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STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: Summer Camp 2023 Highlights

Session 1, Day 1 (June 13th)

What a great start to the summer camp season! Today's activities included a MadLib ice-breaker; tacking, grooming and bathing the horses; riding lessons; "red light, green light" and "Simon says" games with a combination of mounted and unmounted players; an ice cream break; axe throwing; backpack decorating; horse charades; laser tag; egg collecting; and watching the farriers. It was a great first day for everyone!

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Session 1, Day 2 (June 14th)

This morning's riding lesson focused on stopping and steering, with FRC's handsome boys, Fergus and Maverick. Each rider successfully completed a maneuver called a "keyhole," which required them to steer their horse into a square composed of 14' ground poles, keep them still for a count of five, then turn them around within the square and exit.

 

And everyone trotted! Payton said her first time trotting on Ferg "felt like a trampoline." And we were all impressed at how well Jahi trotted for the first time since April!

 

Campers helped bring the horses into the barn from the turnouts, tacked and groomed and fed and watered them, then mucked out their stalls and put down fresh bedding. 

 

It was hungry work. Both the campers and the horses enjoyed a lot of snacks today!

 

Campers also learned about horse shows, breeds and riding disciplines, as well as the parts of the saddle and the bridle. And they watched a video of FRC's Odie coming in first, in his previous career as a racehorse. 

 

It was a fun day, and we can't wait to do it again tomorrow!

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Session 1, Day 3 (June 15th)

Our first week of summer camp is going fast. 

 

Payton set the tone by surprising everyone with horse tattoos this morning. (Thank you, Payton!) We turned the horses out and mucked their stalls. We did a word search, learned about horse markings and coloring, listened to Taylor Swift and country music, and ate ice cream. We rode horses both before and after lunch and we also took turns riding in the Gator. Everyone got to walk and trot and we practiced balancing in the saddle. At the end of the day, we took a poll and decided we'd like to bake horse treats tomorrow.

 

We're looking forward to another fun-packed day together and hope our campers are, too.

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Session 1, Day 4 (June 16th)

Our last day of Session One camp was a busy day here at Frenchtown Riding Club! In the morning, our campers worked together to bake homemade horse treats with apples, carrots and oatmeal. The horses loved them! They groomed the horses and played Horse Bingo, Barn Family Feud, charades and Horse Pictionary. Clarence, our youngest camper, won at Pictionary. At lunchtime, we had a pizza party. Then they watched the vet do x-rays, ate frozen treats, watched Spirit Stallion of the Cimmaron and competed against each other in a bumper ball obstacle course around the indoor arena. It was a very full day.

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Horse cookies 2023-06-16.JPG

Session 2, Day 1 (June 19th)

On Monday, our summer campers started the day with a MadLib ice-breaker, before learning about brushes and tack. Then they tacked and groomed the horses and shared a group riding lesson. They played freeze tag on the horses, took an ice cream break, then played horse Pictionary and charades. It was a very full day.

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Bella leading Ferg 2023-06-19.jpg
Sophie grooming with Janet 2023-06-19.jpg
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Session 2, Day 2 (June 20th)

Today, our campers were feeling crafty. They began work on wooden horse butt ornaments and clay sculptures that they'll complete later this week. They learned about horse breeds, colors and markings. They played games, including Horseopoly. They rode in English tack in the morning and bareback in the afternoon. They played a mounted game called Ride-A-Buck that challenged them to maintain contact with their horses, by keeping a dollar bill firmly trapped between themselves and their horse while engaged in a variety of riding maneuvers.

And they're all looking forward to Western Wednesday tomorrow!

Sophie leading Ferg 2023-06-20.jpg
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Playing Monopoly 2023-06-20.jpg
Isla & Shelby wrapping the bridle 2023-06-20.jpg
Playing with clay 2023-06-20.jpg
Emily & Sophie bringing in horses 2023-06-20.jpg

Session 2, Day 3 (June 21st)

It was another busy day here today at Camp FRC.

