Here there be dragons...

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

Competition Camp Day 1

So competition camp is pretty intense this year.  Only three riders, so lots of riding time.  We started the week with an intense focus on details.

Dressage was first - a series of lunge lessons.  The riders were each working on different challenges and putting their horse on the lunge line allowed them to focus solely on themselves.  One has a habit of collapsing one side so we were doing lots of exercises to get her sitting straighter and more balanced.  I have a few more ideas to try with her over the next few days :)  Should be entertaining.  A second rider's challenge is suppleness through her back so she was working on relaxing into the canter and moving with the horse in both the sitting trot and the canter -- with some great results!  The third rider is working on bringing the horse from a training level frame to a first level frame, so she did a lot of work on using her seat to bring her horse's back up, and at the end when she was given her reins, she had some pretty amazing results :)   Very kewl to watch.

At lunch we discussed SMART goals and discussed some potential immediate, short and long term riding goals.  Since all the riders are competing this summer, these are fairly relevant :)  We also reviewed last year's goals for those who set them. Had they reached them?  Why or why not?  Reviewing is always helpful both as a scale of progress and to help with setting new ones.

The afternoon was a detail-focus of jumping skills.  Even though all these girls are comfortable jumping in the 2'6-2'9 range, we went right back to how the foot should sit in the stirrup.  hahaha it's amazing how much an exceptionally detailed evaluation of an automatic skill can reveal.  Mostly the focus was on the correct positioning and use of the lower leg.  Most novice riders have a tendency to turn out too much, and so we worked on moving beyond that with a focus on the correct balance and contact between the thigh/saddle and the calf/horse.  We also gave some attention to the all important knee and hip angles, and how to release without lowering the upper body.  Then the game was repeated in motion *g*  We did a test run with the riders trying to carry a flower between their leg and the horse.  Sasha enjoyed picking up all the flowers after :)   Then it was time to apply said new position to a course of poles.  Not only did they have to navigate accurately, including one flying change and two bending related distances, but they also were expected to do the whole thing in two-point AND count down to each pole.  Pole courses never seem all that impressive to look at -- but let me tell you, it's a lot easier to "just get around" a massive course, than to ride poles flat on the ground perfectly.  And of course the hope is, once you can do it with poles, that you'll be able to apply that over fences as well!  Of the riders we had two working on accuracy and one working on rhythm and all made significant improvement by the end.  

Overall a great start to the day!  Looking forward to the rest of the week -- and even more toward show season!


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