Saturday, June 22, 2013

Horsing Around

Wow... what an incredibly fun week we had at Teen Girls' Horse Camp!

The twins and I arrived at camp as scheduled around 3 p.m., Monday afternoon.  I was glad to be there as the campers got there, as I could try to start learning their names right away.  Since it was a specialized camp, there were only 8 girls attending.  I was assigned the "older" group, 5 of the girls, and the other three, who were already friends, were assigned to the other Counsellor, Ashley, a college student, and friend of the Greene's who is helping out for the summer.

The after everyone and all their luggage and paraphernalia were shuffled over to the cabin, we had our first ride.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to ride as much this week, as all the horses I would have felt comfortable riding were taken most days.  However, I could help tack up, and do ground work, so I still spent my days around horses, and all that entails.

The first thing we did was go to a couple of fields.  We split up the group into two, and the a lady that was hired to help, Denise, took one,  and Mr. Greene took the other.  We were in adjacent fields.  At first I helped Denise, but Mrs. Greene called down to ask for Mr. Greene, so I went over to the other field.  He came back a few moments later, and as we were chit chatting, one of the horse, Sonny, bucked and the poor girl, Hannah, did a fall that looked like Superman flying, off into the thistles.  Ouch.  She was fine, just a bit sore, and Heather Greene, who knows the horses very well, said that he would only do that once, and she should be fine.  Well, he was still acting a little strangely, and on the trail ride after supper, Heather said she would ride him to see what the matter was.

Mr. Greene and I didn't go with them, but Denise did.  The girls got back and I heard some excited talking, telling of something that happened.  When I got to the group Heather was already off Sonny, and moaning, and said, "I biffed it."  In horse terms that means she fell off.  In this case she was bucked off.  In the rock quarry. However, Sonny must have a thing for thistles, because guess where she landed?  It was probably better that way.  However, she did hurt her finger when coming off the horse, and I had to tape it all week.  She thinks it might be broken, but it is hard to tell.

The very next morning, she slipped on the stairs to the cabin, and yes, she did a very graceful sliding and bouncing down most of the long flight.  I was thinking, "This is going to be a long week."

There were many more minor injuries... scratches from briers,  headaches, etc., but let me tell you, these girls can take a beating!  And they all had excellent attitudes about it!  No ones likes injury, but they could all laugh about it good naturedly.

Tuesday night the Heritage Singers were back in town, and we all loaded up on the bus and took off to the church to go to the meeting.  It happened to be the one about a mile from our house, so Dale and the rest of the kids were there.  I hate to say it, but I was VERY tempted to just spend the night at home, but didn't give into it.  I think they would have noticed if a counselor was missing!  After services we stayed late at the church and played volleyball with the group.  There were six of them against a gaggle of us, and we still lost! That's okay.

We got back late, and Mrs. Greene opened the Snack Shack, which is when the campers can buy some snacks or a special drink like Snapple or Gatorade, or a soda, before hitting the cabins.  I was yawning, looking forward to doing the end of the day devotions with my girls, then hitting the bed, and hard.  My girls were just heading over across to the cabin, and I was about to follow them out when Mr. Greene said, "Hey, Mrs. Post, would you like to do the morning devotions tomorrow?"  I was glad to, but maybe next time he could make it a little more last minute, eh?  So, after night devotions with the girls and praying with them, I studied for a bit, and then hit the rack.

Okay,/ my notes the next morning made NO sense to me whatsoever.  I had a couple of verses written down that had nothing to do with what I was talking about.  However, my speaking went well enough I think, and I was very grateful for the comfortable atmosphere that the camp provides.

Wednesday afternoon we all headed up a very long trail, some of the horses laden with saddle bags, full of food for supper, and our sleeping bags, etc.  We we passed some narrow trails, and through a wicked brier patch that nearly tore the pants of our legs.  Girls not wearing something on their legs suffered some punishment, which I had to put ointment on once we got to our camp up on the mountain.

I was having some trouble with my dear friend Shadow.  We got to this fallen log and she did not want to step over it, and once she stopped, I couldn't get her going at all.  I got off and tugged and pulled and yanked.  Finally one of the girls who were waiting in line behind me slapped Shadow on her rear and .... she almost moved!  We did finally convince her to go around the tree, and once we got on the other side I figured she would be fine.  Nope.

