Friday, August 3, 2012

Horse 101

Of everything that Camp Redcloud offered, horseback riding was the thing that the girls were looking forward too the most.  Our first opportunity to ride the horses was on Thursday.  The trail ride was open to riders 10 and up, but if you were under age 13 there was a prerequisite of Horse 101.  At 1:00 we headed down to the stables, where Maggie and Gracie participated in Horse 101 to learn how to start, stop, and steer a horse, while Will and Carissa participated in the pony rides. 

Once everyone had a helmet we headed out to the arena to learn how to act around horses. 

The smaller kids were divided up into two groups and then lead on a pony through an "obstacle course" on their pony, racing to see who could finish first.  Will and Carissa really seemed to enjoy their pony rides, both offering up big smiles when they got on their horses:

They were on opposite teams, so they even got to race one another at one time. 

Maggie and Gracie were each assigned a horse - Maggie was on Star, and Gracie's horse was named Sparky. 

Once each girl was mounted and her stirrups changed to the right length, it was time to learn.  First thing:  Kissing noises to the horse means go, "whoa" and pull back means stop. 

Once stop and go was mastered, they learned how to do a reverse, which meant they turned their horse into the center of the arena and made a circle, ending up going around the outside of the arena in the direction opposite of the way that they were traveling before. 

Before we knew it, it was 2:00, pony rides were over, and it was time to hit the trail.  Jerry, Dad, and Terri came to the arena, where the girls, Amy, Brad, Jerry and I were ready to hit the trail.  Carissa and Will were not quite old enough for the trail ride yet, so they headed back to the lodge with Granddaddy and Nana to seek out other adventures.

Done riding horses, now climbing fences!
Once Daddy had on his helmet, he and Gracie began "butting heads". 
The riding director spent a few minutes matching us up with our mounts.  Maggie and Gracie were relieved to remain on Star and Sparky.  My horse was named Regal, Jerry's was named Hildago, Brad's was Doc, and Amy was on Scooter. 

Once we were on the trail ride it was easy to see why the camp requires trail riders to be 10 and up.  Some of those trails were really skinny, with a nice steep slope on the side of the trail.  I took my camera up, but had it strapped across my chest so it wouldn't bounce around.  This made it very hard to actually take a picture.  Gracie figured out what I was trying to do though, so if I managed to get the camera turned around and pointed at her, she smiled, even if she was wondering what in the world I was trying to do!

At one point, our guide stopped and let us take a few pictures - but when I looked at them later, I realized that I had managed an epic photography fail.  Here's the original photos I took, looking forward:

and backwards:

See, right before I took these shots, I took a photo of the pretty vista in front of us, but when I took the photo of the folks at the front of the line, I totally cropped the vista out.  Fortunately, I have some nifty tools, and if you ignore the fact that my horse moved its head between the shots, I have a fairly decent stitched shot that includes the vista:

Shazam, no?

Unfortunately our ride was very short, due to both a delay in starting, and the sounds of thunder, which forced us to turn around and head back the way we came.  When we arrived at the stables, Granddad, Nana, Carissa, and Will were ready to welcome Maggie back to their group, as she did not want to participate in the next activity that Jerry, Gracie, and I had signed up for.  Instead she took the next Horse 101 class again, because, hey!  You can never have too much time with horses, right? 

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