Monday, August 4, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

Well, I'm home!

I wrote blog posts as I was at camp -- no internet access, but I saved them in Microsoft Word. So you will get to read them as if it's happening that very day!

Here's Friday's post:

Upon our arrival Thursday night, the first thing we did was get McKinna settled in. We picked a little corral (nice little things, 12x12 wood-pole deals, bedded with straw), parked the truck in a nice spot with some advice from some friendly riders (who were quite cheerful to direct us to a parking spot that didn’t block their view of neighboring vinyards), pitched the tent, unpacked some stuff, heated up our stew over the little propane barbeque. We watched, bemused, as a neighboring camper ran an extension cord all the way across the field we parked in: “You have electricity!” my mother remarks. “Oh yes,” says the lady, “it’s just for…the espresso machine…” and grins sheepishly as she realizes what she’s saying.

We horseback riders know how to do it in style, that’s for sure.

My first ride is Friday morning outside. A lovely outdoor arena, awesome footing, no idea exactly how big it is, but it’s big. I’m in a group with two guys (of the three total in the camp). After starting off with a warmup crossrail, we move right into gridwork, first with two fences, then three and four. I really enjoyed the gridwork because we’ve never had enough room to do it at home – but McKinna acted like she’d done it her whole life, just hopping right along through.

From there our instructor just kept building the course. Grid, diagonal, single. Then she added a bending line (my first ever!) and then another. The first time, McKinna practically blew through the bending line – getting a little strong was a bit of a problem for us. On my last round, though, I figured out how to ride it better, and she backed off a lot more when I was a little lighter in my hands (funny how that works). My group is officially awesome. It’s small, we’re all competent riders with competent horses, and we get to move along at a nice pace. I was so proud of McKinna! She finally understands her leads, I don’t fuss with her distances, she never hesitates at the fences, and she can put together a whole course. She truly has come a long way.

Lunch, enough time for a quick nap, and then off for my ‘indoor’ lesson, except that we did cross country. I had a BLAST. She was really really strong in the beginning as we trotted and cantered in a big circle, but settled down once we got to really cantering and jumping some low warmup fences. Then we headed out into the big field with the water complex!

Lots of firsts today: first time cantering down the hill, through the water, and back out again. First up bank, trotting and cantering; first down bank, just trotting. First ditch, both natural and revetted. My little mare was an absolute star for all of those! Up banks are way more fun than I thought they would be.

Our biggest problem with XC is McKinna wanting to charge forward. I don’t like it, and I want her to come back the instant I want, so I tend to half-halt really strongly, and it’s just messy. I started to find a rhythm towards the end, using the same riding style I did at the end of the first lesson – lighter in the hands, lighter in the seat, just gently rolling with the motion. When I did that, she relaxed and found a rhythm, and would come back to me before fences when I sat back and half-halted. I only started to get a feel for it towards the end, though, so I’m excited to see if I can recreate that feeling for the whole lesson tomorrow!

She also had one dirty stop at a red barn fence. I hate that fence, she’s never liked it, she’s refused it before. I should have ridden her stronger to it the first time, and/or dropped to a trot where we’re both more secure. The second and third times over it she was fine, but I should’ve seen it coming the first time.

Oh well – at least most of the time she is quite honest! I suppose I’ll just have to school it every time we’re here until I get over my irrational dislike of that fence.

We had a potluck dinner with everyone and it was quite enjoyable. I’m having an absolutely awesome time, probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a horse, and McKinna is doing so well! This whole weekend is going to be such a great experience for both of us, and I think it will take us a long way in terms of our comfort level in jumping. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

1 comment:

sellefrancais said...

Pictures please :) :) :)

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