This wonderful camp I’ve had the pleasure to spend 10 weeks working at is an incredibly special place. It allows people of differing abilities to full fill their potential and take part in everything possible and I am so proud of myself for aiding this.
The horses were my favourite part of my camp. We have 12 and they are all beautiful, just like our kids (most of the time). I would like to tell you about a couple of the wonderful moments I’ve experienced when we’ve got our kids to ride.
One of my favourite campers was an 18 year old guy who is non-verbal. He only makes sounds letting you know if he’s happy or sad. When he’s happy he can giggle for hours which always put a huge smile on my face. Non of us are really sure how much he understands out of what we say, but I believe he understands very little. When it came to horse riding we were all determined to get him on the horse. The first time it took 4 people, a large mounting block and an incredibly patient horse to get him up. When he was finally up and the horse began to walk it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. He was smiling more than I had seen all week and his eyes lit up. I don’t think he understood what we were trying to do when we were lifting him over onto the horse, but he loved every second of being up there. This was my first moment of emotion, back in week 1, at camp. 3 weeks of camp later and he was mounting with only one helper, riding bareback and dismounting himself. He definitely has a feel for horse riding and I loved the horses more and more for allowing him to experience it.
Another of my favourite campers is a beautiful little girl who is also non-verbal and normally is pushed around in her stroller or a wagon. She is very unsteady on her feet but she can still walk largely independently when she decides to. She was a handful to her counsellor but we all loved her and helped when we could. She loves horses and has taken lessons here for a long time so I was dying to see her ride. Her counsellor and I got her up on the horse with no problems and she looked like a professional when she rode. She’s a total star. I took some stunning photos of her smile.
In week 2 I had 2 boys. They both took part in the horse riding when it was offered to them. I taught them about how if you gently blow on the horses nose, the horse will blow back. Like a conversation. Since then they have told all their friends this and still do it each time they visit the barn. They took turns to ride and this time it was me grinning from ear to ear. My favourite moment was when my lovely (stubborn) camper jumped off and sprinted up to me and hugged me so tightly. Moments like that keep you going when you think you are done with it all. To be honest I haven’t had any moments that make me feel done. Every minute I find something good in what I’m doing. This particular camper quickly became one of my favourites. I was his counsellor again in week 4 and we had a great week together. I even got to take a walk around the barn with him – the only time I have been able to ride this summer.
Lastly, in week 9 I managed to get my all time favourite camper up on one of my favourite horses. She is 6 years old, non-verbal and can’t move around very well. I loved her so much and had the absolute best week with her. When I got her around the horses she absolutely loved it and it was a pleasure to see her so happy.
It’s made me realise ‘horse sense’ is a real thing. The horses understand more than we think and are brilliant with our incredible children. Saying goodbye to the horses will be almost as hard as the kids! They are absolute gems.
Until next time!