This time of year, it’s not uncommon for raindrops to suddenly pelt the metal roofs of the horse shelters and covered arena, dampening the dusty earth and cooling the sultry summer air. Though a storm can easily interfere with outdoor plans, there is such beauty when the clouds are gone leaving nothing but raindrops glimmering in the sunshine.
This year, an unexpected storm has touched all of our lives and yet we have seen glimmers of beauty throughout it all.
Our first Kids & Horses summer day camp left a myriad of sparkling memories with all the volunteers and staff able to participate. In a year of cancellations and limited social interactions, a group of eight children saddled up in a safe environment to learn horsemanship skills and have summer fun, unknowingly leaving a lasting impression with us.
Rylee came to camp apprehensive about the horses, and understandably so! When the time came to groom, He stepped beyond his natural fear and began to form a bond with his equine partner, Mel. He became confident enough to take the lead and guide Mel around the arena to warm up before mounting.
Rylee isn’t the only child who formed a special bond with his horse. Paisley quickly fell in love with Missy, our newest horse, and helped usher her into the program while overcoming her apprehension about riding. Paisley’s enthusiasm glowed in all she did, from grooming and riding to doing chores and crafts.
Each morning of camp began with the reading of a book, which Kaylee listened to with rapt attention. When given the opportunity to tell a story herself, Kaylee surprised us with animated telling of stories of her own creation.
Along with Jacob, another regular student at Kids & Horses, Kaylee accepted the challenge of working for two weeks with an unfamiliar horse. With their new equine partners, Kaylee and Jacob learned to adapt to differences in training and personalities, valuable skills for any rider.
Through his time at camp, Jacob developed an expertise in grooming, a skill he uses weekly to care for his regular lesson horse.
Through the chores and games, Tiffany branched out from her routine of coming to Kids & Horses just to ride. Her smile was beautiful to see as she pitched in to get the job done or ran and played with the other children. Additionally, she experienced a breakthrough in her riding skills. Since camp, she has been using her reins to communicate with her horse with less prompting than ever before.
Throughout camp, Tanner repeatedly led his team to victory in games, whether it was water fights, penguin herding, or hula-hoop roping. He also had a natural way with his horse, Remington, putting him so much at ease that Remington allowed Tanner to settle down for a nap on his back.
Olivia quickly adapted to a style of riding different from what she was accustomed to. While she excelled with Revi, her true passion was explored outside the riding arena in the form of art. A leader at heart, she hijacked an outdoor game and led the other children in a water-fight revolution against the adults!
William developed his horsemanship skills by communicating with his horse through the reins for the first time. He enjoyed camp so much that he’s already resolved to save up and help pay his way to come back next year.
The beauty of watching this amazing group of children learn and grow far outweighed the cost of wearing a mask in the summer heat. We are incredibly thankful for those who poured their time, energy, money, and support into making this camp a success for the kids.
Whether the storm on the horizon is blowing away or just rolling in, we can’t say. What is certain is that there have been blessings–sparkling raindrops–all along the way.