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Packing and Lessons- Week 2

Sunday June 1, 2014

Packing day! We spent all day making sure that we have everything for the Kentucky Country Aire show. Ashwood has a big semi that we will loaded with trunks and fans and shelves, and plenty of other things. Tomorrow morning, eight horses will load up onto the semi and two horses will jump into the four horse trailer and off we go! I can’t wait to see Kentucky Horse Park in depth! I have been once, when my mom and I went to look at colleges. We stopped by the horse park after a school tour. Unfortunately, the park was closed so we only saw the Rolex stadium and a few of the arenas. Come Monday evening I will be able to see all of it! One of the most exciting things I will be able to do is ride on the cross-country course!

This week has been crazy busy. In addition to all the laundry, prep, and packing that we have done, we held the Ashwood May Camp with six little girls and two boys in attendance. As many of my readers know, camp is both extremely fun and extremely exhausting. Mary Ann, however, has a way of making the whole process as painless as possible for the camp leaders! We had groups that would go from station to station so it was all planned out and each day we got to do something new with the kids. Now, the camps here at Ashwood are much more detailed than most camps I have both been too and helped with. The kids learned the whole tack up process, riding, basic horse care, and even horse nutrition. Most of those little kids left with more knowledge than I ever thought possible. One of the girls who came up was one of my students from before summer, Ella. She came up and got to ride one of the most perfect ponies ever, a mustang mare named Flask. This mare carted Ella around little courses and out in the field all week, each time creating the biggest smile on Ella’s face. I can’t believe the improvement on Ella’s riding and confidence that one week has brought. I am one proud trainer here!

Another huge improvement is how well my horse, Danny, is doing! When we got here he had no idea what he was getting into. Hunter/jumper boot camp has been rough on both of us but slowly we are getting the hang of it. Danny still looks at me like I am crazy every time I go out to the pasture to get him though. My little thoroughbred is gaining weight and muscle and now when I ask him to move forward off my leg he is beginning to want to push off that elusive hind-end.

Two of the biggest things that Mary Ann has been teaching us is keeping the horse in front of your leg and counting down when going down a line. Both things are hard for Danny and I. Danny naturally is on the lazy side so when he is asked to use his body and push forward he is pretty adamant that he needs to go back to his pasture and his buddies and eat grass all day. I am not a huge spur person so I carry a crop with him, which helps a lot to keep him moving and working well. However, this does mean that I have to remember to keep Danny moving forward... which Mary Ann likes to remind me in most of our lessons. But, my bigger problem is numbers. You see, I took math just like every other student and I still have to take those classes (blah for finance!), but, just because I took them does not mean that I am good with numbers. I have resigned myself to the fact that numbers are not my thing. So when Mary Ann told me that I had to go into a seven stride line and say “Land, 7... 6 ... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1” I got all sorts of mixed up. It went more like “Land, 7... 8... 9... oh! I meant 6!” or “Land, 7... that number I am forgetting!” The gist of it is that I am terrible with numbers. After several lessons I finally got the whole counting down things but Mary Ann then decided that one line wasn’t enough and I needed to stretch myself more. So we started with two lines of different strides, then we went to three lines. By the end of the week I am proud to say that I can do a whole course about 70% of the time without screwing up the counting! It is an amazing exercise though, especially for riders who overthink things. The point of it is that the rider is able to rate pace and stride better as it gives them an ending to think about instead of an unlimited number of strides. I am telling you, from my experience, it is a miracle worker!

Tomorrow morning we leave bright and early, loading horses at 5 am to head off to Kentucky. Next week I will fill you all in on the goings on of a big Kentucky show but for now, I must get some sleep so I can be partially functional for the morning ‘fun’. Wish me luck!

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