Monday, October 24, 2011

Giddy Up, CFA— Your Fall Horse Update

Howdy howdy, campers, staff and families. I haven't written in a few weeks and wanted to share some of the exciting changes we are planning for the YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow's Equestrian Education program in 2012.

Three great NightRyders on Whiskers, Cash, and Rocky.
The NightRyders program was a big hit for 6 of the 8 camp weeks this year. NightRyders offered some of the more advanced teen riders one or two nights during their week to come out and try their hand at a different equine activity— some nights it was beginner jumping, sometimes trying out English or Australian riding styles and saddles, riding bareback, or trying their hand at competitive trail riding obstacles with Tiffany and myself. Some Ryders loped for the first time. This was the first year for the group and participants were chosen on a volunteer basis. Next year, due to demand, we will do our best to ensure in advance riders who are interested and eligible (must be a teen and been enrolled in Saddle Club or another year-round equine activity for at least two years) have a chance to try at least one NightRyder activity. If you have any suggestions for safe, fun, and exciting horse programming for our best riders to try, let us know in the comments section below!

Camp favorite Salty and his Saddle Club rider, Week 7.
Currently, we are in the planning stages of expanding the CFA Saddle Club from 12 to 18 members. To do this safely, we hope to have a total of four equestrian staff who can accommodate two groups of riders on two different curricula, who will rotate trail riding classes, round pen classes, and arena classes.  Each week of summer camp, we have to turn away potential Saddle Club riders who were unable to sign up in time to claim their spot. We hope to serve more horse-crazy (or at least, horse-curious!) children who want to ride.

Young campers giving horseback riding their first try.
With the potential expansion of riders, we will continue to look for quality horses who meet the high standards set for a Great Camp Horse! Not all of ours are beautiful, but it takes calm, courage, intelligence, and patience to be a camp mount and we are in the process of acquiring three new horses this fall. With spring retreats coming, we'll have a chance to see how these horses do in the high-pressure situation of camp, and they may make the cut to be part of our string for summer 2012. The camp mustang colts, Indigo and Flint, are not ready for full-time camper duties yet, but are still undergoing training and fine-tuning and we would love to see them being ridden by advanced campers in 2013.  I'll be attending clinics this fall to continue to develop my own skills, including natural horsemanship workshops and dressage lessons. Hopefully I can bring a lot of that back to CFA

As for your summer 2011 Equestrian Staff, who both love their own brand of competitive trail riding— Tiffany and her horse, Rocky, continue to compete in American Competitive Trail Horse Association (visit for more information) rides and I continue my involvement with the North American Trail Ride Conference ( We have facilitated several retreats this fall, with many more planned in the spring, and CFA Adopt-a-Horse riding lessons continue throughout the year. Both of us have acquired mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management and spend time on a daily or weekly basis training them to be great trail horses of the future.

Tiffany & Rocky on a competitive ride near Ingram, TX.
Bandit & I riding near Caprock Canyon.

Happy trails to all of you readers,
And hope your lives are full and happy!

— "MA"

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