DOBSON — Summer Explosion participants had to “hoof it” as they finished out their slate of activities with “Equine Adventures” at Cardinal Stables & Riding Academy Monday.
“The kids that participated had little or no experience with horses,” explained N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development Teresa Wilkins. “They had to go over the basics of how to interact and groom and tack (attach equipment) on horses.”
Wilkins said that the participants started with an introduction on how to safely interact with a horse. Each child had a mentor to help with the hands-on experience to get the horses prepped and ready to go out in the arena. Skills such as how to properly rein, mount and lead a horse are taught to the participants. Lessons on riding safety accompany the one-hour riding lesson.
She indicated that learning these skills directly translates into helping participants with their own leadership skills. In addition to the hands-on ring experience, children also spent time in the “classroom” learning about the care and biology of horses.
“You can visibly see by the end of the day how they (children) become more relaxed and confident after riding a horse,” added Wilkins. “Many of them wanted to own a horse and this shows them what it takes to care for a large animal.”
Cardinal Stables owner and Manager Beverly McGee agreed.
“There is a difference caring for a horse in real life,” said McGee. “The interaction with the openness of the horses bodily functions can help you make a decision.”
McGee, a veteran of the horse business with more than 25 years of experience, regularly witnesses the benefits of the interaction between horse and rider. She pointed out that where horses were the preferred method of moving everything, now they are primarily for pleasure. She and her entire family are horse enthusiasts.
She said she holds many similar day camps in the area throughout the year and has been involved with The Vineyard Camp and Conference Center in Westfield’s horse program for 23 years. McGee’s schedule often includes four weeks of camps for that program.
She said that she often uses “schooling horses” for camps such as the 4-H event. McGee explained that the older school horses are used to children and “know their job,” often these types of horses are used as therapy animals.
“Ninety percent of the 4-H’ers started out looking scared to death as they rode on the horse,” said McGee. “By the end you see the confidence and smiles. They had a great day working with the horses and that’s what it’s all about.”
McGee said she is always mindful such day camps could spark lifelong interest in riding in a child. Learning how to take a fall is applicable in the arena as well as in life. She is also philosophical about not as many boys as girls participating in the camps.
“For the most part, mostly girls endure with horses,” commented McGee. “What horses do for girls is they have the nature to care for them just like a dog or cat. Girls stay with it because there’s just something about riding a horse. When they progress to the more advanced maneuvers, jumping is like flying.”
McGee said she also has seen the therapeutic benefits of horses.
“No matter what’s going on in life, you forget everything else when you ride,”concluded McGee. “It’s a good mind rest.”
Contact David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.