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Adult Rider Camp

Adult Rider Camp, dressage, Heather Oleson, Stephen Birchall

Lessons from Camp

Dear Diary,
I am home from Adult Amateur Riding camp and have finally caught up on sleep and laundry! This was my third year of attending camp and the event is a highlight for me — a chance to hang out with good friends and my horse for four uninterrupted days. The instruction was superb , with lessons from trainers Heather Oleson and Stephen Birchall.
The format is intense. I normally ride three days a week, so jumping into six lessons in four days was a push for me, physically and mentally. The heat was also a factor, when temps hovered in the upper 80’s – testing the limits of my declining heat tolerance. I guzzled water and told myself I was in an endurance event, pacing myself between rides and even getting in a quick afternoon nap.
My first three lessons were with Stephen, who has a very positive and encouraging teaching style. He helped me with my leg position, using a lot of two-point, and it was exciting to make progress with what’s been a long-standing issue for me. Stephen gave Micah and I some great exercises to do at home and the results have been terrific. I’d train again with him any day. Stephen was so good, I really didn’t want to train with Heather. I’d heard that Heather was making students work really hard and I got a bit intimidated.
Fortunately, I was able to spend time with Heather at dinner (she and I being the two ravenous people who filled their plates first) and during the course of the evening I got a feel for her dry sense of humor. She’s very funny in her own way.
In our first lesson together, Heather immediately pointed out a habit I didn’t know I had. When she asked me to push my horse’s haunches out, I automatically looked back at them. “Don’t do that!” she yelled … again and again and again.
It soon became a running joke and I simply had to sass back. I’d jump at the chance to train me again, if she’d let me.
Since we’re a bit isolated here in Central Oregon (being separated from the Willamette Valley by the Cascade Range), Adult Amateur Camp is a terrific opportunity for us to train with high-caliber instructors and experience their insights.
This year especially, I came away feeling I had learned a lot and had some new tools for dealing with old issues. And, I dare not look at my horse’s haunches.

A special thank you to everyone from Central Oregon Chapter who helped to organize this event, in particular Lisa Koch. Thanks, also, to Shevlin Stables for hosting the event at their beautiful facility.

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Adult Rider Camp, Camping with horses, Central Oregon Chapter, dressage, Ernst Hermann, Nicki Grandia

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.

Micah & I relax before our first ride of the morning

Micah & I relax before our first ride of the morning


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.
Solbritt & her eye-catching youngster, Pandora

Solbritt & her eye-catching youngster, Pandora


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.
Jill & her handsome 'boys'

Jill & her handsome ‘boys’


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.
Lisa &  her young horse, Apollo, made big strides in his training

Lisa & her young horse, Apollo, made big strides in his training


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!

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Adult Rider Camp, dressage, Ernst Hermann, Niki Grandia

Cleaning Tack in the Kitchen

When some womens’ spouses leave town they really live it up.
As for me, I had a glass of wine and cleaned tack. On the kitchen counter. Granite is ‘impervious’ (or so they say) and the evidence will be gone by the time Al gets back tomorrow night.
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Just so you know, I’m cleaning tack for this weekend’s Adult Rider Dressage Camp. This is a huge deal. Four days of fun with women obsessed with dressage. (Men are welcome but none signed up.)
Imagine this: horses, terrific instruction, camaraderie, camping, food, wine — and no other distractions! Our instructors will the fabulous Ernst Hermann and Nicki Grandia.
I had a major vacation scheduled for April of this year but my husband’s unintentional achilles tendon rupture put an end to that. So, if you think my tack cleaning on the counter (which he wouldn’t be happy about) is over the top … think again.
Check back in for my reports from camp! I’m so happy that Micah is recovered enough from his April injury to be able to go. I’m also thrilled to get to spend time with other dressage fans in an informal, non-competitive setting.
Yahoo!
I say this knowing that most of the instruction will be a critique of my position. Which (just sayin’) sucks.

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