Notes from Dressage Camp
My new riding checklist goes like this: heels down, legs back, sit on back pockets, use core, shoulders forward (since I tend to lean back), hands together, chin up.
Yes, I focused on POSITION at last week’s Adult Amateur Dressage Camp, held in Tumalo, OR and hosted by Central Oregon Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society.
Twelve intrepid riders attended, many of them choosing to camp onsite. Camping was the only way to go, as that’s where we really got to know one another, over morning cups of coffee and evening cocktails.
The gals from Grants Pass/Klamath Falls showed us how it was done with first-rate beverages, appetizers, amazing homemade mini-quiches, naturopathic remedies for our aches and pains, plus Olympic-level hospitality.
My campmate, Lisa B. and I learned several valuable camping lessons along the way: don’t camp near the horses being one of the most important. While they looked adorable snuggled in their paddocks, Friday night’s squealing mare party made sleep a matter of wishful thinking. On Saturday, we slept with deep satisfaction, thanks to the fact that the horses were too tired to karaoke.
Lisa and I also learned the importance of location when camping. By late afternoon our cute little campsite simmered in the summer sun. Fortunately, the Grants Pss contingent offered to share their shade with us. Next year we’ll pay more attention when setting up camp.
As for riding, clinicians Ernst Hermann and Nicki Grandia offered their expertise. The two had very different approaches to teaching but, for me, this worked well. I started off with Ernie and his very technical approach to position and ended camp with Nicki, who allowed me to pursue the same issues at a more self-guided pace. Here’s hoping muscle memory kicks in and I can make these lessons last long term.
In four days we had six lessons each, something of a total immersion course and — thanks to the heat— a bit of an endurance test. As we and our horses grew more weary each day, our warmup times shortened from generous to hasty.
On Sunday afternoon I was sad to see camp clearing out, trailers pulling away and riders saying their goodbyes. This was the best vacation I’ve had in years. I loved sharing a strong cup of morning coffee as the sun warmed the air, listening to the horses enjoy their hay. Since Micah lives in a boarding stable, hearing his whinney as I brought him each meal was music to my ears — and what a trooper he was through the whole adventure. I was very proud of him.
A big thanks goes to organizer Lisa Koch, who helped make the magic happen … bringing together riders from throughout the region for a truly memorable experience. We bonded.
Will I go back next year? It’s at the top of my list for much more than just the riding. If you have the chance to attend a riding camp giddyup and go!