It’s mid July, and we’ve been feeling the heat. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off at the swim docks, paddle refreshing rivers, or slide down chilly Sliding Rock. Campers aren’t the only ones trying to escape the sun with a cool swim – today the horses got to swim at the lake too! During rest hour this afternoon, Ransom, Walker L., Clayton, Jacob, and Charlie took some of our water-loving horses for a quick swim.
Even though horses are big animals, you might be surprised to learn that they can really enjoy swimming. Some of our horses are content to just stay on the shore and splash their hooves in the water, but others love swimming, and will submerge themselves to where just their eyes, nose, and ears are peeking up off the surface. Gizmo fits into the latter category, and even though he is one of our oldest horses, he was the first to get in the water and start splashing around like a young pony. Walker was riding Gizmo, and couldn’t stop smiling as Gizmo tested the waters, splashing his front hoof so hard that water was spraying up all around them. After getting comfortable, Gizmo walked straight into the lake and even got out deep enough to start swimming a few strokes.
Cruz was just as excited, splashing water with his hooves before marching in up to his neck. As Ransom got on Blaze’s back, I asked him if he has ever taken a horse swimming before. “Never!” He exclaimed, eager to get in the water. Swimming the horses might have been a new activity for these boys, but they were no strangers to the barn. Over the past three weeks, boys have been working hard at the barn, improving their horsemanship skills and equine knowledge. Just last week, several advanced riders were jumping in the upper riding ring, working with Doss and Bailey on their position and jumping confidence. It takes a lot of trust in your horse and confidence in your skills to have the bravery to jump with such a big creature, but these boys were up to the challenge. They leapt over cross bars and jumps a couple feet high, gaining confidence and knowledge with every landing.
Besides jumping, boys have been doing a lot of ground-work to advance in their progressions. They have to learn the technical parts of riding like foot-falls and leads, plus the details of how to feed horses and ensure they have proper supplements to their nutrition. Boys learn how to take apart, clean, and reassemble each component of a horse’s tack, plus basic equine first aid. The progressions are a big part of maintaining a quality horseback program at camp, but that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play. Besides today’s fun horse swim, the boys have also had fun with the horses by painting them, or giving them baths with sudsy bubbles and shaving cream. For many boys, they don’t care what the activity is, they just enjoy being around the horses.
Though riding is a lot of fun, the boys also know that it takes hard work to care for the horses. After a fun jump lesson in the ring, those same boys will be the ones mucking stalls, scraping hooves, and brushing horses. Riding takes just as much Warrior Spirit as it does Servant’s Heart, teaching boys what it takes to care for a creature other than yourself. After a month at camp, you can often see how the bonds between horse and rider have grown. I’m sure these boys will be signed up to hang out with their favorite horses over the next couple of days, packing in as much time as they can at the barn during this final week.
More Highlights From This Tuesday:
- We had four previous campers visit during lunch today: Carson, Cooper, Harrison, and Greg. They were members of the FLINT crew last summer, and it was great to see all of them. They returned to reconnect with the camp community for the afternoon. “I love hearing that bell,” Harrison said at lunch. “We just got here but it already feels like we’ve been here for a while,” he explained, talking about how normal it felt to be back.
- Quentin B. achieved Warrior in Lacrosse
- Lawton J. Earned Warrior in Arts and Crafts and Ranger in Pottery
- Dasher E. led a Kung Fu lesson during second free period, announcing the activity to the whole camp community during lunch today.
- Breakfast: Chicken biscuits with scrambled eggs, hash browns, oatmeal, and a fruit, granola, and yogurt bar.
- Lunch: Hot dogs with chili and cheese, seasoned french fries, pasta salad, apple slices, broccoli and cheddar soup, a full salad bar, and s’more pockets for dessert
- Dinner: Turkey and homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and a warm dinner roll with apple turnovers for dessert.