Friday, July 3, 2009

Lily Glen: Days 3 - 4

They've started putting up some pictures from camp, and they don't have them all uploaded yet, but so far there are almost NO pictures of me. One awkward front shot from jogouts, and three of Pandora and me standing around waiting in the cold for our lesson to start. From one of our XC sessions, the photographer got at least three shots of each of my group members but somehow none of me. I really hope they have some that they can post, otherwise I'll be really disappointed!

Saturday was cold. Really cold. As in, I rode XC with several shirts and a sweatshirt and my safety vest, and didn't get hot.

Cold cold cold. And wet. That is her heavy winter blanket there.

I think I freaked out the instructors a little with how wound up Pandora was at the beginning, but I assured them that with a calm purposeful warmup she'd settle. Which she did, good mare.

Pandora was rock-solid while jumping, but she picked up this obnoxious habit: she simply WOULD NOT stand still. She was champing at the bit and every few seconds would want to move. If I made her stop, she'd flip her head and get pissed off and threaten to pop wheelies. She didn't let up at all. Constantly walking was getting really old. After about an hour of this, I finally figured out that I can just gently pull her head around to the side. She'd walk in a tiny circle until she got tired of it, then she'd stop and I'd let go. The instant she tried to move again, I'd do it again. It was an easy, non-confrontational way to get her to knock it the hell off and it seemed to work.

Jumping was, like I said, amazing. She has started seeing distances and going for them with so much confidence. At the end, because I was wavering between choosing BN or N for the derby, I schooled a whole bunch of N-level fences, several of the maxed out. She was fantastic! Including the freakiest one (for me), a maxed-out vertical of narrow logs with fairly short face. Of course, I just kept my eyes up and pretended it didn't freak me out and she jumped it like any other fence. Bending lines, light-into-dark questions, nothing fazed her.

Here is the skinny-ish fence, AKA "linkin log fence," with me and the (big) dog for scale.

Dressage was so-so. It was still absolutely freezing outside. On XC, at least you're moving around a lot - out there, we stood still for most of it, because we were doing individual work on riding our tests. I don't really have a lot to say for it, I guess. Pandora was so-so, we worked for only ten minutes or so, and the instructor focused on riding the test, not riding the horse. It was a very very good thing for me to learn, because nobody's spent much time on test-riding strategy with me before, but not too conclusive for training. Still, she was well behaved.

I actually put her heavy blanket on her for the night, and as I slept curled up in my sleeping bag, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, underneath a horse cooler and down blanket, and was still cold, I was very glad I'd put it on her.

I'd finally decided to run Novice at the derby the last morning. I figured, our dressage is going to suck because of her tension either way, and not a huge difference in the tests if you're only schooling. And what better place to test out the gears of a higher level than a low-key camp where you can take time to school or drop down if things don't go well? All evening, though, I struggled with whether or not to scratch. The constant drizzle hadn't let up. I was tense, the way your muscles never seem to fully relax when you're cold and tired and slightly miserable. Pandora was tense, probably also from the cold but a lot just from being there. To be perfectly honest, I'd have traded the derby to be home and dry!

Cold, wet, and grumpy! (Maybe she's grumpy because I don't have her halter adjusted right)

By the next morning, Sunday, I was fully decided to scratch. Not only were we both pretty tired and a little stressed, a mass of fog rolled in and the rain still hadn't stopped. The footing out on the course was good when dry, but the mud turned hard and slick when wet. To me, it just wasn't worth risking our newfound confidence, and I knew she'd want to go fast.

Turned out it didn't matter - they canceled the derby for all the reasons I mentioned. I was glad I'd made the right decision anyway, and I certainly wasn't heartbroken that it meant I got to pack up and head home earlier than I'd expected. My parents came to pick us up, so I was a little disappointed that they didn't get to watch me ride, but they've seen me before and they'll see me again. I'm probably anthropomorphizing, but Pandora sure seemed glad to get on the trailer later that morning.

Before we left, my buddy and I took my parents and my dog on a course walk. It is quite the hike, but it was worth it. The dog had the time of his life. I don't know if I've mentioned him before, but Kuma is a 2 year old Rottweiler/Chocolate Lab mix we got from the humane society last year, and he is a big 100-pound ball of affection and energy. He ran all over the place, fell in the creek, chased sticks and his ball through grass twice as tall as him, and in general had an awesome time. He bounds like a deer when he runs through the tall grass, so cute. Someday I'll post the video I have of me and him playing fetch with a blade of grass - yes, he's that focused on playing fetch.

So, after that we loaded everything up and headed home. It got warmer as we went, which was nice - I'd been wearing a tank top, t-shirt, long-sleeved riding shirt, turtleneck sweater, crew-neck sweatshirt, hooded sweatshirt, AND rain jacket. Might have been a little overkill, but I hate being cold. That's why I'm so puffy in the blue rainjacket picture!

McKinna hollered awfully loud when she saw Pandora, poor thing. I think she thought we took her away forever! Anyway, they had their joyful reunion, Pandora got several days of well-deserved rest, and then you know what has happened with the injury and lameness nonsense.

So, Lily Glen was a really good experience. I'm pondering whether to go back next year - it is a long drive, and horse camping is plain exhausting, especially when no parents are there to help out! I had some really good lessons, but I also had some that weren't all that useful. The first two horse-management lessons taught things that I already knew, though the third was very interesting. It was cold, and tends to be cold on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I did have a good time. I enjoy any opportunity to really get to know kids from other Pony Clubs, since we don't get the chance all that often. The course is beautiful, and I would love to ride it as they continue to make progress rebuilding. (I've heard they're looking for old course maps to help rebuild the course, so on the off chance that any of you rode there in the past, let me know!) It's also only $200 for many days of lessons and activities and food, though you do have to factor in gas and travel time.

Anyway, it's not something I'm decided about now, and who knows what my summer plans next year will be. Overall I had a very good time, learned a lot, and I'm glad I went.


Leah Fry said...

Where in the heck was that camp that it was that cold? Sheez, we're sweltering in triple digits.

manymisadventures said...

It was in Ashland, up practically in the mountains. Some years they actually got snow, thank goodness not this year. Ugh. I hate cold.

We've been pretty hot around here the past few days, but I think you've got us beat if you're in the triples. Yikes. How do the horses handle it?

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