Camp Reviews

BVRC Residential Camp at Stockland Lovell, Somerset


You know you’ve had a good camp when the worst thing to happen was that someone dropped their toothpaste down the loo!!  2019’s camp didn’t disappoint on the fun and learning front and we had a fantastic time again.  We were ably taught by Jo Roberts and Natalie Passmore and the facilities at Stockland Lovell were super once more.  At the end of camp, we asked attendees three questions – what have you learnt, what was your best highlight and what was the best fun bit?   So, if you’re thinking about coming to camp in 2020, have a read of their comments (some anonymous, some not).  

What have you learnt?
I can ride in control with longer reins – Lauren
Fred goes much better in a stronger bit
Keeping hands low
I am a competent rider, even if I have had to sell Oki
That hippos have webbed feet!
Bridging the reins and moving the withers showing jumping and not over folding = more balanced turns and better jumping
‘Plugging in’
Riding with longer reins makes you more secure
Long reins!! – Nikki
That a true Haflinger doesn’t have white legs
Keep your horse using its left brain (logic) and hopefully there will be no time for right brain (fight or flight) to kick in!
That my horse has been training me for years!
My horse is sensitive (and also a bit naughty!)
To lean back, lengthen the reins and keep hands down – Grace
My position, from Jo and hands from Natalie – Charles
Do not fold! And if you know the answer to a quiz question, don’t shout it out! – Ella
What was your best highlight?
Landing on my feet twice on XC – Lauren
Getting round a SJ course without knocking any poles down and keeping my hands down – Fiona
Carly trying for me in the flatwork – massive progress in one lesson
Watching Jem and Fiona having a great time (from the safety of the ground!)
Learning how wonderful my new horse is and how she tried for me all week – I am thrilled. And Susie’s beaming smile after XC with Dubai.  And how Fiona’s confidence built in the week and that my NS bit was such a success for her! – Lynn
Time to bond with my horse
XC with Dubai – totally awesome and Natalie saying ‘wow’ several times!  Such a change from last year
Jumping a (small) course in control
Meeting some wonderful people and making new friends – Nikki
Walking calmly and confidently over poles – small victories!
My horse realising that going sideways need not be stressful!
A little bit of courage makes a big difference. 
Realising that everyone is facing their own challenges and the truly supportive nature of camp feels like a huge group hug.  Whatever level you are working at, we all seemed to make progress – fantastic!
Jumping through the water and out over the wall! – Grace
Progress made with Jasper – Charles
Getting my mojo back across country.  Jo is a legend!
What was the best fun bit?
Time with friends and ponies and no cooking!
The quiz and G&T’s – Lauren
The quiz
The Quiz and just laughing with everyone
Laughing at Lauren’s blond moments!
Linda getting the downstairs girls cups of tea very early in the morning!
Three days of friends, horses and nothing else to do but eat fab meals!
Whizzing round the XC plus many laughs with fun people, thank you – Nikki
Not coming last in the quiz this year!!
Loved the gridwork, really helped build my confidence jumping and made my horse smile
Some of the imaginative quiz answers – Grace
Cross Country on Thursday morning – Charles
Laughs during the quiz with new friends.  Fab!
The camaraderie, friendship and happiness of the campers


A-MA-ZING – as Craig Revel Horwood would say (sorry if you’re not a Strictly fan).  That just about sums up this year’s camp!  Yet again we enjoyed the facilities at Stockland Lovell, boosted this time by new ‘log cabin’ accommodation replacing the chilly portacabins and new toilets (it’s the little things!).  22 of us camped and all but one member came last year too so it was great to renew friendships, both human and equine.  Our new member, Pippa Knight fitted in just fine.  Everyone got on and the atmosphere was great.  Lindsay had booked Jo Roberts and Natalie Passmore as our instructors.  Jo taught us last year and we had many requests to have her again as she has an easy way and is so patient.  We have used Natalie a bit in the past but this year she took charge in the Flatwork arena mainly and really got the measure of the combinations in front of her – she went down a storm! As well as flatwork, grid, show jumping and XC lessons during the day, Celia organised some silly games for us one night and I did a quiz on the last night.  It’s such a laugh when everyone joins in.  Fortunately this time, we didn’t have too many spills and I think the campers will agree that there were lots of thrills.  You know someone has had fun on the XC course when they go back out and ‘measure’ the fences they jumped.  Not riding, I had a great time dashing here there and everywhere taking photographs.  If you’re not sure about camp, do consider it as it’s a fantastic opportunity to have quality time with your horse and the social side isn’t bad either!   A huge thank you to Lindsay for organising the instruction again and to Susie for being there to support me.  Next year’s camp is booked – dates to be confirmed.  We were very sad to have to say goodbye to Lauren who had to leave after the first day due to a family bereavement.  We missed her and we hope her family is managing to cope.       Sandra Groves


