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 -

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rider Fitness & Final Dinner

Yes, camp has finished. Katchi is back at home - actually the crazy horse went for quite a gallop when I turned him out in his field tonight! So much for exhaustion! He got his two field buddies all riled up - they were galloping and bucking and rolling! And I felt sorry for Katchi today thinking it had been such a long week.

I know you all are anxiously awaiting to know how it all ended... but you have to wait until tomorrow! My mom is driving my car at the moment, on the way back to my house, so I could do some typing. Wanted to finish off yesterday's events, and tomorrow I will tell you all about today's competition.
Yesterday afternoon, we had a rider fitness session in the grass under the trees. We lost one groom to sleep - yep, in the middle of the rider fitness session, there was a groom, laying down leaning up against a tree - sunglass on - and totally asleep! It was fantastic! Just to give this groom a bit more credit, he is the brother-in-law of one of the riders (and, ladies, he's single!), so really no-one can fault the guy for taking a little snooze!

The rider fitness session focused on core strength. We had a bit of reluctancy to try the exercises ourselves - probably because none of us were so silly to think any of them would be as easy as our trainer had made them look - and probably a bit because half of us were afraid volunteering for the demo would make us too sore to ride on Friday! Evie bravely took on the first challenge - with a broken toe (there was a little incident with a bag of ice earlier in the day!). We were all very impressed with her one-legged 1/2 squat skills despite the broken toe!

Eventually, we all started talking about our various injuries, aches and pains - and suddenly the session got pretty exciting! From backs to knees to hips - we all got some tips on various exercises that could improve our flexibility and strengthen the areas. Several campers had a hip range of rotation assessment done, which looked pretty frightening! I actually didn't know that hips could move like that. Nate Chambers won the contest though - he apparently has almost freakishly flexible hips! There are a few things I could probably say about that, but I think I should just walk away!

Later that evening, we had our final guest lecture and dinner together. We had an excellent talk by Kevin Keane (I sure hope I got his name right as my sheet is in the trunk of the car at the moment), who is a veterinarian. Kevin spoke to us about qualities that make a good event horse - everything from conformation to strong backs - and lung capacity and injuries. And then we had a chance for questions. Well, actually my mom had time for questions! My mom is a nurse, and she has been an outstanding groom all week - she was chief horse holder which was an enormous help as anyone with a horse knows! Anyhow, being a nurse, we have had a few "discussions" over the week regarding differences in treatments between humans and horses. So, my mom quite liberally took the opportunity to put our "discussions" to the authority of a vet. jeeze. She had excellent questions and I think everyone appreciated the answers (the questions were:
1. Why doesn't ice directly on a horse's leg burn their skin?
2. What causes ulcers in horses?
3. Should you put hydrogen peroxide on a wound - during the answer of this one, we had to modify the question a bit to add whether flesh wounds and hoof wounds should be treated differently (the answer was Yes! it is good to use hydrogen peroxide to help get dirt and possible infection agents out of the hoof, but is too strong to put on a flesh wound).

I think one other person was able to ask a question, but I've forgotten what it was - I think I was too happy to know I had won all three of our "discussions" this week!!!

Anyhow, I tried to get my mom to stop asking questions after the first two, but Phillip said she could ask her third question - and if Phillip said it was okay, I definitely was not going to be able to stop her!!! Of course, I did LOVE it when Phillip harassed my mom for the extra 30 minutes her questions added to our evening! My mom is very easy to harass and he did it good!

Next, Phillip called each of the 11 riders up - oh wait, that reminds me, an update on the rider who fell into the ditch on Wednesday. She is okay - with a chip in her knee. Will likely require surgery, but we're all hoping that she'll be up and riding again in no time! Right, so Phillip called up 10 riders to the front of the room - and he came to the rider in the leg brace! Each rider came up and Phillip made a few comments about their development over the week. And where he thinks they should head in the immediate future. It was really nice to hear Phillip's over all impressions - sometimes in riding, we get so stuck in the details that we forget to think about whether we're even on the right road, even if the right road has a lot of pot holes! We also each got a picture of us and our horse with Phillip taken at the start of our one-on-one lesson earlier in the week (before Katchi got Duttonized!). Phillip had autographed each one - that's something for a frame on my tack room wall, someday, when I have my own barn. We also each had a typed up 'formal' evaluation of how we're doing and things to work on. I wonder what Jimmy would think if I just hand him a copy of that letter at my next lesson! :)

The evening wrapped up with a bit of video watching from the previous two XC schoolings. Although I had seen quite a bit of the other groups, it was really nice to sit with each other and watch some of the successes and not-quite successes of the past 2 days!

