Camp offers lessons on horses, life

By Marilyn J. Drew
Posted 6/20/19

As I approached the covered porch, I saw lines of dusty cowboy boots. Inside was a maze of denim-clad riders, sporting big silver belts and sweat-stained hats.

They belonged to 12 young people, …

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Camp offers lessons on horses, life


As I approached the covered porch, I saw lines of dusty cowboy boots. Inside was a maze of denim-clad riders, sporting big silver belts and sweat-stained hats.

They belonged to 12 young people, aged 12 or older, who were taking part in a five-day horse camp, from June 3-7, at Ron and Janis Adams’ Crazy Cayuse Ranch on Lane 11 near Powell. Camp Wannabe provides the opportunity to learn the basic principles of horsemanship.

A large arena on the ranch allows the young riders to try their skill in an enclosed area before launching out on a designated trail along the Shoshone River. Since some of the participants have never ridden before, preventative measures are taken to keep them safe and sound during the week.

Assistant Camp Leader Tyler Davison stressed safety as one of the pillars of the camp. “Although the parents must sign a risk/liability release form before their sons and daughters are allowed to participate, safety, safety, safety is drilled into all of us every day,” he said.

The activities begin at 8:30 each morning with the saddling of the horses. This is followed by warm up exercises in the arena. One morning, Katie King, who has participated in the camp for at least four years, demonstrated the principle of trust by riding her blindfolded horse around the arena with no bridle. Ron explained that she had built a bond of trust with the horse, which enabled her to accomplish the amazing feat.

About 10:30 there is a break for refreshments and a chance to cool off in a large basement room in the ranch house. On Friday, a devotion on taking the first step was read by Peyten Seller, one of four junior leaders. This was followed by a prayer over the food and then lots of loud chatter as the kids talked to each other over brunch. While observing from the sidelines, I took the opportunity to ask a few questions.

This was Scotty Riedinger’s second time at the camp and he said, “It is truly great!”

His horse, Risky was more of a challenge than some. Camp Leader Ron Adams confirmed that the 14-year-old pinto mare was spunky to say the least, but he had felt Scotty was well able to handle her.

Jay Swaney said he had learned a lot in a short amount of time. By Friday he was able to ride bareback for the first time because he had learned to relax and trust his horse.

Hannah Sears was touched by a teaching from the Bible on discipline that opened her eyes to the fact that she had to be disciplined herself before she could successfully train a horse.

Kaydence Hoffert said the social aspect of the camp was what she liked most. She lives high up on the Morrison Jeep Trail and doesn’t have much opportunity to be with other young people.

Hailey Mann agreed, saying that getting to know the kids is what she enjoys too.

Junior Leader Madi Harvey added that there was a warm atmosphere at Camp Wannabe and that there was never a dull moment there. This was her second time attending also.

When Ava Benedict’s horse stopped suddenly to get a bite of grass, she slid off over his head. She laughed as she described the incident, thankful that she had not experienced any injury. Her friends said that after she landed she did a somersault, stood up and did a cartwheel and then shouted for glee at the top of her lungs.

Incidents like this are why the trainees are taught that one of the first steps in becoming a good horseman is developing an awareness of their horse’s movements.

Once their horse’s feet start moving, they have to be alert at all times, the lesson said. “The development of their horsemanship skills are dependent upon them being able to ‘feel the feet’ of their mount.”

According to a Bible lesson presented after lunch one afternoon, the process is similar to the way our relationship with God is developed. It said we must learn to be alert and attentive to God’s leading, like a horse learns to trust a rider. Both have to start moving before they know where they are going.

Young Eli Swaney said learning to“listen” to his horse “Kisses” was the most valuable thing he had learned at the camp. He explained that he had gotten to the place he could read his horse’s actions as loudly as any words he could have heard.

Camp Cook Janis Adams remarked that without the help of volunteers Christi Greaham, Liz Seller and Cathy Ringler, she and Ron could never have succeeded in hosting the camp. Ron Vining, leader of Polestar, was also a valuable helper as were junior leaders Harvey and Seller.

Now that the boots are gone and the dust has settled, Ron and Janis are looking forward to next year’s adventures at Wannabe Horse Camp. For further information, you can contact them at 307-754-4520.