British Dressage runs a number of residential training camps all round the country. The objective for the camps is primarily to provide good quality, affordable training that is available to everyone; members and non-members alike and not only those who can afford regular training sessions with top trainers. They also provide an opportunity for selectors to view riders who wish to represent their region as part of a British Dressage team.
Intrepid Dressage Anywhere team member, Lucinda, attended Central Region's camp at The College EC, Keysoe with a friend to find out what it's all about. The weekend included three ridden sessions, one test riding session and two lectures as well as a reception on Friday and a BBQ and lecture demo on Saturday. At £205.00 for the weekend for members and £215.00 for non-members plus £50.00 for stabling, that’s very good value indeed.
We arrived at The College on Friday evening and were welcomed by Central Region’s RDO, Kim Moloney and her team. Kim gave us the lowdown on where everything was and the format for the weekend. Once we had been shown to our allocated stables the first thing on the list was to settle the horses in.
When we entered the stable block with my little black Andalusian and my friend’s rangy chestnut ex-racehorse we thought we might have made a mistake! We felt somewhat intimidated by the rows of large warm blood types. Undaunted however, we settled the boys into their homes for the weekend and left them happily eating. Next was a champagne reception and the chance to meet other members. A couple of glasses of champagne and a very good supper helped to relax us and we quickly felt at home and got chatting.
We started bright and early the next day with gymnastic exercises for the horse with eventer Nick Turner for my friend and her racehorse. A really testing set of exercises over poles which helped to balance and supple the horse. My first session was a semi-private lesson with Jenny Ward, I was keen to impress but the Spanish one wasn’t having any of it. However, by the end of the session he was softer in the rein and the leg-yield had improved considerably. Next was a fascinating lecture on physio exercises to help supple the rider with Lee Harris, followed by our test riding session. We were both delighted with the comments from James Burtwell, who judged our tests and realised that perhaps we weren’t so outclassed by those warmbloods after all.
That evening the entertainment was provided by Matt Hicks who rode two of his wonderful horses for us, a schooling session with feedback provided by Jenny Ward and then a beautiful PSG music test. Before the BBQ was served, Kim explained about the teams that many were there to try out for. For the benefit of us newbies, there are two British Dressage team events each year, the Inter-Regionals, which took place at the end of May and the Home International in October. Each region fields several teams for each event at different levels. You don’t necessarily have to be a top rider to get on a team although you do have to be a BD member. For the Inter-Regionals the primary requirement is to support your region by attending training or social events. For the Home International the teams tend to be made up of more experienced riders.
Sunday was another glorious day and we were kept busy again, the programme for the day included ridden sessions for both of us with Jo Swain and Dressage Anywhere sponsor Matt Hicks of Herriard Equestrian. Our lecture with Lee Harris was a practical demonstration of massage and stretches for suppling the horse which we all vowed we would continue at home. By the time we finished the day both riders and horses were tired but happy and we’d made many new friends. We had such a good time we're planning to go back to camp at the end of August and maybe next year, we'll try out for a team!
For more information go to the British Dressage website and select your region.