My First Year at Camp by Jo Williamson

WOW what a place Stockland Lovell is, were my first impressions!
We arrived to find a light and airy large American style barn for the horses, who settled into their new environment very quickly helped by a thick bed and unlimited hay.  We then went off to explore what was to be our home for the next 4 days.  We also found 2 large outdoor schools, one already made up with a SJ course and the other clear ready for our flatwork lessons.
Up and over the hill you could see 2 cross country schooling fields and parts of a XC course sweeping round and the views were just amazing, you could see right out to the coast on one side and the Quantocks on the other.
However there was no time to loiter as we were booked to have our first lesson which was grid work with Nic our instructor. 
There were 22 members at camp this year I was told and 25 horses so a really good attendance.  Everyone arrived throughout the afternoon and we all met up for the first time together early evening prior to supper which gave us all the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our horses/ponies.
The camp was organised well, there was an easy to follow programme of events which outlined where you were to be and when, the group you were with and the instructor, so there was no confusion! 
The camp was 4 days and 3 nights with 6 opportunities to have instruction in dressage, SJ and XC however if you didn’t want to take advantage of the all instruction on offer there were 4 well signposted hacks across wonderful farmland that you could do instead.
Although this is the 2nd year I have been a member of BVRC I had not attended many events. The camp gave me a great opportunity to ready myself and Splat for the new competition year but also gave me an opportunity to meet a new group of like minded people sharing some great instruction, hearty food and a few glasses of wine!
Where do I sign up for next year???


Numbers for camp were down this year but seventeen people with eighteen horses made the journey to Stockland Lovell.  We had a few newcomers – namely Fiona Scott with her new horse Luna, Georgie Kemp, Claire Arnold (who used to ride my horse Timmy) and Sue Birch (Ella Birch’s Mum who travelled down from Herefordshire).   I guess we could say that we had 17 ½ people as Georgie was pregnant!  Sue is a member of her local riding club but has mainly hunted with her horse.
This year our flatwork instructor was Jo Roberts and I think everyone now knows the ‘mile an hour’ game – you think of walk as 20 miles and hour, trot 30 miles and hour and canter 40 miles an hour.  This enables you to think more about the speed and rhythm of your pace and you can vary it up or down by thinking about a 25 mile an hour trot for example.  Jo’s teaching was excellent and clearly explained.  She was a hit!!   As usual Nic Norman took our show jumping and gridwork sessions and Diana Burgess came for a day to do cross country.  
Although we had a few unscheduled dismounts no one had any major mishaps thankfully.  The food was up to its usual high standards and there was plenty of it.  There were lots of giggles on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings when we played games and had our annual quiz – which included a treasure hunt trying to find a buttercup in the dark!  Thanks to Celia Scott and Gill Young for being games and quiz masters.
It was all over far too quickly and we were packing up to come home but again it was smiles all round from happy campers, some of whom had gained in confidence from the experience.  And it was lovely to hear from Ella a week or so later to say her Mum had phoned in excitement from a show saying she’d just come second in a show jumping class.  She would have won it but she didn’t look at the jump off course because she didn’t think she’d go clear!  It seems camp may have given her the push she needed to go out to a show – her first for years. 
Thank you to Lindsay Hills for sorting and booking the instruction for us.  We’ve booked again for next year.     Sandra Groves 


