There are lots of great horse camps in the Memphis Area this Summer!
I've got a "few" years of experience under my belt teaching horse camps and camps in general to youth both as a Riding Instructor, former Teacher, and former Program Assistant for Youth Education programs at the Memphis Botanic Garden. From my experience, here are some tips for selecting the best camp situation for your child!
Check out the Mid south Horse Review's May 2019 issue page 6 for more information on Summer Camps available in our area this summer.
Can we love our horses too much....I believe so!
I grew up in the traditional hunter/jumper realm which is popular in the Memphis area. Mainly because this is what is prevalent in this area. I just wanted to be around horses and ride anything! My mom had saddlebreds growing up in East Tennessee and also showed them when I was a young child. Although this breed was common in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee, none were in the this area. I'd have given anything to ride these big, bold, flashy, fire breathing dragons. I thought it was normal for them to be kept in stalls, have crazy tail sets, harnesses, gigantic padded feet....I thought breezing them and warm ups down aisles while hooting and hollering and using fire extinguishers was normal too as a kid. This is a common training technique for "accentuating" their already animated nature. Oh my word....these poor horses, lol! At least back in the day, at the end of a show season in the wintertime, it was common to pull shoes, let them grow out their woolly coat and whiskers, and put them out for winter to let them have some down time, be horses again, and get a break from all the hoopla people put them through during the show season. That was probably their only saving grace to sanity.
Growing up hunter jumper, we had a routine. Horses stayed up summertime when hot, and were turned out in the evenings with buddies. Horses went out in groups- mares and geldings alike. Horses did not go out in turnout blankets- they were not an invention yet! They got their stable sheets and blankets if needed at night time. We let their coats grow to warm them. We didn't have armor-like bell boots and turnout boots or scrim sheets or hoodies or slinky's or sleazies...or whatever the heck they're called now, lol. Horses didn't show 12 months a year, and we often pulled shoes over winter too....but we still rode and played, and had fun when able to. We trail rode, did gymnastics, played bareback games...had fun. What's happened to the fun? What's happened to letting horses be horses?
I think we horse people often get caught up in routine and doing things because we see others do it without really thinking...what's the point of this? Why are we doing things this way...really? Is it out of fear...are we going along with the crowd...is it REALLY for our horse's benefit or is it for our benefit?
Thinking like this has helped me stay in touch with my horses...I stop and think is this going to make my horse happy, really? Here's the deal. Horses survived in the wild, with other horses, with no booties, ear bonnets, sleazies, in the rain, in the cold, in the heat, with the bugs, with dirt, mud, rocks, lightening, with wild boars.....now I'm the first to admit that some of mine would have been toast...natural selection would not have been on their side (which is why God placed them here, with me, the only owner that could love their special quirks....at this point in time, lol!) Point being, when we take our horses so far away from their nature and the things that they prefer....when we make them so delicate a creature that they can't emotionally handle life as a horse any longer....what are we doing??? The issues in our horses are created most often by owners Don't create problems in your horse by loving them so much that you take them away from who they are at heart! Horses are happiest when we allow them to be a horse, be with horses, and do the things that horses do true to their nature....not ours! There's a valuable lesson in this for people. When we can "let go" of our need to control, we become happier souls too. Worry is the tool of the devil. Contentment in the moment is peace and powerful and strong. Horses can teach us how to find this if we listen to their nature.
A goal of Meadowthorpe Farm is to encourage more youth to experience horses. To have an opportunity to learn about them, learn from them, and continue to learn and grow moving forward in life. Horses teach invaluable life lessons to people about life, about people, and about oneself. As manager of Meadowthorpe, I could have kept this farm all to myself, done my own thing with my own horses, focused on myself, my riding....gone the adult amateur horse show route. But that's not really me, and that's not the route I'm taking...at least not right now. I want to help introduce more Memphis local kids to horses for the fun of it, for the learning, and for horses. I want to inspire kids to pursue their horse interests in college-whether as a field of study, on an equestrian team, or as a career choice. I want kids to have more opportunities, like I did growing up locally, to participate in horse events and venues affordably and demonstrate through example that there is not "one model" for experiencing horses.
I'm fed up with the increasing elitism I see happening in our local area, throughout the country, and worldwide when it comes to horses (especially the hunter jumper disciplines). So, I'm using the opportunity God's graced me with and groomed me for to work towards finding more opportunities for average folks & kids to learn about and love horses. I want kids to have more opportunities to go to horse shows and compete. I want kids to have more opportunities to work together with other kids and adults and learn from each other about horses. I want to give adults opportunities to mentor kids and share their wisdom. Collaboration and learning is a powerful thing. I had these opportunities when I was a kid. Our area had more of this then.
I'm excited to see the re-emergence of schooling show venues that offer something different and focus on fun and affordability. I'm here to try and help keep this out of the box, alternative, friendly and forward- thinking mindset going, and work with others to "level the playing field" so to speak in our Hunter/Jumper area in order to offer something new, different, and transparent for folks interested. Kids are hungry for it, parents are hungry for it, and truth be told, I think many horse folks feeling "stuck in a rut" are hungry for it too. Inclusion and openness, collaboration, structure, accountability, alternative learning paths, hobbies, and motivators....our kids are begging for these along with parents and our community. We'll see what happens. More to come....