Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Area VI Adult Camp - So Cal Style

You remember how fun summer camp used to be?  Hanging out with old friends, making new ones and in general just having a blast?  Back in the beginning of August I got the chance to reclaim that simple joy at the Area VI Adult Riders Camp and I have to say that camp is even better in the grown up version. 

Though they’ve had them before in northern California, this was the first year for southern Californians to enjoy this educational and social experience close to home.  Held at beautiful Shepherd Ranch, we were given the option of either roughing it by camping on the property or staying at one of the local hotels.  Since I’m trying to squeeze as much out of my horse money as possible, Carolyn Bahr and I opted to camp out.  Surprisingly, even thought Shepherd doesn’t have the luxury of showers, we weren’t alone.  Of course, our little pup tent hardly compared to the “Teton Suite” next to us – a ginormous three room tent with pink shag carpet and blow up hot pink chairs on the screened in “veranda” – but it was (almost) enough to keep out the unexpected rain shower we got on Friday night. 

Wheee! Me & Reese. 
Considering this month’s heat wave, the weather was amazing for all three days of riding.  Each rider got the chance to work with both Bunny Sexton and Val Owen throughout the weekend, depending on the schedule.  (Click here to find out more about these wonderful riders/teachers.)  Friday was dressage day, Saturday was stadium-jumping day and Sunday we all hit the cross-country field.  Personally, the biggest lesson I learned was that both Reese and I need to up our games, pushing ourselves harder to be the best we can.  (Ironically, I’m going through some of those same issues in my non-horse life so it was inspiring to see how upping your game can pay off, at least on horseback.)  It was amazing to feel and see the difference in both horse and rider when you’re challenged in such a supportive environment. 

Of course, it wasn’t all just about being a serious student.  We had a lot of fun playing silly games on Friday night and were treated to an entertaining and yet useful talk on Saturday by a sports psychologist.  The food all weekend was simply amazing, and it was great sharing a few adult beverages with your fellow riders at the end of the day, exchanging tips, advice, and a few entertaining stories.  There was even swimming with your horse in the lake because, as our friend Darla Opava said, what’s camp without going swimming? 

It was my first foray into the Adult Rider program and I’d encourage everyone, no matter what Area you’re in, to check it out.  The driving idea behind the program is to encourage adult amateurs at all levels of riding to come out and have fun.  They also have fundraisers and encourage more adult team competition and lots of great educational opportunities for adult riders like clinics and the upcoming Worth The Trust Educational Scholarship.  Considering the discounts you get for Adult Rider activities, the $25 membership dues seems a steal at twice the price.  You can also find them on Facebook!
Big, huge thanks to Dawn Robbins, the Area VI Adult Rider coordinator, for organizing this great weekend and Suz Roehl for her role in arranging camp and taking amazing pictures from the weekend. And of course Bunny Sexton, for hosting the weekend at Shepherd Ranch.   Oh, and an extra huge thanks to our trainer, Susan Friend, who chauffeured us back and forth while the BWT is on the mend!

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