Meanwhile, most of the group was waiting ahead for us to catch up.  After much coercion she finally got going.  For a bit.  When we got to a very small creek she balked and wouldn't go.  She hates to get her hooves wet, I know, but come on horse!  You can step right over the thing!  I got off again.  More tugging, pulling, begging, threatening, bribing, praying even, and slapping on the rear.  She finally got over it, and we were off at a very slow paced walk, but at least we were moving.  The rest of the ride was fine, even through the brier patch.  But this horse eats practically every leaf and fern she can get, and while she is eating, she isn't paying attention and practically trips over her own shadow.  I decided that was how she got her name, and that it had nothing to do with her sleek, black coat.

We walked-tripped our way up to the camping area, called The Big Rocks, and it was well worth the time and effort.  Then I heard Mr. Greene say, "Oops, I forgot the tent."

Some of the girls wanted to take their horses on a run (there was a dirt road for gas workers access we had passed just before reentering the woods to the camp site where they could do that) but I declined.  Mr. Greene started a fire, and Ashley and I kept an eye on it and gathered wood for the evening.

Mr. Greene took off on foot... he could cross over a different way that would have been too hard for the horses and make good time.  He was back in under a couple of hours.  He had dropped the tent off where the girls were running the horses and they toted it back for him.

But, the fun had already started.  Just as he left, one of the horses slipped the knot on their lead rope and took off after the girls when they rode off.  He had been ridden by one of the girls, and I think when she went off on Ashley's horse, he wanted to go with her!  Ashley said she would get him, and she did.  We thought we could settle down, and we kind of exhaled in relief and continued breaking up branches for wood.  Well, think again.  Prince (Mr. Greene's horse) slipped his halter and took off.

Both Ashley and I moved to go find him.  We decided we would spook him if we both went, and someone needed to watch the fire (please, no forest fires on my watch!) so she went again.  Time went by and Mr. Greene came back and observed, "We lose someone?"  I thought he was talking about Ashley, but maybe he was referring to Prince.  I could hear the girls coming back, and sure enough Ashley and Prince were with them.  He probably just wanted in on the fun they were having.

We grilled burgers over the open fire, and they were so good.  The girls' were ravenous and ate everything but a smattering of cheetoh's  and graham crackers.  We made s'mores later, and had devotions around the fire.  Around 10:30 or so we went to bed.  It was a beautiful clear night, cool, and we were on a bed of moss.  A few of the girls opted to sleep out in the open, and since Mr. Greene was out there, that was fine.  He tended the fire and kept eye on things.  I think he was hoping to get some sleep, but that was not to be.

Horses.  They definitely have minds of their own.  I could hear all sorts of snorting from time to time, munching, that isn't a problem.  Titan, the big, old, guy, about 17 hands or so, apparently ate through his lead rope and took off to party elsewhere a little before midnight.  Prince slipped his halter again, and was freaking out at the tree he was at, so Mr. Greene moved him.  He then proceed to wrap the rope, and himself around the tree, and then YANKED the tree right up by the roots.  Mr. Greene finally got him settled  but a little too close to another horse who he kept nipping at, and then proceeded to move him again.  Good thing there were alot of trees around!  Then at some point during the night, Ginger go the rope totally tangled up around her neck, and flipped herself.  Mr. Greene said she could have strangled by morning, but of course he wouldn't have let that happen.  So, between retrieving Prince, rescuing Ginger, and hiking around the area looking for Titan, he didn't get much sleep.

I woke up very early to the horses do their early morning whinnying.  It was barely light out, and the birds were just starting to chirp.  Later, Mr.Greene told us the birds start chirping around 5 a.m. this time of year. That comes into play later, so keep reading, and take heart, there is an end to all of this at some point.

At a little after 8 he woke us up.  We feasted on leftover cheetohs, Graham crackers, and a few marshmallows, and water.  Nutritious, eh?  Our plan was to be back at camp for a brunch, so we didn't bring anything for breakfast.  The girls moved like molasses in the winter.  They were so tired, and sore from the long ride the day before and the sundry accidents and tumbles.  I felt sorry for them.  We gradually got moving.  The tent came down, was packed up, and we tacked up the horses, and tried to figure out who was riding who, since Titan was MIA.  I opted to hike.  I'm used to it, and it was downhill most of the way, but I wasn't looking forward to going through the briers, but there was nothing to do for it.  We repacked the saddle bags and luggage, and were just mounting up when Mr. Greene, who again had to retrieve Prince, called from about a hundred yards away, "Guess who I found!?"

