Succesful xc day!

IMG_1325-0.JPGHey look I figured out how to post pictures from my phone! This is the nekkid trakehner which actually didn’t bother us too much, but it is a fun picture.
Xc went swimmingly, with Eddie warming up well and feeling up to the task. The first part of the course went swimmingly and he felt great. He dropped into the the second water beautifully, but then tripped hard up the bank. I kept going straight with him past the C element and did the black flag option which he did well, but it took a lot of time. We continued on to the trakehner above, which went well as did the entire rest of the pretty tough course. He jumped beautifully. We earned 7.2 time faults, all due to taking he long route at the water, probably. I moved down to 8th and my team moves up to third. Very very happy with how xc went!
Eddie is enjoying an ice bath and cookies!


Dressage report and xc prep

Dressage went well yesterday! Eddie warmed up well, proceeded to get tight and resistant late in warmup, and then Camie remembered that posting in warm up is a good thing. Eddie relaxed and became nicely rideable again one horse before our ride time. Gotta like that.
During the test we kept things flowing and mostly through and I was happy with it. The judge at E gave us a 70.9% and C gave us a 65.something %. Translated to 32ppts to put us in 6th. Pretty happy with that because these judges weren’t giving anything away. Low score 27ish. Ir eally though rough it would be 21 or so.
The cross country course has 7 combinations and plenty of tables to jump. There isn’t a lot of places to gallop after fence three. 15ab is a small vertical bending two to a max drop. I am doing this on my phone and I don’t know how to post pictures from it. Sorry!
The prelim division starts at 11:30 and I ride at 12:54, so I am going to go out and watch fence 15ab and see how people are riding it.
I hacked Eddie this morning and he feels good. Yay! Stoked.

Texas! And settling in.


Impressive! I wonder what their sock drawer looks like.

We were on the road at 0315, which means that I was up and feeding at 0215.  Eddie ate a pretty decent breakfast, though all the horses were blinking their eyes and wondering what the early meal was about.  Eddie loaded on the trailer fine and we met our friends Chris Arnold and Sara Caruso about 45 minutes out.  They were blinking and wondering a bit too, but our plan was that we wanted to get through KC before rush hour, and we did.  Because of our early start, we were ravenously hungry by 10:00 and finally found a Taco Bell/KFC that was serving lunch.  Yay!  When we got condiments, we were treated to this magnificent display of OCD compulsion.  We wondered which of the employees was feeling much better now.

IMG_0035After 12 hours on the trailer our butts were getting tired and Eddie shared his thoughts on the long trailer ride.  Poor thing.  He had drunk a bit of water along the way and had a few cookies and ate some hay.  But when we arrived at the show grounds, he looked like this: IMG_0034

He cheered right up and settled in beautifully.  Despite the fact that we had offered him water on the trip, he immediately drank almost 3 gallons of water and started munching hay.  We let him rest and eat in the stall and it became clear that he was making up for lost eating time.  He had hay on the trailer, but apparently it is not the same.  He had bonked his right front leg on the trailer above his fetlock, and created a bruise despite the wraps, but he seemed supremely unbothered by it, so we let him rest while we walked the xc course.  More on that tomorrow.  We will walk it again then.

IMG_0036Then we went to the welcoming party, which was well-attended and nice.  They acknowledged all the sponsors.  Wow, that’s a lot of sponsors! and served a nice meal.

IMG_0037Afterwards I tacked up Eddie and went for a hack.  I don’t feel the need to drill dressage the day before, and I wanted to make sure I gave him time to stretch out and relax so we went for a hack up the gentle slope on one side of the park.  He felt great and it was nice to escape the hustle and bustle.  Then we worked in the ring for about 20 minutes.  It was almost dark, about 7:30, and the ring only had a few people in it, so it was quite relaxed.  Eddie did very well and is completely sound.  Afterward, I hosed the leg for about 10 minutes and it was much tighter than it was before I rode, which was excellent.

Everyone is in a very good mood here tonight and there is an anticipation atmosphere.  I ride dressage at 3:24 tomorrow, so will hack him a bit in the morning, then bathe and braid, take a break and then have at it in the afternoon.  Some time during the day I will walk the xc course twice.  We ride xc around noon on Friday.


