We followed the Wensel’s car down the road to a big house. We pulled into a little gravel spot for the cars. We grabbed our stuff and stepped outside into the morning air. I looked around me, there was a field full of horses, a huge red barn and nice little fancy house.
I followed everyone else into the big red barn. There were 5 doors, two led to the bathrooms one led to the girl dormitory’s, the other to the boy dormitory’s and the last one to the kitchen (where most of the parents hung out and talked). I went into the small room where I would be sleeping and sat down on the big bottom bunk I would be sharing with my mom. I set my stuff down and walked back out.
I saw there were a bunch of other girls coming in. When everyone was there we sat on a couch in the main room and introduced ourselves. There was, Daja, Aleena (pronounced Alena), Abigale, Sky, Andrew, Ryan, Patrick, and me.
Picking our Horse
We sat down on a couch and listened to our instructor Rosemary. She asked some questions like our names, age, if we had rode before, or if we owned a horse. Then we walked out into a field to pick our horse, everyone that was at the front of the line went for the closest horses, so those of us in back had to run to the far end of the field were the other horses were. I walked over to a big brown horse named Willow but I could barely touch her shoulder so I walked over to a different horse, this continued until I finally found one that I could go face to face with, a small white horse named Misty. I put the purple halter on her and walked her back to the other side of the field. (Here at this camp they do not use bits they only use halters!)
In the Arena
We led our horses to the stables and tied them up. We brushed them ’till they shined like the sun and brought them into the arena. We started by warming them up, we ran around the arena with the lead rope while the horses followed.
Then we learned some tricks like backing them away, and pushing them in circles. (we learned how to deal with the horses mostly from on the ground) We also learned something very important, you took the lead rope and swung it kind of like a whip. This got the horses to move forward. We mostly did not touch them with it and just hit the ground next to their butt, but if they did not notice you or would not obey, you hit them slightly with the very end of the rope. Then we tried something that caught us all by surprise, before we even knew what we were doing the teacher asked “Who wants to go first?” and of course everyone raised their hands. She called on me first because Misty was supposed to be good at the game we were playing. Rosemary told me to take off the halter so that I had no control over my horse. I untied the knot, took it off her face, and hung the halter over my arm.
Rosemary told me to turn around and walk away from the horse without looking back until she told me to stop. When I reached the other side of the arena every one was smiling laughing and pointing. Rosemary told me to turn around and there behind me was Misty, she followed me. For the next few minutes I got to play around with it, running, walking, jumping, and turning.
Then it was Andrews turn, he took off the halter of his horse, Mary, then he turned and walked. When he turned back around Mary was over by Patrick’s horse, Texas. Mary was in love with Texas so she would follow him around wherever he went. Rosemary showed Patrick how to get rid of Mary by using the end of the lead rope like a whip and aim it towards Mary’s butt. Mary went dashing off around the arena while people whipped their lead ropes at her ’till she found Andrew. Everyone else had a turn running, jumping, twisting, and turning with their horse.
We walked back inside the barn, sweaty, and tired. We had some chips, humus, sandwiches, and fruit. It was all very delicious and it really filled us up for the next activity we were going to do with our horses. There was a rumor going around that we were going to a lake to swim with our horse, everyone hoped that the rumor was true. We had an hour after lunch to visit our horses in the field, play cards, and do a quick game of truth or dare. Then Rosemary came in the barn and told us we had about ten minutes to get our swimsuit on and to get our horses to the stable. Everyone quick changed into their swimsuits for it was now obvious that the rumor was true. We went out into the field put the halter on our horses and brought them to the stables for a brush.
