STRAIGHT from the horse’s mouth

a separate Blue Belldon blog with photos, of the 2018 training camp of father/daughter from Sussex, N.B.
– introducing The Straights! 

Training Camp for Matthew & Mariah, Chief & Cosmo !

straights title page


Who could have known when Julie, The Jaded Jewel, Recycler/Re-user extraordinaire (as part of Rustic Revivals and Rural Revivals, of course!) decided to reuse a lot of the items left over from Matthieu and Carriann’s wedding at the end of July, that the M & C directional signs would prove so appropriate for the two Ms and their two C horses that would be working in and around them all this week?  Not to mention the purple and green fabric on the jump poles, the white chairs left behind by the bride’s father, the padded planks and haybales that guests had sat at, and etc. etc. -NOTHING went to waste!



Bellevue Birch.JPG

Well, the daily blog/journal/diary I’d intended this to be didn’t quite work out. Surprise, surprise– we were all just too busy last week to include one more activity (writing and uploading photos!)  But with myself (the coach) and two other photographers taking shots and some video, we should have some great visuals to offer you now and in the forthcoming weeks, and many will be self-explanatory so you needn’t wonder what they’re about… I WILL caption, but it may take longer to catch up with this, and my regular farm blog that many of you follow so loyally… and anyway, we’re still waiting for a lot of pro-photos to be edited!

Prior to the Straights arrival, Mom and I were both busy in our respective kitchens, not just doing regular garden prep for winter storage, but making extras for the camp.  On top of that, I had to milk twice a day (with Richard – Cammie is still so high-maintenance we BOTH need to be there to keep her calm and distracted!) and try to salt in some equine history and theory points whilst baking, cooking and freezing/canning! The good news is that for the first time in 3 summers, and with ALL the many many overnight guests we’ve had here at Blue Belldon, my geranium FINALLY decided to bloom in time to coincide with visitors!  A real first!  (Note Jane Wright’s gorgeous recycled glass plate in the window again.  See previous Artist in the Attic posting on my regular farm blog at this posting: )

It was to the above-named Wrights – Jane and Peter of Hudson Quebec, that dear Mom took herself for a week of visiting and touring so that the Straights could enjoy the privacy of her own upstairs suite, and we thank her for this as it helped us all.  Richard and I took many of the pieces from British survival guest’s Remy’s wood-camp (poplar poles he cut by hand) and a lot of leftovers from wedding July 28th and used them for the stadium jumping course and the gymnastic line of bounces and one-strides.

And I littered Mom’s upstairs with books, magazines and photos I hoped would inspire the ‘campers’ whilst preparing the most interesting of my old VHS eventing tapes and some good medical theory. But we all, even Richard, preferred just playing “Equestions” for reminders of those theoretical knowledges. Old students from as far back as 30 years ago at Goldcreek will remember my original Equestions, when the board was as large as a massive pop-idol poster in a teenager’s bedroom.


Upon arrival, the horses were introduced (they were supposed to be kept nose-separated by an aisle separating their two run-ins which Richard meticulously built, but that was not to confound them for long! Luckily, we are all up on our shots/vaccinations, etc.!) the tack was unloaded into the tack-room tent and the rig was parked by our garden gate for the remainder of the week. Thanks to Zeb for getting all the cords of wood out of the parking lot in time!


The first few days of lessons we did basic dressage maneuvers in mornings, and in the afternoons, some gym-lines with trot-poles and bounces, some hill and bank (up-down balancing) work and a few stadium jumps with the left-over bales, chairs, planks and fabric from the wedding… Reduce, Recycle, Reuse…Reduce, Recycle, Reuse… click on any of these photos to enlarge.  Mariah and I had to wear fly nets over our hats/helmets as the blackflies were in full swarms this past week, but at least the humidity wasn’t as bad as it’s been, and some mornings were actually cool and pleasant!

Love this photo of Cosmo and Mariah going up the bank in The Devil’s Dyke complex. (This bank is known as the Dew Drop Down on this year’s schooling course map, heading the other direction).marbank2

One of Mariah’s favourite things was to canter/gallop up our fairly steep hills, from the lowest corner (East) of the property right up past the Bellevue Birch where the wedding ceremony took place and up on to our lawn.  Great for confidence-building on an event horse, as well as necessary conditioning for both horse and rider (uphill trot work is even better!)

