Tuesday, August 9, 2011

She Did Horse Camp at Laurel Valley Ranch

It's not really news that my girls love horses.  I mean, they really, really love horses.  We drive by them daily, we read about them at home.  We watch Horseland on repeat, and my two year old can identify horses by their coat color, "that's a Palomino, that's an Appaloosa, that's a Paint."  And likewise, I know more about horses than I did a few years ago.

When we decided that Cam would finish pre-school at the end of July, we needed a camp or activity for her to do for a week.  I gave her several options, gymnastics camp, dance camp, or horse camp.  Naturally, she chose horse camp.  So, I got in touch with the the Ranch where she had her birthday party last January.  I was a bit concerned that Camdyn might be on the young side to participate, but I was assured that they have children come to camp that are younger than 5 1/2. 

After trading a few very informative and encouraging emails with the owner, Kathy, I decided to register Camdyn for 3 days of horse camp.  I decided that going Mon, Wed, Friday, would offer her a day of rest from the intense Florida heat and humidity in between her horse camp days.  Approximately $275 later and she was all set to go.


We arrived at LVR at about 8:45 on Monday morning.  Cam was beaming ear to ear and was 10 kinds of excited about the horses already.  I, on the other hand, had knots in my stomach and 10 thousand questions running through my mind.  I signed her in, had a quick chat with her leader about sunscreen, her lunch, pick up time, and keeping her safe.  I signed a waiver, Cam tried on a helmet and she was off to the barn.

I was left standing there having a "mommy moment."  She's really growing up.  She's not scared about this?  She'll be here all day, she knows no one?  Should this have been harder for her?  In that moment as I walked to my truck I decided I would pick her up as soon as possible that afternoon.  So, I showed up at 3:00. 


She was happy, dirty, sweaty and exhausted...and thoroughly peeved that she missed her afternoon bareback session because I showed up early.  Like a good Momma, I promised her she could stay for bare back riding on Wed & Friday.

I made good on that promise.  I sat at a picnic table, armed with my zoom lens (which was fogged up from the humidity) and photographed Camdyn riding bare back for the first time.  She trotted in her early morning lesson, but soon discovered that riding bare back did not afford her the same confidence.

Her instructor would remind her "pick up the reigns, Camdyn, and tell that horse where to go."  And she would.  She needed the reminder.

"Camdyn turn that horse around and go the other way. Look over your shoulder in the direction you want your horse to go."

That's what she did in the photo above.  She turned her horse, named Special, around.  180 degrees, around, pride written all over her face, along with extreme concentration.  My heart swelled for her. 

Sometimes we forget that children have milestone moments on a regular basis.  Moments where they accomplish something that may not seem like a big deal to others, who do it regularly, but for them, it's a big deal.  Controlling that horse, that one time, was a big moment for Camdyn.


When I asked Camdyn who her best friend at Horse Camp is, she replied, "Molly." 

Molly is a horse.

This does not surprise me.


Her experience at horse camp was a positive one.  Sure, I wish they would have helped her apply more sunscreen after that swim in the pool, and sure, I wish someone would have made sure she ate more than skittles for lunch one day, but those are small potatoes, really. 

She was safe at horse camp.  She loved every second of it, including craft time.  She brought home the cutest felt horses that she made in the camp room.  And, boy I wish I could remember the name of the lovely lady who took the time to sit with me and Chloe on Friday afternoon as we watched Cam's final bare back session.  She told me that Camdyn is fearless, and we discussed how much Cam enjoyed making crafts that day.  That interaction and feedback made my day. 

My kid, had an amazing experience at Laurel Valley Ranch, and her love for horses continues.  She can't wait to go back for a few weeks next summer, and I'm thinking that some time in between now and then, she just might have to have a few private lessons. 


Kelley said...

That is so awesome! I love that she takes lessons and went to a camp. So fun! We drive by horses every day and go by to look at them. My sons have ridden some a handful of times but never like your daughter. I should change that!

LeeAnn said...

I'm so happy that Camdyn loved horse camp, and that she had such a great experience! And see, I told you she would be fine riding bareback. ;-)

You are so right about the milestones and how little things can be a big deal for little kids. Rylie unbuttoned her pants by herself this morning and I was doing a dance.

I love the pictures!

Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

That is so cool. You could see how intense her concentration was. What a wonderful camp for her. I bet it made her summer. I agree you should sign her up for some private lessons. She looks like a natural.
What a wonderful mommy you are.

Mama Hen said...

The pictures are wonderful! I wish the girls could have done horse camp together! They realy would be best buds. We decided not to do the horse camp here because it was over 500 for the week and I decided to put it towards her ongoing classes. She has been doing so great and I want to continue. It can get expensive. I am so happy that Camdyn did such a fabulous job. But you knew she would! :) We all did! i just love the pictures my friend! Have a great day!

Mama Hen

Mama Hen said...

By the way, the two lefties really are the coolest! :) I am not sure if you have this, but I ordered scissors from the Left handed Store in California. It made all the difference. She kept switching to the right hand, because regular scissors have the bladee made for righties. There is no such thing as scissors for both right and left handed people because of the blade. Even though they do sell them and it says they are, they really aren't. Just a side note my friend! :)

Mama Hen

Cole said...

That looks like So. Much. Fun. We are going on vacation for a few days at Rocking Horse Ranch, and *hopefully* I'll get to go on a ride with Mommy or Daddy - I LOVE horsies lately!

Liz said...

Cam is growing up so fast! I know we talked about how nervous and unsure you were of camp but I never really thought about what Cam might be thinking.... like you pointed out in this point.

She is such a brave and outgoing girl! I'm glad she had fun and I think lessons would be great for her ! :)

Ashley Sisk said...

How fun - I used to do Horse camp back in the day. I know she'll want to do it again next year. :)

Nessa said...

She looks so tiny up there!

Casey Martinez said...

I love the way you write. It is so engaging and gives me lots of smiles. This is exactly what my two younger sisters were into for years and they both did horse camp too! My family actually had horses for several years...after I moved out, go figure. lol. Your little gal sounds very independent! I can only imagine how grown up she looked on that big horse!

Jennifer said...

Wow, I am still in awe as I view those pictures, that Cam is fearless child. She rides that horse like a pro. I guess it is a good thing to let kids experience as much as possible while they are young and fearless. I know, as an adult, I still get nervous when I am on a horse (which is very rare anyway). The fact that you left her there and allowed her to get the full gammet of the camp says alot about how much you trust her and her passion. I have a feeling private lessons are surely going to happen sooner than later :)

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I loved this post. You're daughter looks like a pro now.

I'm completely allergic to horses, but my 5-year-old daughter really has a knack with them. I had been thinking about getting her lessons at a place nearby. She so shy, so maybe it would be good for her confidence.

Lexie Loo & Dylan Too said...

I'm so glad she had fun!!! I was looking forward to reading this post and seeing the pictures. Great shots!