The window boxes of the Bales of Fun Horse Camp were short a few flowers. The nasturtiums and petunias had been hurriedly clipped for a beauty show for the horses.
Looking closely, you can see how the stems of summer blooms are woven into the braids and then firmly attached with small, tightly wound elastic bands.
It’s a top-to-toe beauty show and upon further inspection you’ll see that each and every participant also sports sparkly toes – or, more correctly, sparkly hooves.
These equine beauties are ponies, miniature horses and full-size horses. Their floral adornments are woven into manes and tails.
One by one, the participants are brought forward and introduced by as many as three young attendants.
“This is Nipper. He is 10 years old. He is a Bay with a Star.”
There’s a pause and a few furtive behind-the-hand whispers.
“Oh, and I forgot – he is a miniature horse crossed with a Shetland pony.”
It’s easy to identify the attendants by their standard uniform, a Bales of Fun T-shirt in one of a rainbow of colours. The letter “u” in the word “Fun” is actually a drawing of a horseshoe.
Another common item of attire is high rubber boots. Rain or shine, you wouldn’t want to spend your time at horse camp in any other type of footwear.
The beauty show ended in an across-the-board tie and the energetic entourage was ready to introduce the next attraction.
“Let’s visit the new foal!”
“Whinny” is the two-and-a-half-month-old first foal of Honey, a six-year-old miniature horse. Tucked away in a quiet corner, they patiently let us pet and admire them.
Trish Pitzel, the camp leader and instructor, announced it was time to ride to the arena. Saddles and helmets appeared from the shed. Horses, ponies and riders were readied. Bales of hay were helpful in boosting equestrians aboard.
After a short ride to the open-air arena, everyone split into two groups. While one group rode, the other worked on crafts and later they swapped places.
The crafts group was busy with a number of projects – canvas bags to decorate and personalize, plaster-of-Paris horses to paint.
They sat at a large table under an open-sided tent located just outside the arena. Concentrating on their art, they were assisted by Pitzel’s Mom, the source of coloured pens and bright encouragement.
The riding group played skill-developing games such as “Red Light, Green Light” where, on demand, they had to stop, start and control their horses. They set up a riding course and walked it first, making certain they would know where to lead their horses when they later rode the laps.
Pitzel kept a keen eye on all goings-on and provided enthusiastic individual support, instruction and assistance.
Leaning against the fence at the end of the arena, patting one of the resting horses, the scene I took in was a happy and busy one. Riders were dusty and smiling. They worked in pairs and small groups, helpers and riders, laughing and cheering each other on.
Lunch break was coming up.
Trish Pitzel’s Bales of Fun Horse Camp is suitable for riders and potential riders from seven to 16 years of age, beginner to advanced. Classes are Monday to Friday for one-week sessions.
There is, however, something for everyone. On weekends, pony rides cater especially to the “little kids” (under seven).
Adult lessons in either western or English style can be set up for a minimum of just two people. It couldn’t be easier for you and a friend to get out there and horse around.
For further information and details, call 667-7808 or e-mail [email protected]