September 5, 2015
Dear Horse Council Members,
Thank you so much for giving me a scholarship to go to Horse Camp with Stephanie Lockhart. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this. It was awesome! I learned so much that week.
I brought Brave – the horse I train – with me to camp so we could work on trust and really develop our bond. It’s amazing how much of a difference I felt after just four short days. The first thing we did every morning was grooming. I got to spend a lot of time just standing with Brave and petting him during this time. It was a great way to start the day.
Then, during snack, we left all the horses tied up in the arena to just chill. This was a great way to test Brave’s patience as he is young and always looking for things to chew on and play with. The first morning, Brave and I were placed right next to the boxes of grooming tools and when we returned from snack, everyone was standing calmly but Brave was surrounded by grooming tools. He knocked every single box over. Silly pony!
Next we did a bunch of groundwork with all the horses. Brave got introduced to a lot of new things at this time. Stephanie has this place outside with a bunch of jumps she calls the ‘playground’. Brave has gone over jumps before but there was one tire jump that was bigger than anything I’ve ever seen him jump. We also got him to stand on a tire that was on the ground. Back in the arena, I also got him to play with a giant yoga ball for a little while.
One day, we even had an obstacle course with a bunch of new stuff. Brave is a curious and trusting horse, though, so we flew right through it and came in third! Another huge thing Brave and I did was go for a walk on a trail through the forest. This was new for Brave because his pasture at his home doesn’t go into the forest and he isn’t under trees too often. He was in a new place with strange new scents and sights and he did really well.
To finish off the day we all rode. While I can’t ride Brave yet (because he’s young and I’m a new rider), I think it was good for him to see other horses being ridden. I got way more comfortable riding over the four days. When I first started riding at Stephanie’s I wasn’t even comfortable walking. After a few lessons, walking was super simple but I wasn’t comfortable post-trotting. Horse camp was the first time I felt comfortable posting. I also learned to do a two-point position and rode stirrup-less and hand-less. It made my balance on a horse much better.
For most of the week, I rode Austin who is a perfect horse for beginners because he’s calm and slow. But my favorite day for riding was when I rode a horse named Mas who is blind in one eye. I noticed that the people who rode Mas often got annoyed because he’s a challenge. When I got on him that was the very thing I liked most – the challenge. As I rode him, he kept calling out to one of his girlfriends and wanting to go to them. I had to know exactly when he was going to try and stop and keep him going. I had to figure out how to turn him because turning his head wasn’t enough as he knows how to walk sideways. I had to figure out how to get him to pay attention to me so we could work together, and after a little while he calmed down a bit and we rode pretty well.
I learned a lot at Horse Camp with Stephanie Lockhart. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I hope to return next year and make even more memories. Who knows, maybe I’ll be riding Brave by then.
Thank you so so so much,
Mackenzie (Kenzie) Bruce
Stowe, Vermont 05672