IMG_0029I started out the morning tack cleaning.  One bridle, two bits (a nathe for dressage and a french link for xc, don’t hate me because I overbit, lol), a breastplate and two saddles.  I caught myself thinking about how many horse trials, foxhunts and training rides I had done in my jumping saddle and I was thinking that I probably should start thinking about buying a new one.  At any rate, two hours later the saddles were fabulously clean and packed in the trailer.  Then it was on to boots.  I wear gloves when I polish my boots because there really is notneed to have black fingers for several days when it can be simply avoided.  But today I learned that the latex gloves have powder on them, which leaves really quite unacceptable ghostly white prints on shiny boots.  So latex, no bueno.  The nitrile ones on the left are a big yes.

I polished my competition boots and shined up a pair of paddocks and half chaps for riding the day before competition.  Doing it this way saves some boot cleaning at the show.  IMG_0030

Dug was very impressed with all my cleaning and cheered me on from her dog bed.

I continued with packing until the back tack of the trailer was stuffedIMG_0031.  One time I ran out of hay at a show and there is nothing worse than the guilt associated with Mother Hubbard’s cupboard being empty at a show.  Friends baled me out (oh, I’m so punny), but I may now be quite reasonably accused of being a hay overpacker.  There might be a support group for me somewhere, but by golly, Eddie will have enough hay this weekend.

Then, since we are leaving in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, I lay down on the couch for a nap.  I was just getting up when Jay said, “Your lesson is here.”  “No it isn’t, I don’t have a lesson to teach until 4.”  So I get up and go look and it is a vehicle I don’t recognize.  Turns out it is a new saddle rep for CWD saddles.  If I appeared a little bemused when she told me who she was and why she was there, it was because of my thought in the morning about “probably time for a new saddle” and then her appearing, unsolicited, in my driveway with, what ho, a bunch of new saddles.  Usually my intentions don’t work that fast.

We got to talking and it turns out she went to school with my nieces at St. Mary’s of the Woods in Indiana.  She took a look at my existing saddles and was actually very complimentary about how they fit, with a few minor exceptions.  IMG_0032As long as she was here, I tried one of her jumping saddles on Eddie.  It fit him beautifully and had balance as good as my Berney (and that is saying something) and was more supportive in the seat.  (Loves me a Berney, but they are a little short on ANY sort of padding in the seat).  The CWD has the bases covered in quality and utilitarianism and it was comfortable to boot.  What?  Crazy talk!  I jumped a few jumps in it and galloped a bit and it felt great.  So I asked her if I could test ride the saddle for the weekend at the ATCs and she agreed.  So, it is going to TX with us.  This particular saddle is just a hair small for me, but acceptable.  Amazing really, that she had something on hand that would fit me and Eddie.  I will very probably show jump in it and may run xc in it.  We’ll see.  I hacked in it on another horse late in the day and it still felt good.

The Great Coggins Scare of 2014 Passes By

Well, turns out that the 6 month coggins requirement from yesterday blew over.  A regular health certificate with the vesicular stomatitis addition will be enough.  That is great because now I don’t have to ask Dr. Ross to come out or haul Eddie to ISU for a quick coggins blood draw, and pay the expedited fees to get it done in time.  Yay!
IMG_0028Next ATC-related order of the day was to go to the embroiderer and pick up the saddle pads.  I am a Purina Regional Ambassador because I really believe in the company and have seen consistent positive results with my horses and my clients’ horses when they are fed the Purina feeds that are best for them.  If you are searching for feed answers, I can probably help.  If I don’t know the answer, I can get it for you from people with Ph.D.s in nutrition and years of experience, personally and professionally, with horses, and who are delighted to help.  It also means that I get to carry the Purina logo on my saddle pad.  I am a total science girl and I love the way Purina uses solid science to develop their feeds.  It makes me feel good to feed it and to carry their logo.  I bought a new Euro-cut dressage pad in celebration of qualifying for the AECs and put the Purina logo and my logo on it. Maureen Malloy at Thunder Road Embroidery does a nice job.


