Fourteen days of camp have come and gone. Actually, for Mia and Isabel it has been 21 days of camp. That is lot of time. Honestly, I don’t think camp would have even been a thought if Mia had not moved to Malaysia over 18 months ago. We needed a reason for her to come back and stay with us for a while and making up a working student camp was as good as any.
Last summer Mia came and we had a week long mini-camp. But this summer things got bigger. I had mentioned the camp one day in the Oklahoma office of my work, and the next thing I knew I had a colleague eager to send her daughter, Makenna. My granddaughter Jordyn is almost nine. She was ready for overnight camp. She came as well.
By June we had three overnight campers and two day campers, Isabel and Allyson. Isabel and Mia had some idea what they were getting into but not the others. Lauren runs this camp. It is her idea of teaching kids that there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes at any horse barn. And she did not go gently. I am very proud of the program Lauren put together. I am very proud of the girls that made it through two weeks in the brutal Texas heat and I hope they are proud of the work they did and what they learned.
Here are the highlights (or low points depending on your perspective)-
- The first day all the girls emptied the big arena of all the jumps and poles. I counted over 30 poles (wooden) and at least 14 sets of wooden standards. Day One-over 100 degree heat index, the arena was painstakingly emptied. I don’t think the girls were prepared for the weight, the heat or amount of time in the sun. It was a little much.
- From there guest speakers came and went sharing their time and knowledge with the girls. Elizabeth, a student at Texas A&M, shared the stories of her semester in Kentucky working at the thoroughbred foaling farms. She also gave practical information about college, what was needed to get there and what it was like.
- Dr. Criner came next doing an insightful series on equine dentistry. I dare say the girls learned more than they ever wanted to know about horse’s teeth!
All along the girls were assigned specific horses which they were responsible to feed, groom and care for each day. The first day the feed room was a mad house, but then the girls learned to rotate through, mixing up the specific feed and supplements for the horses they were caring for. Many of the girls had never mixed feed before or had any idea about horse nutrition. They do now!
- Probably one of the favorite field trips was to Lone Star Sporthorses. The girls got to take in the one of the grandest new barns in the area. Fitted with beautiful wood, matted paver tiles and the best of all features. They learned a lot about European horse breeding with hands on a gorgeous stallion, imported mares and outstanding babies. Look at this one-
LadyKilla LS (Bubalu VDL x Nabab de Reve x Narcos II) At three months
The girls also learned from Leeanna to get baby Sims a ball to play with. It was so fun to watch him. He had a ball! Get it?
Saturday morning found the girls saddled up western style for some traditional Texas riding. They were spending the morning with Sarah, a barrel racer, trainer and outstanding horse woman. She took the English girls through a little background and they all gained knowledge of sport and I suspect a little respect for the ladies that participate in it. It was all made more special because all the horses in the ring (including Libby on Cody who riding but not doing the clinic) came originally from Sarah.
Barrel and Pole clinic with Sarah!
In between the great speakers and field trips, painting had begun on all the jumps; poles and standards. That was a lot of work-scraping off old paint. Getting new paint on neatly and maintaining clean lines. There was a lot of paint used, and I found it everywhere from the jumps it belonged on, to brand new wash cloths, clothing and my car’s seat. Oh, well. For the good of many a few may suffer.
Tuesday, it was 90 by 9:00 am. We were headed to Wharton to get hay. Lauren, pulling our horse trailer, had part of the troupe with her and Ally was pulling the small trailer with the rest of us.
Heat didn’t seem to matter as the group created an assembly line to load 50 bales of hay. Both trailers were quickly to the max. Kendyll wanted to ride a barrel horse ( she also wants to jump Grand Prix double with Trapp so why was I surprised?) Kallyn and Becky our hosts, quickly saddled Hope and Kendyll got her wish.
All the girls plus Kallyn and Becky surrounding their outstanding two year-old Whatson.
Lauren had purchased a 25 foot wide plastic sheet. So why a plastic sheet? I couldn’t figure out what it was for. New advanced Slip-n-Slide. Goodness that was a big time from the littlest girls to the oldest ones, everyone dove and played in cool water.
The girls also perfected their skills riding a variety of horses a variety of ways. And remember we were also doing junior camp for the five and under set a couple days a week.
I would come in the house in the evening to see the girls playing board games. A little bit of a lost skill when everything seems electronic in nature. We had the new copies of the old stand-bys, like Life, Monopoly, Parcheesi and card games. The tv was seldom on and while the girls had their phones, more often than not, the were being used to settle an argument about a horse breed or riding question.
- Another clear highlight of the week, was the trip to the Zena Mechanical Horse. On this Mechanical horse that you ride as you are assessed as much for your internal health as your riding ability, was a life changing experience for most everyone in the group. Jan, works with a lot of vets with PTSD, and is used to working with some pretty tough stuff. She had an absolutely uncanny ability to see right through the facades the girls thought they had in place. There were a lot of “aha” moments and even more tears. Jan saw right through Mia’s cocky resolve of toughness and asked if it did not hurt to miss her friends with all the moves the family had made. Lots of tears on that one for sure. But Mia came away more relaxed and assured in her riding after leaving the armor behind.
- Jordyn has had more than her share of bad falls. As a riding family she has had more than her share of ultimatums born from our frustration that she was not progressing as fast as we thought she should, boy were we told to leave her alone and let her learn to LOVE to ride again.
- Here Jan is telling Jordyn she knows she is afraid. She works through her fear. Had Lauren in tears.
Amazing stuff they are doing out there. Let me know if you want more information.
The girls got the jumps done and the arena looks fresh and new. They did a great job. It kind of looks like Easter out there with lilac, spring green and yellow jumps. But I can live with that.
- Last night Mia and Mickey along with Allyson and Snow headed to Pine Hill for an eventing lesson. It like jumping objects as you travel across open country. Mick and Snow had not done much of this but were happy to try. Great job, ladies. And thanks to Holly for coaching them.
Everyone Learned a lot and grew a great deal at this camp. From my daughter Lauren at 23 down to my granddaughter Jordan at nine, new skills were acquired, new trials were accepted and new things were heroically overcome.
I am super proud to have been part of this team. No matter how hot it was or how tired they were they worked, they worked together and they got the job done. It’s been a great two weeks.
Thanks for riding along!
I’m looking forward