And, so I just have one more day of camp to report on. I have to admit, I am pretty sad that it's all over. We are almost home, and my cat probably thinks I ran away to join the circus! So, I will post this now, and hope you all come back tomorrow to hear about the final day!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A few thank yous - more to come

I am having serious computer aggravations tonight and am once again well past curfew. But, before the camp is over, I just want to let everyone who is reading this blog know how wonderful everyone involved in this camp has been! This morning, I was a bit sad knowing that we only had 2 days left. Sort of silly considering how much we learned in the first two days that I would be sad to still have 2 more great days ahead - but we check out of the hotel tomorrow morning and will drive home tomorrow evening. Back to reality, I guess.

Anyhow, beyond Phillip and Evie (Sylva, Ryan and Jennie), every single person we have come across in the past 4 days has been outstanding. Amy and Abby have been our leaders and caretakers and our horses love them (as do we!). And today, I took Emma up on her offer from yesterday to help us with anything we could - Katchi got a bit of an overreach this morning which looked like nothing this morning, but was pretty oozy this afternoon. I immediately drug him down the hill and begged Emma (who was just leaving for I'm sure a wonderful evening out of the barn), to please help! She was wonderful and Katchi made took the walk of shame in his bandaged foot back to his own stall.

We still have one day left, but I just wanted to take a moment to say beyond the amazing learning opportunities - it has been an absolute joy to spend a week with such amazing people - instructors, working students, other campers, fabulous grooms and all our helpers! Thank you for everything you have done to make this a wonderful week away from the office!

Come Again Charlie

I think if you took a vote among the campers for the Sportsmanship award of the week, Charlie would win without a doubt. He has earned two nicknames over the past few days... "Come Again Charlie" and "One More Time Charlie". So, I thought I would share the picture of Charlie leading his horse in the green swamp water jump yesterday. Check out those half chaps wading in green moss! I hope this doesn't embarass him too much as he and his mom have been great fun all week!

Wall of Shame (and Fame!)

Okay COTH folks... here are pictures of the Wall of Shame (and Fame) -

1. Wall of Fame
2. Wall of Shame
3. Close-up of Wall of Shame

XC Day II - I Made Phillip Laugh!

First, a caveat - will add pictures to this tonight and I hve 20 minutes until it's "rider fitness" time. I just had to take a quick 20 minute nap in my truck as I totally missed curfew last night trying to get caught up on this blog. So, lets see how much I can get done in 20 minutes... also, just saw the COTH requests for pictures of the wall of shame - think I can manage that for you all!

Also, realized something I missed in posting last night to add to the Charlie leading his horse into the water story - meanwhile, his poor mother was about to have a heart attack watching her brand new very expensive half chaps wade into the green water! Apparently someone has a picture of Charlie, his horse and the million dollar half chaps in the green muck, so will see if I can track it down! Not really what one expects when they sign up for a Phillip Dutton clinic, is it?!?! Aren't we supposed to ride through the water??

Right, so today was round two on the XC course. Phillip set out to build upon the confidence we were developing in the horses yesterday. We started by revisting the galloping position work that we did with Jennie earlier in the week, then moving onto small figure 8's over a small log in the field. Phillip really wanted to get the horses soft in the jaw on the landing of the jump, so they would land and flow in the direction we wanted rather than charging off on a straight line headed to wherever the horses thought it would be good to head. It was a really great exercise and not one that I think many people would think of doing as a XC warm-up. We did quite a few of the same combinations again today, but this time we didn't "school" them so much first. He had higher expectations that we would do them more competently and faster this time around as well as longer courses of various combination questions. It's not often that we take the opportunity to tackle the exact same XC questions 2 days in a row to get it "more right". He also threw in several new jumps and lines which included a very big log (to my eyes at least - Katchi just chuckled and said, let me at it mom!).

