Ride on: Summer horsemanship camp
Elizabeth Tells loves horses. So on a hot Tuesday afternoon surrounded by them she's obviously excited.
"I'm really enjoying this," said Tells with an ear to ear smile.
Tells is part of the District 196 Community Education basic horsemanship camp. During the weeklong camp she will learn how to saddle, ride, feed and appreciate the tall, elegant creatures that for centuries were the most common form of transportation.
"I want to ride lots of different horses," she added.
The full day camp lets the kids get acquainted with their equine counterparts while enjoying a camplike atmosphere. Bailey Webb, the lead camp counselor, said during the camp the kids spend about 50 percent of their time with the horses and the other half doing activities. Activities include songs, crafts and lunch.
This is the first time community education has offered equestrian courses, so it's an adventure for everyone involved. Lone Rock Ranch owner Barb Bohn introduced the idea of doing something to community education. Bohn, who started teaching riding lessons at her Rosemount ranch last fall, was buying horses from another ranch when the owner of that ranch suggested the idea to her.
She thought it was an interesting idea so she called Connie Elvin, community education's youth services coordinator. Bohn said Elvin checked into what it would take to do something and called her back excited.
"She called back really excited to do it," said Bohn.
After getting the go ahead from community education, Bohn enlisted some help to develop the week long camps. She enlisted Webb, who has run large camps in other places, to help her come up with daily activities.
"I turned it over to her and let her run with it," said Bohn.
As Webb quickly corrals the kids in this week's camp to sing a rendition of the "Baby Shark" song, it's clear Bohn chose the right woman for the job.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Webb of the camps. She added about the staff, "we're all like campers ourselves."
This week the camp has 20 kids. The camp is split into two groups. While half of the kids are learning riding fundamentals in the indoor arena, the other half make horsey collages in a nearby barn.
Each day the kids go for a trail ride through nearby Umore Park, which has 7,500 acres of trails. Safety is a main concern, so the kids learn the basics in the indoor arena where the horses are more comfortable. All the kids wear helmets.
Along with learning to ride the kids learn to care for the horses including grooming, watering and feeding.
"We do lots of fundamentals so the kids really get to know the horses," said Webb.
Half way through the summer, all parties involved say the partnership has worked out well.
"It's been great," said District 196 communications coordinator Lisa Beytien-Carlson. "Every kid wants to ride a horse."
Bohn said she is also happy with the arrangement.
"It's worked out great and we have had a huge response to it," said Bohn.
The next camp will be held Aug. 11-15. In addition community education will add English riding and jumping to complement the current courses.
Lone Rock Ranch is located at 17690 Clayton Avenue, southeast of Rosemount. To participate in the class parents must sign a waiver. For more information or to register go to www.district196.org/ce.