There’s the saying ’time flies when you’re having fun’.  Well this certainly applies to Camp.  It’s a bit like looking forward to your summer holiday for months, for it then to fly by in a flash.  This year was no exception!  Twenty three happy campers and twenty six horses arrived at Stockland Lovell on the Monday afternoon. 
First instruction session done and dusted, we met up in the stables before supper and introduced ourselves and our horses to each other, as well as handing out the instruction plans, which always causes a lot of chatter and exclamations!  Having been told that there were new caterers at Stockland Lovell I was relieved that the food was up to the usual high standard – phew!  I always say that we only go for the food!
Our instructors this year were Ian Wright for flatwork and cross country,  Nic Norman for Gridwork and Show Jumping and Diana Burgess came down again to do Cross Country for a day.  We haven’t used Ian before but he proved to be a jolly character, always caring to ensure we took something away from each lesson.  He was keen on using lots of analogies in his teaching like thinking of your horse as an articulated lorry – the head is the cab and the body is the trailer.  So when you halt you have to control the trailer with your legs otherwise you won’t park/halt straight.  And you need to sit back in the saddle and tuck your bottom under, so that if you fart it comes out the front!!  He was also keen on counting the rhythm of paces, helping you tell if you’re going too fast or too slow.   Nic was again brilliant in the jumping arena, setting us up helpful progressive grids to get us going and mini show jumping courses to join it all together.  She’s so enthusiastic you can actually see her trying to jump each jump with you.  Everyone loves her way of teaching.   There were lots of happy riders coming in off the cross country from Diana’s sessions.  One horse made an early trip back to the stables at a gallop as Jo Phillips and her mount parted company after it was frightened by the ‘explosion’ of her air bag canister going off after she’d been jumped so far out of the saddle.   He was hotly pursued by Hannah Sykes on Bella as she rounded him up and took him back out onto the course.  We’re grateful to Diana for coming down and providing some continuity to the teaching at home. 
After supper on Tuesday some of us met up in the lounge for games organised by Celia Scott.  We played ‘Horse’ (a horsey version of a beetle drive) and bingo.  Rachel Fraser thought this was a rehearsal for us for our later years in the care home!
The facilities at Stockland Lovell really are great and there is always a lovely relaxed atmosphere.  One of my favourite times of day is first thing in the morning when everyone is feeding and mucking out their horses before breakfast.  It’s a hive of activity and great to be greeted by your horse asking where his breakfast is (mind you knowing Timmy he’ll be asking anyone that passes where his breakfast is!). 
We were pleased to welcome Sam Shepherd on Wednesday as he came down for the day to ride his horse Barney.  Sam’s wife Sally was already at camp along with Sam’s sister Claire – all the way from Yorkshire! Claire thinks Bourne Valley ‘ROCKS’ and is going to become a member. Gill Young’s quiz on Wednesday evening was again great with just the right level of questions and a couple of ‘silly’ rounds including a treasure hunt and writing a limerick.  There were lots of giggles (alcohol induced in most cases) and it was great fun. 
Thursday came round all too quickly and we were packing up ready to leave after lunch.  Judging by the tired smiles and comments I think a good time was had by all.  I certainly enjoyed it – again!   I must say thank you to Katie Mortimore and Lindsay Hills for their work behind the scenes, processing the applications and tackling the instruction sessions and booking the instructors.  
We’ve booked for next year so start saving……..!   Sandra Groves


Camp proved as popular as ever this year. It had a very different complexion, though – we had rain. We had been forewarned of problems with arenas at SL just as we were about to depart. Our journey was peppered with reports of floods in the vicinity. Many fields were underwater but the roads were clear.
On arrival, we saw that part of the dressage and show jumping arenas were partitioned off. They are so large that it still gave reasonable working areas – not very ‘all weather’ though. More torrential rain overnight didn’t improve matters, but at least we didn’t get wet when we were riding. Ground conditions on the cross country were trying and became worse as it dried, becoming sticky and holding. This was a big change from previous years when we found the ground hard, even in early April, such are the vagaries of our weather. The week continued with heavy downpours, but luckily at night. Riding, we stayed dry until the final morning, but excessively wet ground resulted in the cross country being axed.
A visit from Isabel, Spillers feeds expert, with her weighing machine, revealed some interesting results and  she gave some well heeded advice. It was only the horses that were subjected to the scales. Just as well as we were taking full advantage of the excellent home cooked food. We consoled ourselves with the idea we were burning off the excesses with our daily riding. We wish!
Thanks to Gill for exercising our brains too with another challenging but hilarious quiz.
The week ended all too soon, but already we are planning our return in 2013.   LKH


To Somerset, and Beyond!

If you’ve never been to Stockland Lovell EC you really should. A huge all-weather surface, a full set of show-jumps, every cross country jump you could ever think of (except for a coffin curiously enough) and all set in a valley beneath the Quantock Hills just outside Bridgwater. It is a truly stunning location, and for the best part of four days at the beginning of April, the BVRC moved in and took over.
This was my first year at Camp and I can say without hesitation that I will be booking my place for next year if I can somehow steal my mum’s horse again. It’s a whole heap of fun to put twenty odd people and horses in a strange place together and expect them to behave… Especially when you add in a glass or two at dinner and then try and put rugs on at evening stables…
There were a few notable fallings off and several horses attempted to make a bid for freedom across the cross country course back to the yard. The instruction as expected was top class and all abilities catered for; most people were leaving sessions with big grins on their faces which I think is a great indication of a good lesson! We were blessed with blazing sunshine for three days and suffice to say there were more than a few rosy cheeks when we all got caught out. I mean, who thinks to bring sun cream to camp? In early April?!
A highlight was the quiz on the last night, kindly hosted by Celia Scott and Rebecca Olpin. We were treated to a special guest in the form of a dashing colonel and it was hilarious to suddenly see the rosé bottles vanish, orange juice appear and attendees trying to act sober- yeah, right! I have heard rumours that Google and Wikipedia contributed to the winning team’s high score, but my lips are sealed…
I left camp with a whole host of new acquaintances, no bruises (thank goodness) and a big shot of confidence to get out competing again. I cannot recommend it highly enough; whether you are looking to educate a young horse, push yourself a little further or just experience new things it is the perfect place to have a go. Many thanks to Lindsay and Sandra for all their hard work in organising this logistical nightmare and hope to see you there next year!   JS


CAMP 2010 – the best yet …..

