Friday, June 18, 2010

Inavale Camp

Grooming for Devin at Aspen was a fun and exhausting experience. It really didn't help that I came down with a cold over the weekend! She brought two horses, Batey who is her competition horse and Landish who is a client horse. Batey was going Prelim and is moving up to Intermediate at Inavale next weekend, and Landish is going Novice. She had me hack both of them before her rides, which was lots of fun! Except I didn't bring breeches, so I rode in jeans. I used to ride in jeans ALL the time, but somewhere along the line I got used to riding in breeches and now it's extremely uncomfortable to wear jeans.

I learned a lot- how to stud, how to poultice, how to rubber-band braid, and so on. Devin also took me on her course walks and explained the courses, what questions the fences were asking, and how she planned to ride them. Educational for the Novice course, very educational for the Prelim course!

Next weekend is the Inavale event. I'm excited and nervous and (this is terrible) I'm looking forward to resting a little afterward! It's just this big huge goal that I've had for forever, and McKinna and I have made SO much progress in the last six months, and after it we can wind down a little. But only a little. My summer is jam-packed with trips and camps and various horse and non-horse events.

Here's some stuff from the first Inavale camp day. No pictures from AM show jumping...but I do have stuff from XC! I'll stick some videos up as soon as I get the from my mom's laptop.

Day 1 SJ with Kelsey focused on gridwork and position...something I'm quite familiar with, as a Pony Clubber. She didn't have much to say about my position, which I took as a good thing. I actually didn't have the best ride, probably for several reasons but I'm guessing a big chunk was the grid itself. Unfortunately the grid was set for a solid horse stride and designed to get a bit longer through the fences, so - especially in the beginning when they were just ground poles and not fences - McKinna had to really lengthen her stride to get through. It's not something she normally has to do in grids. Now, I'm all for teaching the pony to lengthen her stride, because it's something she needs to learn how to do...but I don't think this was the time or place to do so, nor was that what the grid's intention was. Instead, she just got fired up through the grid and by the time we were finished, she was really blocking me with the base of her neck and just not wanting to listen to half-halts.

Then we did a four-stride line. The first time I did it in a polite five, which I knew I would get, because I know my horse. Kelsey wanted four, so I discussed the difference in McKinna's striding and how I don't mind asking for four, but since I'm low on the half-halt spectrum today I wanted to intersperse it with getting the additional stride. She agreed with me, so I got another nice five, then the next time pushed for a forward but nice four. The rest of the lesson was so-so. I feel like we had some reasonable rides, but she just wasn't as adjustable as I'd prefer.

Later that day, we headed out to XC with Devin. We started out with galloping position and adjustability, followed by course work. Since I ride with Devin regularly, I knew the position/adjustability drill, but it was the first time I've had a chance to test it out with McKinna. What a great way to reinstall my temporarily lost half-halt! After a few big loops of "fold angles to go faster, open angles to balance and slow," we were really in tune and I could easily adjust our speed and canter shape with my body. I exaggerated the differences between 'go' and 'balance' to really get the point across to her. Devin remarked that during our 'forward' phases we were "on course at Training and making the time," which made me laugh, but hey - at least McKinna was understanding the difference! It's an awesome feeling to be able to control her with my body. No head-tossing, no strong rein aids, just a supporting half-halt and my body telling her what to do. Very cool feeling to have a horse who's game but not too strong on XC.

What a good pony.
Coursework was wonderful and confidence-building, and generally consisted of: get your canter/gallop, get your line, then chill out and support as needed while your horse jumps the fence. McKinna was a rock star and jumped everything with a laid-back attitude, though she was still focused about them. Not lazy, but not attacking the fences either. Probably for an upper-level horse you want more attack, but she is just perfect for me where I'm at. She's bold, but I don't have to waste energy controlling her. In fact, it all felt very in-sync.

 Over the big table (with shiny acorn shells on top!)

We ended with a few interesting accuracy questions (jump this rolltop at a 45 degree angle; jump directly over the far left quarter of this rolltop) that rode very well for all in my Novice group. In fact, that last question was my favorite picture of all time, which I put up a post or two ago. It's definitely getting made into a new header for the blog. Another rider and I got to hop over one very inviting Training fence, a three-log pile. It felt very easy to ride and McKinna just soared over it with no problems. Man, I love the feeling of extra air-time.

Towards the end, McKinna tended to want to add in a short stride and jump pretty deep rather than take off a little bit long. I think she was getting tired, and her default response is to add. That's great, but she needs to be able to do both, and sometimes it made for a bit of an ugly fence. So at the end I asked for more move-up and leap, and she responded by taking the longer (but still reasonable) spot for me. It's a skill we'll need to work on.

Love this mare.

Overall it was a wonderful first day! The other people in my group were great fun and I think we were a really well-matched group. There was a lady on a Paint mare who'd been a rescue - they were so much fun, just a great big tank of a mare who was game for anything out there on course. Then a very handsome dapple grey Selle Francais gelding, who was very green on XC but quite willing and a quick study about all the terrain and new questions like banks. Rounding out the group was a handsome dark bay Quarter Horse, though I'm pretty sure something jumped the fence somewhere and his dam was sleeping around with the warmblood next door, because he's the least QH-like Quarter Horse I've ever seen. Tall, elegant, very nice horse with a great attitude.

Rest of the report later :-)

Hanging out at the Training log pile we jumped


Sarah said...

I rode a QH mare for ages that just did NOT look like a QH. She was 15.3 hh or better (flat spaces suitable for sticking were nonexistant every time we tried) and built on the tank-ish side of TB. Her head was just totally ordinary, not QH-ish at all. She was an awesome mare, though. She couldn't jump - there was an accident before I met her that meant her legs couldn't take it; she could barely handle the farrier - but she was western pleasure and dressage trained. Also, had the number of everyone in the barn but me and my instructor. :)

Albigears said...

So wait, are you competing at Inavale??? If so, best of luck!

manymisadventures said...

They must be the QH's with a lot of racing TB blood back in there somewhere. Though the lady in my group said her gelding's parents were both 15.2 hand, downhill ropers. I guess you never know what you're gonna get!

Yes, I AM competing at Inavale :-) My FIRST recognized HT and I am so excited. I just want to get out there and have fun.

Albigears said...

So excited for you! I hear it's HUGE this year, should be a great time!

Leah Fry said...

That's exciting that you're competing in a big show like that. And you will likely need at least a little break after that.

Any word on how Pandora is doing with her new owner?

Stacey Kimmel-Smith said...


I created a google group Horsebloggers for people who blog about horses, donkeys, horse sports, or any related topic. The idea is to share news, info, promos, contests, badges, and basically help and communicate with each other. Go to if interested! Thanks!

Stacey at

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