Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pony Boot Camp

I've always felt the highest praise one can receive for their horse is being able to send it to someone else and have it behave itself. Sure, we all know the little quirks of our horses' personalities and have all the tricks to keep them in line, but can someone else deal with them? That's the true test of training.

This past week I sent my kids off to a friend's horse day camp. Yes, I know.... their life is basically horse camp since we live on a farm, but school just let out, I'm already sick of them, and this gave me a fabulous opportunity to get them out of my hair from 9-3 for a week. Also, it's always good for them to have experience with other trainers and horses to round out their education and blah, blah, blah..... I wanted the house to myself for a week. 

Before the first day of camp, my friend asked if I was bringing along the kids' pony, Spots. My first response was, "That seems like more work, and the point of this is less work." But, my friend assured me that Spots could stay over at her farm, so I wouldn't need to haul him back and forth every day, and her farm is like 5 minutes down the road in case anything happened. So, I loaded up two kids, all their gear, and one pony with all his gear and off we went. This took way longer than expected, but we did manage to make it over there. (I can load me, Spider and all our gear in 15 minutes, this took about 2 hours. It was like herding cats.)

Jack wanted to know why he wasn't invited to pony camp.

After I dropped everyone off, I left the trailer hooked up, just in case. My friend thought this was hilarious, she was like, "Did you think you were going to have to come get him in a pony trailer ride of shame?" Hey, it's always good to be prepared. I always expect the worst, so I'm always either pleasantly surprised or prepared.

See, while Spots is a great pony, if I was writing an ad for him I would not put the words "beginner safe" in there. He has a bit of brat in him, that little Appy pony spark that makes him great for my kids to learn on and still fun for me to ride. But, my kids are not "beginner" riders. They've been riding since they were in utero, and I'm not exactly a "beginner", either. I warned my friend about this, of course, and she actually has way more experience than I do with kids and ponies, so I felt pretty safe dropping Spots off there, but I still wanted him to do well and behave himself.

Turns out, I didn't have much to worry about. He was nervous at first.  He's spent the last several years on our small, private farm learning to dressage and teaching my kids. A gaggle of giggling little girls and ponies was a totally new experience for him. But, my friend and her daughter did a great job of acclimating him and getting him settled, so by the end of the first day he was taking it in stride. When I picked up the kids at the end of the first day I received several compliments on his lovely gaits and transitions. That's music to a Dressage Queen's ears, even if it comes from 10 year olds. (Clearly, my friend is teaching them to have a good eye.) My friend's teenage daughter was also allowed to take him over a jump course, and I'm told he did very well in spite of him having been jumped only once in the entire time I've owned him.

My daughter was a bit disappointed that none of the other girls wanted to ride Spots. They're allowed to swap out horses, and over the course of the week my daughter rode every horse at camp. I had to explain to her that her pony is a bit "spicier" than what the other girls at camp are used to. She was also disappointed that she couldn't jump like the other girls, and I had to explain to her that her mom is a dressage rider and doesn't know how to jump.... I see jumping lessons in that girls' future. My son was mostly happy playing in the dirt and building towers out of duct tape..... He did ride, but he was disappointed that Beau didn't get to come to camp. At 25 I thought camp might be a little too much for Beau.

All in all it was a great experience for the kids and Spots. Especially Spots.  He's eventually going to have to go from learning dressage and how to be a kids' pony, to being the kids' show pony, and the hustle and bustle of Camp was a great way to break him into it. Now I just have to keep up that mentality at home. He gets today off, but tomorrow he's getting enrolled in my own version of "Pony Camp" at home!

The look on his face says it all.


  1. Appys have such expressive faces. Cheers to pony camps!

  2. Enjoy your week of peace and quiet!

  3. Aww what a good pony Spots!!


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