Firstly a huge THANK YOU to Lindsay and Sandra and everyone else involved in making camp so successful. It was my third camp and yet again it was relaxed, enjoyable and, apart from when I had to jump a couple of what I thought were very large fences, it was completely stress free as well!
Claire and I loaded Summer and Aaron into the lorry and made our way down to camp, arriving at lunchtime on the Monday.
Monday afternoon consisted of unloading and making the horses comfortable and then a gridwork lesson.  I have to say Aaron took me completely by surprise and was very calm for her and only bounced a stride once in the whole lesson – although I think that was enough for Nicola, our instructor.
Tuesday and Wednesday I spent doing cross country.  Tuesday was with Diana Burgess, who once she had slowed me down into a decent rhythm had us jumping steps, banks, ditches and skinnies as well as various fences at angles in the two training fields.
Wednesday was XC with Natalie who also had us jumping walls, in and out of water and over some considerably bigger XC fences than I thought I would ever do!
Thursday finished with some show jumping, with Nicola again, who hadn’t lost any of her enthusiasm from the start of the week, which is amazing when you consider the number of people she taught through the 4 days.
Thursday afternoon found us taking two tired but content horses back up the A303 to home.  My only regret is that camp isn’t longer (subtle hint to Lindsay and Sandra!).
I had been apprehensive about camp, this year, as Aaron had only been back in work 6 weeks, after 4 months off with injury, but it was the best yet.  What is probably the biggest achievement out of the week is instead of putting BD into my computer search engine I came home and started looking at BE!  Just goes to prove you are never too old.
For any of you that have never been before, Stockland Lovell is one of the nicest places to stay with your horse.  The staff are very friendly, the facilities are first class and the hacking is wonderful.  The hay and straw supplied are superb – I’m sure I’m not the only one there who was trying to work out if I could buy & fit a bale or two in the lorry to take home.  The horses all seem very settled and there is loads of nice grass for them to be grazed in hand.  The instructors are adept at taking into consideration everybody’s needs or fears and no one is made to feel inadequate in anyway.  The camp itself is not competitive but be forewarned – evening entertainment can definitely bring out the most competitive in all of us – it’s quite amazing the change that came over some of us when given a piece of paper, pencil and some dice!!!
Thank you again to everyone who made the four days so good and I look forward to seeing you there next year.    Julia Mauchline