One of the new lines we did was to repeat a small log on varied terrain then gallop along the track and into the woods where there was a narrow upright rail road tie jump. Katchi has spooked at this stupid jump every time we've walked past it all week - it's in the shade, between two trees with the track running almost next to it. And here is where I made Phillip laugh - he told us to jump the first log then head down (do not underestimate the horses's questions coming into this new jump!) and jump the RR ties. He says "if all goes well, come back and do it the other direction." I replied, "don't you mean, WHEN it goes well, come back and do it the other direction." He laughed quite hard. So, it may not have been through the blog that I made Phillip Dutton laugh - but I did make him laugh at least once this week!

Katchi and I had a really great day with one bobble at the sunken road. I sorta had an idea it might be an issue for Katchi, so I asked Phillip early on today if we could be sure to do it. Once again, I would have been far better off if I'd thrown the reins away and kicked, but I didn't. Seriously, I don't think I have a learning disability (I am pretty well educated in the academic sense!), but don't you just wonder about yourself sometimes?!?! Katchi had a bit of a fit and we went round and round jumping all the bits and pieces of the sunken road. This will sound funny, but despite all the drama, I was really pleased that he didn't rear. That used to be his thing, because he figured out after one time that it worked on me - it worked really good, in fact. But, no rearing and we eventually got through it and all was well.

Only other issue he gave me today was at the larger of the 2 ditches. We hadn't jumped that yesterday - we came round and jumped the smaller ditch and then were to head straight to the larger ditch (about 5 strides away)... got all the way up to the edge and had a quick stop. grrr. Phillip made me come back around to the first ditch and totally throw away the rein between the two - then just sit back and kick - ha ha, he jumped it! I finished up jumping around several fences in the other field (we're getting really good at that mound jump!), and when I came back around, I thought I saw Phillip in the ditch. He's not as tall as Boyd by any means, but when I say he's a "mean little Australian man" he's not really that small either. All I could see was the top of his hat - if that gives you any idea of how big that ditch was. I didn't see it, but we had a rider timble off into the ditch when her horse did a dirty stop at the last moment. She's a bit scraped up and has a fat knee (she went to the urgent care this afternoon to get it checked out, so hopefully we'll have a good diagnosis by the end of the day), but was in good spirits. And, oh her horse is SO SO sorry now. He really does know what it means to have a "mean little Australian man" on your back!

For those wondering, Charlie had a much better day today. However, at the end of the ride, Phillip told him that he plans to continue to build the mare's confidence over the courses tomorrow. Charlie says "sounds like a bunch of tiny logs to me." We've all been there, Charlie!

Okay - off to "rider fitness" - we have awards and evaluations, which I'm sure will be amusing if nothing else!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

XC - Oh My!

Yep - today, Phillip got us! Tonight, back at the barn after all the day's events were over - several of us sat around laughing so much we were probably scaring the horses! We had so much fun sharing our day's adventures and comparing who made Phillip the most mad (horses and riders!) and which was his funniest comment of the day. My personal favorite... A very gracious 15 year old boy, Charlie, was having a heck of a day with his mare who just would not go in the water jump. Charlie suggested to Phillip that perhaps he could just get off and lead her in (let me just tell you that the water jump today was more green slime than water!). Phillip replies in a quirky Australian way while waving his hand "GO AHEAD!" and Charlie does it! Tonight, Phillip suggested that perhaps the mare will sleep on today's events and have a better day tomorrow, but I'll tell you one thing - I'll be there to watch tomorrow!
As for me, all was good for most of the day, although I did manage to get Phillip to say F#@*!! It wasn't actually directed at me, but he was mad at me at the time, so...

This was our first day on the XC course. He has so much stuff to play with! We stared in the arena going back to the work we had done the previous day - bringing the horses down to the base of the jump and really bending their hocks, then coming around on a faster longer stride and jumping more out of a gallop, then back to adding. Then we moved onto jumping in/out of the arena over various log jumps. I managed to muck up the very first of these combinations by being stupid about my line and forgetting to ride the jump in front of me - after Phillip made me start again and we did it well the second time, I felt the need to speak. Why do I do that?! I said, "the first time was partially my fault..." and Phillip replies loudly "It was more than partially!" - my fellow campers thought that was just hillarious! Gee, glad to bring a little humor along on my ride!

