Saturday, December 14, 2013

Horsin' Around with a Cousin

V has really grown her horse skills this year. Between the experience 4-H provided in its training, shows and clinics, our trail rides, riding around the farm and neighboring properties, and special events like our camp out with Aunt Amy and Cousin Lyla, the experience has really paid off.
This time last year, V wouldn't do anything involving horse care on her own. She wanted me there by her side to catch, groom and tack her horse. She wouldn't ride on her own, and while I'd love to ride all day every day, it turns out there's a lot more chores for adults than we ever had as kids so time is limited.

Fast forward a year, a couple of horse shows, a couple of gymkhanas and a 14-mile rugged trail day through our forest and V is an entirely different horsey girl.

We found a local girls club with horses, Atascadero Wranglerettes, and V has enjoyed (almost) every minute of it, riding in horse parades, attending their own week-long horse camp, sleepovers, parties, monthly meetings, working horse shows and other events. Her first campout was a little brutal, with temperatures well over 100 every day, and a lake that was nearly dried up. She wasn't all too thrilled with the "fun and games" that included manure, water, and rolling the new kids, but she enjoyed their riding time, late-night spooky stories, endless treats and helping in the kitchen. Word is, she was quite the volunteer!

Our first super fun event was the Huasna 4-H Horse Project's God's Country Mystery Trail Ride. The adults and kids who put together the competitive trail ride made it fun with a Pony Express theme. It included challenges like shooting (with water guns from horseback) the bad guys (painted on paper plates and hung in the trees), dodging a rock slide (a slalom through stacked rocks) and standbys like riding over a bridge and through gates that riders had to open and close while on horseback.
We survived the late evening winds and cold overnight temperatures for a fun camp out before sending Lyla and her mom all the way back to Santa Cruz. Oh! And I won my first-ever buckle! Novice class adults. Maddie was SO good for me!

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