Today was Western Wednesday, so we all rode Western-style, for a change. Campers enjoyed the change of pace and found the Western saddles comfy, but a bit squeaky. No arguments there.

We learned about gaits, then took part in an inflatable horse show, where we used our knowledge of gaits, leads and lead changes, as well as counting strides, to maneuver our inflatable stick horses around the indoor arena, over poles and jumps, while the judges scored our performances. In addition to learning what it's like to compete in a horse show, at least one of our campers discovered that "it's hard to be a horse."

We took some time to paint the clay models we made yesterday, then completed our horse butt ornaments with colorful ribbons and a snip of tail hair from each of our favorite horses, We also made beaded bracelets, each with a special message.

We mucked stalls, did some axe throwing and played a rousing game of horse trivia.

Everyone went home tired and happy.

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Bella painting her horse 2023-06-21.jpg
Isla painting her horseshoe 2023-06-21.jpg
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Sophie & Zola on Western Wednesday 2023-06-21.jpg

Session 2, Day 4 (June 22nd)

Session 2 of our Summer Camp is going by so fast!

 

Yesterday, our campers played Barn Family Feud, using the knowledge they've gained over the course of the week. They checked out the nest of barn swallows in one of the horse barns and collected chicken and duck eggs from the coop. They did a lot of horse care, including mucking, tacking, grooming, feeding, and watering. (They're all becoming quite proficient!) They baked homemade horse cookies with apples, carrots, oats, and molasses. They rode both in English tack and bareback, and they competed to see who could maintain a half-seat position the longest. At snack time, Zola tried to steal Sophie's Doritos! Everyone had fun and we all enjoyed the cooler weather.

 

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of the week.

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Session 2, Day 5 (June 22nd)

The drizzling rain did nothing to dampen everyone's spirits. This was the first time we've ever seen campers volunteer to clean tack and muck stalls. What a great group of workers! Perhaps it was the sweet treats someone brought in that motivated them. (Thank you, girls!)

Fridays are Pizza Day here at Camp FRC and we'd all worked up an appetite by lunchtime. After a slice or two, followed by dessert, everyone was ready to play Horse Charades.

Then it was time to ride again. The counselors were all impressed by how much everyone improved over the course of the week -- better riders, more teamwork, and champion muckers! After our last ride, we groomed the horses and gave the chickens a treat.

 

At the end of the day, Sophie's mom got to watch her ride, Bella introduced her father and her brother to the horses, and Isla stayed for a while to help with dinner. It was a lovely end to great week.

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Session 3, Day 1 (June 26th)

Our third summer camp session is off to a great start, despite the rocky weather.

We began by learning about horse safety and grooming tools, then we groomed and tacked the horses, and got ready to ride.

In the indoor arena, we practiced basic skills, like walking, trotting, posting, and half-seats. Sophie continued in her efforts to set the world record for longest half-seat. We honed our balance in the saddle by riding with our arms stretched out to the side (“airplane-style”), or in front of us (“zombie-style”) or on top of our heads. We worked on steering by maneuvering our horses between two ground poles, then backing them out.

We mucked the horse’s stalls. It was a lot of work. Then Sophia volunteered to help Greyson dump the manure and used bedding in the field.

In the afternoon, it was too stormy to ride again, so we ate ice cream, made signs for the horse’s stalls, and worked on beaded bracelets and key chains. Before we knew it, it was time to go home.

We had a great time today and we can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Session 3, Day 2 (June 27th)

On Tuesday morning, after welcoming Ryan and having our morning circle, during which we talked about the day ahead, our Session 3 campers learned about saddles and bits. 

We hung up the new stall signs we made yesterday and added the beaded charms we made to the horses’ halters.