C A M P   C O N F I D E N C E

Diana Ross

Last year you received your News Letter and possibly registered there would be a Residential Camp in April 2009, thought about it for a while and then discarded the idea for whatever reason.  Sadly, if the reason was financial or that either you or your trusty stead wouldn’t be fit enough, these few words won’t help.  However, anyone who declined to sign up as the notion of Camp was just too scary and felt insufficiently confident to take the plunge, please get in touch with any of the ‘first timers’ who did go, or indeed those of us who have been before but still get butterflies.  We’re all here after the event to tell you it’s a brilliant experience, very good value and enormous fun.
Monday morning the A303 west was clear, fine weather, with the first sessions underway at 1pm the last of us untacking at 5.30 and already gasps of “our grid session was fantastic”, “my horse was brilliant”, in my case I was told “we found your horse wandering around”.  Early evening we all met in the barn to introduce ourselves together with our horses and to meet a great many newcomers who made the journey into Somerset. 
In the 74 hours I spent at Stockton Lovell this year I witnessed huge smiles, lots of laughter and many many tales of achievement.  One or two shed tears of frustration and one casualty needed hospital treatment (that I know of); at the end she left incapacitated but happily, still smiling.  Frustration, bumps and bruises are all part of daily life with our horses.  However, the enormous sense of overcoming a particular anxiety, the pleasure of getting something ‘right’, negotiating a grid, jumping 2’ for the first time or the dizzy heights of 3’ 9” (yes, a few brave people did on the XC course, I’m told), hacking in lovely surroundings with the Bristol Channel to the north, the Quantocks to the south with nothing to stop the wind between, certainly aren’t everyday events.  Most of us came away having achieved more than we expected and a huge delight in spending time with our horse(s).  Whatever skill you have as a rider, whatever your horse’s shape, size, age (not baby horses, of course) the one thing you are most likely to take away from Camp is an increased confidence in the bond and partnership between you both, whether it be in your ridden work or on the ground.
Grazing my contented horse in hand in the field adjacent to the arenas, an abiding memory will be Nicola’s (show jumping instructor) highly animated enthusiasm as she rode each and every fence from the ground, not to mention her tireless reconstruction of an especially cumbersome filler.  No need for video confirmation that I lost balance in the corner following my ill planned attempt at medium trot, Helen’s (flatwork instructor) demonstration on the ground left me in no doubt.    Eight instructors undertook fifty four and half hours of instruction on our behalf, all were similarly enthusiastic, if not always with quite such explicit body language.
The photographer’s web site can show you more than I can tell you here (  You can see Lindsay and Sandra’s hopefully temporary, approach to the XC course, fortunately they were blessed with good going.  As a ‘new comer’, Alison’s smile says it all.  Watch out team members Brenda’s jumping again, and above all else you can see the delicious Max!  In fact, there was a lot of additional videoing going on, maybe some of it could be put on a CD and sent ‘round robin’ style so we can all, at some time later in the year, relive Camp?  CD, list of campers addresses, watch and pass it on to the next in line, just an idea but realise its work for someone to get it started and may take quite sometime to get down the alphabet to R.
In addition you could have learned that a giraffe has a blue tongue, not to mention which mammal flies but doesn’t have wings.  My advice to you is not to play word games with team “Two Women and A Couple” (Rob, being one half of the Couple, obviously wasn’t intimidated by the all female opposition).  Susie must have been up half the night checking their answers to the anagram section of the quiz.  Thanks to Quiz Master Gill and Scorer Susie.
Thursday came all too soon and those of us on shavings were shovelling to clear our stables, one more session on the XC or in the arenas, more shovelling shavings, packing tack back into lorries and trailers.  Lunch and goodbyes, a final burst of shovelling bally shavings (next year he’ll be on straw) and then it was the A303 east and home, happily to our own beds/stables/fields with much to reflect upon.
Our profuse thanks go to Lindsay and Sandra who, as efficiently as ever, masterminded Camp with skill and good humour.   I hope I am right in thinking there will be another next year.  If you decided against going this year because you didn’t think you were quite brave enough and thus not for you, please think again, IT IS, especially if you like chocolate cake, full cooked breakfast, hot showers, early nights, late nights ……………


CARRY ON HORSE-CAMPING  (Stockland Lovell)

(by Mickey owned by Rachel Holland)
Gosh, she’s walking down the field with the head collar stuck up her jumper again thinking I don’t know what she’s up to, but she is here earlier than normal so something’s up.  I had my new shoes and teeth done last week and I’ve been jabbed for the year.  She looks like she hasn’t slept for a week either- WE MUST BE OFF TO CAMP.
Two and half hours later we stop.  I guess this is Camp.  What is she doing now?  Where is she going?  I’m just a horse looking for an easy life and she’s taking me off somewhere now ….  oooh, look at this!  I quite like these American barn things.  I hope I’ve got a big stable and what’s the hay going to be like here? Don’t want any of that cheap stuff.  Did she really need to bring all that stuff?  But hey, she’s doing a good job making my bed.  What a turn up – she’s showing signs of being stable proud.  Bet that won’t last. 
First lesson already: all tacked up and ready to go. Oh no she’s chatting again. Does she ever stop chatting?  There’s a few others here now.  Hmm, bit small some of them.  Oh, that one looks nice.  Let’s get going then.  Ever decreasing circles; where’s Richard Briers, I want to know.  Now, when do we get onto some jumping I’d like to know.  …. Must have done alright – got a polo mint from the instructor.  We like her – we all got one! 
Goodness, still more arriving.  It’s a popular thing this camping now, very fashionable.  Lots to watch though and I’ve got a good vantage point from this stable.  Oo-er look at that – what a posh rug.  Perhaps I’ll add that to my Christmas list.  What time’s tea round here?  Oh, but the grass is good – very fish and chips style grazing. 
I hope she doesn’t eat too much tonight – lasagne sounded a bit too good for camping, and she’s not the best after a couple of drinks either. All that talk about food, I’m feeling a bit peckish now.  I’ll just have a little dip into my feed bucket.  Uh oh here she comes, checking up on me.  I’ve been caught out helping myself to a bit more tea – she is a bit tight on portion control here considering all the work we’re doing out there.
Everyone slept well in the American barn, and general agreement that the hay and haylage is superb.  Actually, we have to admit these facilities and the organisation is rather fab, though why can’t the mums use their own facilities rather than grabbing a quick wee in OUR stable!
Oh my …. What time is this?  And WHAT does she look like?  I’ve never seen her at the stable in a dressing gown OR as early as this.  Either she’s worried or excited.  Bit early to start the day though.  Feels like we’re in a different time zone – I usually see her about 4 pm.  But here we go.  First lesson of the day is gridwork.  Fantastic fun.- “bounce, bounce, stride, stride, spread”.  I like this and managed a few handbrake turns at the corner.  Lead horse or what! 
Then it’s on to cross country.  What a collection we are – the biggest, the smallest, the eldest and the coloured.  I suppose we have to start with tiny jumps for the smaller ones.  Trip hazards or what!  No point making an effort for those.  And we had a lady with a funny accent telling my mum I needed brakes.  I like going fast!  Splashing through the water jump was great fun and then into the play field.  Ooh life is good when there’s jumping to be done.  If only my mum had more nerve we could go for the big ones does she not realise I am over 17 hands and can go over the big ones.
Time for cake and tea and abit of grazing for me.  Roast pork will finish her off tonight – everyone’s early to bed.   Joy still sharpening her teeth on the metal bars – she must’ve been inside for sometime! 
Well at least there’s no repeat of yesterday.  She doesn’t appear til 7.  We all had a lovely rest and so did the mums in their single beds in the portacabins.  Good showers though and the heater on full.  Good start.
Hacking round the cross country course to begin the day  – seems a bit of a waste just looking at those jumps and being nannied around by a four year old foreign horse, Manny! Still he needs the schooling so that’s good.  Time to enjoy the view – could even see Minehead.  More good grazing and time to watch people do some other stuff.
Schooling and flat work scheduled for the afternoon.  Despite my mum’s best efforts, my pirouette into canter didn’t work.  Our advanced level dressage needs a bit of working on but Clarity did very well showing everyone how it should be done.  Still, got time for some more grazing before tea.
What a night!  Those mums were SO competitive for Quiz night.  Interestingly their best section seemed to be the food and drink, though the horse picture section needed more homework.  And as for general knowledge …  Well done to Sandra, Lindsay and their team for winning – fixed or what?
Last day and one last ride.  Everyone’s shattered here.  Celia managed a spectacular cartwheel fall – some people will do anything for dramatic exit!   Lots to pack up and time to head home, saying goodbye to friends hoping to see them soon at the next BVRC event!
My mum reckons the highlights were the organisation, the lessons, instruction, food and accommodation.  Plus the lack of mobile phone signal was an added bonus.  All she wanted by the end was a long soak in the bath. I can not wait till she puts all that information into practice and we go to the next competition together.
Camp was a real team building exercise – AND WHAT FUN!


