Stable News By Catherine Limkeman- Equestrian Director
This month in the Stable News we are featuring our 15 year old, red roan, Mustang mare named Vegas. Vegas has been at Camp for three years and is our feature horse this month because she has shown significant progress in her training this past winter season. She has advanced through our horse progression from only being ridden by full-time equestrian staff and experienced wranglers, to being ridden by beginner wranglers! We put all of our horses through this progressive program working towards “camper horse”. Even the horses that became “camper horses” in previous years have to re-pass those tests again before they can keep the name “camper horses” for the current year. Just like people, horses grow, change, mature, get burned out, or get bored with their jobs. We reassess every horse each season to check in on him or her. We also perform quarterly performance reviews. We want all our horses to be happy living at Camp and with their job.
Vegas loves attention and has a desire to please her rider. We were in a group on a long trail ride in the Shawnee National Forest and came to a rugged section of the trail! The rain run-off managed to wash out the trail entirely. Many trees had fallen obstructing the path. We went off trail to get around the fallen trees, which can be a difficult undertaking for horses accustomed to following a clear cut path. Some of our horses were skittish and antsy—running over young trees that shot back up and hit the horses that were following closely behind. Vegas calmly went exactly where her rider told her to go and showed great care in wanting to make sure her rider was safe and happy, even if it meant Vegas got hit in the face by a stray branch. It was a proud moment for our Equestrian Coordinator who has spent lots of time helping teach Vegas to be calm and trust her rider in unexpected circumstances. We think Vegas will one day make a great Horse Camp or Horse Adventure horse where she will be paired with one rider for a whole week, where she will get to know them and enjoy building a relationship.
Vegas is what the horse community calls an “easy keeper”. She puts on weight when she looks at food! We love easy keepers at Camp because it saves us a substantial amount of money to care for them. Our horses have 24/7 access to hay all winter and come in for oats every morning. We are blessed to have 100 acres of pasture that we can cut hay from, as well as let the horses eat freely all summer and fall. Because we cut our hay and have healthy horses that don’t need alternative fattening foods, our annual cost per horse is about $700 which covers hoof care, veterinary services (including deworming and vaccinations), and pasture maintenance for quality hay. Click here to learn more about the year-round Ondessonk Stables-Horse and Riding Programs.