MGAA U17 Team Training Camp – 2015

August 11, 2015

This past weekend we had a training camp to prepare for the trip to Wales. We all met up at the Royer’s home for two days of training and team bonding.

I left Friday at lunch time, picking Coltin and Bella up on the way.  They certainly made the drive a lot of fun.  We arrived in the evening in time to met up with the rest of the team and join in an amazing taco dinner put on by Cherie.

Now before I get into all the riding and team time, let me gush a bit about the Royer’s and company.  Cherie and Howard are amazing hosts.  They let us have full run of their awesome older (I call it antique) family home and made us feel like we were part of the family.  They were gracious enough to let me bring Daisy, who also felt right at home and absolutely loved every moment of the weekend.  We got to play with Alicia’s puppy Cricket, and who doesn’t love a little puppy time?

We woke each both morning to a massive home cooked breakfast, and let me just say, yum.  We rode their ponies and used their games equipment and just had an amazing time feeling part of the family.  Thank you so much for hosting us.  It was perfect!

OK so, the riding.  The kids were lucky enough to be lent a good pool of challenging and differing ponies.  Tyler lent his massive pony Halo, Alicia her little rock pony Sky, Krista lent her sweet Mud Pie and her challenging Cuddi and Heather lent us her wild Breeze.  All pony owners were at the arena during the three riding sessions to help set equipment and give any riding advice needed for their varying mounts.  MGAA people are such amazing people.

The first riding session we focused mainly on riding the different ponies.  Each rider spent a few races on each pony, giving me a chance to see how they fit the different types.  I learned a lot about each of them in this session and was also impressed that each rider, hopped from pony to pony and race to race with no complaints.

The second session we settled more onto specific ponies with limited switching, and worked on some skills.  We focused on using the voice to supplement the legs, hands, seat and body.  “Whoa”, “Stand”, etc were encouraged and improved on throughout the session.  I was impressed with everyone’s end turns and vaulting skills.  Each rider’s specific fit on the team became more apparent as well.  Who should fit as an anchor, or a starter?  Who is the steady rider that can be counted on? Who needs a little encouragement, or a little leveling, and who might need which reminder and when?

We also talked about a few simple skills, like handing off a plastic flag, S turns and hard S turns, checks and hard checks, setting up barrel turns with different types of ponies, and if each rider is a picker or a scooper in litter.  We talked about stacking flags in flag fliers and the difference in mug size.  We worked on end turn vaults and drilled drilled drilled!

Sunday morning we had our final session of riding.  We redid a few races and took a few runs through some we had not gotten to the day before.  We threw in a few more pony swaps and I think we ended on a good note.  Everyone looked fantastic.

I have a pretty good feel for which rider will fit what type of pony best, and which rider needs what out of me as trainer.  I can’t wait to work with them on the ponies that are lent to us.  They all took coaching very well, and I think this is going to be a big growing and learning experience for all of them.  Having watched them over the years as they have grown up and advanced in their skill, I am excited to see how much they advance over this trip.  A couple of them are really at that special point where they are about to really make a big step up in skill and ability, and I am excited to be a part of that.  Nothing helps a rider really make a big leap in their game like going international on a borrowed pony.

The non riding time was also a great chance to get to know this team better, for me and for them.  Three of them are non stop talkers and have so much enthusiasm and energy bubbling out of them that I cannot imagine if there were more of them in the group.  One is very quiet and reserved, which is a relief with the other three. She is the one you know you can count on in all situations.  I sort of see her as the quiet flower with the three busy bees flying haphazardly around her.  Coltin, being a little bit older, the only boy, and having some international experience under his belt, I think will make a nice team leader.  He is a strong rider and very level headed for his age.

We spent some time swimming in the pool during the day, and it was nice to see the team interacting in a fun non-horse setting.  I also really enjoyed the water.  We went for ice cream, had pizza, and an excellent cook out Saturday evening.  All of these opportunities were excellent for the team to interact and for me and Alicia to see how they work together.  Saturday night, after the cookout the team piled into the hot tub and we talked about packing, our itinerary, what the trip will be like, and they got to ask lots of excellent questions.

Tomorrow is the big day.  Wish us luck!






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