I had my final dressage lesson before departure, with Trudy Tatum.  We ran through the test about 5 times, tweaking here and there.  Eddie was happy and light and right on the aids and I am am feeling good about my riding too.  We worked especially on transition into and out of the free walk, leg yields and canter work.  Trudy and I were both very happy with the work and we talked and laughed on the walk back from the dressage ring (way out in the pasture) about how much fun the ATC will be.  If I can get 90% of what we had today in TX, I will be very happy indeed.

My mom and her friend Julie came over and had dinner with us late in the day.  It was nice to meet Julie and to see what fun they have together.  Everybody needs a good friend that makes them laugh and Mom has found one in Julie.  My mom lives in WI, but is in Des Moines for the Samoyed Club of America National Specialty.  We are both at nationals this week!

Jump School

So the day started out with lessons down at Irish Run, which was great fun once again.  When I drove in the driveway in the early afternoon, I was greeted by these shining beauties:



No, they aren’t brand new, but they sure look that way thanks to Jay’s elbow grease while I was away teaching.  One could surmise from this that Jay is fired up for Texas too!

We went for an afternoon hack, again because we are working on getting some more fitness on the foxhunting horses and on Jay’s riding muscles.  We went about 4 miles and did some practice on terraces.  Great fun for all.

10614163_10152720099153630_2563528444174461496_nThen I set up a triple combination in the outdoor grass jumping field.  I haven’t jumped a triple in competition this year and I suspect they will have one at the ATCs, so I set up a 2 stride to a one stride with verticals at the ends and an oxer in the middle, that can be jumped either way, so that it would be a 2 stride to 1 or one to two.  Doubtful that they would have a one to one, but if they do, this is still good prep.  It is all about footwork.

10614163_10152720099143630_1281764705970455941_nI rode in the late afternoon purposefully so that there would be some shadows.  I don’t know what time of day I’ll be riding in TX.  At regular horse trials, usually prelim goes very early in the day, so shadows are a factor.

After warmups over a cross rail and some verticals, Jay came out to help.  I told him what I was working on and he helped be my eyes on the ground.  Of course, he couldn’t let my simple stand-alone oxer just stand there in its boring oxer-ness, so he made it into a nice big Swedish oxer that sort of made me throw up in my mouth a little.  Thank goodness for the testosterone influence.  I’d rather be mildly freaking out on my own ground than in the warmup at a competition.  lol

I10354885_10152720099428630_283162567349686331_n also made a horrid stand alone light to dark narrow vertical that should be worse than anything we’ll see in Texas.  It wasn’t quite as brutal as this pictures makes it look, but it was airy enough anyway.  And finally, the bending line Swedish oxer to the groundline-less vertical.1966858_10152720099133630_5511708657154080528_n  The jump school went very well.  With a few tweaks the rails were staying up and Eddie was happy with my riding.  Yay.  Interesting side note: the “jump” we have been searching for in our dressage canter showed up tonight in our showjumping school.  Double yay!  I bet I can bring that to dressage.  I have one last lesson with Trudy tomorrow, so we’ll see.

I took his studs out and put the stud kit in the trailer.  We won’t need the studs until xc day in TX now!

Then I came into the house and, while making supper, noticed a FB note from Donna Hammond that the COTH board had blown up with AEC/ATC competitors freaking out about a TX law that says that coggins papers have to be dated in the last 6 months for travel to competition in TX.  Nice of Donna to think of me!  The omnibus listing only requires one dated in the last 12 months.  I will wait until the morning to see if the organizer emails the competitors, because you can bet that her email inbox is going to be full of questions about it.  I sent one myself just to make sure that everybody didn’t think “oh, somebody else will do it”.  If I have to get a coggins drawn on Monday or Tuesday, it will be a hassle, but with Dr. Carly Ross and also the option of ISU, we probably can get it done, even if the results have to be emailed to us on the road to TX, so I’m not worried.

