Kate Stevens first came to the Summer Horse Camp at age 6. She came every year for eight years. This year she applied to be a volunteer. Helping other kids learn how to handle horses and enjoy their time.
There are many children like Kate in the camp, spending a good time with the horses and staying away from the electronic gadgets.
The summer horse camp at Juckas Stables in upstate New York has a variety of games to teach children three things:
- How to take care of a horse?
* Feed them properly of course. Not just food, give them enough water.
* Groom their hair, especially the back and belly area. Why? Do they care so much about their looks? Perhaps. But you certainly don’t want any dirt or mud to rub their skin when you put the saddle on.
* Horses are herd animals. They will be happier if living in a group.
* They could be cold, too, even with heavy hair. So better give them a coat in winter.
- How to stay safe around a horse?
* Don’t scream or run to a horse. Horses are easily get spooked. So gentle movements are critical.
* When coming close to a horse, always put one hand on their body. That’s a way to tell them, “Hey, I’m here. ”
* Watch their body language/ear movements.
When their ears face the front, or at opposite directions, it means they are curious. They are relaxed when the ears turn sideways. But when their ears face backwards, they are probably unhappy or scared. Keep at a safe distance now, for they might want to bite or kick someone. Yes, horses do bite people.
- How to rein a horse?
*Make sure the saddle is tight and the bridle in the right place. Sit straight on the back of the horse and clamp the legs. And we are ready for a trot.
*Horses are smart. They know if you are scared or confident. They will behave better if you are more confident.
*Direct with the reins. Most of the time you just need to hold the reins in one hand. When making a left turn, pull to the left with the left hand. After making that move, give the rein back to the right hand. That’s the western way to rein a horse.
The horses at Juckas Stables are trained to walk in a straight line. Making turns is definitely a challenge.
The children did an amazing job on the closing day horse show, reining the horses to walk in a circle in front of their cheering families and friends.
It’s hard for the children to part with their new friends now. After the one-week experience, most of them want to have a horse when they grow up.