O’Connor Event Camp Day 3: Everyone Riding on the Same Big Hill

Me and Sarah. Photo by Sandy Cole. Me and Sarah. Photo by Sandy Cole.

A few minutes ago, here on the 3rd day of O’Connor Event Camp, I walked into the barn with my hair shaken out of its ponytail.

“Did you just wash you hair in a bucket?” one of my fellow campers asked.

“No,” I said.

The next camper I met grinned at me. “Did you go swimming again?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

It. Is. Just. Sweat.

Lots of sweat.

We did The Man From Snowy River today, which means we learned how to properly gallop downhill like mad fiends. It’s about balance and guts and learning how to stay in control by not being wholly in control. It’s also the point in the camp week where campers start laughing from glee.

We cheer for each other now. We love watching “D” get brave and “M” drop her hands and “K” hail a cab.

Over and over, in the past several years, I’ve heard people say that they can’t come to this camp yet because they don’t have the right horse, or their horse doesn’t know enough yet, or they don’t know enough yet, and I always try to explain how wrong they are. This is a place for everyone to learn. Most of us don’t have our stuff together, but what we want is to learn to be safe, confident, happy eventers, working in partnership with our horses.

Once, when I was first married, I took a lesson at a barn near my work. Midway through the instructor said, “Really, I can’t help you unless you buy a horse of you own.” That was awesome. If I could have afforded a horse of my own, I wouldn’t have tried a lesson at his crummy barn.

Here, no one tells you your horse is unsuitable. They teach you how to make your horse better. They teach you a way of communicating with your horse, so that you and your horse can work together (with you in charge).

Sarah loves camp. I knew she would. She loved our bending-line show jumping exercise this morning, and she loved the Man From Snowy River. I did too.

Except, of course, for the sweat.

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