For those of you too
I mean Horse Camp, not necessarily this post :)
|Cheyenne, enjoying his dinner at camp!|
The drive was surprisingly (and refreshingly) uneventful, although we didn't leave early enough for Brian to get home with much time to get ready for work! Luckily, I am now feeling confident enough to drive the "big rig" myself. Next year. When I go to camp again. Yes, I'm telling you it was THAT GREAT!
So here is a nice view of the whole ranch, photo courtesy of Rother Horsemanship:
|Horse Creek Ranch home of School of Horse, Hunters, WA|
|He's a good eater, that one...|
|yes, the big red arrow points at him|
|The cabin. No inside views, because as anyone who knows me knows... I am a little piggy and I don't want to post photos of my dirty laundry strewn all about.. Trust me the inside is equally awesome.|
So, I should say here that Steve and Francesca are just about the nicest, most down to earth, hardworking people you would ever want to meet. They run the whole ranch by themselves, although they did have 1 (yes one) intern, Brandy, to help while we were there. Brandy is also a super gal and a fearless rider!
Since camp didn't officially start until Friday, I didn't meet all the rest of the gals until the next morning. There were 7 of us:
- Cherie and Linda from WA (they stayed in Cherie's super cool new living quarters horse trailer),
- Hedi from Alberta (yes Canada- she traveled the farthest! and she stayed in her trailer as well),
- Tena from WA (she lives just a short ferry ride from the ranch. She stayed in her camper),
- Anita from AK (she flew down, no, not with her horse- she leased a ranch horse. She stayed in the little air-conditioned house down the road),
- Morghaine from OR (she is under 18 so her super mom was there with us all day, even though she didn't ride!- they also stayed in the little house)
- and me.
This is one of the funnest groups I have ever been a part of, just sayin'. We started out not knowing each other at all and by the last evening had already made plans to reconvene next year.
I know, I know enough about people and places- where's the horse stuff? Okay, okay.
The first morning we were asked to have our horses saddled and in the arena by 9:30 am. It was predicted to be record warm temperatures that week (of course) so we changed up the daily routine and spent the hottest part of the day in the shady classroom.
Let me just say, in my own defense, that I have never had any formal horsemanship training.
6 skilled women putting their horses through the paces from the ground
flailing and chasing my horse around while he pulled me by the lead rope around the arena.
Yeah, luckily no photos of that. But here's one of Hedi and April (taken by Francesca I think...)
|Hedi wasn't completely happy with this lope... I on the other hand would have been happy to not look like a kite flying behind my horse!|
Then (and listen up because this is actually the most important, take home lesson here) Steve kept on me to do it. Not in a nagging sort of way or a bossy sort of way, but in a "you know you can" sort of way, while interjecting helpful comments like "keep on him, keep on him. There! He tried now stop." I just have to say hearing on DVD or reading in articles the key element:
and experiencing it are two entirely different things. Release for my horse does not equal running up and saying good boy, good boy, good boy and patting his neck... He could give a crap about that. His release is me stopping and letting him stand still. And unless you've done this you have no idea how hard it is to do.nothing.at.all.
All my fear and nervousness disappeared as I starting using tools that actually worked. I no longer cared that I wasn't as skilled as my camp-mates at certain things, I discovered my try. It was unbelievable. And even though I am still a flailer when it comes to ropes and such, I am willing to give it a go!
I am continually amazed at how much I don't know, even when I know I don't know much... ya know?
As a kid, I learned to ride with this philosophy:
- Go: kick
- Stop: pull reins back (as hard as necessary)
- right turns: pull rein right (as hard as necessary)
- left turns: pull rein left (as hard as necessary)
But then, I went to camp :)
I won't give away all the secrets of what I learned, and even if I write them it would not be the same as experiencing it, but I want to share this basic thing that I did not know. Did you know that you carry with you at all times the 4 primary riding aids? Oh, you did? Well I didn't.
Okay, I know enough talk, let's see some photos!!! Here are some shots of the trail course that Steve and Francesca built. (Francesca took all of these photos)
|BIG STEP! Go Cheyenne!|
|Tena and Rio in the water obstacle.|
|And Anita and Ruby|
|Hedi on the Bridge over the water obstacle!!|
|I love this one- here is everybody doing something. Including Linda and Blue having a "discussion" in the background!!|
|Steve and Shiner. We were all wondering what to do with this one!!|
|In the arena|
|Morghaine and Rain, the masked mare|
|and through the pasture|
We trail rode (my favorite!):
|Our fearless leader, Steve|
It was hot...
|in the shade...|
|Something I could do without flailing around...|
And on the trail:
|Cherie, Hedi and Grace the wonder cow dog!|
|Crossing Horse Creek|
|Coming up from the waterfall|
And even a show!
|Francesca with her minis and of course Dally the JRT!|
|Dinner was catered by the local cafe (see below)|
|This is the most awesome cafe/hardware store I've ever eaten in!|
|Our patient mounts, highlined, waiting for us to finish eating...|
Bottom line is: Summer Camp was everything I had hoped for and more. It was worth every penny and every minute. And truth be told, I was the only one that burst into tears.