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Help! I'm a camp barn boss

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        03-16-2013, 04:12 PM
      #11
    Trained
    Are any of these kids going to know how to ride at all? What is the age range?

    I worked at a Girl Scout horse camp one fall and the sheer logistics of it were ridiculous. We had fourteen horses (all ex-polo horses ranging in age from 9 to 24) who were all "beginner safe," but matching the girls to the horses was a challenge. Some needed a little more assertive of a rider, while others were beyond push-button. We really had to know our horses inside and out, and be able to quickly pick out which girl would be best on which horse. We usually did a half hour to an hour group "lesson," then if there was time scheduled and the girls were comfortable enough, we'd take them on a half an hour to an hour trail ride. We did not, under any circumstances, take any groups under the age of 10 on trail rides. For the "lessons" in the arena, we'd get the girls mounted up, then the head wrangler would give them brief instruction on how to make the horse walk forward (all our horses were trained on voice commands, so getting them to move forward was as simple as giving them a nudge and saying "walk on"), how to steer, and how to stop. We'd have them walk the perimeter of the arena and following our directions. If they did well and were confident enough, we would have them trot a little, but ALWAYS with a wrangler at the head of the horse.

    The absolute biggest thing is to know your horses and their personalities. We would rotate through taking the horses out on trail rides on the days we didn't have lessons coming through, so we learned their quirks and could gauge of they needed some schooling before putting any of the girls on them. Schooling the naughty horses was my job, and I loved it.
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        03-16-2013, 04:19 PM
      #12
    Yearling
    Maybe she wants to do it but its out of her comfort zone which is why she is asking for advice. She didn't ask if she should do it or say no, she asked HOW she should do it. Cut her some slack. I'm sure the guy who has been running it for years wouldn't just throw her into something over her head. She isn't giving lessons per say, the horses are all suitable for beginners, all she is trying to figure out is how to keep the kids engaged and focused while learning and having fun. A lesson isn't even required but I think its a great idea to teach them as well.

    OP: I would do the games before. This way the kids get comfortable and it gives you a chance to assess their riding skills so you can focus on who needs help before your out on the trail. This will also allow you to make sure everyone has a suitable horse for their skill level. Basically the games beforehand will help you figure out any potential problems which in turn will make the trail ride much smoother and relaxing. As for the trivia questions though keep those going the entire time even through the trail ride, mounting, unmounting, tacking, grooming, etc... its a great way to teach them basic horse facts but makes it fun and competitive.
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        03-16-2013, 04:57 PM
      #13
    Foal
    Thanks draftyaiesmom and countrylove. The ex-barn boss promised to come out and help me go through tack and figure out who fits what before camp begins and to give me the skinny on the horses and their quirks, since he's worked with them for years. I'm planning on taking as many notes I can since I get his brain for only a couple of days and then he's off on holiday out of country for a month. This at least gives me an idea on how to proceed. Should I give a quick tutorial on how to approach a horse, blind spots, etc? It's mandatory to wear helmets and they have a set of rules, but they haven't instructed much past that and how to: whoa , go , left and right when I was there my one week.
         
        03-16-2013, 05:09 PM
      #14
    Trained
    We always started a lesson by taking about 10 minutes to explain tack and how it's used, as well as how to approach a horse. We laid out the ground rules firmly and if any of the girls couldn't or wouldn't follow them, they were asked to sit on the side and watch. Our rules included:

    -Helmets at all times
    -Must wear boots with a heel (we had a selection of boots in various sizes that had been donated for the girls didn't have their own)
    -No screaming
    -No running
    -No sudden movements
    -No approaching or walking behind a horse unless instructed to do so
    -Listen to the head wrangler and the other wranglers
    -No whining
    -We give you a specific horse for a reason and it may not always be the one you want
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        03-16-2013, 06:42 PM
      #15
    Green Broke
    How many times during the week do they ride? More than twice? Do you have set groups or different ones each time?

    If so, perhaps incorporate horse care/saddlery into the riding. Start off by having your group with you and explain the rules of no running, screaming, hitting, going behind etc. Then find out their riding experience pair them off to a horse that they can ride during the week, then explain how to groom and saddle them (but of course check first). Explain the basics of riding/control, make it funny and not technical

    Riding you could start in an enclosed area to get them used to basic control. You could set up some cones/poles and have everyone walking in a circle, following someone, and get the leader to come in and weave through the cones, halt and join the end of the line and then there is a new leader (or something).

    You could have walking races, or relay races where someone passes a baton or something.

    Make sure they are confident and have basic control before the trail. If someone isn't confident enough before the trail consider not taking them. If someone doesn't follow the rules don't take them with you. The more lenient you are the more people will push you. If you let one person get away with breaking rules then others will try it to. Have a no tolerance policy and you should only have to enforce it once.
    Silverdoc likes this.
         
        03-16-2013, 11:48 PM
      #16
    Started
    Assuming they are all complete novices here are some ideas for activities for you to structure your sessions around.

    - introduction to 'the horse' including names of parts of horse, and of tack. Reason why tack has developed as it has, and the correct way to use it. He to read a horses body language, basic rules around horses.

    - how to mount properly. Incorporate a game where everyone mounts, walks on, dismounts, swaps horses, remounts, etc etc

    - walk, halt, steering.

    - circles, squares, figures of eight

    - Pair them up send challenge them to ride in synchronicity with their pair

    - all the gymkhana games you can think of can be ridden slowly by novices

    - poles on ground in a square, walk in, halt, dismount etc. Set up fake trail ride obstacles like gates and low-hanging branches.



    They obviously think that you CAN do this, enjoy seizing the challenge, and plan plan plan to make it a success.

    As far as the welfare of the horses, it is your responsibility to make sure that you don't take charge of them without clear and full instructions from their owners as to diet, management, and what to do in the even of illness or injury. So long as you have this, you should be reasonably clear on how to manage your temporary herd.
         
        03-17-2013, 12:24 AM
      #17
    Foal
    You guys have been a wealth of information. Thanks a bunch. At the very least I have a good list of things to do and things to ask the director of the camp and the ex barn boss. Again. Thanks
         
        03-17-2013, 08:41 PM
      #18
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DraftyAiresMum    
    We always started a lesson by taking about 10 minutes to explain tack and how it's used, as well as how to approach a horse. We laid out the ground rules firmly and if any of the girls couldn't or wouldn't follow them, they were asked to sit on the side and watch. Our rules included:

    -Helmets at all times
    -Must wear boots with a heel (we had a selection of boots in various sizes that had been donated for the girls didn't have their own)
    -No screaming
    -No running
    -No sudden movements
    -No approaching or walking behind a horse unless instructed to do so
    -Listen to the head wrangler and the other wranglers
    -No whining
    -We give you a specific horse for a reason and it may not always be the one you want
    Posted via Mobile Device
    I really like these rules but could I suggest turning the "no's" into "always"? By that I mean instead of saying "No running" say "Always walk". Kids tend to hear and absorb "yes" better than "no". You're saying the same thing; just making it positive! Besides if they only hear one word wouldn't it be better for them to obey "talk" instead of "scream"?!
    And I love the one about the staff choosing a specific horse for the camper for a reason!
         

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