Monday, July 16, 2007

Summer Horse Camp

Summer Horse Camp

Our youngest daughter survived her first horse camp and all the heavy laborious duties accompanying the week’s privileges of being around many horses in a working barn.

She came home dirty at the end of every day!

Her older sister made a tough decision the week before not to attend horse camp this year, mostly as she would have difficulty with her own responsibilities to Oakley, the horse next door. Even if she reasoned cleaning her stall very early in the morning, there would still be daily riding required for the horse’s discipline after day’s end at horse camp, a very full day.

Off her little sister went on her own, with mother here worried about this young gal not having her sister nearby now. The instructor only takes five students each horse camp week, and the one available spot was filled quickly with our other daughter’s absence.

Ride on girls!

Barn helpers watch the morning ride,
while our older daughter stays for a bit to look too.

When I arrived at horse camp the first morning, I was surprised to see four older teenagers as her peers for the week’s camp. Each day these gals became protective over their new little friend, but overall the instructor made comments on her independent and enterprising attitude. One thing that made us laugh each evening was listening to the tales of lunch hour when a few of the girls liked to pick up our younger daughter and tell her very cute she was. They all had little sisters at home and loved having her around with them at camp. What a nice bunch of gals, all were terrific all week long and such a great experience resulted from the time our young daughter had alone there.

Quiz time before leaving one afternoon

Each evening she packed her lunch by herself, and each morning this young gal who is always the last out of bed (sleepyhead), was the first to rise after 6am. What a change for her! Fatigue reigns very high by early evening, the first night in bed before 6pm.

Little Chester the pony was her assigned horse for the week.

Eventually she realized the days events and the intense heat outdoors and inside the barn were beginning to take a toll on her wee body. There was no contest when bedtime rolled around, none at all.

Duties began early in the morning, very soon after her 8am morning beginnings. Daily grooming of her assigned horse was a highlight knowing she would soon ride him, sometimes twice each day. Cleaning out stalls each morning had a few challenges with hauling the heavy wheelbarrow up the plank to the dumping grounds out back. The first day she lost her step and fell into the bushes, another older girl behind her grabbing her wheelbarrow and assisting with the heavy load. And when feeding all of her assigned horses around the barn twice a day, the heavy laden buckets with grain, water or the loads of hay pitched in, built up muscles she realized hadn’t been worked well before when stiffness crept in by nightfall. Each day however, she eagerly looked forward to the next, a radiant smile always pasted on her cherub face.

She learned how to take apart a bridle and saddle, for the purpose of a good cleaning and buffing up the leathers to a shine. She cleaned halters, horse blankets, and had classroom type instructional times each day with oral quizzes.

By day three she was riding bareback on the horses whose manes were freshly braided shortly beforehand by the girls. She was able to try riding bareback on four different horses than she has ridden on before. On the last day, instructions on how to jump with their horses inside the outdoor paddock were given.

Outside of a weekly grooming and riding session during the rest of the year, most of the activities she was able to take part in during this intensive five day, eight hour per day week were all new to her.

A few crafts filled the lunch hours, one being a newly braided lunge rope for her to keep when completed. Another was a t-shirt with artwork on the front featuring a horse jumper chasing after an apple, very cute!

The fence was electrified in case one decided to escape.

As she began to slowly recover from the week’s hectic pace throughout the weekend following her camp, she’s already marking down her ideas to attend again next year. (smile)