Twenty five intrepid adventurers made the 2 hour+ journey to take up residence at Stockland Lovell for four days & three nights. For many it was their first experience of camp. None were disappointed. The all weather surfaces for dressage, gridwork & showjumping were appreciated in view of the hard ground & particularly appreciated by those of us who fell off on them. The vast expanse of cross country fences, varied in both design & height, tempted even the most nervous. With the encouragement of instructors Helen Griffiths, Pepsi Kohler, Diana Burgess & Richard Ayre, everyone found enormous benefit from the continuity of six riding sessions and were surprised and delighted by what they had achieved, which often far exceeded expectation.
Providing a relaxed atmosphere, but with everything prepared for us behind the scene, is a great achievement by the owners & staff at Stockland Lovell. The home cooked food was delicious and plentiful – so much for losing weight with all the riding! The icing on the cake was perfect, warm but not too hot weather. We have already booked our slot for next year 14th-17th April 2008.
Horse Diary from Stockland Lovell – Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine!
Sunday: Apparently we go to Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine tomorrow.  As I’m Dutch I have no idea what this can mean but the yard has talked a lot to my Happy Hacker Mum (HHM) about Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine over the last few weeks.
Monday: Today’s the day and HHM’s trying to disguise her apprehension.  The others left the yard before me and looked cheerful so perhaps I’ll behave and we can get going to this Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine.  Well, it was rather longer in the Rolls Royce of trailers I insisted she acquire for me than I expected.  But wow this looks fun!  Except I’m next to that Big Bay Broad that I’m usually a bit scared of since I accidentally mowed her down in the yard at home and she broad sided me, she’s no flower you know, despite her name.
HHM, bless her, seems to be doing an awful lot of toing and froing with kit and caboodle but what the heck I’ve got some brilliant tucker and lots to watch.  Oh my goodness here comes the saddle and bridle, what next?
A lady called Helen insisted HHM have her leg on more than I’m used to and much more than I really like.  I felt compelled to please and actually it wasn’t too bad.  Worth the effort as had the chance to graze a field with LOADS of grass and warm sunshine, very relaxing.
Tuesday: Spent a lovely night watching the Bay Broad and think I’m in love.  Bother, here comes the saddle and here we are with Helen again.  Not at all sure I can be bothered, oooops HHM’s put her leg on, think I’ll remind her who is in charge here, a plunge followed by a buck should do the trick.  Oh dear, I overdid it, she’s hanging off my side in an undignified fashion, and now she’s slithered to the ground.  Think I’ve blotted my copy book with the first unscheduled dismount of Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine.  Well, she’s back on so had better make amends, that Helen looks as if she knows her stuff and will sort me out if I don’t get on with it.
Back in my stable chewing some grub, conversing famously with the Broad, not a bad life, think I’ll have a doze after lunch.  Bloody hell here comes that saddle again.  Now, this might be good, she’s got the leathers jacked up and we’re heading into a very large, green, open space mid way between the Quantocks and the Bristol Channel I’m informed.  Think this might be the moment to test her nerve and stickability.  We’ve been told by Pepsi to walk to the furthest jumping field.  Walk is just not possible once the jump word has been mentioned, but HHM’s obviously feeling a tad insecure so I’ll do my best to contain myself until I get there.  Now I can see the jumps, this is SO exciting, except I’m carrying a jelly.  Pepsi tells us what to do but HHM has frozen.  We’re off, thankfully Pepsi keeps mentioning her hands which are really not helping.  Oh dear, Pepsi’s now shouting ‘legs’, ‘more leg’ and ‘go on Kick him’.  Ok I’ll show them … fairly jumped that one!  Goodness this is fun and now she’s starting to come with me ……… ditches, banks, tyres, but what’s this?  Oh no, you cannot be serious, water, I’m grey and can’t believe she wants me to go into that brown pond and get all dirty.  Ooooo, aaaah, can I,…… can’t I???  Yeeeesss, we’re in and its actually fun.  Pepsi says ‘see you tomorrow’ ……………. Can’t wait.
Wednesday: Where’s Pepsi then, I’m up for it.  Wow, show jumping.  Actually HHM’s feeling ok about this, the hands aren’t such a problem and I’m going to jump one or two a bit bigger than I need to, just to show I can.
More grass, lunch, feeling quite tired now just can’t help my eyes from closing.  Opened one just now and can see HHM coming my way again laden with tack. I’ll just look exhausted and maybe she’ll let me off, can’t be bothered to nip and kick when she does the girth up, the plan doesn’t seem to be working.  But wait a minute…….. the Broad is coming too!
We’re out in the country again with Pepsi.  At first we downsized the fences a bit, wow that Broad’s crazy but I have to admit she can jump a bit.  You know, I don’t feel in the least bit tired now.  We’re all having such fun and HHM’s doing pretty good up top, more ditches, banks here comes the sunken road, steps, water and she’s still with me ….
Back at the yard knackered, HHM looks a bit weary too, but she’s still keeping me in the manner to which I am accustomed and she hasn’t run out of polos yet.  Even the Broad looks fairly benign, but suspect with her looks are deceptive.
Thursday: Lots of activity this morning, it seems Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine might be coming to an end.  I have one more date with Helen, fortunately my legs are in good order and I’ll enjoy a bit of a stretch.  Rather sorry to leave all my new friends but I think I heard there’ll be a Camp next year.  Not sure what Camp is but if its half as good as Camp-You’ll-Be-Fine, I can’t wait.
DMR & Cookie


