Monday morning I welcomed a wonderful group of children to Charlie Horse Equine Adventures Summer Riding Camp at my farm. Some of them I had met before, and a few new faces I was very pleased to have met.
This week’s camp was for children between nine and 14 years old, both boys and girls. A few of them had ridden before, either lessons with me or random horses of family members, and we had some first time riders. A variety of different skill levels were present, all working together with animals who will allow them all to ride and play with them.
After learning about horse safety and some important rules, the children all had the opportunity to work with my number one teacher Silken. Silken has been the first horse of many children since I got her six years ago; she was my first horse I owned, and she is also the first horse of my son Hunter. There is nothing she loves more than to have little people pamper her and tell her how beautiful she is.
The most amazing part about using Silken for this summer camp is that she is currently expecting. She is due to foal mid August; the children enjoyed watching her belly for movement of little hooves. Don’t worry it is not a danger to the foal to have someone riding her. Just like people, exercise during pregnancy is important. Not only that, Silken would be heartbroken if she didn’t get to be involved.
Over the three days, everyone learned how to groom and handle horses safely, and they learned how to properly saddle and bridle a variety of different horses. After all the hard work grooming, picking out dirty hooves, applying fly spray and all necessary tack, everyone had chance to climb aboard their trusted steeds. After our initial lessons in how to mount, walk, halt, turn, back up and emergency dismount, we had half of our students riding and the other sitting in the shade eagerly waiting their turns.
All the horses behaved well, with the exception of Chester who often decides that he should stop and eat grass anywhere he sees it. We corrected this with some anti-grass lines for our following lessons. One of our students took to him and decided that he was just right for her even with his attempts at eating.
This was my first year teaching my very own summer camp, and I have been working towards this goal for 10 years. I started mucking out stalls at a riding academy, which eventually led to training and teaching, which led me to embark on a journey into a life of incredible rewards.
You will never work a day in your life if you love what you do, someone, somewhere once said. Who wouldn’t want to have a job that involves spending time with great kids and amazing animals? When I asked myself that question 10 years ago I had no idea it would look and feel this wonderful. Watching the children braid the horses’ manes and take pride in how they look after they give them a sponge bath makes me truly thankful for this path I chose.
I look forward to next week when I am teaching children six and under, there is still room available if you want to sign up. I will be offering another age seven and up horse camp August 12-14, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. It sure does feel good to send children home with horse hair on their clothes and smiles on their faces.
Contributed by Charlotte Ruse, Charley Horse Equine Adventures