It was so much fun! Honestly, I was in heaven. The facility was beautiful in a really welcoming, everything you could want in a facility without being ostentatious kind of way. It's off in the country, with trails, beautiful views, lots of big box stalls, friendly management, etc. As I mentioned we rented the big house there and people stayed over. We all ate together, had a talk on 'De-Mystifying Dressage' Sat. night, hung out under the canopy to audit when we weren't riding, and generally had as much or more fun socializing as learning.
The volunteers were incredible. Alison, who co-chairs the Board with me was the main organizer / manager and she never stopped running. Everything went so smoothly because of her. Sharon had organized the most amazing meals, i.e. made homemade muffins and jam for breakfast, and wonderful lunches and dinners (the main one several of us cooked for). Mai and Barb scribed, Paula did some of everything - cooking, scribing, ring set up, horse help... You get the picture.
Here's a picture of the food:
Here's a picture of our Sat. night talk on De-Mystifying Dressage (accompanied by wine and double chocolate brownies):
And here are some of the rides:
I'll put some more of Rogo and I on my pictures page for future comparisons.
So the feedback from the clinic is decidedly mixed. It will entail me shamelessly bragging to you about Rogo, and then admitting to being shamed into action for me. We rode Training Level 2 and 3. First the good part - the clinician loved Rogo. She told me what a high quality horse he is, that she could see how sweet, kind and willing he is, and that the two things together make him the horse everyone wants. She also said I don't have any problems to work on with him. How is that for high praise? My heart was literally beating out of my chest as I sat on him and she said these things. I've always thought he was special :) but to have a very well respected and highly experienced judge come in from Ontario and say it was so validating. She gave us a 7 for harmony between horse and rider because she said it's very apparent to her that Rogo likes me. This brings me to the bad news - me. I didn't receive any startling news that I didn't know, but it really brought it into focus. I tired much too easily, and I don't have a good seat on him with independent hands. Of course being at the clinic made it a bit worse, but it's very true. I've never learned to sit into him and be as secure in my seat as I am with Savanah and Dan. She says it's his big movement and that it will come, but boy, it's taking a long time. She said I need to get him to round so he'll work over his back more, but that it will come as soon as I'm riding him better and that there's really nothing to fix with him, just me. I need to use my seat and legs more and not ride with my hands so much. Okay, I have my marching orders. Already I have a plan, thanks to the amazing Alison. We're going to go to a 5 day dressage camp at Fraser Equestrian Center. SUe Fraser is a level 3 dressage coach and a judge and she's a great teacher. Her sister Jane (riding the Intermediare 1 test above) teaches with her and is very good as well. I'm hoping that will give me the jump start to get fitness and equitation on track. Then I'll get Doug to lunge me, maybe have some lunge lessons with Megan and sooner or later Joan will be back. Please visualize me sitting quietly and deeply, riding Rogo with my seat and legs :)
Just so I don't get too down on myself, I do feel happy that after four years with me my horse is sane, sound and happy. I've seen a few bright stars with much better riders burn out in that time.
I had the saddle fitter come to the clinic Fri. night to adjust Rogo's saddle (it's been a year since he got it and he's filled out). She also liked what she saw and told me his back / topline and neck are developing nicely. She is from the UK and is accredited as a saddle fitter and worked for many years in horse rehabilitation, so I trust her with fitting.
My final note is that I'm really getting much more comfortable with Rogo at new locations. I was desperately hoping he'd like to compete, because if he didn't I wouldn't (it's just misery for both horse and rider). He was so well behaved that it's going to go a long way to making showing fun. He loaded and unloaded quietly and smoothly, stayed well behaved during his first warm ups, etc. No lunging required, no mischief. I'm really a lucky woman.