Getting ready for the Lake
We brought our horses to the stables and brushed them off. We all discovered a comb in the basket for the mane and we all wanted to use it. When all of our horses backs were clean and manes were tidy we brought them into the arena. When we got in the arena Rosemary told us to leave our horses there and go to the tack room for saddles. This got us excited so we raced into the big barn and into the tack room. We found helmets blankets and saddles for our horses so we brought them back out into the arena. When I got back Misty was waiting patiently in the far corner with some other horses. I went over to her and laid the blanket on her back, I put the saddle on top of the blanket and pulled the strap from under her belly. This was the hard part that used a lot of muscle, you had to pull the strap really tight ’till it was tight enough that the saddle didn’t slide. I always got help from the instructor because I could never get it on tight enough. When we had our saddles on and our horses ready we started learning how to ride on these horses. This was very hard for me because I have learned how to ride a horse before and it was way different commands than I was used to.
At this farm you pulled back to make them go and where I learned you cluck and kick to make them go, and here to make them stop, you loosen the reins, and pull on one of them to tell them where you really wanted them to go. Where I learned, to make them stop you pull back. As you can see this is a big change for me because if I wanted them to stop my natural instinct would be to pull back but when I did that they would think I wanted them to keep going and then I would end up riding right into a tree.
After I started getting used to the commands we headed out on a small trail.
The Lake was Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!
We were walking single file on a narrow trail that would lead us to the lake. When we finally reached the lake we were all ready to take a swim after all the hard work we had done that day. We all took off the clothes we had over our swimsuits, and jumped into the water. At first it was really cold but we got used to it and soon we were splashing and having fun. Then Rosemary told us that three horses at a time could be brought into the water to swim, someone would hold the lead rope and lead them in circles while the other person (or more than 1 person) sat on the horses back.
Every one wanted to go first so we kind of set up a list of who went after who. When it was my turn I went to go get Misty but she wouldn’t budge, I took the lead rope and used it as a whip. She responded to that so I led her towards the water. When I brought her into the shallow water she did not want to go in so she tried to back out of the water but I whipped towards her butt again and she walked in. I handed the lead rope to the instructor and hopped on Misty’s back. At first it felt weird riding a horse bareback in a lake but you soon got used to it and had a lot of fun. After a while the horses did not want to be in the water any more and they would pull us out of the water and onto the land, some of us got lucky and before the horses pulled us out we made a spectacular jump off the horses back into the water. We got out and let our hoses dry in the sun and eat some food before saddling them back up and riding them back to camp.
When we got back to the camp we went to the stables and tied up our horses, they were really dirty from the lake so we brushed them and then brought them out to the pasture. We had about 2 hours till dinner so we decided to use our time playing games. We played cards, a game called spotlight, it is just like hide and seek but in the dark with flash lights.
We also played a game kind of like Mafia where someone picks the detective and the murderer, the detective turns off the lights so it is pitch black and we all walk around.
The detective stays in his seat with his eyes closed (even though it is pitch black you want to be safe) then the murderer kills somebody by poking their back. The person that got killed waits three seconds before screaming “ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!” then the detective flicks on the lights and asks villagers what they saw. Villagers can only tell the truth but murderers are allowed to lie. Then the detective would guess who he/she thought it was and see if they were right or wrong. You kept going until the detective caught the murderer or the murderer killed the whole village. We played this for a while then we had dinner.
After eating pasta, Ryan, Aleena, and Andrew played the violins while me and Sky played the drums. and finally after a lot of convincing the parents got the girls to stand up and start dancing, while Patrick stayed on the couch. Then we all changed into our pajamas and went to bed.
