Written by Martha A. Woodham

Tropical Storm Alberto arrived in Aiken, SC, about the same time the 20 participants in the USEA Area III Adult Riders Summer Camp did. But did the wind and the rain—heavy at times—deter this group? “Heck no. We’re eventers!” was the rallying cry.

Olympian Kim Severson of Charlottesville, Va., was the instructor, and it’s not every day riders get a chance to learn from someone of her stature. Plus, trying to find your line in blinding rain and splashing through puddles in the jumping arena was good practice.

Show jumping lesson after a rainstorm

The camp, organized by Area III Adult Rider Coordinator Kim Keeton of Athens, Ga., took place from May 28-June 1 at The Vista Schooling and Event Center in Aiken. The facility has everything an event rider could want: excellent footing, dressage and jumping arenas, a derby field, and a variety of cross-country jumps for a wide range of horse and rider levels.

“When I took the Adult Riders Coordinator position last winter, I polled the membership to see what educational opportunities we could provide to our active adult riders in Area III,” says Kim K. “There was overwhelming support for a summer camp, so I started brainstorming.”

The goal was to provide “campers” with a unique, intensive experience with a respected clinician who could teach riders of all levels in all three phases over a five-day period.

“Kim Severson provided just the expertise I was looking for—and she didn’t disappoint,” say Kim K. “Throughout the week, I was thrilled to see each participant benefitting from Kim’s attention to detail in both rider and horse position. No matter the level, her expectations for straightness, accuracy, and education of horse and rider didn’t waiver.”

Camp included three days of jumping schooling sessions (show jumping and cross-country—riders’ choice!) from Intermediate to BN with Kim, who took the time to get to know each rider and horse. She tailored the lessons to meet each rider’s needs, making sure each rider understood and performed properly before moving on to the next lesson.

Kim Severson coaches the upper level riders.

Each rider also had a one-on-one lesson with Kim and with dressage instructor Sandy Osborn, a USEF “S” Judge and a USDF Gold and Silver Medalist based at Ashland Farm, Georgia.

“Sandy echoed Kim’s commitment to the training scale within the movements and provided an excellent adjunct to Kim Severson in the dressage arena,” adds Kim K.

This camp was such a success that another, slightly shorter clinic with Ian Stark is planned for Sept. 21-23, 2018.

Pierce Buckingham on Dexter Morgan in a dressage lesson with Sandy Osborn.

Here’s what riders had to say about their week at camp:

Pierce Buckingham: The camp was a great learning experience for both horses and riders where we had the opportunity to be stretched by two top-notch professionals.

Katie Herbig: I found having a five-day clinic valuable on multiple fronts. It allowed me the opportunity to get to know new people and their horses in Area III and grow new friendships.  Additionally, it allowed time for the clinician to get to know my horse and me better and consistently work through some issues as opposed to the typical one- to two-day snapshot.

Karen Kreider: It was an incredible opportunity to train with Kim Severson and Sandy Osborn. Both coaches were committed to providing an experience where we walked away knowing what we needed to work on and how to improve.  Working with Kim over four days gave her a chance to better understand our riding and our horses, which resulted in more in-depth recommendations from her, like on bitting, and the chance to try out new ideas.

Halliea Milner: Some things that I thought were the bomb: Riding at the Vista. Great spot. Makes it easy to participate as a viewer for the clinic. Plus they are so super awesome. Love that place. The flexibility of the schedule. Although I know some people like having things set in stone, I really appreciated that we could pick our phase, that if something wasn’t perfect for us, it was really easy to change it. The organizers were amazing. Kim was just really heroic to take it on and make it fun.

Kim Severson gives tips to Martha Woodham

Cindy Phillips: Quotes from Kim:  “Get up!  Get him moving.” “Ride toward the fence with your hands.” Quotes from Sandy: “Come on … keep those hind legs engaged and active.”

Kerry Tracey: What I took away the most [from my lessons with Kim] was the absolute attention to detail, particularly when training young horses. It didn’t matter if it was windy and pelting sideways with rain. We needed to hold the line, ride in balance and take the time to stay organized!

Martha Woodham: I appreciated Kim and Sandy’s generosity with their knowledge and time. Both were so approachable if you had a question. I learned to always have a plan and to gallop away from the jump. I also enjoyed getting to know the other participants—you can never have enough horse friends!


Martha A. Woodham is writer and a rider who lives and events in Georgia. One of her favorite things to do is volunteer at horse trials and schooling shows.

Photography Courtesy: Area III Facebook page. 
Feature Photo Caption: Kim Severson, Meg Bowers and Halliea Milner enjoying Camp

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