Article by: Tammie Conway
If you have any presence on Facebook, or in the side saddle community, you are more than likely already aware of the most wonderful time of the year--that is--the annual pilgrimage to Camp Leaping Horn (CLH) which takes place at USET in Gladstone, New Jersey each July. Maybe that is why they say “Christmas in July”?!? Many of us look forward to this trip all year long and plan our vacation time around it. Others are new to the experience, but learn quickly just how special this place is and the bonds of sisterhood that form in such a short period of time. It is truly a magical place, and I personally suggest if you have never attended then it HAS to go on your bucket list. The instructors vary in specialties and backgrounds within the aside community, but all are knowledgeable and put rider and horse safety at the forefront. You always know the education you receive at Camp will be solid and no-matter what your previous experience, you learn something new!
Just to give some history, Camp Leaping Horn was established over a decade ago by the fabulous Shelly Liggett, who is a lifetime ISSO member and long-time board member. She held the President’s position in ISSO for many years and more recently transitioned into the Executive Director position. Naturally, since Shelly was both President and founder of CLH, the two organizations as well as members became very involved with each other. In fact, over the years I think a lot of people thought camp was part of ISSO and not it’s own separate entity. So several years ago when Shelly handed her creation over to Jennifer Stevenson, who is now the director of Camp Leaping Horn, it was confusing to some that these two entities were in fact different.
Photo Above of Shelly Liggett in Jeannie Whited's booth at Camp Leaping Horn this year.
Photo Credit Carla Peetros
Photo Above of front of the USET (United States Equestrian Team) headquarters in Gladstone, NJ. Home to summer Camp Leaping Horn for over a decade.
Photo Below inside the USET rotunda looing out onto the riding ring. Above you can see the glass floor from the upstairs trophy room.
Both photos taken by Tammie Conway
Traditionally Liberty Side Saddle Network hosted an all side saddle fun show on the Saturday following camp then a USEF Rated side saddle show on Sunday. This has always been such a fun part of Camp with people looking forward to classes and working on habits and costumes for months prior. The divisions ranged from walk/trot through jumping and historical. There really was something for everyone. Last year, as you know, everything was shut down including Camp and the show. This year ISSO was going to take over the show, but due to COVID concerns and uncertainty if Camp would happen, the board decided it was best to postpone the show until next year and instead decided to give back to members and campers instead!
We started out with just an idea of a mock show, so new campers and members in general could have an idea of what side saddle showing involves since that is a very common question we are asked. The event then evolved into an afternoon of free ISSO education including a catered boxed lunch as well as interactive demonstration show that would allow spectators as well as the riders real time feedback on what a judge is looking for, strong and weak points of each rider’s performance, things the riders could work on at home and how as well as why the class would have been placed a certain way. It truly was a judge’s perspective and I think I can safely say that everyone had a blast and learned a tremendous amount.
This decision was not made lightly, and we felt would not only help promote ISSO's mission of education to riders as well as the auditors and ultimately the general membership but also help to alleviate stress for competitors in the future. This format allowed everyone to learn the ropes about showing from one of the best around- Louise "Lou" Steinfort. Lou is a long time ISSO member and very accomplished side saddle rider, instructor, and judge who we were honored to have as our mock judge for the day. She gave insightful thoughts on turnout, hunter type, rider position, and countless other tidbits throughout the process, and we can't thank her enough for all the knowledge she shared with those present. She also moderated the jumping portion of the “show” and Paws and Rewind videoed and photographed for future educational opportunities!
Photo Above of Anne Vinsel and Photo to Right of Lisa Cowan on Felix before the show. Photo Credit Tammie Conway
Photo Above of Barbara Drogo on Kiera
Photo Credit Tammie Conway
Kate Hopkins was the judge and moderator for our historical habit class and took a lot of time explaining the difference in different classes, making sure that habits have safety features while trying to stay as accurate as possible, and providing helpful hints for different situations. Laureen Bartfield displayed a beautiful habit that was critiqued.
Photo Above Left is Kate Hopkins discussing historic class requirements, differences in types of classes, and the importance of safety aprons.
Photo Above Right is of Laureen Bartfield and Miles showing off her historic outfit during the demonstration.
Photo Credit Tammie Conway
ISSO further wanted to take this opportunity to give back to Camp after all these years and add a social event to the calendar to thank our members as well as welcome potential new members. We thought, what better way than to host a welcoming dinner on Wednesday night, the first “official” night of camp? Marybeth Walker, our membership chair and points secretary, volunteered to spearhead this event and did a brilliant job coordinating with Black River Catering on a fabulous buffet that everyone could enjoy including options for all diets including vegan options. Awards were presented prior to eating for all the hard work done over the last year by Pie Truono and Marybeth Walker. It was a fun social event that everyone enjoyed and we ended up having left over food that we ate throughout the week.
Photos in this section are from the welcoming meal- including food and
Photo Credit to Carla Peetros & Tammie Conway
Photo Above Left of Marybeth Walker awarding Pie Truono an appreciation gift for all her hard work for ISSO over the last year.
Photo Above Right is of Pie giving Marybeth an appreciation gift from the Board for her hard work leading up to Camp Leaping Horn.
Photo Credit Carla Peetros
Pie Truono, our President, also spent a ton of time setting up and manning ISSO’s Sidesaddlery Booth and helped liquidate most of our remaining stock throughout the week. It was nice to see so many sidesaddle items find new homes to be out in circulation and being used! At one point, a couple of us were discussing ISSO’s mission and admiring several of our items for sale when we devised a plan on how to expose more people to side saddle and help promote new side saddle riders at the beginning of their journey. Instead of selling several items, why not instead provide a way for our members to access resources required for appropriate appointments needed for showing and exhibitor opportunities? Keep an ear out for a new program we will be announcing in the near future where we will have “rental kits” available for members!
Marybeth set up and donated the silent auction booth to help raise funds for the show next year and future scholarships. We cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she did collecting items, donating them, and setting them up into a beautiful display in the booth. Throughout the week we had some good spirited bidding going on between campers and on Friday after lunch the results were announced. I know I was excited to snag a beautiful bag but gave up on the gorgeous green side saddle tray that had multiple bidders in a race. Maybe we will see it in the treasures section of Aside World at some point?
Throughout Camp, we spent time hanging out with our ponies, learning a TON of information both during lessons and lectures, shopping for unique side saddle items at different booths, eating great food while catching up with friends from last year, meeting new friends, chilling with friends, as well as getting to learn from the amazing Amy Magee. She let us follow her around like puppies asking a ton of questions while freely teaching us and letting us watch side saddle fitting, flocking, shimming, repairs, panels being taken off then put back on, and so much more. It really was a fabulous week for ISSO and all of us campers! Hope to see you next year!!
Photo Top Right of the TSS booth with Pie Truono, Jeannie Whited, and Barb Drogo. Photo Credit Carla Peetros
Photo Bottom Left of saddles and some remaining tack in the TSS booth. Photo Credit Carla Peetros
Photo Bottom Right of outside of TSS booth. Photo Credit Tammie Conway
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