Well what can we say, the morning of camp was upon us and after packing nearly the whole yard we headed off down the A303 towards Bridgwater, not really sure how this whole experience would turn out!  Arriving at Stockland Lovell we then set about bumping into other BVRC Members, looking for stables for horses and humans.  After settling in the horses and unpacking our stuff we started getting ready for the first lesson of the week.
I have to say the facilities were fantastic and the accommodation we hear was comfortable (unfortunately Vikki and I where staying in a run down house and had no luxuries what so ever compared to the other club members). A tack room, wash down area and as much Hay/Haylage and Straw as you like or your horse could eat. For the riders, the best place of the camp was the Dining room! This seemed to be the focal point for the members. There would always be someone in there if you wanted a coffee/tea and a chat about the activates of the day.  The food was fantastic and was cooked fresh everyday; most was produced on the farm itself including the best full fat milk from the cows across the way.  Not forgetting the 4pm Coffee and Cakes (not to be missed)
X Country
This has got to be the best lesson I have watched in a long time, Diana was on top form, and encouraging the braver X Country goers to go that extra bit and do something a bit on the edge, but well within their capabilities.  I found it very amusing when Diana was making up a course of fences and you just see the riders jaws drop onto the floor, and then you hear “come on you guys” in my best Canadian accent and off you go!  But the best thing has to be the smiles on the faces when they completed the course.
The range and complexity of fences were brilliant, from minimus height for the more novice, to the dam right scary for the more insane riders.  Within walking distance from the accommodation (only just) spectators could cheer on other members of the riding club.  Does everyone remember the owl holes?
Pepsi Kohla
One of the most positive instructors that taught this week, his whole hearted commitment to everyone having fun made his lessons an absolute scream.  He even managed to impact some riders to the degree that they would chant his name whilst going round a course of show jumps (no names mentioned “Laura”).  All round positive feedback from all participants and the best bit was the smiles from all that left the SJ ring and came back from XC.
Helen Griffiths
For all you people who don’t jump I can sympathize with you. I have a horse who is not a jumper and therefore I only booked the Hacking and Flat, but a week of dressage was not going to put me off.  Helen Griffiths was a great dressage instructor who explained everything in lay-mans terms so you knew where your legs and hands needed to be even if you where not quite there.  I was in Helens lessons all week and saw a significant improvement in my horse and my riding.  A big plus for all novices, no matter what level Helen was able to cater the lesson to include everyone (so much so we are going to be holding a clinic in Hampshire with Helen) this included correct shoulder in and even the beginnings of Half Pass (wow still cant believe we almost did it)
If you had an afternoon or morning off to hack, whether going for stretch off or a good gallop the rides were all well marked and easy to follow with 3 different routes to follow or simply link them together for the longer rides.  These were all situated on the farm and around the x country course with great views and sneak previews of the x country fences.
Show Jumping
The show jumping and gridwok sessions were all fantastic with constructive feedback provided at whatever level you were at. No one was over faced and despite the workman inconveniently placed at the end of the arena, all horses coped admirably.  My own personal success was this was the first time Spot and I had gone an entire lesson without a single stop – big thumbs up.
If you don’t believe Vikki and I then here are the Highs and Lows (if any) of Camp from the inmates.

