Thursday, August 6, 2009

Katchi's First Training Level Event!

When I signed up for Phillip's camp in January, I really hoped it would be a week of training that would push Katchi on his way to training level. But, Katchi had only been eventing for one fall season - with 3 Novices under his belt! Seemed like a lofty goal, but one that I really hoped might just work out - we'd spent enough time sorting things out before we even made it to our first HT that I felt like we had a pretty solid foundation even if we were lacking in competitive experience. With one day left of camp, I asked Phillip if Katchi was really ready to run Training level, because we were entered to do so in a week. Phillip waved me off and practically walked away as he was saying, "oh, yea, you're fine." Well, I guess that about sums it up - time to move up! So, we did!

Horray for Katchi! He completed his first Training level HT at the Maryland HT2 @ Loch Moy. He was so fantastic! Brave and bold and so easy! Unfortunatley, I led him astray on his line in the ditch combination, which cost us a run-out on the scoreboard. And I told myself not to do that when I walked the course! This is when Katchi says, "stupid human!"

So, now it's time to think - what's next?! I great fall season of competing Training level is a good place to start...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Camp Videos

I have finally found some time to edit some of the videos my mom took during Camp. I've uploaded a few that you might enjoy.

1. Katchi versus Sunken Road. Here are some clips (Part 1 & Part 2 - I had some uploading issues) of Katchi caught totally off guard by the AGH - GASP! It's a sunken road! We went around and around tackling each bump and hump getting closer and closer to our original objective. Katchi still wasn't convinced. A few more bumps and humps and a good argument - and all became right with the world and it turns out, silly Katchi, that Sunken Road ain't so terrible after-all.

2. A bit of gymnastics. This is one of the final gymnastics exercises Phillip had us do - focused on riding the horse to the base of the jump and giving them lots to figure out with placing poles and varied distances and jump width. Good fun!

3. THE MOUND. I was so excited when I saw the big mound jump on the day we arrived at camp! I couldn't wait to tackle it! Here are a few of clips some of the topsy-turvy terrain jumps over the week, hincluding the big mound.

4. Final SJ & XC "Competitions". Here's where we put it all together! After the competition round, Katchi had to go back for a little extra water training (coming down to the water, I couldn't get him on the line and locked on, and, gee, big shock, he just quit when we got to the ledge) - but check out how he tackles that Sunken Road now!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Charlie Video (Emma & Ecogold too)

The folks at Ecogold got a great video of Charlie's water jump experience, and they have posted it on their blog. I'm not sure whether my favorite part is Phillip trying to push the mare backwards into the water - or Charlie leading her in! But, the most amazing part is the end - she boldly canters through like she'd been doing it all her life!

On the Ecogold blog, you'll also find some video of Emma's presentation on grooming and horse care, as well as the Ecogold presentation on their products.

Seeing how great these videos came out has inspired me... hopefully in the next week or so, I can figure out how to post some of the hours-and-hours of video my mom took of the week. It's the best thing in the world to have your own personal cameraman (or woman!) - it's like getting double your money, because now I can watch what I felt - and obsess over every detail! great, just what I need!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The End of Camp

I cannot believe how fast 5 days can go by. That's it - camp's over. Back at the barn, stripping stalls and packing up, we were all a bit sad. Almost like it was the end of an era! Can 5 days be an era?! Phillip and Evie put together such a wonderful week - which was that much better because we got to enjoy it together. Julie, Alyssa, Charlie, Debbie, Amanda, Erin, Chacea, Jessica, Kali and Kara - I can't wait for our first reunion!! Many of us will be at the Maryland HT next weekend, so watch out folks - the Academy graduates will be there looking to prove something!!

As this blog was only intended to run for the week of the camp, this will be my last camp entry. I will make a follow-up entry after Katchi runs his first Training event next weekend - please keep your fingers crossed for us to have an awesome run!

At the moment, the COTH thread about this blog has received almost 1700 hits! I am so thrilled that so many people have taken an interest - knowing that people were watching it definitely kept me motivated to make more entries! Even if this blog cost me some sleep, it has been great fun and I hope everyone has enjoyed it!

I try to keep my website pretty updated with recent news and pictures, so you can always check in to see what I'm up to next at - or email me at Especially to my fellow campers who I did a poor job in all the pack-up chaos of collecting email addresses from - please keep in touch!! And keep thinking about reunion ideas - Rolex, WEG??