Apparently Titan had left the area, and then come back at some point during the night, and never made it all the way back to camp because he got distracted by the yummy ferns covering the area.  I was very glad to see him as that meant I got Shadow back, and I could ride up on a horse, rather than walk through the briers.  They would have been about up to my shoulders.  That also meant some redistribution of all the stuff we had already loaded.  Titan was the horse that carried most of the saddle bags.  They didn't bother him a bit, as so he got to haul a great deal of the stuff up.  Shadow, proving how worthless she is for such jobs, was freaking out at my sleeping bag towards the beginning of the the trip the previous day and one of my girls ended up taking it with her.  Bless her for that!

Off we went.  We weren't far into the trail when I realized Shadow was being a pill and a half.  She sped up her gait but too much.  I didn't want to ram the person in front of me.  Some horse take great offense to that and kick.  Not too nice for the horse behind them.  I'll spare the details, but she went into a rebellious fit.  Treed me, threw her head around, snorting and sighing and being very nudgey.  We got through the briers fine, and I fought her for a bit, but I was tired, and put out with her.  A little ways up the trail Mr. Greene dismounted Prince, took his bridle off, and was going up to where he parked the tractor.  He took the tent, which Heather was just carrying.  It was heavy, and he had the grate we grilled on as well.  Everything else was lashed down well so it didn't matter it was on the horses.  I followed suit.  I asked if I could walk Shadow the rest of the way, and he said, "Sure, but you can just take her bridle off.  She'll follow you guys." So I did, and I hiked the rest of the way back to camp.  That little snot stayed in line as happy as you please, stopping to eat and holding us up from time to time, but basically calmed down.  I was tempted to bridle her back up and ride her again, but the group had already been held up enough because of us, so I walked chatting with the girls on horseback, and totally ignored Shadow who eyed me a couple times.

We got back to camp safe and sound, happy, but tired, and extremely hungry.  It was around noon, and Mrs. Greene had quite a brunch for us!  Biscuits and gravy with sausage, and cereal and fruit... so delicious.  She even made me some coffee, which I was willing to forgo since we had gotten in so late.

We got the horses comfortable and then ate our brunch.  We then went back and took showers, and had a couple of hours of free time.

Some of the girls wanted to go down the water slide.  This is a 250 foot slide down the hill into a pond.  I didn't partake for a few reasons.  One, I was bushed, but was glad to help with the slide, turning the valve off and on while Mr. Greene kept a eye on the pump at the bottom of the hill which had been acting a little temperamental.  Also, I had JUST gotten all freshened up, nice and clean, right out of the shower.  Pond water is ... well, dirty.  I've got no real problem with that other than at that moment I wasn't looking to take another shower.  Thirdly.. .the water was FRIGID!  How those girls stood it I don't know.  As soon as they jumped in the pond they practically turned blue.  But I enjoyed watching them!  I wish I had a video of the last run.  There were four of them, on three inner tubes.  One in the front, two in the middle, and one on the back.  They went down like that previously and it was a good run.  But this time, not so much.  The girl in the front squitched off the the runway and as soon as she did that things went from bad to worse.  They all tumbled and landed at the bottom of the slide in a heap, laughing and hooting and hollering, and never did hit the water.  Also, I heard later, they ran over a snake.  Ew!

After that the girls' were due in the corral for some ring work.  They were practicing some tricks for a rodeo we were doing for the parents Friday night.

Friday morning I woke up early.  It was barely light out, and the birds were just beginning to chirp.  I remembered what Mr. Greene had told us about what time it was, and decided to go to sleep.  Breakfast had been put off until 8:30 that morning, giving the girls some time to catch up on some sleep.  They must have been pretty pathetic looking when we got back Thursday from our trail ride and overnight camping!  I closed my eyes thinking I would get up around 7 as usual, but the next thing I knew Ashley was walking through our side of the cabin saying cheerily, "Wake up girls!  It's 8:22.  Breakfast is in 8 minutes!"

