The USEA put together an outstanding 3 day training program for 21 of us budding-course designers. Some of us were more wannabe's than others (I definitely fell in the wannabe category) - and we came from far and wide... My 3 hour drive was easy compared to those who came from Ontario, Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota... It was comforting to learn that all over the US (and Canada!) there are others who suffer from the same affliction I do - constant obsessive sighting of perfect materials for XC fences!
Note quite a PhD dissertation defense, but close! Finding just the right flow to a course may be more art than science - but, then again... maybe it's all in the physics!
On Sunday morning, we headed across the road to the XC fields that had been used on Saturday for the FEI courses. Tremaine divvied up the land so that groups of 4 each took a grid square to "build" something on (with orange flags, graph paper, and an unlimited imaginary budget!). After just over an hour of planning, we had to present (defend) our plans to the rest of the group (and Tremaine, of course!). Luckily, we all took to heart Tremaine's advice on the first day - don't try to be too clever! And, very interestingly, each group came up with a different question - we had (imaginary) complexes with a corner, coffin, banks, steps, and jumping into space. We talked through our vision, considering things like material available, the effort required to move earth, setting jumps with the flow of the terrain... It was a fantastic exercise that forced us to get creative and make decisions - which can be quite a bit harder than simply critiquing the existing work of someone else.
Just before yet another downpour, we managed to squeeze in some time flying a couple of trucks around the FEI courses to take a closer look at the coffin, bank, and water complexes. Wow! I'm pretty sure my one-star, way back when, was just as hard, but my eye sure has a long ways to go before those jumps look doable again! We ended the day watching the BN horses tackle their course - actually, those guys may have gotten into the tequila too, because straight lines were not so much out there! Wobble this way, wobble that way... It really made you appreciate the importance of considering the lack of steering in a BN horse when you design a course for them - if you think they can steer around anything - they can't! :)
Our fearless teacher, Tremaine Cooper.
Thank you to the USEA (especially Nancy Knight and Tremaine Cooper) for putting together such a great weekend!
So, after soaking up all the course design knowledge I could, now it's back to reality. Meanwhile, back at the ranch... I found Katchi on Thursday morning with a fat leg. I iced it heavily Thursday morning and evening, and Friday morning too. Then my wonderful new friend Kerry took over with Katchi's physical therapy for the weekend! Last report is that the leg looks almost normal, which, no doubt, is the direct result of Kerry sacrificing her weekend to repeated Katchi icings while I was off playing with orange flags and tequila! I definitely got the better end of that deal! When I let Katchi go in the field on Wednesday morning, he bucked and racehorse galloped across the entire field (he had been in for 2 days on account of storms), so I pretty much know the idiot did it to himself in the field. I really had the feeling it was nothing major, just a little sprain, but I will reassess where we stand tomorrow morning. It's such a terrible feeling to discover the dreaded "fat leg" right when you're getting started with all your plans for the year. But, hopefully with 4 days off, Katchi can go back to light work tomorrow - still 2 weeks until Rubicon, so we're not out of the game yet...