Pony Rides Matter
By Tony Vrooman, Sr. Director of Communications
During my 12 years of service with Camp Ondessonk, I have developed a special place in my heart for pony rides at Parish picnics. Camp began offering pony rides at events to expand our community outreach. Still, for me, the rides touch on a more profound principle.
As a father of two, I often find it challenging to find opportunities for my children’s personal growth. With school activities such as sports, band, theater, homework, and then on top of that screen time, I often yearn for a trouble-free way to spend time with my kids. I seek out simple occasions that transcend and provide the opportunity to excite, teach, and inspire.
Being a part of a child’s first equestrian experience ignites this moment for me. The majority of pony ride participants are between the ages of four and eight. Seeing the twinkle in their eyes as they wait in line with their parents, carefully studying the horses, is empowering.
Although my time with the fledgling wranglers is limited, I give them my undivided attention. Together adjust their helmets and talk about how exciting it is to ride a horse for the first time. We touch upon what energizes them most about the experience. While their comments and questions come from diverse viewpoints, including some asking why a horse is going to the bathroom or inquiring how fast they might get to go on the pony, the kids all seem to share a common willingness to learn and grow from this unique equestrian experience. Their focus on basic horsemanship skills at this moment is truly astounding as they mount the pony for the very first time.
My favorite part is watching the kids complete their initial pony ride and run into their parents’ arms full of excitement and feelings of accomplishment. I am proud to be part of this Ondessonk experience, and I am grateful to help plant the seed for our future wranglers.
Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk Equestrian programs.