International Intern Tabatha Taylor and North Eastern Oklahoma University traveled to March, Great Britain, for an international horsemanship camp. Photo courtesy of Tabatha Taylor.
I just finished spending a couple of amazing days in March, Great Britain, with North Eastern Oklahoma University. North Eastern Oklahoma University, or NEO (which I will hereafter call it), did an exceptional job of teaching the first camp at Horse Creek Farm. There were about 25 participants, and all were excited to jump on their horses, learn new things and have a blast.
The NEO team arrived in London a few days before the camp started, which allowed members to adjust to the time change and see the sights. It was a fun and unique way for the group to begin their summer adventure. But, by the time camp started, the team was eager to be around horses again.
Day 1 of the camp focused on the basics. After introductions, the camp kicked off with a safety awareness talk and then swiftly moved into a riding session. While riding, participants were asked to demonstrate all three gaits both directions and were separated into two groups according to their skill level and interests. After lunch, riders worked in their groups on fundamentals such as lead departures, turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches and side passing. NEO made sure that riders were competent with forehand and haunch turns before asking the horses to side pass, explaining that the turns were the foundation for the side pass.
When the horses and riders were all tuckered out, the riders came back to the classroom for an informational talk about equine nutrition, and were able to discuss the pros and cons of certain feeds. Professor Amanda Burrows led the discussion, stating that the main difference between human digestion and horse digestion is that horses can process roughages. Because of that, horses’ diets should be made up mostly of roughages, rather than grains. Another major difference between horse digestion and human digestion is that horses have no gall bladder, meaning that horses are incapable of processing high levels of fat. Because of that information, Professor Burrows recommended that the main ingredient in every horse’s diet should be roughage, with grain only supplemented in where needed.
Day 2 and 3 focus on the ranch and stock horse events because that was the main interest of the campers. But, because rider position plays such a huge role in how horses of all disciplines perform, the morning session on day two focused largely on rider equitation. Riders worked without stirrups, and even rode around with their feet tucked behind the cantle of the saddle at the walk and jog to strengthen their base of support. In the afternoon, focus shifted directly to the versatility ranch horse events, and riders learned about halter and ranch horse pleasure. Versatility ranch horse pleasure is similar to AQHA ranch horse pleasure class, except versatility ranch horse pleasure is one set pattern. For the sake of consistency, riders learned and practiced the VRH pattern in the afternoon, which involved showing all three gaits both directions. Working on the pattern allowed the participants to focus on polishing their transitions and making them timely.
On Day 3, the morning session was spent learning about and riding through trail obstacles. Riders received individual attention at each obstacle that helped them to ride cleaner and more correctly through the whole pattern. In the afternoon, NEO officiated a mock show for the competitors for them to have fun and see how much they improved during the camp. Halter, ranch horse pleasure and trail were the three events of the show, and riders received ribbons through fifth place.
The Great Britain camp was a huge success and a great deal of fun. Be sure to check back soon to read about the camps taking place in Italy and Germany.
Ta ta for now!
AQHA International Intern