Lindsay D My Tack was cleaned every day so I could avoid the toilet roll award! – my daughter was awarded it at her pony club camp!  
Sandra (Official Photographer) If the photos come out ok – the stables will hopefully look like ‘Badminton’ (we wish)
High Riding highs too numerous to mention! Social, meeting everyone and Vikki’s fantastic phrases – Wicked, Awesome and Fab!!!
Low Absolutely none
Ally S High Just arriving!!! Half-pass, Missy Hooraying over the show jumps with a Pepsi canter to be used between the show jumps. Low “No way – that’s too much to ask for”. That is ‘are mothers allowed to go away for just a few days with horse and friends?’, but come hell or high water at a later hour I arrived!!!
Gill High Meeting new people who I hope are new friends now. Low Lindsay’s snoring!!!
Laura High Pepsi was the word of the week, loved the instruction, thanks a lot guys. Low I never cleaned my tack and I drank allot,
Lynn High Helen Griffiths and her saying Wallace could do dressage! Not bad after 10 years!! Excellent organisation, Thank you. Low Falling off whilst mounting my horse! Best forgotten I think, sadly hard ground so could not go x country, but cant do anything about that!
Kala High Doing more than I though ever possible, going to the extreme and surviving, the week was one heck of an experience! WOW! Pepsi and Diana Fab! Low Grid work session on our first day.
Lindsay H High After some trepidation about the organisation involved, camp has exceeded all expectations – brilliant friendly co-operative group of people, great instructors, good food and great weather – here’s to next year! Low Realising at 2am you have to creep out of your cabin, go out into the cold and dark, across the gravel to the loo!!!!
Kelly High Jumping into the water without getting a nosebleed! Gaining huge amounts of confidence! Thanks to the instructors! Low none
Sarah High Conquered the corner!! Low couldn’t tire my horse out! When will she realise she is not a chestnut??!!
Rachel High being lucky enough to have great people to enable it all to happen (even though I am horseless!) getting a cheer for my medium trot on Cracks! Low Being far too fussy and having to borrow two other peoples horses (next time I will bring my own I promise)
Elizabeth High Having fun and only 2 hangovers!! Fantastic hack on Petal followed by 10 mins brilliant flatwork, seeing everyone coming back from x country with big grins. Low not being here for the first 24hrs.
Janet High X Country was great, all four days have been a great test for my “leg” which has performed perfectly Low none but Wednesday would have been improved without the hangover.
June High all the instruction was great but my highest point has to be jumping the “timber wagon” in the x country, it has been great fun. Low having survived all the jumping, nearly fell off on a hack (I blame the pigs!)
Jo High learnt so much from the fab instructors, overcame lots of fears in x country Low having to go home early.
Clare High having my first go at x country and having got over my nerves, actually really enjoying it and spending undivided time with my horse.  
Tanya High Had a great time, jumped x country fences I’d never thought I would jump, Pepsi was a fantastic instructor.  

All in all it has to be said a Big Big Thanks to Lindsay and Sandra for going to all the trouble of organising such a fantastic camp. Thanks also to all the members that came for being such a great crowd and having a great time whilst riding and socialising in the evening.  Look forward to seeing you all next year (don’t forget the wine!!)
Thanks again.           Ali & Vikki