We ended the day by watching the WEG that had aired in the afternoon.  Some fantastic riding and they actually did a good job with eventing and showed very little reining.  (Hey, reining is fine with me, but if there is limited air time, I’m gonna vote for English sports).  But, in showjumping and the showjumping portion of eventing, one of the announcers could not get through his fool head that a rail down is four faults.  He kept saying, “There’s a fault” when a rail fell, and each time Melanie Smith, his co-announcer, would quietly work into conversation that it was 4 faults.  She was as tactful with him as she is in her fabulous riding.  Well done!

To close out the day, Duggie struck us a pose:





Eddie’s day off

So you’d think, because it is Eddie’s rest day, that there would be nothing to post that would have to do with the ATCs today.  Au contraire.  After morning feed, I drove to Des Moines and started the day teaching lessons at Irish Run Farms in Des Moines.  I guest teach there when the regular instructors are traveling to shows elsewhere.  It is really a fun time for me.  I teach some dressage and jumping, some kids, some adults, and one particular high school senior student made my day today.  She had a private lesson, and after warm up on the wonderful, but perhaps bored lesson horse, Pride, I asked her what she wanted to do.  She said, “All good, whatever you want to do.”  Danger Will Robinson, I have an active imagination.  So I said, “Wanna go ride in the park?”  “Sure!  I haven’t done that in a long time.”  “The Park” is Waterworks Park which is right across the road from Irish Run.  So, me in my rubber Hunter boots and she on Pride, set out.  After a bit, I said, “Ok, trot until the next path, then turn around and come back.”  She was a little hesitant as if to say, “Are you sure?” and then off she went.  Both she and Pride came back a little brighter for the experience.  After a few more out and back journeys at trot we did the same in canter.  I was hiking along quickly because the mosquitoes were BAD, and thus did we cover 3 miles in 45 minutes.  By the end of the ride, the girl who rides horses once a week on Saturdays and the formerly bored lesson horse were looking like this in the park:

That just made my day.


That is my man. Hands off, ladies!

After lunch at home, I went out and fed Eddie his afternoon snack (feeding Eddie is a full time job when he is in hard work, but he looks better than ever.  I really like the new Purina SuperSport amino acid supplement.  It has put muscle on Eddie like he has never had before.)  While he ate, I tacked up Elliot for Jay to ride and Sammy for me to ride.  Jay had been working around the yard in shorts, and came up with the fabulous getup you see at left for riding, which would allow him not to have to change into breeches.

I wondered aloud concerning whether he was going to wear off the skin on his knees and he seemed sublimely unconcerned, so off we went, on a 3 mile trot and canter hack.  He is legging himself and his horse up for foxhunting, and for myself, just because it is Eddie’s day off, doesn’t mean I need to rest, so I was interested in a vigorous ride too.  Not once did Jay complain or suggest we walk or slow down.  However, when we returned, we ran in to Vicki Klemm and she asked about whether he always rode in shorts in summer, and he said no and he probably wouldn’t again.  Lol.

In the early evening I went to the local orchard to buy a bunch of apples.  Little known Camie fact, I spent the first three years of my life living on an apple orchard that my dad worked at.  I don’t remember much of it, but the people who owned it were always friendly as I grew up, and I worked there a few autumns picking apples for them.  As such, I am a bit of an apple afficionado.  So each year, predictable as a salmon to spawning grounds, I go and buy MacIntoshes in heaping mounds from the orchard and OD on them for about a month.  I also buy about half a bushel each year of Cortlands and make treats for the local landowners who allow me to ride on the edges of their crops in the growing season and on the fields generally after harvest.  This is a big help to my training and conditioning program for Eddie and all my horses, so I make them apple deliciousness in gratitude.  It will have to wait until after the ATCs, but it will happen.  I like to cook with Cortland apples and they sell out at this orchard, so I had to buy them today.

IMG_0052On my way in to the store, I saw the straw bale benches they built for classes of students to sit on for picture proof of their trip to the apple orchard.  It is a pretty appreciable stack and I found myself thinking that, at this lovely xc obstacle, you’d have to check up a bit and then come forward to it to get the horse to jump across the width of it.  Ha ha.  The xc riding never ends.

