Saturday, June 18, 2011

PD Academy Camp - Going for Gold!

It's actually really hard to write this final post about yesterday's last day at camp - sitting at home, on my couch, enjoying coffee with my happy cat helping me type. Camp week is so hard to say goodbye to - as we were packing up yesterday, Alyssa described it as 3 months worth of training packed into 5 days. For anyone who wants "this" as bad as I do (whatever your "this" is), it's hard to let that kind of intense progress go. But, we were all exhausted and our horses especially are ready for a day off! HOWEVER - Mr. Katchi, when released into his field last night (despite walking him all the way out to his friends and distracting him with treats) proceeded to run around like an Arabian with his tail up over his back - showing off his extended trot and passage - with a few gallops and Quarter Horse sliding stops thrown in too! I should have brought the video camera out. That'll teach me to feel sorry for him - he got over tired and scratched up real fast.

Day 5 was "test" day. A dressage test and a short SJ round (5 fences) followed by a short spin around the XC course (9 fences or so). At the end, I said to Phillip... "Okay, million dollar question: Katchi is entered in Prelim at the second Loch Moy - does he stay entered?" And Phillip's answer? You'll have to read to the end to find out!

Each of us performed a dressage test of choice for Ryan Wood - the first time he talked us through some corrections, and then we rode it again, making those corrections. Katchi and I rode the Prelim A test, and it went really well - much better than when we tried it at Loch Moy's combined test earlier this year. Ryan gave me a couple of precision pointers about reaching the peak of the counter canter earlier and getting back to the rail earlier - he also said I may need to lean my upper body slightly forward during the ridiculous "give the reins forward" movement in order to get Katchi to show enough of a difference in his profile for the judge to credit him with stretching forward to follow the bit. Excellent pointers that should grab us a couple extra points which are so important!

I was really pleased with the look of Katchi's scratches when I got to the barn Friday morning - there was minimal swelling and he didn't seem too stiff. When I got up to ride, he was definitely a bit uncomfortable, but he seemed to be working out of it, so we carried on and kept listening to anything he had to say.

Just before lunch, we all met Phillip in the jumping ring for a course walk. We all had the same SJ course, but the heights/widths would be "personalized." In the morning, the guys had been out moving around the portable XC jumps so we had some new questions to tackle on the XC course - we all had approximately the same path, but at the end of the walk, Phillip discussed with each one of us which options we would take and whether we would skip certain questions. Katchi was assigned all the biggest fences and toughest questions - which included an angled rolltop 5 strides to a corner, followed by a narrow and larger rolltop, 90 degree turn to another corner and straight up the mound!

After lunch, we all congregated at the jumping ring to watch and cheer each other on - we were all laughing at the horses' reactions when we came in to tack them up again - it went something along the lines of "Noooooooo! Please, no riding again today!!!"

Katchi and I were the last to go. I started my warm-up with the 6 strides galloping, 6 strides collecting, 6 strides galloping, 6 strides collecting - with a few 10 meter circles thrown in there. When Phillip started us jumping, we started cantering a very small oxer that he slowly moved up and out as we cantered back and forth changing direction. He really emphasized making Katchi gallop on, then putting him together - light in front and active dancing hind legs - all the way to the jump, but not past his distance. Then Phillip had us finish on a quite tall vertical - the same kind of fence as our fence #1 on the course, but larger. Then we were off on our course. The first thing that really struck me in watching this video was that Katchi almost doesn't look like Katchi - his canter is entirely different! wow!

Katchi was doing so well, but I was afraid of pushing him too far, not sure how much his scratches were bothering him. I talked to Phillip about whether I should run him around the XC jumps - but clearly, Phillip wasn't going to make the decision for me! After a bit of debate and cheers from the camper audience - Phillip declared that we just had a few fences left to win our Gold medal (HA HA HA!) - and with that we left the "start box" and had an easy-as-could-be spin around the XC course, with just one tough moment at the rolltop-turn-corner (it all worked out just fine, but jumping big jumps and turning quickly after remains on the list of areas for improvement!).

So, after my round, Phillip called me over for a talk. He was clearly pretty thrilled with our SJ round (as was I!), and his only comment about our XC round was that I gave him a bit of a "scare" whether I would make the turn back to the second corner (I totally agreed as well!). So, then I asked that million dollar question: To Prelim or Not To Prelim? Before I got the question fully out of my mouth, Phillip interrupted me and said "He's Ready!" - So, just to be sure I didn't misunderstand, I asked "And am I ready?" - Phillip said, "You're Ready!". So the Loch Moy II entries stand! I asked Phillip about coming up for some extra lessons, and he suggested coming up the week before the Loch Moy event (to re-fix whatever I mess up in the next couple of weeks!). I'm probably making this up, but Phillip actually seemed kind of excited about getting me moved up a level - which sure made me excited too!

Phillip sporting his new hat from my friend Kim Clark of Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue. If you haven't checked out her work in placing OTTBs - you should!

So there you have it - the last of my 2011 Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy Camp reports! I know there are about 1,000 things I forgot to say - it was a crazy week of learning, laughter, and holy cats improvement! I cannot thank everyone at TPF enough for welcoming us into their family for a week - I think I speak for every camper when I say it was life changing!

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