It seems that my camp was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I had some pretty high hopes to take what Cricket and I have been developing over the last several months and be able to shape and refine it.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men . . . Apparently that applies to horses and humans.
Saturday was particularly emotional. I lost my temper with Cricket, worse than I probably ever have before. I'm ashamed of my behavior and I'm glad nobody was there to see me. After reaching into her back molars to retrieve my chap stick and holder, the emotion and adrenaline got the better of me. Nothing I did permanently damaged our rapport and I certainly didn't hurt her. In fact, she nickered to me after I put her back in her stall.
Sunday was as good as Saturday was bad. We did a lot of transitions using the carrot stick and I have never felt Cricket so positively responsive to CS riding. With such lovely trotting during the group session, I used my private session to focus on that relaxation and respect. I asked her for a right lead canter and she gave me a beautiful upward transition and a lovely canter. I called that a win.
Monday we were confined to the indoor arena due to rain. Our ground session was pretty good but it fell apart during the riding. We were doing some high level finesse and the compression of the exercises coupled with the compression of the "line-up" was more than Cricket could handle. After one particularly upsetting moment in the line, Cricket was on the brink of kicking another horse. I pulled her out and dismounted until we both became more emotionally collected. I remounted and stationed her near Carol's "swing out car wash." Cricket proceeded to play with the plastic strips to her heart's content. She finally relaxed and the session ended better than it started.
Tuesday I had a great private session in the round pen. Cricket's draw is getting more solid and we played with 2 carrot sticks working on spins on the liberty circle. Her biggest issue is maintaining forward. Often her draw falls apart at the canter so we did a few canter circles, draw to me and stop. Our group liberty was done in a rodear - a living round pen created by the other students and their horses. Cricket did great but it became obvious that she was sore. After the rodear I played with her on the 22' trying to isolate the source of her lameness. I couldn't find anything but took her down to cold-hose her legs, apply liniment and give her some anti-inflammatory medication. By the afternoon she was better but still off. I rode her at an easy walk, asking for wide turns. She did great and I dismounted, put her in the round corral and watched the rest of the session.
Camp was very anti-climactic. It seems that I am past the point of Wow! and blinding flashes of revelation. Gone are the Shazaam! moments and instead it's the dawning realization that it truly is time to perfect L1. It was filled with moments of "Oh, that's why that is so important."
Don't get me wrong - I learned a lot. But it's mostly about how the little snags and wrinkles in my foundation become gaping holes if I try to progress without addressing and correcting them. And that's a bitter pill to swallow at times. It's not always about "having fun" - you have to put in the time to make sure the fundamentals are rock solid.
More on some of the specifics later . . .