The Lakedell Ag Society strives to offer affordable and enjoyable programs for the community and youth programming is a key focus, with the goal of providing every community youth member an opportunity to participate in events at Lakedell. A riding camp is a great way to encourage, inspire and educate young horse enthusiasts and the Lakedell Ag. Society came alive the second week of July with our 4th Annual Youth Riding Camp! In response to the huge demand for more campers in the past years, this year we expanded our camp to include a 2-Day camp of ten riders in addition to our original 3-Day camp. Monday, July 8th, we welcomed a brand new group of eager riders to our 2-Day camp. Parents dropped off horses into the panelled temporary box stalls in the indoor arena, tents into the main hall and then left their children at, which for many, was their first riding camp. At this overnight camp, the riders bring their own horses and are responsible for all aspects of caring for their horse and tack, which encourages self-satisfaction in carrying out some chores and duties that may normally be done by mom and dad at home!
The day began with introductions, safety rules and tack check. The campers then moved into ground work with Susann Stone to insure that both horses and riders would move forward with the riding aspects of the camp in a positive, confident and safe manner. Susann illustrated the importance of getting their horses to respect the rider through working on the ground with the show sticks donated by ATB Financial Wetaskiwin. Horses were exposed to huge beach balls, hula hoops, pool noodles, jumps, plastic bowling pins, tarps and much more.
By noon, both horses and riders were much more relaxed and everyone was ready for a tasty lunch, prepared by volunteer parents. After lunch the riders split into two groups, one working on western riding with Susann and horse tricks taught by volunteer Shauna Johnson. Kids were excited to teach their equine friends to stand up on a pedestal, bow, and smile; all the while Shauna also provided extra horsemanship pointers from her background in teaching camps. At the end of the session Shauna presented one lucky rider with an Eco Net from her home based business in Millet, in order to help her horse with cribbing.
Later in the afternoon, Kathy Masters, Equine Chiropractor & Massage Therapist, provided a presentation on simple stretches for horses and then Susann lead the kids through the procession of a drill team pattern, starting on foot! The riders were then treated to a wiener roast with hotdogs & buns donated by the Village Market. We were fortunate to have local crafter Robin Breum volunteer to come and provide instructions on how to make stall signs with the wood donated by Goodon Industries. After an exciting day of learning, horses and riders quickly fell asleep in anticipation of the next day.
Tuesday was another full day, starting out with a session on trail class instructed by volunteer Meghan Clarke and barrel racing with Joan Miller. Then the riders worked on English flatwork with Susann, in what was a first for the majority of the riders. Thanks to Cherie Ziegler, Jessica Patten, Joyce Muller, Katie Miller, Kim Dennis, Laura McGowan, Meghan Clarke and Amy Belec for loaning the English saddles to the camp so that the riders could experience English riding. The riders progressed well under Susann’s instruction and she lead them into an introduction to jumping, which brought on big smiles to all the riders when they realized that they were fully capable of doing the jumps with their trust steeds!
A little more time was spent on practicing the drill team pattern and horses were decorated with paints, and manes and tails braided with the help of our volunteer Junior Camp counsellors Amy Belec and Katie Miller. After a delicious lasagne supper donated by PaPa’s Cookhouse, the camp concluded with a wind-up presentation where the riders wooed family, friends and sponsors with an illustration of just a few of the many things they accomplished during camp, including tricks and jumping. Dressed in bright orange and purple T-shirts donated by Recovery Reno’s, the riders provided an exciting finale of a complicated drill team routine which they executed amazingly, especially considering the limited amount of time they had to practise!
Upon completion of the drill team demo, all riders were presented with buckets donated by UFA, bags from Bargins Printing, bags & T-shirts from Jennifer Annett of Vetoquinol Canada, and horse treats from Peavey Mart. It was a great camp with riders learning a lot in a matter of only 2 days while having fun bonding with their equine friends!
