In my non-horsey life (wait, there’s a such thing?), I work for a school of medicine doing business intelligence and analytics. Which is a fancy way of saying I play in Excel and SPSS and Tableau and Power BI all day and try to turn our huge data sets of operational, financial and other things into actionable information. Which is another fancy way of saying: numbers.
I play with numbers. I geek out on numbers. It’s no secret I freaking love medicine – working in healthcare is my favorite (for reals if you ever want to talk hospitals, medicine, health policy, come chat with a girl). Now I get to make decisions based on actual data.
I haven’t been cool enough to start playing with horse numbers yet, but I love reading those who have. So here’s my lit review (lolz no) of blogger and other data analysis type projects as they relate to ponies – and if you have more, send ’em my way, both for my entertainment, but also as a way to assemble data in one place for others who may be interested. These are just what I had saved or stumbled across.
Day three was supposed to be a cross country lesson with Sharon White in the morning and a dressage lesson in the afternoon, but as it turns out, cross country would be our last lesson of the week. That said, as much as the next few days gave me anxiety, knowing it all worked out in the end, this was about as perfect of a cross country lesson to end on!
Sharon is so amazing to ride with – she understands how horse’s think so well, but also gets teaching and explaining things (that first vs second toolkit thing Jen talks about). We did some more practice over the same things we’d done with Courtney the day before – ditches and water – before moving over to the other XC field which is where the fun really began.
I’d mentioned I wanted to work on riding over terrain – get me going downhill and suddenly any nerve I have vanishes into thin air. This would be fine if I planned to only ever event in like… South Dakota. Alas, hills exist.
I honestly can’t remember how we even built up to the entire thing because the last line we rode is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done and the most badass I’ve ever felt on a horse.
We rode this picture frame to a log on a downhill landing, in and out of the sunken road and a few strides to a blue house of barrels. None of the jumps were huge (BN/N) but it was easily the most technical line we’ve ever ridden.
That afternoon Doc came up sore on a hind leg so that was the end of camp for us (he’s jussttt fine, don’t worry), but what a way to go out.
How far behind at life am I? Well, this post is a month late. Yeah, we went to event camp a month ago and I’m just now getting around to part two. Which means… details are fuzzier. So you might be just getting bullet points (be happy you’re not getting an Excel spreadsheet, since that’s where my brain lives 99.8% of the time).
Days two and three were all about the jompies. We started out with a XC lesson with Courtney Cooper on Tuesday morning, who was great to ride with and I definitely would again. We worked over the trifecta (ditches, banks, water) where she really emphasized you can’t overdo teaching the footwork – walking in/out, up/down, over – or as she put it “dribbling” through them. I’ve totally taken it to heart and we’ve continued to use that in practicing over the last month. She talked us through riding a ditchy horse (lolz, mine is not), a water-averse horse (lolz, mine thinks he’s at the waterpark), and the unsure-about-banks-one (loz, mine thinks they are a playground). Great lessons, albeit ones I’ll be saving for future horses because mine is a real life unicorn. It’s cool. She also gave me my favorite takeaway from camp: she never counts 1-2 to a jump because you’ll literally change your rhythm to leave on 2. Instead, she counts 1-2-3-4 and I don’t know why it works but IT DOES. MAGIC. (Simple magic, but magic)
We moved on to jumping some combos including a half coffin, some stuff in and out of the water, the rolltop in the water (our first time!), and a handful of fun technical questions. Including where I nearly fell off, twice, cause that’s how I do it.
Was my horse misbehaving? Nope. Take a bad spot? Not really. Did I completely abandon steering, leaving my horse to jump over the side of a novice table? YUP. Yeah, I probably deserved to fall off, but once again, Doc the Saint saved my amateur ass and waited for me to put myself back into the saddle before continuing on.
Let’s focus on the fun part of that paragraph though: Novice. Table.
YUP. We jumped all kinds of novice questions at camp, including the (giant to me) blue box out of the water, the half coffin, the hogsback and the picture frame. And all of it was So Much Fun.
(After I got over wanting to pee my pants, but turns out peer pressure in a group is a solid motivator)
The rest of my takeaways I’m putting into a list so I will publish this for once and for all:
Keep a record of lessons/shows – we don’t recall a good % of things, but if you write them down, your memory increases substantially. Even if it’s just highlights from how things went, what went well and what didn’t, etc.
Count to 4 on approach vs 1-2
Keep your upper body back HOLLY
Can’t overdo the footwork on XC
Ditchy horse – hands wide and low, stay in the backseat, tap behind leg
Banks – let them come up and it’s ok if they need a second to think
The afternoon on Tuesday was a stadium lesson with Leslie. My notes conveniently disappeared into the disaster that is my tack trunk, but the theme of this lesson was “wtf is wrong with your leg Holly?” which is a million dollar question. We started off warming up where he wanted us doing a transition every 6-10 seconds – which is hard! But damn, once I had him off my leg and tuned in like that, the adjustability came so much easier. We did a lot of work on adjusting the stride down a line – doing it in 5, 6, 7 and the line on the other side – doing it in 7, 8, 9, practicing feeling what our horses did if we just naturally let them find the distance themselves versus collecting up or pushing for the fewer strides. It was really about getting the rhythm and then sitting still – not continually messing with your horse all the way to the base (cough, I don’t know anyone who does THAT).
Later, we worked on coming off an oxer coming across the middle and making turns either direction – without throwing our body around. Weird, what a concept. This turned into a semi-figure 8 exercise where, as it turns out, you can just use your eyes and a slightly open rein and magically your horse knows where you’re going!! CRAZY. Eventually it turned into a short course that included a fun bending line each direction that I only managed to get lost in the middle of uh, twice?
Because if you don’t leave a lesson with Leslie Law telling your group of amateurs that you’re why he doesn’t get paid enough and that your homework is to learn your left from right, well… did you even go to event camp?