I don't usually take notes during camp but this year I did. There was so much great stuff and I'm glad I took the time to write it down.
Please remember that my notes are my interpretation, taken through the filter of my experience. Nothing in this post is to be construed as the definitive way something should be done.
- It really is about playing a game. Until you evoke the game, it's just "make" and you'll constantly be doing more and getting less.
- Phases, at this level, are about stealth. Carol gave us the analogy of a hunter going through the woods. If he crashes through the brush, calling "Any deer around here?" by the time he gets to the clearing, he's going to think there are no deer in the entire county. You have to sneak up on Phase 4 so you cause your horse to really pay attention.
- Phases are about intention, not motion and commotion. Phase 4 should be delivered with a smile and you should aim to kiss the hair on the top of zone 5 with the popper.
- When your horse knows your phases and is counting on the consistency, start mixing things up. But don't just go to phase 4 every time. It's got to be a game!
- Until you have a consistent canter at phase 1, you are working on snappy departs and not maintain gait.
- There is a big difference between a phase 1 canter and a phase 4 canter.
- You cannot hide behind your tools, thinking the CS alone will get you a canter depart. You must have intention.
- Using the slingshot to invoke the game - slow draw towards and a speedy redirect, aiming the popper at the belly, just behind the elbow.
- Level 4 is about accessing the athleticism of the right brain with the left brain in control. In the early levels, it's all about safety but in L3/4 you need to unlock the right brain and clear out the cobwebs.
- Getting to the right brain can get a little unfriendly - your LB horse, who thinks she knows everything about you, needs to learn your less predictable than she thought. It's okay for your horse to be a little frightened.
- Put purpose to everything you do. Don't do a falling leaf "just because" - use it to invoke the game or get more snappy or as a "consequence" for not upholding a responsibility. Don't just go from one end of the arena "doing a falling leaf."
- Have a clear idea of what your looking for and how to reward it. Stop when you get what you want.
- Once your horse hooks onto the idea, reward it and stop. At least for a little while.
- Forget the horse you had yesterday, this morning, five minutes ago or even five seconds ago. That horse no longer exists. What horse do you have in this moment?
- Asking a worried horse to calm down only adds more pressure.
- Retreat doesn't have to mean going away completely. In a new environment, retreat from one object by going away to another and another and another. When you return to the first object, it's suddenly familiar.
- FORWARD IS THE KEY. If you don't have forward, do what it takes to get it.
- Can you use your tools independent of everything else? Can your horse yield to the CS without your body? Can he yield to the bit without your seat? The key is intention.
- The horse must learn to uphold his responsibilities.
- Can you cause your horse to stretch forward into contact? Can you cause him to stretch into contact and offer forward into that contact? This is the key to real finesse riding. It's not just about the headset or the frame but rather about the horse really understanding contact.
- The more your horsemanship develops, the less overtly evaluating horsenality matters. You just know where to be, why to be and what to do when you get there.
Prior to camp, I had this idea the level 3 meant we were done. As I think about invoking the game and causing Cricket to want to offer more, suddenly I see door opening everywhere and the possibilities are endless. Here's to dwelling in the world of possibility.