Here there be dragons...

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

When all was said and done...

And it all came together today!

We started with raising yesterday's pole course off the ground :)  Mieke, Carolyn and Brena were in the first group.  They warmed up over a single jump and then we pieced together the course.  By the end all three had a great course going!  Woohoo!  The focus changed depending on the rider -- Brena was working on convincing Bella to bend correctly in her corners and keeping a consistent rhythm.  Carolyn's focus was equitation.  And Mieke had the most entertaining challenge -- keeping it all together after something goes wrong.  I have to say -- she put in possibly the best round I've ever seen her do!  Fabulous!

Then it was Rebecca and Amy's turn.  They have a little more experience, so the course wasn't built up slowly -- they tackled it full on the first try, just like in competition.  And they did it!  Woohoo!  Amy's focus was a variation of Mieke's -- not so much putting things back together if something goes wrong, but keeping things together all the way around the course.  And sometimes that's a very long way.  Rebecca was riding Athena, who she has very little experience with, and the focus was - in her phrase - survival skills!  hahaha but she pulled it off :)   Woohoo!

Then it was time for our last dressage set.  The focus was on accuracy rather than brilliance in riding which was well timed because by this point the riders were all so exhausted that accuracy was the only option remaining.  hahaha apparently riding twice a day every day takes its toll!   The rules are simple - pylons are set out in each corner of our ring; for corners you go around, for circles you cut them off.  You can have one "free" knock down.  After that, you have to dismount and reset them when you knock them over.  hahaha only one rider had to reset.  Not too shabby :)   We ran through the basic details required to ride an Entry level test -- tangent points for 20m circles in all the various locations, center lines, diagonals, transition points and all other related excitement.   And in the end, they got to put it all together and practice their test :)

It was also video day today.  I love using video as a teaching tool -- so many people accelerate their learning when they can actually see what they're doing, at least in part because it so often *feels* very differently than it looks.  Riders who feel straight, can see they're crooked.  Riders who feel they're going really fast, can watch the turtle pass them on the track.  Riders who jump up the horse's neck, can see how their position differs from the ideal.  And on and on and on.  Glancing through them on my machine -- they pretty much worked (filming while coaching, so I wasn't actually watching the camera at the time *g*  Horses and riders may or may not be consistently in the frame, but the general concept is ok.   I did video day the last day so it could be cumulative of the week's work, but I think next time I'd like to do it earlier in the week so the rider's can see it and we can work on what they've seen afterwards.  But then, all of these riders are regular students of mine anyways - so it'll still work out, just longer term *g*   All the riders will have video of their jumping and their dressage though.  Dressage test and at least snipits of lessons.  Fun fun fun :)

So overall - camp was a blast :)   Adult camp is a *lot* harder to teach than normal camp!  hahaha I've never actually done it before, every time somewhere I worked for tried to host adult camp, they never had enough people.  I think the reason it worked for us is those camps tried to attract beginner adults, whereas our camp was a seriously intense competitive focus.  So the riders who signed up are ones who are already serious about their riding.

Why harder?  An odd statement coming from me since I don't really teach kids at all :)  My primary market is teens and young adults -- mostly twenties.  And in regular lessons that's awesome.  But put them in the intensive environment and it activates the "perfection" trait *g*   I've blogged that one before, but it's basically where targeting perfection actually inhibits learning.  For two reasons:  first, they don't want to fail, so they're less likely to play around and try.  Which, let's be honest, is a HUGE part of learning to ride.  Second, perfection is unattainable   No matter who you are -- Mark Todd gets awfully close, but the rest of us mere mortals, if we aim for perfection, we're going to fail.  So then they get frustrated because they're "failing" and then the frustration makes them tense, and as we all know, tension is the antithesis of good riding *sigh*  Vicious circle there eh?   So it makes the "therapist" part of the classic trainer/therapist title become far more prevalent.  And *that* is what makes teaching adult camp harder.  Teaching kids is easy - just tell em what to do and occasionally how to do it *g*  Then watch them have fun.  Teaching adults, you have to remind them to have fun!  hahaha

On the plus side, all the rest of the time is *way* more fun with adults.  Anything-goes analogies (several of which may not have been exactly pg rated, but what I've learned is the more outrageous the analogy the more effective :), no need to babysit in the barn or worry about what students are doing when they're not riding, social hour at the end of the day...   All of that was a blast.

Could've used another hour in each day.  Had a few unmounted riding things that I think are important in a competition camp that we really didn't have time for.  Rider warm-ups, goal setting, effective use of practice rides, mental training, etc...  Part of me always feels ridiculous doing that sort of thing with adult students (I mean really, I'm sure they've all hit 'goal setting' a few dozen times between school and professional lives) but otoh, I've found they often have more of an appreciation for it.  So we'll see - maybe next time I'll schedule in a lunch hour.  Those who were there, thoughts?  Would that've been a good add?  Or just make the day too long? :)

Alright, off to read Amy's take on the week :)   Overall though, I had a *great* group of campers and was awesome to see so much progress in such a short time!  Will definitely do it again next year :)


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