Thursday, July 12, 2007

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.

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