USPC Festival 2021
Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY

Sky attended Festival as a rated D1 traditional, D2 Horse Management member, so she was signed up for D-Camp. What a fantastic - and exhausting - experience. We took leased pony, Elderglen's Iriel and are forever grateful to the Martins for allowing Iriel to join us in Tennessee this season. She was the perfect pony for Sky to grow on, and they really came together as a partnership at Festival.

We arrived on Friday and settled in the pony. We then had to hang out in the trailer parking lot until the campground would let us check in. That was a bit aggravatomg because official check-in time was 2, and even though noone was in our site, they would not let us in! At lease they gave us our vehicle pass, so we could get back in to the horse park.

Surprising to all of us, the riders were instructed to be tacked up and ready to ride on Friday, with they did in groups, so that the instructors could evaluate how to split them into smaller, appropriate groups, for the ridden sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Sky's mounted instructor was Penny Lowman, who was absolutely wonderful with the kids, treating them all as individuals, challenging them, yet sensitive to their comfort and experience levels.

Saturday, the schedule was like this:


5 am - awaken, eat breakfast

5:30 - get to the barn

6 am finish with feeding, water and hay, attend briefing

7:30 - noon: 1 mounted and 1 unmounted session for each group.

Ready on time! Off to a good start:-)

Saturday morning Mounted Meeting:

Saturday morning unmounted meetings:

12 - 1: lunch

1 - 4:45: 1 mounted and 1 unmounted session for each group.


Saturday afternoon Mounted

Saturday afternoon Unmounted

4:30 - 5:30 take care of your stall, equipment and of course, the horses, first and foremost.

Complete stall cleaning and feeding for the night lunch
Around 5 or 5:30 each evening was a debrief of the day's activities and a preview of the next day.
About 6ish, we headed back to the campground to swim &/or shower, eat and my favorite, relax in bed!

Another surprise to the accompanying parents/grandparent was that we were expected to be in the barns (with appropriate footware) at all times, to help the campers. Historically, this role was filled by older pony clubbers, and parents were free to audit various sessions, demos, shop and such. This was not the case in 2021. Blame Covid, I guess. Personally, I enjoyed it, but others were spread way too thin with more than rider to help and in different groups on different schedules. Plus, some paid an extra fee to attend some of the unmounted sessions, but could not attend because they were busy helping their pony clubber.

Sky and I had time to do 1 extra thing on Saturday and that was a quick demo and hand-on of the Masterson Method, which was interesting.

However, she ended up in a big rush for her next mounted session and I believe she also had to do without lunch: a real hardship for a hard-working 12 year old!

On Sunday was a repeat of the above with 2 exceptions. At sunrise, we were treated by the Iriquois Hunt, who brought the hounds out to the KY Horse Park and cast them for a very lovely experience for those who have ever had the opportunity to see a hunt in action. The Huntsman, who led one of the unmounted sesssions on Saturday, was so popular and all the kids loved her, so she offered to bring the hunt over Sunday morning. It was a real treat for us all.

The second exception was that were were actually able to get back to the campground in time for a swim, which was very refreshing, and I was able to get enough rest for the trip home the following day, Monday.

Monday morning we broke camp at first light and headed to the barn, to avoid the traffic jam of trailers moving their horses out and the enormous fancy barns who had sent their tractor trailers ahead for the upcoming show, with their workers who were already on top of us hanging and watering ferns, landscaping the front of the barns, hanging curtains, etc. It was clear they wanted us gone, and we were happy to oblige by loading our last few items (buckets and fans), stripping the stalls, sweeping, loading up, and pulling out as quickly as possible.

We were so busy each day that, although we tried on 3 different occasions, we were not able to pick up her 2021 Festival T-Shirt. Thanks to friend Lisa S, though, Sky got one in the mail several weeks later, which made her very happy, as she wears it in very fond memory of the great weekend we spent together in Kentucky with Iriel.