Monday, September 5, 2011

Advice from a Saddle Club Pro

Dear CFA family,

Ryne and I have been asking for guest bloggers to write up some of their camp experiences to be published here at Hey Hey CFA. Jen is an amazing young woman and a camper of several years, who was my first volunteer to write about her Saddle Club experiences. I gave her a few pretty simple questions to answer, and she ended up writing this wonderful essay describing her summers at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow. She also has some great advice for campers new and old. Read it and enjoy! I feel so blessed to teach riding students like Jen every summer— I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

— "MA"

        Hey, Hey CFA.....Hay is for Horses! My name Is Jen Alexander. I am fifteen years old and I live in San Antonio, Texas. I am a competitive swimmer and I am a brown Ragger. (Raggers is a special program at CFA.) I have been in Saddle Club for five years, since I started camp at the age of ten. The reason I choose to be part of Saddle Club is because I am one of those kids who love horseback riding, but I don't have the money to own a horse and I live in the suburbs of San Antonio. I am a horse lover so Saddle Club is that one week out of 52 that I get to live my dream as a horseback rider and I get to say that one phrase I love to say: "That's my horse". If you share the same story then Saddle Club will give you that experience. 
         I enjoy every part of Saddle Club. Saddle Club lets you experience being a horseback rider. You get to enjoy the ability to "own" a horse for a week. The games you do will be fun and teach good posture when you are in the saddle. The games help you become better equestrians. You also get to learn good horsemanship, how to brush your horse and put the saddle on your horse. You get to learn how to walk and trot on your horse. Trotting is a faster pace than a walk. Older kids may even learn how to canter. Cantering, or loping, is a faster pace than a trot. There is a special trail ride that the Saddle Club gets to go on. We get to ride our horses up to Mt. Vesper. Mt. Vesper is this cliff mountain that has a cross on it. The older kids get to eat s'mores up there. It's a pretty view. You can see all of the camp from that point. 
        I think all the horses are amazing. So don't worry about getting a crazy horse because they are all sweet and compatible. My favorite horses for beginner riders are Jb and Karat. Jb is a Spanish quarter horse. I rode him for 2 years. He is a pony but prefers to be called a small horse. He is sweet and gentle. He is the handsomest pony in the barn. He is a great listener and doesn't get super crazy. I love to put his long bangs into a ponytail. He makes funny faces when I do that. :) He has a fast yet smooth walk and his trot is fast. Karat is a pretty mare and she is a Arabian/Quarter horse. She is sassy girl but is honestly sweet. When you trot her she makes funny faces that are awesome to catch on camera. Don't worry if she does that because that's just her. She has a smooth trot and walk. She can ride both English and western so if you only know one way don't worry because she knows both. 
        For advanced riders that ride back at home but never have ridden at CFA, Marquee and is a fun horse for you. I rode him for two years. He is a Thoroughbred. He is the biggest horse in the barn. He has a nice slow walk and a really fast trot so he is perfect to do a posting trot on. He has a calm personality and listens well too. He has a fast canter that's rough but he's only eight, so he might become smoother as he gets older.  Last summer I got the privilege to ride one of the new mustangs named Indigo. He is so cute and calm. If you are an advanced rider you might get to ride him. He has a nice slow walk and a slow trot. When I rode him you liked to go anywhere he wanted to go but he listens well. He is a class clown. He likes to make funny faces and knock down things. He is a very curious little fellow. He doesn't bite or buck which was a surprise to me since he is from the wild. 
        Take my advice young Jedi, because it will determine your life or death here at CFA...I am just playing with you but I recommend you take it. I recommend boot cut or jeans that aren't tight because if you don't want to rip your favorite pair of super tight skinny jeans than I would pick up a pair of loose jeans at Target or Old Navy. Also, about jeans, I wouldn't wear jeans with holes in them because than you can get them caught on the fence or on hooks on the saddle. I would keep your riding clothes in a separate bag just in case if you fall into wild grass and you find out that you are allergic to it and get hives. Been there done that, don't want to have Mickey Mouse hands. I recommend you don't wear flats or TOMS because they don't do to well in mud and poop. At least you can clean tennis shoes and boots. You should have your parents come take you as early as possible so that you can get dibs on a bunk near the A/C. 
        Well, I am planning on coming to CFA this summer for my LIT year. I am also planning on being an WIT when I am 17 to become an assistant wrangler for CFA because someone has to fill those boots.  I will be returning for the epic summer of 2012. Don't forget to live, laugh, love, and look up!

 — Jen A., San Antonio TX
Here's Jen riding "Indigo," the mustang she refers to in her blog entry. She was the very first student rider to trot on Indigo, and even played a whole day of games on him!

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