By Emily Reider
The Camp Ondessonk Stables is passionate about helping their staff grow and learn year-round, and has provided a wonderful teaching opportunity this winter. Camp Ondessonk’s Equestrian Department invited past summer wranglers to participate in a training day Saturday, January 22 offering a chance to learn new skills and practice already acquired knowledge. This cold winter day allowed the summer staff to see the herd in an environment that contrasts the lively summertime experience they know and love. The day began with feeding, as usual, with summer wranglers, outdoor education staff, and even with Board President, Chris Cahnovsky, helping. Feeding the herd first thing in the morning allowed the Equestrian staff to lay eyes on all horses to check their health, give each horse oats and any necessary supplements they might need, and catch the horses that will be used for the day. Once all horses that were needed for the day were caught, the participants groomed each horse to make sure they were clean and comfortable for working and riding. Before lunch, the Assistant Equestrian Director, Emelyn Herndon, provided an introduction to round penning a horse so that all training staff would be able to accomplish the exercise with their own assigned horse. A round pen is exactly what it sounds like, a circular enclosed pen that is used for training. It provides a space in which horse and rider can foster trust with one another, practice communicating with body language on the ground, and build confidence in each partner. Each wrangler had the chance to practice in the round pen with a horse and everyone involved in the day grew, including the horses! The afternoon focused more on mounted skills, and the group took a bareback ride along Camp’s horse trails and through the pastures. Bareback riding is not only a fun and exciting treat for wranglers, but it also helps develop a rider’s ability to properly balance and more effectively communicate with their horse while riding. Overall, this training was a great success, and all participants enjoyed their time at Camp and being with the horses.