Horse Camp

This isn’t a blog challenge post, but I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve been doing this week in hopes it might bring a few laughs to your day! The therapeutic riding center where I work hosts an able-bodied day camp for a week during the summer. Somehow, they’ve decided to put me (mostly) in charge of it, which is both amazing and terrifying.

Here are some highlights of the week so far:

  • The fattest, slowest therapy horse in the barn transformed into a super forward hunter type once he had a bit in his mouth. Seriously, y’all, I can’t persuade this horse to trot to save his life when he has a special needs rider on his back, but stick an able-bodied kid on him and turn him loose and it’s like he’s aiming for the Maclay! (Hilarious, because he’s a fat pinto horse; not hilarious because he terrifies the children.)
  • One of the boys in my group is ten years old and knows all the words to “Don’t Stop Believin'”. He also asked me if I was “letting [my] hair go” and if Johnny was looking forward to the cake tasting part of wedding planning. ???
  • While swimming, the kids latched onto me in the pool, demanding I tow them around like a train. It doesn’t matter how often I nearly drown; they are intent to continuing the train.
  • You can teach kids how to bridle a horse a hundred times; this is totally irrelevant unless they can actually reach the horse’s head.
  • No matter how many times you tell a child “Brutus doesn’t need any more hay; he’ll get some with his dinner,” Brutus will get at least six times more hay than usual. 

I am having so much fun with summer camp, despite some of the weirdness and mishaps! Have y’all ever done a summer camp? Love it? Hate it?

Heat and a Horse Camp

I haven’t ridden at all this week. In fact, I’ve barely managed to drag myself out to the barn to feed the horses, let alone actually saddle one up and ride it. The reason for this is twofold: one, it’s been 100+ degrees every day this week, and two, I’ve been busy managing a horse camp at work.

The heat isn’t going anywhere, so it’s finally time to really, truly dedicate myself to getting up at 5 AM and riding before work. This time of year is also perfect for taking Moe swimming in the pond in the front pasture.

Horse camp is finally over, which is a huge relief. I was tasked with planning and organizing it, something I was initially very excited about! I attended several horse camps over the years- everything from a two-week sleep-away Girl Scout camp where we spent every minute practicing a drill team routine to my Pony Club’s two annual summer camps (Rally Training Camp, the hardcore week-long prep camp for the Midsouth Regional Pony Club Rally, and All Kids Camp, a less intense, more fun week of games and water bucket fights). I was really excited for the chance to teach some non-special needs kids about horses and riding.

In the years since I have attended camp, I forgot something very, very important: children do not care about heat; they only care about the horses. While I was sweating bullets every day and working on my now-awesome sunglasses tan, the seven campers were riding their horses under the blazing noon sun, mucking stalls in a stuffy barn in mid-afternoon, and begging to ride again during the hottest part of the day. We kept them well-hydrated between water and snocones, and cool with frozen bandannas and trips to the pool. I am honestly surprised the elderly therapy horses we used didn’t keel over in the torturous heat. In the end, everyone ended up happy, gained some horsemanship skills, and zealous promised to come back and attend next year. One kid’s mom even asked if he could take lessons from me on the weekends (yes)!

I plan on riding tomorrow morning, or at least going to visit my darlings and hose them off. After all, how could I say ‘no’ to this face?