Last week and this weekend were a total blur. I didn’t get enough posts queued up, though I have a ton on my mind. Last week I visited my boyfriend for three days, did a juicer photo shoot, and then came home for one night for a meeting with my advisor and (drumroll please) PONY CAMPING!!!!!!!!!
For the last three years, my trainer has arranged a 3-day 3-day camp — three days and three nights of ALL EVENTING ALL THE TIME!!! We trailer up to our favourite NorCal XC facility (Camelot Equestrian Park, duh) and camp for two nights with our ponies. We do dressage and stadium lessons, school the XC course, and a pace exercise on their 3/4 mile gallop track, and then a mini one-day event. It is an absolute blast!!
This year, we had more horses coming than trailers, so trainer took two trips with the six horse and dropped some of us off on Thursday afternoon. The five of us settled our horses in, set up camp, and then promptly headed out for a little conditioning/trail ride, as Camelot has not only a fantastic XC course but miles and miles and miles of trails! We actually didn’t go far, since none of us really know the trails, and we didn’t want to tire our ponies out too much before the rest of our adventures.
Murray sure knows how to power walk out on trails. He blasted out ahead of our group and made things a little difficult for the slower horses who wanted to keep up. I’ve never felt such a big, swingy walk on him. Wish I could get that in the sandbox!
Friday morning the rest of our party — ten more horses and riders — arrived, and we commenced with dressage lessons. Murray warmed up fine, and then decided that it was impossible to do any canter departs without bucking.
But we did have some beautiful, real dressage horse moments.
So I just smiled through our Murray Moments and mentally composed a thoughtful and strongly worded letter to the USDF requesting a “Entertainment” score on all dressage tests. With a multiplier of 2!
The benefit of going first is that you get to watch all your friends’ rides too! I watched lots of great dressage lessons, and lots of tests, and got to hear all of Alana’s comments regarding geometry and corners and transitions. It was extremely helpful. And after dressage? STADIUM LESSONS! Well, lunch, a break, then stadium lessons.
We worked the baby horzes first, and I got to watch the adorable, adorable redhead in his third ever jump lesson! So cute.
Our lesson was pretty freaking fantastic. We had some of our best equitation/jumping ever.
Murray also showed off his mad hops. I realised how much lube my elbows must need because they appear to be basically stuck in a 90 degree angle.
Murray also demonstrated MANY opinions and his best canter side pass and half pass. Fourth level, here we come! Mostly it was about my right leg, and there was great shrieking and carrying on, but he also let me know, in no uncertain terms, whenever I wasn’t riding him absolutely right.
It was exactly what I wanted, lots of good work at BN and then some badassery over a novice course. Such a great confidence builder. And how can I not love this pony whose ears are pricked and locks onto every fence (well, except when I randomly hit him in the face)?! Kid knows how to put his game face on.
Friday night we all went out and had our hopes and dreams dashed when the Marie Callendar’s that we usually frequent was closed down for good. Deep sadness. Instead we went to Chilli’s where I ate too much and promptly fell asleep as soon as I got back to camp. Oh, and Pigwink came camping with us so that was pretty much pure joy right there. She makes a phenomenal hot water bottle.
Saturday morning I snacked on my homemade granola bars for breakfast (really good choice to bring those) and headed out to cross country! We did reverse order for heat reasons, so started with the most advanced group and moved down to the babies. Murray surprised me by struggling with the drop into the water, though we’ve never struggled with down banks before. So we schooled that both up and down until it was pretty smooth.
Much easier this way.
Since during our last schooling I had so much trouble jumping off a galloping stride and following Murray, I tried extra hard to stay with him this time. He was a fair bit more relaxed so was also more willing to add, which helped. Camelot had dragged out some of their newer jumps too, so we got to try our hand at some of the slightly-scary Novice fences. One fence did give us a spot of trouble, a ramped table that had dragons on the front panel. It wasn’t quite full novice height, but something about it really gave Murray pause (perhaps the training and prelim fences to either side? perhaps the dragons?) and we had a couple of stops there. We got over it more times than we stopped, though, and didn’t have a problem with it when we threw it into a course on the last day.
Alana did have to remind me at the beginning not to get too over-eager with my stride counting to the fences, as I am inclined to throw my body at the fence when I start yelling strides (three, TWO, ONE!!) so I tried to keep my upper body and my voice quiet. This time around, Eric Idle’s The Galaxy was my inspirational song.
It was a short-ish XC school because we did pace in the afternoon. Pace gets its whole own blog post — it was so cool. However, another overall really confidence building and fun ride.
There was also some super adorable baby horse action on XC!
There is something so satisfying to me about doing your own horse care and camping with the horses. I love feeding and night check, and catching ponies all flat out and snoring. I don’t even mind the noise they make in the night (though persistent screamers aren’t my fave), but I am a really good sleeper. Sunday we did a mini-one-day event, keeping it light and easy for the horses who were all, as you can imagine, pretty exhausted at that point. I would have racked up 20 xc penalties and 4 stadium penalties (both totally rider error — Murray was super game and honest otherwise), as well as some rather interesting comments on my dressage tests, since Murray bucked through the entire left canter circle. No matter, we weren’t actually competing! One of my friends did, however, up the ante dramatically by bringing HORSE GLITTER!!! So even though it’s a bit blurry, I leave you with this masterpiece of a quarter mark. I am one hundred percent buying myself glitter for my first event!