Thursday, July 12, 2007

Second Installment--Horse Week at Summer Camp

Today began with my having to go to several locations to find leather strips for re-tying a saddle stirrup which broke. Slidell has several horse boarding locations and Lewis Stables is pretty well supplied for the casual rider.

Elvis, the donkey, was in good spirits and allowed himself to be mauled by the children throughout the day. He is very genial and just simply loves people, especially children, or so it seems. He has never really told me that. :-)

Snowflake is a real favorite of the children, and here little Dixie is showing signs of becoming a real horsewoman. She took to the horses with an anxious vitality.

Torie, below, already shows signs of the kind of self assurance on horseback with assure her of many years of pleasure on horseback.

Brian on the left had never ridden before, but he is demonstrating the kind of affinity for horses which will certainly lead to his family receiving considerable pressure to obtain him a suitable mount.

This is Skylar's second year for Summer Camp with IBC and he is gaining assurance with each new experience.

Apache, is the horse which all the kids want to ride. He is just a big ole pet, but still not settled enough with people in the saddle for the children to ride him. We will try again with him on Friday.

Today the rains came in torrents. Kevin and I were soaked as we attempted to arrange a shelter for horses and we were unable to ride Thursday Afternoon. The campers were disappointed, but they must learn, as the rest of us do, that things don't always go as we planned. It is currently about 4:15 PM and the rains are still coming down along with thunder and lightening. I pray it will pass so that tomorrow will be a day when the campers can ride in both the morning and evening.

We also experienced a power outage today when a garbage truck became entangled in utility lines along Airport Road where IBC is located. All in all it has been quite a day. I plan to go home and play a game of Age of Empires with my two sons and son-in-law. We try to play a game at least once when he is home from overseas. It takes about 4-5 hours before I'm trounced by youth's greater ability on computer gaming. :-)

First Installment--Horse Week at Summer Camp

I arrived in Slidell Tuesday afternoon from the Farm in Clarke County Mississippi with two horses and a donkey. The horses are a four year old gelding named “Apache” and a three year old filly recently named “Snowflake” by my some of my granddaughters. The donkey is named “Elvis.” I’m not sure where the name came from but I got him from the former pastor of FBC, Slidell, Michael Claunch. The kids say he resembles the pictures of Elvis they see. :-)

Since the horses are only green broke, we must work with them to get them ready for the kids to ride. We saddled Snowflake and put one of my granddaughters on her. We, then led the horse around the area without a bridle. We eventually replaced the halter and lead rope with a bit and bridle just to get her mouth accustomed to the bit again.

Then my oldest son, Mike, Jr, rode her around a while. She seemed to be in a co-operative mood and the afternoon went without incident until I returned later to check on them and children from across the street were shooting off large fireworks. The horses were not very happy about that.:-)

Wednesday Morning the older campers helped me to feed, water, and exercise the animals. Then we had a class on the various articles of tack. I also explained to them how God had given animals to man for man’s dominion and for his use. I explained that God intended animals for food, work, and pleasure as they were hunted and/or captured. We were able during this time to talk about the difference between animals and men. I also emphasized that cruelty and/or mistreatment of animals by those who believe in God by faith in Jesus Christ is a violation of God’s teachings to His people, because His people are charged with being good stewards of all His creation.

After lunch we began the actual riding. We only used Snowflake for this segment, and she was a little feisty at first, but after bucking the saddle off a couple of times and knocking me under a wooden swing set, she settled down and acted with proper decorum. For some it was little more than being set in the saddle and getting accustomed to being so high up on the animal. Others were led about the area were able to familiarize themselves more fully with the horses. A few were allowed to handle the reins while I stood ready with the lead rope still attached.

When a grandmother of one of the campers arrived to pickup up her camper, she elected to go for a short ride also. Then a father of a camper arrived and told how he had never been on a horse. We instructed him in the process of mounting and I led him about the complex. He exclaimed that his wife just wouldn’t believe that he had actually ridden a horse.

I am continually amazed at the number of adults who have never had the opportunity to ride a horse. I would like to go from church to church introducing children and adults to this marvelous form of recreation and relaxation. Perhaps someday God will open up such doors and allow me to use the horses in His service that way.

After the campers were through for the day, I mounted Snowflake and rode her around the area. She is really sweet tempered, but she needs to be ridden more often than I have opportunity to do.

Kevin, my younger son, arrived about 3:30 and we began the process of working with Apache. He is a magnificent animal. He looks like his registered Paso Fino father, and is thickly and powerfully built. He was quite a challenge. He twice threw Kevin before tied up one leg and laid him on the ground. Horses, like children, need to have their will broken without breaking their spirit. They need to learn that, in all things, they must please their master.

Apache is really a great horse. He is friendly and loves being around people, but like anything left to his own devices for an extended time, he is apt to rebel somewhat when having his activities curbed. However we were finally able to teach him the lessons he need to learn. This morning we will probably need to remind him of those lessons briefly.

I will write more after today’s sessions and try to include some photos.