't worry too much.  Honestly didn't even see Kennedy's dressage.  

Rowan was out on XC at 9 and Kennedy shortly after that, but at Caledon your really can't see xc from the dressage area *g*   I had a short break between classes about 10:30 so I went to the trailer to see how everything was going.  Rowan came back from XC grinning, so that's always good :)  Emily and Margaret were just about to head out.  Back to dressage for another few lessons, which were all as good as the first ones.  Amazing.  And some *really* nice horses.

Then lunch was spent chatting with people.  Let's be honest, food is pretty low on my priorities.  Visited with some old friends who I don't see nearly often enough, stopped briefly in the club house to chat with some of the clinicians - most of whom I know from the show circuit or from other clinics.  Then back to meet my guys -- who were already on their way to stadium.  Stephy, not new here, had grabbed a wrap (yeah Laura!) and coke for me and met me on the way.  So I munched as they warmed up for stadium.   

We chatted for a bit -- apparently both Margaret and Emily had a blast on XC.  It seems both Louis and Charlie were superstars :)   I think Louis loves coming to Caledon with Margaret each year.  He gets so proud of himself.

So yes, I had all five of my own girls in one group for show jumping.  On the one hand, I like them to go to clinics to get other opinions, on the other though -- having all of them together with nobody else was fabulous!  We could do so much more than they'd have been able to do in a normal group because I know them. I know their horses. I know what they know and what I haven't taught them yet.  And I know all the basics are there and solid.  It means we can skip the evaluation, I don't have to do any significant equitation explanations, I can assume basic course knowledge and understanding, and I can make the course a legitimate height without any concerns.  So yes - my girls, who were supposed to be in PE, jumped the highest and most complicated course I taught all afternoon.  hahaha  And they did an excellent job of it!

At the end of that, Olivia headed off for XC and the others went back to the trailer to take care of their ponies.

I was highly amused when I met my next group.  While my first had been all my students, my second was all Marg's.  And since I worked for her for years, it gives me the exact same advantage as with my group.  We teach in a similar manner with emphasis on similar priorities.  I've taught all these riders before and know at least a little about them and their horses.  Their horses were a little greener, so we took it slightly slower, but it was still a blast to teach and we got a lot done.

BUT -- shortly after I started teaching I saw Chelsea off in the distance leading Bella around.  Uh oh.  My heart sank as that's never a good sign, but there was nothing I could do.  I was super excited to see somebody give Olivia a leg up onto the pony though as I figured she must be okay. When her XC group made it's way around so they were jumping next to where I was teaching, I asked if she was okay -- and got a completely blank look... Ummm I'm sure I saw the pony being led around?   Oh, Olivia got off.  On purpose.  hahhaa great relief.  Okay, that's totally fine then :)

My last group was huge and all riders I didn't know -- well except one I'd taught earlier in dressage if that counts?  :)  I enjoyed them though and they all made a solid effort.  A couple horses I would've loved to put in the school in that group :)

At the end of the day I stopped up on the hill to chat with a friend and watch the last group finish off.  Steph took charge of loading and getting the ponies home, so I was able to relax and socialize with the other clinicians for a few minutes.  That's always fun -- it's very much an independent job I do, so every once in a while it's nice to chat with other people doing the same thing, facing the same challenges...

Didn't stay too long though as I did need to get back.  The girls were finishing up with their horses.  Soon enough all was done and the barn was quiet.  Stephy and I did night check and the day was done.

So a day that started out pretty dodgy, ended up fairly amazing.  I had a ton of fun teaching.  It seems all the girls had great rides.  Nobody fell off :)  Always a plus!  And I was really proud of how my girls both rode and conducted themselves in general.  Show season's going to be a blast!


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