Gallop Day


Before the gallop

Gallop morning!  It was a beautiful morning, and time to gallop, so I popped Eddie on the trailer and drove a mile and a half to the Heart of Iowa Trail.  This is a shared-use trail that I usually ride to, but it has been so dry here lately that even the shoulder of the gravel road is too hard to trot to the trail to warm up for gallop.  Last week I had a near miss when I felt him take a bad step on the gravel.  He was subtly lame after that, so I packed his hoof with poultice and used a hoof wrap and gave him the next day off and he was terrifically sound after the day off.  That was too close for me, so I drove him to the trail today.  I offloaded him and walked down the trail to warm up.

We ended up going 5 miles total, with plenty of work in gallop and some work in transitions within the gallop as is needed on course.  He did remarkably well.  He feels great!

Then I ran the new saddle pads to the embroiderer to have some new logos put on.  Yes, I could have done that sooner, like 2 weeks ago!  Hey, I had galloping to do.

After the gallop

After the gallop

This evening, Dr. Jim McNutt came out and did Eddie’s Health Certificate and verification of not having vesicular stomatitis, certification of which is required for the Adult Team Championships and AECs.  Apparently this disease is fairly common in the south.

Then in the late evening I had another lesson with Trudy Tatum.  I usually wouldn’t ride him again on the same day I had a gallop, but in this lesson we were working on trot-halt-backup and trot medium walk to free walk; mostly technique stuff for me to work on, not terribly difficult for Eddie.  He was a little tight at first, not surprisingly, but he got better and better.  He gets tomorrow off.

The AEC/ATC Blog: What kind of craziness is the ATC?

IMG_1255Last night I was polishing up the brass on my tack, filling time while I waited for Dr. Carly Ross, DVM to arrive.  There was no equine blood-spouting wound, no colicing drama, just an Eddie (aka Best Etiquette) who had taken to tilting his head sideways when chewing his grain, his ever-so-subtle 17h OTTB way of telling me he needed a dental check up.

Best Etiquette, Roebke's Run, September 2014, D and G Photo credit

Best Etiquette, Roebke’s Run, September 2014, D and G Photo, and the handsome guy shooting video in the background like a boss is the fabulous Jay!

For those of you just joining the party, Eddie is my Preliminary level eventing horse.  And if you don’t know me, I am 6’3″, so yes, he really is 17h though in relation to me, he may not look that big.  (Little known Eddie fact: he broke the caps off the vertebrae that make up his withers somewhere in the mists of time before I met him.  If he had those caps, he would probably measure 17h2″.  This also points out that a horse with a little dent or ding can do just fine down the road, but I digress.)  He’s really quite a star, and I can only imagine I must have done something simply brilliant in a former life to get to spend time with him, let alone ride him in competition.  He’s one of those spindly-legged thoroughbreds that look forever young and usually a clinic or show doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t ask how old he is or offers, “Nice young prospect you’ve got there!”  I don’t have the heart to tell the very kind second group that he is 16 years old this year.

Image 1

Fabulouso (Elliot) and Jay

We’ve had some pretty good success at Preliminary level, qualifying and finishing in the top 25 in the American Eventing Championships when they were held in Chicago a few years back.  Those were fun times.  Jay and I stayed with our friends MFH NIkki and Rob Reed (Wayne DuPage Hunt), who lived in a beautiful home less than a mile from Lamplight.  We’d spend balmy days at the show running my 2 preliminary horses at the time (Fabulouso was the other, now retired from upper level eventing to a life of leisure in the foxhunting field with Jay).  In the evenings we would toddle on over to the Reeds’ house and go together to the hunt kennel to see the hound puppies, listen to Rob sing beautifully at the piano (and one time an entire aria in the car on the way home from a fabulous hunt party that served the most spectacular lamb with mint), swap hunting stories and on one rare occasion, we actually did a morning mounted hound walking in the Pratt Wayne Forest Preserve before my afternoon dressage rides across the road at Lamplight. I rode a borrowed horse.  I didn’t think Katie Lindsay would smile her Scorpio sunshine on me larking a competition horse about on the xc course before we rode it the next day.