 

To give our campers a better sense of how to properly use the reins to communicate with their horses, we paired them up and had them complete a pretend “jump course,” with each camper – and their counselors – taking turns as the “rider” and the “horse.” Campers were challenged to steer their “horse” over and around a variety of obstacles without speaking. Counselors upped the level of difficulty by occasionally bucking, shying, balking, or tossing their heads – just like real horses. Despite a lot of silliness and much giggling, it was a great lesson.

 

Campers rode English style in the morning, as they continued to practice their walking, trotting, and posting. In the afternoon, after watching one of our instructors train a horse, they rode bareback for a change.

 

It seemed like we had no sooner gotten started than it was time to go home!

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Session 3, Day 3 (June 28th)

Today was Western Wednesday, so campers began the morning by learning about Western tack. Then they mucked and groomed and tacked (taking an ice cream break in the middle because, hey, horse care is a lot of work), and then it was time for a trail ride. Gwen was fully prepared with her hat and vest. Mav was excited because he’s always wanted to be a trail horse.

 

After lunch, campers divided into Team Ferg and Team Jack for a unicorn painting contest. Both teams did a fabulous job, and the horses loved all the attention.

 

After a second ice cream break (after all, it was just so hot outside), the campers competed individually in a rousing game of Horse Jeopardy, testing their recently gained knowledge of Western tack, parts of the bridle, and horse breeds and coloring. Ryan surprised everyone by correctly answering “flea-bitten gray,” one of the more difficult horse colors to identify.

 

While each camper has had their own favorite activity, our favorite thing about camp this week is how well this group has bonded. 

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Session 3, Day 4 (June 29th)

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We started off the morning with a game in which one player names a school horse, then tosses the ball to another player, who must then say the color of that horse. Then that player names another horse, tosses the ball and the game continues.

After some routine horse care, campers headed to the indoor arena and honed their steering skills with slow-motion barrel racing and pole bending. Counselors were impressed at how much they’re improving! Then they took the horses out for a stroll around the property.

Vet tech Shana visited the barn and showed each of the campers how to listen to a horse’s heartbeat and gut sounds with a stethoscope. A lengthy Q&A  period followed, during which campers asked all sorts of questions about horse anatomy, physiology, and veterinary issues.

At the end of the day, everyone worked together to feed, hay and water the horses.

Session 3, Day 5 (June 30th)

Today was a fun end to a great week. We mucked and groomed and tacked and rode horses in the morning, while it was still relatively cool. Then we went to the small barn to watch Lee, the farrier, shoe Cricket.

By lunchtime, we’d worked up a good appetite and we were more than ready for our pizza party, with homemade rainbow-frosted cookies from Gwen for dessert. They were delicious!

 

Fully fueled and re-energized, we headed back outside for a fierce reusable water balloon battle between the campers and the counselors. The counselors didn’t stand a chance.

Then we played the Bucket Train Game and got even more soaked, if that was possible. After a popsicle break, we played Twister with our new friend, Marina, then gave the horses dinner and said our goodbyes.

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Session 4, Day 1 (July 5th)

Despite the heat and humidity, Session 4 of Frenchtown Riding Club’s summer camp got off to a lovely start today. Besties Cami and Marina began the morning by grooming and tacking their horses, then brought them into the indoor arena, where they practiced walking, trotting, posting and half seats. After that, they gave Peanut a much-appreciated bath, then cooled off in front of the fan with cold drinks and ice pops while they played Horse Charades. The day ended with the Bucket Train game and a water balloon battle that left everyone happy and refreshed.

Session 4, Day 2 (July 6th)

It was another great day here at Frenchtown Riding Club. We started the morning with free-choice arts and crafts, including beads, Spirograph and horseshoe painting. Ryan painted her horseshoe like a watermelon. Annabella made a pair of goggles for Odie, who's recovering from an eye injury.   
 

Then we groomed and tacked the horses and headed to the indoor arena for some riding. 