The Jumping Competition

Time for our final camp activity - the jumping competition.
At 11:00, Phillip walked the courses with us and we each decided which course we wanted to do for XC - Novice, Training or Prelim. Phillip said he would adjust the show jumping course to whatever height we each wanted. The show jumping course had some solid questions, but if we could manage to remember everything we had learned over the week, it should ride well. We had a simple verticle on a bending line to an oxer. Out of the corner we had a verticle to oxer one-stride combination then onto a bending line to a swedish oxer. Around another corner to planks and then down the line 5 strides to an oxer-liverpool. We would then take a short break to re-group and head straight out to the XC course. I chose to do the Training course which had 13 jumps mostly composed of jumps we had done earlier in the week - with a few new obstacles and varied lines. It's funny how you can know that you've already done almost everything on the course, but when you slap numbers on the jumps and call it a "competition" the show nerves can still start to kick in!
Phillip had us all head back up to the barns and tack up so we could hang out in the shade and watch each other. By this point, I think the horses were all quite sure that we were nuts! It was definitely a long week both mentally and physically for them, and Phillip had a few riders back off a little and do an easier final jumping course to be sure the horses left thinking how easy it all was. He also told a few other riders to take what they had done over the week - go home and back off a bit to let both horse and rider absorb everything. Give it a few weeks, then push on! Really great advice to recognize how much we challenged the horses not just physically but also with their mental game.
As each rider's turn came-up, we headed into the arena where Phillip warmed us up over a fence that he changed from a verticle, bigger verticle, oxer, bigger oxer, verticle, then "pretend this is your first fence" verticle. He worked with me on a new warm-up technique - very tight figure-eights and making Katchi begin his turn in the air. One thing I've really struggled with in show jumping is the turns - I've struggled with Katchi's canter balance and engagement since I bought him and it's only been in the last month or so that he's really started to develop a decent canter (I just about dropped my jaw when I cantered for Sylva on Monday and she said "nice canter" especially because Jimmy has described Katchi as having "an unfortunate canter"!!). Anyhow, on the drive home Friday night, I was thinking about the things Phillip had me do in the jumping warm-up, and it really struck me. I tend to jump my warm-up jumps and either do a quick halt to get Katchi listening to me - which is very effective for that purpose, but it isn't what Katchi needs the most (he halts real good - remember my first lesson with Phillip?). Katchi needs to be made soft and flexible in the warm-up, before I go into the arena and ask him to do tight turns, stay balanced and engaged, and jump fences very quick one after the other. He needs a different warm-up than I've been giving him. He needs Phillip's warm-up. And I know Phillip is right, because I had a GREAT jumping round! The last thing Phillip said to me before I hit the course was that if things started to go wrong, to make the change - (in my words) don't just sit there fat, dumb and happy! Do something! Our second jump was a bit icky, but I said to myself "what's wrong, what does he need?" - I fixed it and the other 5 fences couldn't have been better. wow. Loving that! Phillip was really pleased too, which was a great way to end the week!
My XC run was great - with one little bobble at the water. Phillip had us doing a line Katchi hadn't done before - log on bank in, one stride, bank out. I really never even got to the water, because I couldn't get Katchi to lock onto the jump. I kept hearning Phillip say "Don't pull back, Don't pull back!" But everytime I'd try to give the reins, Katchi would focus on some other jump! AGH! And then he stopped. When we came back around, he jumped it - but when I talked to Phillip afterwards, he said that Katchi only jumped it the second time because he's a nice guy, not because he was especially committed to it. So, Phillip took me back over to the water for a little extra work. Frustrating, but was SO glad Phillip had me do it, because he was right - Katchi really wasn't comfortable with the question yet. By the time we finished, he was good to go. Now, I just have to remember at our show next weekend to let go of the reins, ride strong and have the bat ready! Doesn't it sound so simple?!
Bottom line is that I don't have a whole lot to report, because, seriously, everyone was awesome! "Come Again Charlie" got through his course (and the water jump) and had quite a smile on his face at the end! The horse who came to camp with a "serious ditch issue" didn't even blink at the ditch! A horse who arrived with a little confidence trouble at Prelim, jumped around the Prelim course like he was an old pro! It really was amazing to see the transformation of the horses and riders over 5 short days. Phillip said several times that 5 days isn't nearly enough, but it is enough to move us a bit down a good road - now the challenge is up to us to stay on that road!

