Monday, February 5, 2018

1/27/2018 - Adult Camp Lesson 1

One of the barn ladies (we'll call her J) approached me a few months ago and asked if I wanted to go to the Adult Camp that GP Trainer's two assistant trainers were holding on 1/27-28/2018. I looked it over- $150 for: a private half hour lesson Saturday morning, lunch & lecture, a half hour group cavaletti lesson or private lunge lesson Saturday afternoon, overnight stabling, breakfast on Sunday, and a half hour private lesson Sunday. I thought it was pretty good value, especially since I'd have someone to haul down with and split some of the costs of gas and hotel.

I knew we'd have to leave super early Saturday morning since the first lessons of the weekend were in the morning (our lessons were at 11:00 and 11:30), and it's a 5 hour minimum drive down (it has taken me as long as 7 hours to make the drive home). What I didn't bank on was having to be awake by 2am, leaving my house by 2:45am to pump gas and get breakfast and be at the barn by 3:45am, to leave for VA by 4:30am. Umm.

I did make the good decision of taking a half vacation day to go to the barn Friday and clean tack, pack, and make sure Penn was bathed and spotless. I was home by 7 and in bed trying to sleep by 9! I was proud of myself.

My truck's radio. I was running 15 min late, this pic was supposed to happen at 2:45am!

We were on the road at 5 instead of 4:30 due to a grooming mishap... I tried to do a quick mane shortening with a bot fly egg removal knife so J's horse wouldn't have a hobo mane (it was too wet from his bath to do the day before). I may have sliced my pointer finger open enough to drip blood all over the barn on my way to the bathroom. That really slowed me down in getting Penn ready (you try wrapping legs without using your pointer finger while trying not to get blood all over everything).

Did you know that when you wake up at 2:15am in the dark and get your day rolling, that at about 7am, you start to wonder why the hell it is still dark and it suddenly feels like 10pm? Yea. J and I both had the same feeling around the same time, "For the love of all, WHEN IS THE SUN GOING TO RISE?!"

We got to GP Trainer's barn at 10:15am, making really good time even though we had to drive the slow windy roads in the dark. We got Penn and B off the trailer and in their stalls, then the tack room emptied in record time. We had to hurry and slap some tack on Penn, but then I was ready to ride!

Let me give some background on GP Trainer's two assistant trainers: LH is a silver medalist and Traditional B Pony Club graduate who worked for the the Hanoverian Verband in Germany, and LF is a bronze medalist who has been with GP Trainer for almost 3 years now.

I really wanted both of my lessons to be with LH because she's much further up the dressage ladder than me. I didn't get my wish, they had so many riders sign up that they both taught at the same time Saturday morning, splitting the huge indoor in half (which still left two huge squares to work in). That worked out though, I got to know LF better and she has a depth of understanding I did not expect from someone who only showed 3rd in 2017. I mean, that's a perk of being at GP Trainer's barn 24/7! She definitely gets an A+ and I'd recommend her to anyone.

I briefly went over what GP Trainer and I worked on the previous weekend (canter half pass and flying changes, then general obedience), I did a quick warm up, and we went straight to work on the canter and flying changes.

The first thing LF had me do was push the canter forward and back, being able to collect it with just my seat and have Penn go forward again immediately when I asked. Unfortunately, I don't have her commentary because she was using a headset from the other side of the ring, so here are some clips of us doing stuff to work on sit and go and sit:

10m circle on a 20m circle exercise, ending in a canter/walk.
It felt like he was sitting so much more than he actually was... why is that always the case?!

We didn't touch the easy change (left to right), but instead worked on ways to make the right to left better. I was able to get it from counter canter into the corner, but Penn would always be late behind.

I mean, at least it was pretty? Stay in rhythm, he didn't buck, he didn't drop much, why does it need to be clean too?

Then Penn just stopped picking up the counter canter altogether. We switched to tracking right and he kept picking up the left lead. *facepalm* We eventually got the right lead while tracking left, and LF had me maintain the counter canter, then put Penn in renvers while counter cantering. (unfortunately this is when my randomly selected fellow adult camper left the ring and stopped videoing)

Me: Walk on, then counter canter.
Penn: I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

Ohhh Penn did not like that one bit, he got hoppy and jumpy and oh so frustrated. Why wouldn't I just ask him to change already?! The goal of the exercise being: keep him up and hoppy while keeping him collected, and most importantly frustrated that he has to do all this hard work so that when I finally do ask for a change, he goes, "OH THANK GOODNESS, YES I'LL CHANGE!"

We never got back to trying a change, but more importantly we worked on keeping the quality of the canter.

LF got to see his naughty behavior too, "No, [Penn stomps horsey foot] I will not keep going!" She said something along the lines of, "He's so sweet and cute, and GP Trainer always says what a delightful horse he is when we discuss lessons, and she didn't say anything about him this last time. I did not expect this from him!" I joked that he showed her his naughty side last week, so he didn't earn his delightful horse comments!

We wrapped up, and J came in with her horse, B. J was a bit nervous, she's only had B for 6 months, 3 of those were at our barn where she realized how inadequate her "instructor" was at teaching and preparing someone for horse ownership (I've found her last "instructor" likes to keep her clients in the dark about horse ownership options). B was sold to J out of the lesson program, and he was supposedly a good traveler (turns out he's a wonderful traveler, as advertised), but J hasn't taken him anywhere. I ended up hanging out for a bit in the middle of our square as moral support, which was cool. LF got her moving and working again, and eventually we were able to wander back to the barn. J had a good confidence building lesson and was much more comfortable by the end!

Next time, PEMF treatment and a cavaletti lesson!


  1. I absolutely love that forward and back exercise, and look how hoppy Penn got! Nice work!

  2. Love the backward/forward exercise. We just did something similar in the trot.

  3. What an incredible value for so many things!