In the Morning
I woke up to find my Mom gone and all the girls sitting in their beds playing a game of truth or dare. Sky was still sleeping though. I joined in the game but soon got up, got dressed and went to find breakfast. I found my Mom in the kitchen so I had some cereal and an apple before going back to the girls room. There was a door at the back of the room that led to the fields so I went outside to check on Misty. While out there I found Abigale, and Daja, doing the same thing. We all went to our horses and petted them and looked at them and straightened up their manes. We went back down to the barn and slid through the door that led to the girls room. I sat back down on the bed, bored. Then I went back out and played a game of cards with Aleena and Daja. Suddenly Abigale ran out of the girls room and into the kitchen. One of the parents followed Abigale out of the kitchen and into the girls room. We all sat there wondering what was wrong, Abigale came out looking worried, “Sky is sick” she said. We all were worried for Sky because it would be sad if she couldn’t ride that day. Sky stayed sick the whole morning while everyone ate breakfast. Finally about 15 minutes before we were going outside to get our horses and meet Rosemary I noticed Patrick wasn’t there, I went over to the boy’s dormitory, (that any one was allowed to go into after knocking) I knocked but no answer. I poked my head in and saw an empty room with Patrick sleeping in one of the top bunks. I walked over to his bed a shook him awake. He opened his eyes a little and groaned. “15 minutes ’till we start” suddenly his eyes went big and he told me to get out. In a few minutes he was outside in clothes eating breakfast. By the time he was done we all were walking out the door towards the field.
In a new Arena
We brushed our horses off and started leading them towards the arena when Rosemary stopped us and led us the other way. We were walking towards the back of the barn towards a small closed octagon arena. Rosemary told everyone to tie up their horses except for me. She told me to lead mine to the octagon arena. I walked Misty over to the arena and Rosemary opened the gate. I walked inside. There was sand on the ground so it was hard to run. Rosemary told me to do some warm ups by taking the halter off and walking around. Misty followed me as I did twists turns and ran. I was all pooped out by the time Rosemary told me to stop. She told me that we were going to learn how to get the horses to move in circles around you without the halter on them. She told me to push Misty away from me, point where I wanted Misty to go and swing the whip at her butt. When I did this Misty moved in slow walking circles around me. Rosemary told me to get her to run faster. I clucked to her and swung the whip some more. Soon she was galloping around the small arena in circles. Everyone was watching for a while ’till they got bored and went into the barn to get a nice glass of cold lemonade. Soon every body was taking their turn with their horse and coming out of the arena tired and worn out from running around in the hot sun. We had a fun time, but by the time all 9 of us had taken our long turns in the arena it was time for lunch.
Back in the Arena
We had some lunch and went out to get our horses from the field. After we finally caught all the horses and put the halters on them we brushed them down and brought them to the regular arena and spread them out. When Rosemary arrived, we did some exercises with our horses, we got to practice some of the tricks that we had learned the first day, but not the one where we took the halter off. After we warmed up for a while. Rosemary had a fun game we were going to play, all of us took the halters off of our horses at once. At first when we did it some of the horses got confused and wandered away, other horses did not even know that their halters had been removed so they just stood where they had been left. We were all so focused on getting our horses to follow us that we forgot to take out our halters and lead the other horses towards where they were supposed to go. Rosemary started telling us to move the other horses away from us, so we started swinging the lead rope at the nearest horses ’till we had a big jumble of horses running in circles. Rosemary told us to spread out and soon most of the horses had found their partner. She told us to move around the arena trying to avoid the other kids. We did that and soon all of the horses were following us. Sometimes a horse would go running off and then one of the kids would spin their lead rope, the horse would go running off but sometimes the horse behind you would think that you were swinging the rope at them, so they would go running off too! Then it would take a while for the horse to come back. Once we were done playing around with that, we put the halters back onto the horses. We had a little drink/bathroom break before coming back.