A Final Dressage Morning

Friday, the last day of camp, was "competition" day. Phillip wanted us to put together everything we'd learned over the week to have a bit of a go on all three phases. True Prospect Farm must have had a busy night/morning, because when we arrived Friday morning, the Farm had been transformed into a competition site! The large dressage arena normally set up in the indoor had been changed to a small arena, with paper letters duct taped to the arena edges. The jumping exercise lines had been reset into a short course, with little paper numbers taped to the standards. And there were three different courses marked on the cross country course - Novice, Training and Prelim - each with their own set of numbers duct taped to the fences! It all looked very exciting!

I was to ride my dressage test for our judge, Jennie Brannigan, at 9:18. I chose to do the Training Test B, as that will be my test at Loch Moy next weekend and I hadn't ridden through it yet. I've had so much fun chatting with Jennie this week that it was a bit hard to put on the professional face for a serious dressage test! But, when she told me she'd have to eliminate me for having on polo wraps and bell boots (not to mention Katchi's bright blue vet wrap sock protecting his over-reach) - and I replied that she was the Judge from Hell... well, I think we got off to a great start!
Katchi was a bit fussy Friday morning being back in all his dressage gear. It felt great to me as I spend most of my riding hours in my dressage saddle, but I think he was having way too much fun jumping all week to be thrilled about the return to dressage. Overall, he felt pretty wonderful and I can feel such an improvement in his energy, suppleness, and use of his back. It really has been an amazing week for his training (and mine)! I find it so exciting when jumping work starts improving dressage work - dressage is such an essential building block for good jumping that it's amazing to me when the pendulum starts to swing so that the increased hock flexibilty, use of the back, and energy behind from jumping bigger fences correctly really starts facilitating further development in dressage strength too. Amazing stuff.
As work still carried on for everyone working out of True Prospect, Boyd Martin and Phillip were both in the arena riding horses as I was getting ready to do my dressage test. Of course they pretty much stayed out of the "show arena" portion of the arena, but it as quite funny as I came down my first centerline - I'm looking at "Judge Jennie" and crossing my path about 20 feet in front of me or so, comes Boyd Martin on a lovely big moving horse. When was the last time you came down a centerline to have Boyd Martin cross your path between you and the judge?! Admittedly, we weren't exactly doing a Pas de Deux together, but it's gotta encourage you to push a little harder when you're sharing your show arena with Phillip and Boyd!

Katchi and I ran through our dressage test relatively well and then we received the judge's comments. As I'm sure is true for many others - we don't often have the exact size of a small arena to practice in. At home, I have grass fields and a large dressage arena - neither of which are too helpful in learning to perfect the geometry of the test. So, this was a really great opportunity to run through the test and talk with Jennie about the parts of the test where my patterns were a bit off. It was also good practice to feel how quick some portions of the test come up. Katchi will go for a hack today and have tomorrow off - then 4 days of dressage work before his first Training Level outing on Saturday. So, I have a good list of parts of the test to work on over the next week.

My mom got a few more pictures of the indoor arena which show a little better just how beautiful it is. A girl could seriously get used to riding in a place like that! It doesn't have the crystal chandeliers of the Spanish Riding School, but those just have to be shined and polished anyhow!
And now I'll just make a plug for my new friend Jennie! Check out her blog on the Chronicle of the Horse -
You can also access it from the main page of the Chronicle's web site. And you can read about Jennie on her web site -
Seriously, I wasn't kidding when I said a few posts ago that if you ever have a chance to buy this girl a beer - do it! You won't be disappointed - she is hillarious!
More to come later today on the jumping "competition" portion of the Friday...

And now a word from our sponsors...

Everyone loves free stuff! And we got some pretty cool free stuff this past week. Anyone who has enjoyed watching Phillip and his horses, owes a huge thank you to his sponsors. Horses ain't cheap folks! And we all benefit from companies who are willing to support our sport - either by sponsoring events, riders, educational opportunities, or by producing quality products! So, I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all the companies who supported the Eventing Academy - and gave us free stuff! I've been trying to go through all the stuff in my bags to be sure I haven't forgotten anyone, but, fellow campers, if I've left someone off - please remind me!

Nutramax Laboratories (makers of Cosequin) -
Devoucoux Saddles -
Ecogold Equestrian Textiles -
Pennfield Equine Feeds -
Bit of Britain -
Equinature Products -