Back to the original story, Eddie was doing his imitation of the RCA Victor dog posture (kids under 40, here is your clue):


Nipper, the RCA Victor dog

So I knew I needed to get Dr. Ross out for a dental.  With the big trip to Tyler Texas to the Adult Team Championships coming up next week, I was thinking Eddie should also have his flu/rhino booster.  So then everyone in the barn was going to get it, lucky them.  This is akin to your mother saying to you, “I’m cold, you should put on a sweater.”

Dr. Ross arrived with her dad and darling 1 year old son Gus, who Duggie the dog very politely licked gently on the face in greeting.  Gus was completely unfazed and carried on like a future vet, Winston Churchill or Marine, depending.  Dr. Ross, found a few sharp edges on Eddie’s teeth and roto-rooted them down and then stuck needles in all the other horses, all of whom behaved with aplomb, except Rosa the chestnut three year old who thinks that everything requires comment.  All vaccinations done, I asked Dr. Ross to take a look at Rosa’s recent pasture bonk unsoundness.  Rosa was nearly completely uncooperative, even taking what an Irish person would call a check swing and any sane person would call a good kick at Dr. Ross, who carried on like a vet, Winston Churchill AND a Marine, so now we know where Gus gets it.  (Though Gus’s dad is a spectacular person too.  “Roof that shed?  Yeah, I have some time on Saturday.”  And he’d be there with tools and work gloves Saturday morning about 7.)

During the floating it occurred to me that I should have done Eddie’s gallop before he was sedated.  Dr. Ross said maybe not a good idea to gallop until 3 hours after sedation (so it is like swimming after eating?  Cool.  Who knew?).  Three hours was going to put us at sundown, so it wasn’t going to happen.  So change the training days.  Preparing for an event is a schedule juggling affair, first between other obligations (like life, you know, eating and working and friends and such) and then between the three disciplines of showjumping, xc and dressage.

So what are the dental prep and vaccinations and galloping, jumping and dressaging about?  We’re going to the Adult Team Championships at Texas Rose Horse Park next week!!!  Yes, pretty stoked.  So here’s how it happened.  Back in January at a Field Day Vision Board meeting I decided:

A) I wanted to show at the Texas Rose Horse Horse Park in Tyler Texas because my favorite ginger niece, Vanessa Hellestad, lives nearby, in Dallas.  We could visit and I could ride and compete.  What’s not to love?

Vanessa and Aurora the Eagle at the Dallas zoo where Vanessa is a bird trainer.

B)  I wanted to ride at the preliminary level again which I haven’t done in two years.

So I trained a bit with the fabulous Julie Wolfort in KS in March and she was like, “Two years off, really.  Huh.  Tweak this, this, and this and have at it.”

And then

A)  We won our first event back (yippee!) so I thought maybe we should keep at it.

B) We kept at it at Catalpa Corner HT and Roebke’s Run HT (no, we didn’t win those too, but all three phases were fun and safe for both of us and we got the little satin thingies in pretty colors at the end of the show) and then we were qualified for the American Eventing Championships.

C) I then remembered that riding at the AECs means competing at P level with Superstars of Eventing (SoE) like Becky Holder, Leslie Law, Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton and all their 4* friends riding their up and comers or clients’ horses, but I entered anyway just for fun, and to try not to look like “one of these things is not like the other” in the warm up ring.

D) And then I got THE EMAIL from the Adult Rider Coordinator:

Dear Camie,

Championships are coming up!  How would you like to ride in Texas and compete on  championship level courses, riding with the best in the USA?  How would you also like to WIN?  Not qualified?  You may actually be and not know it!

General Info  This is a parallel competition to the AEC’s run on the AEC grounds at the same time as the AEC’s but a separate division.


Each horse and rider pair must have three cross-country rounds with no jumping penalties at recognized USEA horse trials at the ATC level that they wish to compete. None of the qualifying cross-country rides may include dangerous riding penalties.  The qualifying period for each horse and rider pair is July 9, 2012 – September 16, 2014.



