Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What an Experience!

I have just returned from my four day Level 2/3 camp with Carol Coppinger. In the five years I've been going to clinics, camps and courses this was the absolute best. Hands down. No contest.

This is my fourth year in this particular camp. There has been little turnover in participants so I get to see the same wonderful group of people year after year. Not only is it fun to see everybody progress but it becomes an ultra-safe learning environment.

One of my favorite parts of camp is the private sessions. I received some fantastic feedback on my progress with Cricket. It's very hard to share observations from camp. What Carol does is so specific to the situation presented and the personality/horsenality of the pair.

Some things I learned:
  • There comes a time to demand two eyes and two ears. Trust the relationship and get the respect.
  • If you need to fix an ingredient, separate it out and fix it. Don't fix it inside the game.
  • Don't forsake soft for snappy.
  • Keep an eye out for a "runaway at the walk."
  • There is power in patterns and just about everything can be a pattern.
  • The moment you lift the rope, your horse knows you want something. What is his initial response? Yield or Brace?
  • Liberty is about the confidence to leave and the confidence to come back.
  • Send your horse back to the circle you want them to maintain.
  • There is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. Acceptance lasts but tolerance eventually wears thin.
  • Invoking play drive is about short sparring and keeping the relaxation.
  • Before you can look for collection and finesse you need a balance between go and whoa and basic yields.
  • You have to know what you are doing or what you are asking for if you have ANY hope of causing the desired outcome. HAVE A CLEAR PLAN!
One of my personal highlights came on day two. We were riding in the indoor arena and the afternoon session was over. I decided to stay on Cricket and ride until the afternoon private sessions started. She was offering me some of the most perfect trotting EVER. She was relaxed and forward and completely amazing. In six years of riding this horse I've never felt so free on her. I actually began to feel her footfalls at the trot and I got to play with my diagonals. The amazing thing is that once I started to feel them, I never lost that feel.

My last private session was about play drive but it ended up giving me some pretty deep insights about friendly game, confidence and tolerance vs. acceptance. It was fascinating to see how much Cricket tolerates things but fails to truly accept them.

All in all it was the most amazing camp I've ever attended. My confidence has come so far. Cricket was amazing under saddle. We made some significant changes in our ground work and I feel as if the sky is the limit.


Tina said...

Yea! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I really like the idea of private sessions during the camp. There were some BFOs for me in your notes, too...thanks for sharing!

Lisa said...

I love the private sessions. I have four fifteen minute private sessions to touch on anything I want.

I hope all is well with you and your horses. I haven't seen you write anything lately.