I flew out of bed and hastily tried to get the girls moving.  Suffice it to say we rolled into the dining hall around 9 or so.  Close enough, I guess.  We still had plenty of time to eat before that morning's trail ride.

I was actually looking forward to it.  It was about a 5 mile ride through the mountain trail on the other side of the camp, and I had been hearing how gorgeous it was, and not near so arduous of a trail as the one we had just done.  I was about to go get Shadow, when passing through the Dining Hall to get the med kit to tape up Heather's finger again, I saw Ashley.  She didn't seem to be going anywhere.  So I asked, "Who are you riding this morning?" Thinking if she wanted Shadow I would use Ginger, whom I had been observing all week and thought I could handle her easily enough.

"Oh, I'm not riding."

"But it's the last day!"  Still she declined.

Then I had an idea.  "Well, if you are too sore to ride, then why don't you hike?"  She was already shaking her head, so I quickly added, "I'll hike with you.  It'll be fun!"

It took some begging and pleading, but she finally agreed.  I really thought as a counselor herself she would want to spend the time with her girls, but just didn't want to be the odd man out.

I helped tack up the horses, then we all went through the lunch line to make our sandwiches and pack goodies into the brown paper bags, labeled our names, packed the saddle bags, then we were off.

We went up some beautiful venues, and had a nice picnic lunch at the top of the hill.  Most of the horses ground tie, but when they saw us eating, they were like seagulls, coming by, sniffing and making general nuisances of themselves.   Denise ended up having to share part of her sandwich because, well, she is just a nice lady.  The rest of us didn't give up a bit.  We found ourselves, once again, ravenous.  The lunch I had packed seemed huge to me, but I managed to inhale it in record time!

Off we go!  

The Scenery Was Beautiful!

Full tummy, sunshine, and a good friend to use as a pillow

Cute little inch worm one of the girls found while we were eating lunch on the hill.

It was a wonderful hike, but there was a slight mishap.  No injuries... at least not to any humans.  During a run up a wide trail... looked like a four wheeling trail.... Titan got hurt.  He got to the top, then simple refused to walk another step.  Katie, the girl riding tried everything.  I was walking with her, and I tugged and she whipped him with the reins (not cruelly, by the way, just to nudge him) and I slapped his rear until my hand hurt.  We tried to entice him with grass.  After a while, the others who had run ahead to the top of the next knoll, and were waiting for us, realized we weren't coming.  Denise came back, and put her horse (Cruiser... another one I'd like to ride... he's a sweetheart from what I can tell) and right behind Titan and tried to push him forward while we tugged on the reins from the ground.  He didn't budge an inch.  Then Mr. Greene showed up on Liberty (who can be a brat, but that is another story that will have to wait for another time) and they both tried to push with their horse.  But Titan simply would not move.

Now, this was not just being ornery.  Something must have been wrong.  If he was being ornery, then he would have kicked or bucked at the horses behind him.  Mr. Greene checked his feet, but there wasn't anything in them.  He thought maybe he was just tired.  It had been a long week, and Titan had never done trail work before this year.  And, he is 20!  That's pretty old for a horse.  So, he gave Liberty to Hannah, and said he would give Titan some time, then try to lead him back down the path we originally and come.  Maybe he would recognize it as going home and he would move.  Let me tell you, if a 1200 pound horse doesn't want to move, there ain't no moving him.

Denise, Katie and I went on to meet up with the others, and the rest of the hike/ride went well.  Liberty and I played a little game.  Apparently she doesn't like to be dead last in the trail line.  I was walking next to her (Heather had hollered to me to walk by Liberty in case she starts acting like a brat as is her wont to do) but Liberty would see me at her shoulder then walk closer and closer until I had no choice but to step aside and get behind her.  I would do that, then come up on the other side.  I could see her eyeing me the whole time.  The game went on and one.  It was so funny!  I think my distracting her with a game helped her keep from getting all "bratty" and Heather says.

We got back to the camp, and Mr. Greene wasn't back.  Not a good sign, but then again, if he had let Titan rest, he could be a while.  Mrs. Greene wasn't there either, but we had some marching orders.  First off, the horses needed a rest, so we took their bridles off, but left saddles on, loosed,  as in a while the girls would be doing corral work.

