Day 1 training camp dressage

Today was fantastic. It’s always a treat to watch David O’Connor, our team coach, ride Colombo. We were in the dressage arena and I worked Colombo around the ring a little in walk trot, and canter while David watched. He asked me what my plans are for the Spring. I plan to compete in Rocking Horse Adv then Redhills CCI W 3* in March. Compete at The Fork in NC CCI 3* then off to Rolex.

David said Colombo’s paces are good… now we need to work on his flexibility through his spine. David got on him and used the boards to keep Colombo’s body straight while he flexed him in a little. Did that in walk trot and canter… with a few changes of rein, trying not to lose the hind quarters to the outside.

When I got back on he asked me to go very deep into my corners when I am walking at all times. Colombo always feels wonderful when I get back on after David rides him, so it’s an excellent way of feeling what David is looking for through Colombo. David asked me to work him around the arena walk, trot and canter keeping him flexed. He explained how that puts him into the outside rein and you can do whatever you want from there. Go forward, collect, more up hill in the frame or lower. He also said now you feel the energy you have underneath you just waiting to be used…not constantly creating it.

After we were done our rides. Dr Ober looked over the horses to make sure they are all feeling their best. Dr. Ober is very kind she donated her time to look at our horses with a fine tooth comb. We are very lucky to have her as part of the Canadian team.

Day 2 training camp cross country

Well it poured all morning so my lessons was pushed back one hour. Meant we had nice footing for the horses. I loved this lesson…and I plan to use it myself. We had an orange ball off to the side 5 strides away from the cross country fence. David said you need to have the pace, rhythm, balance you want to jump the fence with 5 strides out. Then we practised going in at competition speed over a simple log. Then David said for us to imagine the Rolex coffin. There were markers every 2 or 3 strides back from the orange ball so you could judge how long it took you to set up your pace for the fence before the orange ball.

Colombo is such a good listener and experienced that I could set him up about 2 strides away from the orange ball. Then we went over a big oxer at the gallop and came across the field to the orange ball where we set up for the Rolex coffin. It taught me that I can make the time, I just need to be more confident in my ability to organize Colombo closer to the fence. The fast horse is the one you can organize closer to the orange ball. I can do that so now I have to practice, practice, practice.

Day 3 training camp Dressage

We worked on the four star test B. I warmed up a little with David watching. I practiced the feeling he gave me on day 1. A little flexion to the inside and worked him around the arena lengthening and shortening. David said ok lets do the test. He sat where the judge would sit and I went thru the test once…and yes I did go off course once!!! Grr!

David told me where I could save a few more points. Extended canter down the long side in 12 strides instead of 13. When I come back to walk at C make sure I walk very deep into the corner. More up hill in my medium and extended trots. Let my elbows move more in the extended walk. I am happy to say he said all of my changes were clean, however, none of them were on the center line. So I went back out and did the test again keeping those extra points in mind. Need to keep working on it. Dressage is always a work in progress.

Day 4 training camp Show jumping

I felt quite good over my warm up fence. A gate with placing poles on both sides. David likes me to get there and be able to loose the reins at the base so Colombo can use himself properly. As they raised the fence I felt I was able to do that for every jump. I don’t think I have ever been able to do that for every warm up jump. Especially not the first one, so then we moved on and jumped a square oxer with a pole across the top diagonally. This insures the horse understand that no matter how wide it gets it is an oxer and not a bounce. The oxer gets raised to about 4 ft and then they make it wider. This improves the horse shape over the fence. David got on another horse to show how we must make the horses hind feet move faster. When we want to collect the horses hind feet must move quickly and it must come from our leg not our hands. He likes us to get very deep to the oxer, so I am constantly working on that.

Then we did that same oxer with a skinny 4 strides in front of it. At the end we did a competition 5 strides in 6 strides. I failed the first time and did it in five. Oops! It was verticle to oxer at first. David explained how when jumping a vertical you land further into the line because the horse high point in its arc is over the middle of the fence. When jumping oxer to vertical it’s a bit easier to shorten because you land closer to the back of the oxer. We practised both ways in 5 strides and 6. Then we did planks 3 strides to oxer 5 strides to vertical. All very interesting and David finished by saying Colmbo is jumping well. Always a good way to finish training camp.