Through coach’s eye: Post Summer Camp 2017 reflections. Day 2 of 3

This Summer Camp 2017 was the first one of upgraded versions of intensive training camps I have been organising in the last few years. We incorporated a training show into it with Life Savings as its Patron (more on the Show later), added sponsored awards and much more focus on the rider’s technique than ever before. I loved it and the riders seemed to as well. We already have bigger plans for next year but for now, let me reflect on this year’s experiences in stages…

DAY 2 – JUMPING SKILLS FOCUS

If you haven’t read DAY 1 reflections and would like to stay on track, here it is: RIDER FOCUS DAY 1 

MORNING SESSIONS 

Day two was all about jumping skills. The morning sessions were based on tempo control for most riders with the demands adjusted to the individual riding skills.

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Kelly and Mojo

Hover over the photos for rider’s and horse’s names.

It has always been drummed into me that to jump well one needs a very good feel for tempo as well as be able to maintain the exact speed for several minutes at the time. Whilst this might seem like an easy task, many situations challenge that exactness. Turns, corners, circles, all have their bearing on horse’s balance, power/impulsion, energy level and straightness.

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Derek and Boo. Currently most novice adult rider on the Academy programme but climbing the skills ladder in style 😉 Winner of the Change Maker Award.

Exercise 1 asked the riders to be able to set a canter at the speed of 325 mpm and maintain it for 1 minute. We set a minute marker and roughly measured the 325 meters. After several goes, everyone nailed this exercise but the differences between tempo control on one rein and the other were quite significant for most combinations which I hope gave everyone a food for thought.

Hover over the photos for rider’s and horse’s names.

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Laura and Robyn – the Summer Camp Trophy Winners (more on how and why the winner and other awarded riders were chosen will be up in Part 3). Laura made very fast changes to her riding on Saturday. Being a tall rider on a relatively small and very sensitive TB mare, it was not always easy for her to adjust but her determination to help the mare move and jump better and her very fast seat change from training round to show round (after watching and discussing her footage) put her in the lead.

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Gemma and Ozzy. Winners of the Coach’s Award. These guys ruled the Camp and Gemma reached pretty much all the goals she set herself for the weekend!

On photo above, I am passing some branches with leaves to Gemma. Ozzy is a very laid back character and generating energy is not always his priority. I think finding what motivates each horse to move is the key. Kicking and generally escalating leg aids is my personal pet hate in riding solutions so I prefer to look outside of the box. Gemma went with the idea (another reason of many why she did get the Coach’s Award) and a little bit of forest around the shoulders did give Ozzy enough flair to allow the rider to improve his posture and way of going further.

Exercise 2

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Aisha and Prince (an ex-racehorse raced in the past by AP McCoy – Prince’s claim to fame 😉 )

Once we had the tempo on the flat under control, I added two cavaletti/small jumps, one on each side of the arena half way the long side of it. It’s interesting how even  a tiny jump can affect all canter skills…My idea was to stay put until everyone got it as well as I thought they were capable of unless it meant over-working the horse. It worked and I was very pleased with everyone’s efforts.

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Kelly and Mojo

I believe the good feel for the right kind of canter is a huge part of jumping skill and developing that in the riders is one of my top priorities whatever their level.

Throughout these exercises I added individual corrections to suit the goals each rider set for themselves before the Camp for the duration of the weekend. It was possibly one of the most influential training session of the Camp as I wanted to see if the riders were able to apply Friday’s lessons into their riding as well as staying focused on new demands.

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AFTERNOON SESSIONS

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Gemma and Ozzy

The afternoon consisted of training sessions over a course & Training Show Round. This kind of show has been on my mind for a while and the Summer Camp 2017 provided a perfect testing grounds. I asked all riders to wear competition gear to get them in the right frame of mind 😉

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Caitlin and Mollie. The youngest rider at the Camp who was one of my top three up to the afternoon when her mare knocked herself on the pole hard enough to cause a problem and had to be retired from the rest of the Saturday. She was fine for the Day 3 (XC & Dressage), more on this pair later.

THE SHOW

I wanted to create a kind of show that would award partnership, style and performance in that order and I was assessing the riders in that exact order too. I do believe riding is a team sport of sorts – the team spirit between horse & rider should shine through every step on the course. I don’t mean here the vigorous whipping or other means of “hard” riding in order to get over a jump or any other methods that have fear or abuse at their roots. I don’t find it “class”, “brave”, “admirable” etc nor did I want to foster an environment in which the horse was some kind of an enemy to conquer over the course of jumps.

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Kate and Jack. Kate had a fabulous Friday sessions but a few mistakes on Saturday put her out of top three. She still showed some great improvements but the other riders stepped up to the challenge and kept the progress rate exceeding expectations.

The style referred to rider’s seat and way of riding – again all adjusted to the individual skills level and I didn’t expect those riders who only started to jump to show any particular perfection ;). However, riding in balance with a horse is what personally drives me in my own improvement and I always strive to pass that mission on to everyone I teach.

Performance referred to results but not in terms of poles down but in terms of meeting personal goals for the horses and riders.

All rules of the show were set with this in mind.

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Emma and Merehead. Emma set herself a stretch goal for the Camp and that was to jump her ex-racehorse Merehead over a 1m to 1.05m course in preparation for their move to BE100. Here they are cruising over their nemesis oxer off a tight turn on the left rein.

The training round:

  • focused on practicing some component of skilful course riding: tempo control, control of balance in turns, maintaining suitable impulsion in canter in front of the jump and rider’s position and its influence on horse’s ability to jump well.

The show round – consisted of 2 phases: 

  • phase 1: ride the course – “trial” round
  • dismount and watch your round on video straight away
  • 10 minutes discussion on what was good and what could be done better
  • phase 2: ride the course – “show round”
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Emma watching her training round and discussing how to ride the Show Round better

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Chatting through turns options with Gemma after their training round and before the Show round

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Caitlin and Mollie

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Paige and Oscar. Bronze Medal Winners for continued improvements from Friday to Sunday in all ridden sessions

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Lauren and Gilly – Gold Medal Winners for fabulous attitude towards all sessions at the Camp – both ridden and off-horse and her steely determination to overcome her nerves with her playful partner in crime 😉 They made very good corrections between their training and show round!

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Kelly and Mojo in the grid – Silver Medal Winners for superb training attitude and improvement in all sessions from Friday to Sunday. She rushed through the first phase of the afternoon so had no chance to correct the training round mistakes to what I believe was within reach but nevertheless showed great riding and very good focus.

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I had to add this photo 😉 Hayley just a little bit happy (or petrified!) 😉

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Hayley and Nugget – first time at the Camp with some mishaps, trials and tribulations but they lasted till the end!

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Day 3 reflections with Cross Country, Dressage and Awards Ceremony coming soon 🙂

Photos Copyright: www.beckybuncephotography.co.uk

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