The next morning brought the 3-Day campers, many of which had been in attendance at Lakedell Youth Riding Camp in the past, which resulted in a much more exuberant and lively group of riders! This year we had 12 riders, 4 of which were boys (up from only 1 boy in 2012)! The day began with ground work with Susann and trick training with Shauna Johnson. Shauna advised the group that she was going to donate rope halters made by employees at Eco Nets to each of the camp participants. She then offered a suggestion to the riders that instead of them taking the halters, that the halters could be donated to the equine community of flood victims in southern Alberta. The group of young horse enthusiasts agreed that this would be a great idea, thank you Shauna for taking this initiative! After lunch, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and went outdoors to learn some western riding and reining patterns with Susann, which was something new for most riders. Other activities included trail and some open riding time to work on various areas the riders were wanting some help with.
Then time for supper. The meals at this camp were delicious thanks to the generous donations from Black Bull Golf Course, Daisy McBeans, PaPa’s Cookhouse, Village Pizza & Subs, the Village Market, Carey Stewart, Troy Mantai and parents. Robin Breum then joined the 3-Day campers to help instruct making stalls signs once again with wood donated by Goodon Industries.
Day two was filled with a variety of sessions including English Flatwork & Jumping with Amanda Hughes, Kathy Masters on chiropractic and equine therapy, and barrels and poles with Jeanine Edge. Jennifer & Jessica Ruskowsky outlined some tricks of the trade to the campers on how to take some great photographs of their equine friends. Riders were also educated on the importance of proper Equine Nutrition, by Lynn Stewart. The evening entailed a wiener roast and the “Ultimate Outdoor Survivor Adventure” where the campers had to follow the clues and complete a variety of horse-related tasks through team work, which resulted in excited campers scurrying around the grounds of the Ag. Society.
By day 3, the riders were ready for some relaxing time and everyone saddled up for a short trail ride before lunch. While there were some younger horses that hadn’t had much exposure to trail rides, both riders and horses did awesome on the ride with some nice scenery, complimented by the singing of both the birds in the trees and some enthusiastic and entertaining riders!
Much of the afternoon was spent trying out the Ag. Society’s new Mechanical cutting calf (sponsored by Crow Construction), which was a first for everyone. Under the direction of horseman Dustin Grams, the riders began by getting their horses used to the moving calf (flag) and learning the fundamentals of the stop, back and turn to follow the calf. Soon the horse and rider were following the calf in tune to the stop and start of the calf, dictated by the remote control manned by Dustin. As noted by Dustin, cutting is one of the most difficult sports in terms of athletic demands put on the horse.
By the end of the final day, the riders had all acquired many new skills with their horses and were excited to show off what they had accomplished to their family, friends and sponsors. The wrap-up presentation consisted of a demonstration of cutting, pole bending, jumping and tricks. It was a spectacular display of horsemanship by all the riders and their horses. Each of the campers went home with improved riding skills and memories from another successful riding camp, which would not be possible without the coordination and instruction skills of local riding instructor Susann Stone. We are very fortunate to have her in our community to promote the sport of horse riding to our youth.
These riding camps are very affordable compared to similar camps and would not be possible without the support of all of the volunteers and donors. In addition to the volunteers and sponsors mentioned previously, the riders would like to thank the family of the late Tom Cartier and those who provided memorial funds in Tom’s name which were donated to the riding camp. Also, thank you to Katie Miller for choosing the Lakedell Youth Riding Camp as her charity of choice for the funds she received from winning the 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow Award in her age category. As well, a special thanks to Huckleberries Restaurant, Backstreet Antiques and West Country Nail Designs by Marsha Mantai, for providing gifts for our volunteer clinicians and camp counsellors. We are fortunate to live in a community that provides great support of our events and the promotion of youth activities and we thank everyone for their contributions. We look forward to next year’s camps, and encourage you to contact the Ag. Society
if you are between the ages of 9-18, own your own horse, and are interested in joining us in the Summer 2014 camps.