As the Organizers of this event our intent has always been to have as much purse money offered for the ATC as is offered in the equivalent Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championship divisions.  For Preliminary Amateur through Novice Amateur that amounts to $3,300 per division.  We aren’t there yet, but at this point I am comfortable saying that we are approaching $2000 per division of the ATC.  The Adult Rider Task Force has decided that this money should be distributed to the top three teams in each division.   These funds are made possible through the generous sponsorship of Bit of Britain, and SmartPak.


Each individual through 12th place will receive a beautiful ribbon.  The top three teams will receive a neck sash for their horses.


The winning team will receive beautiful French made (European style) plaques.  These are very elegant and I have attached a black and white mockup for your information.  These look great in your home or stable.


Thanks to The Chronicle of the Horse we will have a yearly subscription to that fabulous magazine for each of the team winners of each and every ATC division.  Additionally, the top teams will also receive 4 coolers provided by TCOTH.  The coolers will feature the Chronicle logo, and indicate what division the champions competed in.  For the top teams we will have saddlepads provided by Bit of Britain.  Additionally there will be tack, supplies, supplements, clothing, and other great products distributed to the top teams at the ATC from a number of other sponsors that are stepping up from their normal AEC sponsorships.  We continue to add new prizes and some great ones that we can’t report yet are in the works.

Some Activities of Note

  • Wednesday Welcoming Party – A relaxed party in the VIP tent overlooking the grounds.  It is a beautiful setting as we watch the sunset.  Food will be provided by The Fatt Apple, a very well respected caterer that provided great food for the 2013 Adult Rider Social at the AEC, entertainment from Elisa Wallace and her fabulous mustangs, and more.
  • Thursday Night ATC/Adult Rider Social –  This is your party in the trade fair/indoor arena.  Hang out and have a blast with your fellow competitors while you mingle with vendors and sponsors next to the beer garden.
  • Friday Night Dog Show – One of the highlights of the AEC.  When you arrive on grounds sign you pup up!  With classes like the puppy puissance (high jump), look-alike contest, best rescue story, biggest, smallest, best trick…this is a blast to watch and is sponsored by Weatherbeeta so your pup can win loot and ribbons!  Judged by the USEA President Diane Pitts and CEO Jo Whitehouse.
  • Saturday Night Competitors Party – The “BIG” party that brings everyone together under one roof for a final blowout before the last day.  Food, drinks, and all competitors receive a ticket to all of the parties at no extra charge.  This party will also feature a Mechanical Bull Tournament.  Enter your team of 3 and you could walk away with a Texas sized set of belt buckles!  Enter when you check in at the show office.
  • Educational Seminars Throughout:  With course walks over every division with some of the top PRO riders in eventing, seminars from Max Corcoran “the best groom/manager in the business”, and some special guest appearances this might just be one of the most useful parts of your trip to Texas.

<Camie back in> Holy cats!  What’s not to like?  ATC is basically a team competition, with prizes for individuals through 12th place, and here’s the great thing, no Superstars of Eventing (SoE) allowed!  As a professional, I can only compete in the ATCs one level below the highest level that I have shown at in the last year, which worked fine for Eddie and me, but it meant I couldn’t take Sammy at Novice.  But having been on the flip side of the coin at the AECs in years past, where vastly overqualified riders easily earned all the prizes at the lower levels, I was happy to give up the Novice ride.  So the advantage for non pro riders in the ATCs is that you are not going to compete against fabulous people like Becky Holder (SoE for sure, and love her!) or even regional trainers like me if you are entering at normal human-with-a-nonhorse-job levels like BN, N or T.  And you get to compete for cool prizes and cash.  What?  Yeah, cash.  And there are parties, and a dog competition and vendors and a warmer climate in September, and visiting my niece Vanessa (oh wait, that might only interest me for the most part…)

And this year, the Area IV Adult Rider Program set aside some money to pick up part of the entry fee for qualified Area IV Adult Riders.  I imagine they will do the same next year, so make plans to go next year.  To qualify, you basically need 3 jump fault-free xc rounds at recognized competitions that you complete at the level you wish to compete.

