July 17, 2013
Howdy from Sweden!
The Texas A&M University group just finished up its last AQHA International Horsemanship Camp of the summer in Sundsvall, Sweden. From Norway, the Texas A&M clan traveled to southern Sweden for its second horsemanship camp with nearly 30 participants. After finishing at that camp, they moved to Sundsvall, which is located in northern Sweden, to teach the third and final camp with 23 participants. Sundsvall was a great place for Texas A&M to finish up because the participants were eager to learn.
All of the campers in Sundsvall showed an interest in the all-around events, so the camp focused on events like trail, horsemanship, and hunter under saddle. Day 1 and 2 at the camp focused on the basics, with riders concentrating on gaining more control of their horses. Steering and speed control exercises were key. Because the group was so large, the 23 participants were split into two groups. Both groups had an hour and a half session in the morning and the afternoon. The groups allowed for more one-on-one time and individualized attention.
It is always fun to see the different exercises that the clinicians bring in. On the first day of the camp, one exercise stood out to me as really effective. Riders were asked to show different speeds at the walk and jog to create smoother transitions. If horses were slow to down transition, riders were instructed to pull their horse into a small circle using only the inside rein. In the small circle, riders applied pressure with their inside leg to push the horses’ hip to the outside of the circle. This exercise really caught my attention because it was a fast and easy way to get the horses’ attention softly. It didn’t take long for the horses to realize that the small circle was a lot of work and that it was easier to just do what was requested of them.
Day 3 was jam packed with activities! The morning sessions focused on trail. Riders began by working through each obstacle individually and learning new ways to approach them. After working through each obstacle with the help of The Texas A&M group, riders got the opportunity to work through an entire pattern to see what they had learned. In the afternoon sessions, some riders continued working on trail, while others moved outside to work on hunter under saddle and showmanship. Some of the campers even dabbled in all three!
After the camp, our Swedish hosts took the Texas A&Mer group to tour Stockholm before making the flight back to the United States. It was a bittersweet camp and a great one to end on. Next up: I move to the United Kingdom to meet up with North Eastern Oklahoma University for its first camp of the summer. I can’t believe the summer is already half over!