While the horses were resting and eating some well-earned hay, we went back to the cabin and got all our sleeping bags rolled up, clothes packed, and trash thrown out, etc.  They had outfits for the rodeo (plaid shirts and jeans or culottes) and we were also doing a costume contest.  Oh, guess who was the rodeo clown?  The last thing we did was a little skit.  One of the girls was in a wolf costume.  She would howl, and then another girl came riding in and yelled , "There's that big bad wolf!"  Then there was a chase around with the girls, ending in the wolf dying.  I, in my very colorful clown outfit, came out in the middle of the ring, and pointed and laughed at the wolf.  The girls then turn to me and say, "Get the clown!" and then they chased me (on foot, in sneakers that were about 6 sized too big for me!) around the ring.  Of course I didn't just run, I did a funny, weird, exaggerated run, hooting and hollering and tearing around.

How I get talked into these things I'll never know!

I brought my camera with me to camp, but kept forgetting to grab it!  Plus I was mortally afraid I would lose it on a trail or drop in the ring or lose it in the barn and a sheep would eat it.  I finally got to taking some pictures on Thursday after our overnight camping trip during some free time.  We were in the hay loft of the barn, also known as the game room there at the camp.  This is one of the new kittens, Spitfire, and apparently she likes the pockets in the pool table.

Tired Campers!  

Thursday night we had a bonfire.  We sang, and had devotions and fellowship.  Then it was Snack Shack time, and to our cabins.

Here are some pics of the rodeo:

This is called a keyhole.  Most of the Greene's horse have at least part Arabian in them, and they are skittish.  They hate the white boundaries, even if they are just chalk lines.  But King here did a great job!

This pic is from a previous day when they were practicing.  To finish up the saga about Titan, Mr. Greene spent all afternoon  trying to get Titan down from the hill.  He simply wouldn't budge.  After another inspection, Mr. Greene thinks that he bruised a hoof running up that rocky four wheeling path.  Poor thing!  He ended up having to take the tractor up, and the chain saw to clear the way, then come back and get the trailer for the horse.  Then he went back up, and Titan had moved, which was good, but unfortunately, Mr. Greene then had to hike around to find him.  Thankfully he didn't go too far.  He brought Titan back just as the rodeo was starting, got him off the trailer and let him graze until we were done, then managed to get him in the corral.  

Anyway, Katie here, on Titan, doing bridge work.  That might not seem like a big deal, but many horses, especially Arabians, are very wary of a change of sound under their feet.  Several of the horses have been trained to go over that bridge before they can do trail work.  The main trail, you have to go over a wooden bridge to cross a creek.  I've never seen any of them have any trouble, to the Greene's credit.

Here is the crane pose, in one of the practice sessions before the rodeo.

Another vaulting pose

Horses can be a little jumpy with mailboxes for some reason.  Here they had to get the mail.  Sometimes easier said than done.  Especially when the front sticks shut!

Musical stalls!  (Just like musical chairs, but with horses and the outline of a stall)

Don't drop the egg!  

The Big Bad Wolf!

Isaac enjoying the show! 

Yeah, what I do for the kids.

Being chased!  Hey, I lost my hat!

There is our week in a nutshell, at least at camp.  Dale ran the show here at home, and got quite a bit done on the "To Do" list.  He found a second vehicle, checked it out, and we are now getting paperwork in order so we can go up and get it.  Thankfully it is just in Olean.  I was afraid we'd end up having to travel for hours to get what we needed!  He also has been editing a book for me.  I already went through it once, actually twice, and he is going through it a third time.  After some final tweaking, "Isotope" will be sent out to a publisher.


This week is Boys' Adventure Camp week, and I'll be dropping Josiah and Caleb off at 4pm.  It will seem strange not having to stay there, but I'm glad.  I've got a ton of stuff to do here at home!  It is so good to be in my own bed, in in my own shower, and able to see the family every day.  Starting in July I'll be gone about three weeks in a row between camp and my training for school.  I'll be glad when July is over and we can breath a bit before school starts!

That's it for now.  Reward yourself with something nice if you made it through this whole thing.  If not, well, give yourself a consolation prize.  This has been a hideously long post!

Blessings, and good night!

1 comment:

Regina said...

Wow! It certainly looks like you had fun by the smile on your face in the clown suit! :) Well done!

Can't wait to see ya all again on August 3rd!

Love & God Bless,