Meanwhile, live vicariously through the blog if you like.  Upcoming installments: Friday gallop and evening dressage lesson with Trudy Tatum, team assignments (we get to meet three other prelim eventers from other areas), showjump school Sunday, whatever other things happen, and leaving in the wee hours on Wednesday morning.  If you type your email in the window on the upper right part of this page, you will get a notification each time a blog is published.  Fun times ahead!


I’m feeling thoughtful and analytical today, and for whatever reason I am thinking about horse/rider connection.  I work on this a lot for my own riding and with my students and for some reason today it came burbling up and demanded to be written down.   Not wanting to wake up to boisterous, demanding thoughts at two in the morning, I submit to their overbearing will and write them here:

Riders’ hands have to be still relative to the horse. In order to do so, riders’ hands have to be moving relative to the riders’ body. Because, in walk for instance, the horse moves his neck horizontally, but the rider sits largely still in a horizontal sense on his back. That means that, in order to stay connected seamlessly, there has to be a spring between the two bodies, which is the elbow. 

(Think of a ship moored to a dock in high seas. This idea of a stable object and a moving object tied together represents a horse and rider. In walk and canter, the horse’s neck moves forward and back and the rider stays largely still. In trot, the rider moves horizontally and vertically while posting, while the horse’s neck does not have a significant movement relative to the rider in any direction. Therefore, the horse/rider system is like the ship and the dock. When one is moving, the other is still. Sometimes you’re the ship, sometimes you’re the dock. Now back to the ship. If there is a rope between the ship and the dock and the seas are high, the ship rises and falls with the waves and hits the end of the rope with a jar and things get jerked around – tough on ropes, ships and docks. If there is a sufficiently strong elastic band or spring between the ship and the dock that stretches and relaxes as the ship moves relative to the dock, things are much easier on the ship and the dock. The elastic band does most of the work and the communication between the ship and dock through the connection is fluid. Your elbow is the connection between the horse and you like the rope or the spring is the connection between the ship and the dock.)

The first thing I have people do is get on a lunge or bridge the reins in one hand and walk while holding on to the end of the mane at the base of the neck with the other. Try to get a long piece so that you can sit relatively normally. If you keep your hands there, they are still relative to the horse. Now walk around and see what your elbows have to do to maintain that. If you are bridging, mimic the movement of the hand holding the mane with the bridged hand. I like riders to do that for an entire ride – to just experience it and feel it. On a quiet horse in a controlled setting, it can be done at all gaits. It can be an eye opener.

Next, pick up the reins traditionally. In walk and canter, the horse makes a forward and backward bid with his neck in each step. In trot, the horse’s head is largely still, but the rider (if posting) moves forward and back. So the elbow has work to do in all gaits. I ask riders to literally look down at their reins to notice the slack and taut that might be happening. If it is, that means that the spring is stuck – the elbow is not as elastic as it needs to be. I ask riders to ride around in walk and simply look at their reins to see what they have to do to make an elastic connection all the time. (Maybe here they would wind a pinky in the mane to remind themselves what they have to do to have their hands still relative to the horse). When they have it (and sometimes it is lightning bolt miraculous and sometimes it takes a few lessons where the student unnecessarily self-flagellates. I wish we were as kind to our learning selves as we are to our learning horses!), then I ask them to focus on the feel while looking at the reins. When that works, I ask them to look up, keep the required movement in their elbows and focus on the feel. This simple exercise has surprised me in its effectiveness. I do canter next, (first watch the reins and experiment, get it right or reasonably close, then look up and feel). The movement in walk and canter is very similar (but slower in canter). Then we tackle trot, which is more a vertical movement correction than the horizontal correction required in walk and canter. Walk and canter are forward and back with the elbow. Trot is open and close the elbow (if posting).

In my own riding, I visualize a shoebox in front of the saddle; long-side parallel to the horse’s neck. My hands should always be in that shoebox, and more toward the front of it than the back. I ride around dressage warmup thinking, among other things, “elastic” and “shoebox”.

There, now maybe the connection thoughts will leave me alone tonight!  🙂