Oh goodness! This camp thing, it is exausting! I definitely understand why college students make up the majority of staff now. Despite this though, things are well here in Michigan. They are not without their share of struggles and long hours, but overall this is a good place. We are now half way through Session One, and we have taught riding lessons (three a day), led many a trail ride, gone camping with the horses overnight, and had a little staff fun too. Samuel is having the time of his life, and I am starting to find my groove.
Lessons take place in the morning. We teach three, one-hour lessons before lunch that cover the basics of riding. The kids here love it and are so eager to learn. In the afternoon, we do two trail rides and have something called Open Barn. Its brand new this year–a brain child of mine, the previous wrangler, and the director–and we literally open the barn up to campers for a variety of activities. Its a chance to allow the greatest number of kids to experience horses in a no-pressure atmosphere. We have kids grooming horses, kids riding in thr ring, and kids just hanging out. Today was the first Open Barn, and it was great!
Twice a week, we also lead overnight horse trips. Campers pack out their sleeping bags, clothes, and food to a remote overnight campsite on camp property for one night of “rustic” camping. They sleep in a barn, but they cook over a camp fire, and use outhouses for the bathroom. We get them there on horseback, then turn the horses out in a large pasture there. The horses love it because the pasture has a ton of grass and they pig out all night long! We have done two so far, and Samuel has enjoyed it too. He and I sleep in our own tent next to the staff tent, and that is working well. I have to get up at 6:30 on those mornings, but Samuel sleeps in. Last time he woke up about 10 minutes before it was time to head out, which was perfect…sleeping baby while momma gets the horses ready! For the actual trail ride, Samuel and I get to the camp site in a tractor. Let me tell you, he loves that!
Tonight, some of the staff wanted to have a little personal ring time. After dinner, some of us made our way back to the barn. I loaned Doc to one of my British staff members tonight so that she could have a bit of fun. She events at home, so Doc was a real treat among our trail string horses here. She put him through his paces, then had a go at jumping him. It was a joy to watch them fly together tonight! We even got the barrels stood up on end and let them have a real good jump to soar over! During the cool off phase, Samuel enjoyed his third ride for today, this time on Doc, and then I had one of my western riders try Doc out too. She gave herself hard time, but for a self proclaimed bad English rider, she did great. Its fun to have so many people able to ride Doc now and even more fun for all of us to share our horses with each other.
I cannot begin to explain what a neat summer this has been already. It is tiring and challenging, and awesome all at once. Tonight I came to bed all smiles and feeling good about the work. Here’s to a summer that continues to be challenging and awesome…. and maybe (I can hope, right?) less tiring eventually.