We did skinnies and bending lines and all kinds of funky terrain! Phillip kept stressing that we should not get so worried and just let the jumps hold the horses. Katchi and I had so much fun, and I am so loving my new horse! I just keep thinking - ride the horse you have today, but, wow is it hard to keep up! We also did ditches and banks and THE MOUND jump - it was good fun, but I fell victim to my excitement. Tried to tell Katchi to balance up and wait, when I really didn't need to do anything - that big hill up wanted to do all the work for me, if I'd just let it. It's a control thing, I guess. Our final exercise was on the water - this is when I angered Phillip. We'd gone through a few times, trot and canter, bank jump out, bank jump in, yada yada. Then it was time to jump height into the water. Katchi has never jumped height directly into water, so I wasn't real sure what he'd think about all of it. He did the first one (just a log into water) quite well and I was on cloud nine! We did that one again and survived again! Then we were to come around and jump a small skinny log on top of a bank directly into the water. I really wasn't sure what he would think about this, so, you know, I figured I'd just make sure he stopped, you know, in case he was going to stop anyhow. AGH!!!! How many times have I been yelled at for that by Lucinda and Jimmy. Man, did Phillip summon me to him fast. He says "you're coming up to the hardest thing he's ever jumped and you're telling him not to go! WHY would you do that? Everything about you should be absolutely postive to go go go!". I hate it when I do that! So, he made me canter around again and totally throw away the reins and ride, ride, ride - go, go go! And you know what... he went!

I think we definitely gave Phillip a bit of heartburn today. He was sort of laughing at us tonight, but we get our "evaluations" from him tomorrow night, so we'll see if he's still laughing at us then!! Tomorrow we do XC "courses".

The rest of the day was also fully packed - massages in the afternoon under the shade of a big beautiful tree. Only problem was that I kept hearing horses walking behind me, and I wanted so much to see who they were and what they looked like. Also had a great session with Emma about grooming tips - she talked to us about bandaging, icing, grooming, braiding, boots, cooling horses, jog outs, and so much else! Afterwards, several of us wandered through the barns to check out the digs - and we found the very best thing ever! Phillip's wall of shame - no kidding! How many top event riders do you know who have an entire wall in their barn dedicated to pictures of them falling off or having terrible jumps?!?! In all fairness, on the opposite side is a wall of fame - which is quite a bit larger!

The night ended with a great presentation by EcoGold on their saddle pads. It was very interesting to learn about the materials they use and the design functions they came up with - all from non-horse people who simply tried to apply current technology to what riders said they needed. And the very coolest part - apparently a few weeks ago, Phillip suggested they work on a new breathable shipping boot material. They came with the prototype to see what Phillip thought of what they've come up with - and we all got to see too! We were laughing that now Phillip has to test them out, so if we hear of any crazy shipping incidents involving a Dutton horse and shipping boots - we'll all know it will be a while still before the product hits the market! And, luckily, for this wine and cheese night, the dogs were well behaved and didn't get any of our cheese!

Oh - and I made a quick trip to Bit of Britain this afternoon to use a very nice coupon they provided all campers. I bought Katchi some new spurs. Ha ha, Katchi!

Okay folks, I am exhausted so will not even re-read this before posting. Please excuse any erros. I think that brings everything up to date so enjoy! Tomorrow I ride from 9:30-11:00, so I promise an afternoon update!

Picture below is of my mom and Connaught, Phillip's Rolex winner and Hong Kong Olympic horse - he has a special stall with an extra window that lets him oversee all the comings and goings. What a lovely horse!

Pool Party!

Phillip & Evie graciously invited all the campers (and working students) over to their home for a pool party and dinner on Tuesday night. The working students seem to really be embracing the perks of camp! Evie says working for them always includes lots of lounging in the pool and beer! Anyone want a job application?! It was quite cute to see that Evie and Phillip had 2 ponies in the back yard for their girls. And it turns out that Phillip is quite the cook too - everyone was raving about the burgers!!

Pretty much, I just can't do this party justice in a blog! Eventers are too funny! The stories we all have to share - you just can't make this stuff up!! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!! If anyone ever has the chance to buy Jennie Brannigan a beer - do it! The things she's learned through various misadventures... Don't tie horses with a chain over their nose; don't wear sneakers to ride because your leg actually can slip through a stirrup (I sort of always thought this was a Pony Club urban myth); Endurance rides are BORING (did you know that a 100 mile endurance ride doesn't cover 100 miles of new ground? It's just a loop over and over again!)... Other priceless comments of the night... it seems that the trip to Brazil for the Pan Am Games left a huge impression on the Dutton team - Emma (Phillip's groom) described her accomodations to us as (seriously!) UN refugee containers; Evie was very thirsty as the sporadic and miraculous arrival of water could never be foreseen; and Phillip described the crowd as acting like soccer fans who cheered wildly when the "rival" team dropped a rail in show jumping! It was a great opportunity to ask Phillip, Evie, Emma and all the working students anything we wanted - balance between family and work; training techniques; USEA Instructor Certification Program; the upcoming training sessions with Mark Phillips at True Prospect Farm; the average day.

