New Horses at Camp

New Horses at Camp

By Kristin Marie Bivens

Ozark, IL: Rat patrol would have given volunteers Belinda Bauer and Jackie McKay and Equestrian Director Meagan Walters and Equestrian Coordinator Shandril Dayton a pass on Tuesday night. The four horse lovers returned to Camp Ondessonk after lights out. While campers and staff enjoyed an eventful Tuesday night game, they were driving back from Kentucky. The purpose of their journey was to retrieve four new horses for Camp’s main herd.

Four rescued horses in pasture east of St. Noel.

Rescued horses in the pasture east of St. Noel

As a standard practice, Meagan carefully considers how a donated or new horse might (or might not) fit into the equestrian program at Camp. All new horses, regardless of how they are acquired, are quarantined in the Old Stable Corral Pasture from the seventy plus horses that reside in the barn.  The four horses will spend thirty days in the east pasture to ensure they are healthy enough to be around Camp’s herd.

When asked about moments of campers’ enjoyment riding horses, Meagan told a story about a young boy’s ride on Midnight. The boy told Meagan he wished he could use a shrink ray on Midnight and put the horse in his pocket to take home.  I overheard Meagan’s affinity for the herd when she spoke to Barn staff on a walkie-talkie: “Don’t put him behind Boswell; Boswell won’t like it.”

Knowing the horses showcases Meagan’s equine expertise. It is clearly an asset when someone wants to donate a horse to camp. Meagan asserted, “[the horses] wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think they would fit in.” A horse is only considered for adoption by Camp if the horse has the potential to work with the existing Ondessonk Stables–Horse and Riding Programs.

Megan Walters at her desk.

Meagan Walters at her desk

Since Meagan arrived five years ago, the horse and riding programs have included lowering the age of the herd, facility and pasture improvements, as well as her investment in the progressive teaching system. In under three weeks, Meagan will move on from Camp Ondessonk. In the future, Meagan hopes to return to Camp to work alongside staff and volunteers as a volunteer herself.



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