These photos were all taken from some of the video footage I took in those first few days, for educational purposes for the Straights to view in evening theories – but by Thursday morning we had professional photographer Tiffany Christensen over to take some top-notch shots.  Tiffany also was the photographer for Carriann and Matthieu’s wedding, so all of these will appear at various blogs and FB postings as she continues to edit them all…

matt, bellevue birchmariah, bellevue birch

Thursday evening, as part of the Straight from the Horse’s Mouth theory, both Matthew and Mariah got to speak with Kim Walnes (the reason we are all doing this, to see a film made about her extraordinary life, not just as an eventer and stunt-rider, but as a healer and motivator! google Mother Goose Project, or read my interview with Eventing Nation if you’re unsure about this passion of mine at the moment: )  They both enjoyed Kim’s tips and anecdotes and tried to relate it to their own determination and love for this discipline.

The cross-country course has been 65% set up for some weeks prior, with the plans to only school over that and on Saturday, their mock horse-trials/mini-event they would be jumping over modified versions their horses had never seen before as well as 35% being brand new jumps!

I always enjoyed designing courses, and giving the jumps punny or alliterative names:

cross-country jump namescross map


Two angles of the Devil’s Dyke/Dew Drop Down which was their first obstacle on course.

The lovely Bellevue Birch oxer (made for an ‘X’ for Mariah and Cosmo). Site of the wedding ceremony just 3 weeks prior.



wedding still



Blue Belldon Barrels – a one stride “in-&-out” of 24 ft. – and we added a liverpool for Chief!
The Ski Scamper – a non-jumping effort but a very steep bank up and immediately down, recognizing the importance of keeping these knolls/hills/banks in training program.

The steep knoll’s other side also offered the Hobbit Hole as a background for our Tolkien-loving couple’s special nuptials…

as a teaser of the soon-to-appear wedding photos on the regular farm-blog, here’s the other side of The Ski Scamper obstacle above:

hobbit hole, tiff's pic


Rich’s Road
Teddy Bear’s Picnic



First Ditch Effort


The Skinny Scarecrow, right near the garden. Another non-jumping effort, but set as a spook right on a winding part of the main track…

no time to tire

No Time To Tire – I love the irony as it’s right by our hammock!


The next fences were in a ‘related distance’ – a 60 ft. line which can be done in 5 strides, normally, 6 uphill, and 4 downhill or with a long-strided horse.  These were modified, as below, for the Saturday event.  In the second photo, you see No Time To Tire in the distance!



Hedge Yer Bets, restuffed and prettified from the schooling week. 1st of the 60ft line.
Westward Wagons – the most westward part of the course, the 2nd of the 60ft. line

the gnome home

The Gnome Home – we added some figures like an owl and elf, just to ‘spook’ it up a bit…



Rasmussen’s Revenge – the very steep bank going in to, over, and up out of our Rasmussen’s Brook – the only trouble area for Chief on the whole course. Luckily it wasn’t flagged as an obstacle, and in ‘real life’ would have only constituted time penalties… Smitty is present to show how far down it is…

Bale Out – the little ‘water splash’. Mariah opted for the bales to the left, Matthew leapt the whole canoe.
Last fence and gallop home to the finish line… “Log Out”. Yes, those are blackflies all over my lens!


Here’s a few more photos of the Straights’ day of fun Saturday, but for the really quality photos from Tiffany Christensen and Kim Tompkins, you’ll have to wait for further editing. I’ll let everyone know when they are available.  Well done, Matthew and Mariah, Chief and Cosmo, and thanks to Richard, Joy, Jane, Peter,Zeb, Pierrette and all our spectators Saturday incl. the visit from Megan Bach – Miss New Denmark/Victoria County.

click on any of the following to blow ’em up!



… we wait for Part Two, when a lot of the professional photographers’ works (still being edited) are going to be available for posting, albeit with their watermarks across them until purchasing has taken place!