We also received an informative talk from Nutramax - the makers of Cosequin - about joint health and digestive factors that effect sport horses. Several of the campers had very interesting questions about cartillage re-growth, pro- versus pre- biotics, and ulcers. It really is too bad that none of us seem to take care of ourselves nearly as well as we take care of our horses!
When riding in Area V, we all hit the same events (there wasn't much of a choice!) and we would spend the entire weekend together - stabled together, hotels together, and dinners out. Re-starting my eventing endeavors in Area II, it's been a little sad to me to not have the opportunity to get to know my fellow eventers as we all seem to be in and out of the one day events so quickly. After the pool party, I think I have a few new friends that I can't wait to see again at the local events!

And - because I'm sure you're all wondering - nope, I did not go swimming. So, I did not make it into the club of "I've been swimming at Phillip Dutton's house", but I did wear my swim suit, so I guess I have to start a new club called "I wore a swim suit at Phillip Dutton's house." Yea, admittedly, that scares me too. I think I'll just leave it at - I've been to Phillip Dutton's home! And a lovely home it is!

Tuesday's Round Two with Phillip

It seems I have gotten behind on this blog - I blame it entirely on last night's pool party!

Tuesday afternoon, Katchi and I had round two with Phillip - a group gymnastics lesson. As I was headed down the hill to the arena with the "mean little Australian man" Katchi was definitely skeptical! Phillip had us start just trotting over some single fences, and I could tell immediately that I had a new horse under me! Jimmy is always telling me to ride the horse I have today - not the horse from last week. I was almost making my self laugh, hearing Jimmy's voice saying "stop riding the horse from this morning!" It felt like my tool box went from the Fisher Price version to the DeWalt delux version! Pretty cool! Lucinda Green was talking to me at her clinic this spring about coiling Katchi's spring at the base of a jump, giving him the time to look but keeping the power to still jump properly. Jimmy also has been talking to me about keeping Katchi in a "box" so that he doesn't pull the reins out of my hands and expand to whatever length he wants. Jimmy and Lucinda - today, Katchi had his spring coiled and stayed in the box!!!

For the gymnastics lesson we worked on a line of 3 verticles, 2 strides each, with various placing poles throughout. The other line included a relatively short and wide oxer with 4 short strides to a short bounce (ridden both directions). Phillip wanted us to learn to let the jumps hold the horse, so we could compress them to the base of the jump but let the various jump questions and placing poles make the horses pause and think before navigating through. This included going through the lines on a long rein to literally prove to us that the jumps would hold the horses! All three horses (and riders!) really got a lot out of the exercises.

And then it was pool party time...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Katchi got Duttonized!!!