Almost time for the Lake
After the break we went back out to the fields, got our horses and brushed them off. We brought them to the arena, Rosemary told us to close the gate and take the harnesses off of our horses. Then she told us the challenge, we must all make it across the arena in a line making a sort of chain where we were all connected. First we thought it was going to be easy so we lined up our horses at one side of the arena, every one touching the horses next to them. We started walking, thinking that the horses were going to follow us but some horses did not want to move and all of them were going at different paces. Some of the horses went too far away for us to touch them, and other horses went too far ahead or behind for others to reach them, and others just wandered off to a different side of the arena. When the first horse made it to the other side of the arena we all turned around to see what had happened. There were horses wandering around the arena everywhere, not knowing what they were supposed to be doing. We talked about what had gone wrong and what other things we could try. We suggested that we would be able to do it if we had the lead ropes so Rosemary gave them to us and told us to do it. We all got the lead ropes and started walking our horses across the arena. when we made it to the other side we cheered with victory. Then Rosemary called us over, “What did you do wrong?” she asked. We all looked at each other confused, then Abigale said, “We were not connected that time!” We all groaned and started to stand up again when Rosemary said, that is not going to work, you need a new plan, someone suggested that we ride the horses so we all grabbed saddles and ran back to the arena. Rosemary piped up, “You better hurry because it might get to late to go to the lake.” We fastened on the saddles and hopped on our horses. We could not get our horses to move! We could not even get them in a line at one side of the arena. Finally we got off of our horses and led them to one side of the arena, then we got back on their backs and held onto the horses manes that were next us. Then we kicked our horses. Some horses went some horses didn’t. Soon we were all crowded together in the center of the arena begging our horses to move. We got off of our horses and brought them back to the other side of the arena. We hopped back on their backs and tried one more time, this time it went more smoothly for most for the horses, but then we found out why, we were not connected in any way! This time we tried a mix-match, the kids that thought they should be on the ground, stayed on the ground and led their horses, and the ones that thought you should be on the back of the horse, were on the back. This was closer than we had ever been, but it still failed. We got off our horses and went back over to Rosemary. Rosemary told us that we needed to come up with a different idea if we wanted to go back to the lake. Suddenly Aleena had an idea that we should lead them in a single file line on the ground. We got our horses and handed the lead rope to the person in front of us. We then led the horses to the other side of the arena with no problems. We whooped and screamed and jumped up and down because we had finally done it! It was so hot that none of the parents wanted to stay outside and watch our victory, so we got no pictures of us winning only ones of us failing. We brought the horses back to the fields to eat for a few minutes while we went inside and changed.
Back to the Lake
When we had brought our horses from the fields into the arena and put the saddles back onto their backs, we headed out for the lake. Because everyone knew the rules and was comfortable with their horse in the water, Rosemary let us put a few more than three horses in the water at a time. We all played and rode and ran out of the water when one of the horses pooped while swimming. Patrick’s horse Texas wanted to get out of the water so when you were riding him he would slowly tip upwards and you would slide down his back into the water. There were three dogs, Duke, a big white shabby dog, and two other dogs that looked just like each other, one of them was named Cody but I do not remember the other ones name! We found out that Cody would play fetch with a stick. You threw it into the water and then he would swim out to it and bring it back in his mouth. Misty was a small horse so she could not go as deep as the other horses. I got dunked a lot because when Misty went into the deeper spots, the water would go up to the top of her neck and that meant it went to the top of my belly. Texas had a very short mane so while you were riding on him, you only had a small wisp of wet hair to hold yourself on his back. That is why we fell off so easily when he went upwards. When we were all dried off and all the horses had their saddles, we left to go back to the house.
We got back to the house and put the saddles away, we brushed our horses and brought them to the field. We went inside and packed our bags. We played a game of cards and visited our horses out in the field every once-and-awhile. I went out to the fields with Daja and searched around for Misty. I spotted her in the middle of the field grazing with some other horses. I walked over to her.
She put her head up to see who was coming when she saw it was me, she put her head back down. I petted her and then walked backwards hoping that she would follow doing the trick we had learned in the arena, and it turns out that the horses do not follow you unless you are in the arena. I walked back down to the barn to pack my things. When I got inside, I brought my stuff down to the car. Then I said goodbye to every one and went out to the cars with everyone else. I went to say goodbye to Misty in the field one more time before we left. When I got into the car I begged my dad to buy Misty, but he would not give in. Then I said one last goodbye to everyone before driving away.
What a Wonderful story and adventure! Papa and I really enjoyed reading your book and looking at the pictures.