Just a quick note as I am enjoying a lunch break, sitting in the air conditioned indoor arena viewing area watching... Sylva Martin teach a "camper", while the likes of Boyd Martin, Ryan Woods, Nate Chambers and Jennie Brannigan ride around the most lovely horses! Remind me again why I have an office job?!?! Can't I just move my desk right here - forget the window view of DC - this is THE view of a lifetime!!
So - Katchi and I had our first session with Phillip this morning - actually, it was way more Katchi's session than mine. He's been Duttonized! As Phillip said, after he got off him the second time - he just needed to have a few buttons pushed. And didn't I just love my horse afterwards! We definitely have our theme for the week - more activity from behind. Phillip said he needed to be "quicker behind" - and Katchi had his first encounter with spurs! Actually, it was quite funny, because Phillip didn't have the spurs on him too much. He was very good at keeping them off and only putting them on at just the right moment - it was pretty impressive to see such control of the lower leg. I had watched Phillip's first lesson of the morning, so I already had an idea that we would struggle with the exercise. We jumped through a verticle to oxer line in 5 strides, then were to do it in 6. Phillip said he'd rather we trot in the middle than do it in 5 - okay, no problem, we can trot! And we did. Okay, so now halt between the two. Okay, no problem - we do that good. We were about 2 strides from the oxer in a halt, and Phillip says, go forward and jump the oxer. Okay, no problem - we can do that too. Now, come around and do it in 6 strides - uh oh. 5 stides. nope, do it again. 5 strides. nope, do it again. 5 strides. I felt good until 3 1/2 strides, then Katchi would say - I got this, 5 strides. damn. So, Phillip says, "let me do it." ha ha ha - Katchi! Guess what you just did to yourself silly horse! Katchi has this thing about locking onto the bit 2 strides out and dragging me to the jump - which is kinda okay most of the time, but then there's the odd time when he gets to the jump and realizes he doesn't have it all under control and ducks out - meanwhile, I've quit riding forward, because I was already being drug to the jump and I just knew he was going! Well, he tried doing that to Phillip a couple of times, and got some "buttons pushed". I was quite smug when Katchi wasn't just perfect the first 2 times through the line - and I had a good (silent) chuckle when Phillip put on the breaks after Katchi did a bit of dragging - despite what you might think, he stops real good, and Phillip ended up a bit further in front of the saddle than I think he would have liked! He ended up jumping him over everything in the arena, which was so exciting for me because no-one else has jumped him since I've had him (for 2 1/2 years). And, let me just tell you that I hopped back up and went through that line in 6 strides like it was the easiest thing in the world! wow. That was too cool. Okay 2 pictures below of Phillip riding Katchi (the first time). We do gymnastics work this afternoon - I wonder what Katchi's going to say when I lead him back down to that arena with the "mean little Australian man" for the second time today!
P.S. - last night, while we were all out enjoying our Devecoux saddle fitting lesson, the cheese was being eaten by the dogs! No kidding - ALL the cheese! Left the grapes and the wine. I guess even Phillip Dutton gets his cheese eaten sometimes! :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Day Done!

Day one - so far, so good!
And what a great day - I just love that little horse of mine!

Our first session was a private dressage lesson with Sylva Martin. I tend to be a bit exclusive with my dressage instruction and rarely venture away from an instructor once I settle on them, so this morning was a big test for us. And it was wonderful! Aside from Sylva being lovely and really pushing Katchi and me into a new level of our work - it was a huge triumph for us to have ready to be pushed on. It is a great credit to my instructor, Elizabeth Madlener, that Katchi has come so far that he just took on this new challenge with skill and confidence. Now, that being said - wow, did Sylva work us! I had watched the first lesson of the day to try to get an idea of what I might be in for - the first rider rode for about 20 minutes to warm-up, took a quick break, then really went to work for another 20 minutes. My break never came! I am SO glad I've stepped up my "running" (for anyone who knows me, you know, I am only a wannabe runner). Funny enough, that dressage lessoon took more out of my lungs than our entire galloping session later in the afternoon! Right, so, back to the lesson - I told Sylva that my dressage tests pretty consistently say, "needs more energy from behind" - yea, we got that today! Katchi worked his little butt off! Sylva said "he must finish each step" - I liked that. It sort of put a visual in my head to push his hind legs all the way through until they hit the ground - maybe it's a bit like when you throw a basketball, you're supposed to follow the ball all the way through the hoop with your eyes, hands and wrists. Okay, admittedly, definitely not a basketball player either, but there seems to be something there??

We had a few hours off in the middle of the day before our session with Jennie Brannigan and Ryan Wood on galloping position and pace. We started with Jennie, who shared some very valuable insight she learned from Mark Phillips earlier this year. Jennie was very humble about her experiences with Mark - who apparently has much to say about galloping positions! Amazing how you can be an advanced level eventer and still have many things to learn - certainly makes you feel a bit better about competing Novice and not being perfect!! Jennie had us shorten our stirrups and really get comfortable letting our weight come out of our heels and into the balls of our feet, while straightening the angles in our knees, and using a bridged rein to push down against the horses's neck - all with the purpose of letting us work a little less hard and free up our horse's back and balance to let him be more efficient and free while galloping. We were all a bit awkward at first, but by the end, we were very thankful for Jennie's tips which really did seem to save a bit of energy.

Jennie then passed the instructor torch to Ryan Woods who helped us transfer the work Jennie did with us into smoothe and accurate paces around Phillip's one horse-width track. We started going around the 800m track at 400m/min, without the benefit of a watch. The first rider in our group came in exactly on time! Wow, that was a tough act to follow! Katchi and I came in 7 seconds fast - which only figures to be about 2 seconds at each 30 second marker, so not too bad without a watch! Next we went around again, same pace - with a watch. Much better! For our third time around, the other two riders (whose horses were a bit eager) stayed at 400 mpm. Katchi and I went around at 450 mpm and made it right on the target time! It was an absolutely beautiful day, and I cannot tell you how fun it was to spin around the track with my lovely horse! Everyone was all smiles - including Katchi!

Okay, one side-note on today - now, when I was a young rider, we had TWO - yes, TWO guys who evented in all of Area V. Today, in wandering around Phillip's and watching his riders work horses, I just want to ask - where did Phillip find all these guys?? Whatever the application process is to work with Phillip, I hope he keeps it up! I had this inner struggle all day today between whether I should be looking at the spectacular horse floating around the arena (normally the obvious choice!) or the equally interesting guy up top . Seriously where does Phillip find these guys?! Australia?! Oh right, that must be it!

The day ended with a demonstration by Devecoux about saddle design and fitting - complete with wine and cheese - and a free hat! If I get nothing else out of this clinic (ha!), I've already got two great hats!

A few pictures from today are below - the mound jump, indoor dressage arena, and a few shots from the galloping session. Thanks to my mom for taking pictures and babysitting Katchi and the grass today - he seems to have developed a new technique for avoiding the not-good grass and focusing on the clover. We're all relieved.
Tomorrow will be a big day for Katchi - at 9:30 he is scheduled to have his one-on-one with Phillip, which will include Phillip taking him for a spin! I suspect Katchi will do a bit of growing up tomorrow by 10:00 AM!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Greetings from Camp!

Hello Muddah.
Hello Fadduh.
Here I am at Camp Dutton...

Yep, we've arrived!

Camp is off to a great start! There are 11 campers, and we're all settled at the Deleware Equine Center, right next door to Phillip's. Much to my mom's relief, it really is only a 5 minute hack and it's slightly down hill on the going trip. And, WOW! What a beautiful place Phillip has! I got a sneak peak of the cross country jumps today when we went down the wrong road a few hundred feet. I've already found a little log on the peak of a mound that I'm dying to have a go at! I'll see if I can grab a picture of it tomorrow. At every turn, I am in awe of this beautiful property - I've had a quick look at the galloping track and indoor arena this evening, and I hope to have time tomorrow to do a bit of exploring.

Tonight, Phillip and Evie hosted a lovely welcome dinner where we received our schedule for the week and introduced ourselves. There were 3 or 4 riders who plan to move up to Training level right after camp, so it will be an excellent opportunity to learn from each other. During the introductions, I sort of forgot about this blog - which Evie was kind enough to remind me of and asked me to tell everyone about it! Hum... wonder if I can manage to give Evie and Phillip a good laugh with something I post this week!! :)

Okay, so now for the bit everyone wants to know about - the schedule!

We each have a slightly different order of events, but here is my schedule, which I am really thrilled with:

Monday AM - Private dressage lesson with Silva Martin
Monday PM - Galloping work with Jennie Brannigan & Ryan Wood
Tuesday AM - Private lesson with Phillip
Tuesday PM - Gymnastic jumping with Phillip (group of 3 for 1 hour)
Wednesday - Cross Country Exercises with Phillip (group of 3 for 2 hours)
Thursday - Cross Country with Phillip (group of 3 for 1 1/2 hours)
Friday AM - Dressage "competition"
Friday PM - Show Jumping & Cross Country "competition"

Wow - what a full week! As Phillip said tonight, this will be a hard weekk for the horses, so we should keep the warm-up before the lessons start to a minimum (he also noted that if we are not on time, we should be 5 minutes early - yes, sir, got it!). And on top of all this, we have guest speakers and other presentations daily, including free massages on Wednesday! As we left the dinner tonight, we each received a Cosequin bucket stuffed with all kinds of Cosequin goodies - Thank You!!

The picture below is of Katchi (with his loyal groom, my mom) tasting the local fair. Which, funny enough, he doesn't like!! For those of you who know Katchi - how funny is that?! When has he ever found a grass he didn't like?! He actually spits it out! Luckily, there is quite a bit of clover mixed in which is apparently acceptable, so I think he'll survive.

Until tomorrow...