After practicing our walking, trotting, posting and half seats, we played Red Light Green Light and Musical Stalls, to a soundtrack by Taylor Swift, selected by the campers. Everyone did great! 

   

We untacked the horses and gave them a rinse in the wash stall before putting them back. By that point everyone was pretty warm, so we took a popsicle break before ending the day by cleaning stalls. Soon, it was time to say goodbye.

 

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Friday already!

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Ryan & Marina 2023-07-06.jpg
Annabella made goggles for Odie 2023-07-06.jpg
Annabella leading Capri 2023-07-06.jpg
Emily & Ryan 2023-07-06.jpg

Session 4, Day 3 (July 7th)

Our three-day, half-day summer camp session ended today on a lovely note. After a morning spent painting unicorn decorations (and themselves), making stall signs for their favorite horses, and playing with farm stencils, our Session 4 campers ducked into the poultry run (pun intended) to collect chicken and duck eggs to take home. Then they groomed and tacked the horses and headed into the indoor arena for one last group lesson. Since this one was at the end of the day, their parents and grandparents got to watch them ride and admire how much progress they’d made in just three short days. The praise was well-deserved. They all did a great job!

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Session 5, Day 1 (July 10th)

Summer Session 5 is off to a lively start with the Casuscelli clan and the return of Willa. This morning, campers learned about horse safety, grooming, and tack, then helped get their horses ready and led them into the indoor arena for their first riding lesson of the week.     
 

They focused on walking, stopping, steering, posting, and half seats, then played Freeze to the sound of Taylor Swift, to practice those skills.

         

Once the horses were untacked, groomed, and turned out, everyone cooled off with frozen treats while playing horse-themed Pictionary and Jeopardy. Then they worked together to give Jack a bubble bath and clean out some horse stalls. After lunch, the campers voted for arts and crafts, so we created things with modeling clay, then did some scratch art while sipping cold juice and lemonade and enjoying a snack.

   

At the end of the day, they helped feed and water the horses, then retreated to the indoor arena to compete in obstacle races while waiting for their moms.

 

All this and we still have four days to go!

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Sophia on Capri 2023-07-10.jpg
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Session 5, Day 2 (July 11th)

What a beautiful summer day it was today! After teaching the campers about horse colors and markings, counselors Aubrey, Greyson, and Emily took them on a tour around the property to point out the colors and markings on FRC’s horses. Then the campers faced off in two teams – Team Jack and Team Ferg – in a game of Jeopardy designed to test their new knowledge.

 

After that, they took some time to paint the clay projects they made yesterday before getting their horses ready and heading to the indoor arena for another riding lesson. Gianna was particularly keen to get back on a horse today.

 

Once they’d put their horses away, Emily helped them update the riding passports that will help them keep track of their progress.

 

After lunch, they gave Fergus a bath; cleaned tack while learning about the parts of the saddle and the bridle; groomed Peanut; watched a training demonstration; collected eggs from the chicken and duck coops; set up the horses’ dinner; and created custom stall signs, which we’ll laminate and hang tomorrow.

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Session 5, Day 3 (July 12th)

“W” isn’t just for “Wednesday,” it’s also for “wacky” and “water.” For this week’s Wacky Wednesday, we had a water balloon battle and played the Bucket Train game until everyone’s boots were filled with water. We rode without our saddles and tried posting in all sorts of poses: with our hands on our heads, airplane-style (arms held out the sides), zombie-style (arms held out in front) and more. We made extra minty peppermint oat muffins and fed them to all the horses. We played games and did a lot of arts and crafts – including decorating the passport box, which went from “plain Jane” to Super Snazzy. Some of our campers even decorated themselves! Our Wednesday wasn’t just wacky, it was also wonderful.

Session 5, Day 4 (July 13th)

Today was about unicorns and staying cool. Campers began the day with arts and crafts, making beaded creations and get-well cards for two of our boarders’ horses. They learned about horse breeds, then played Horse Bingo and horse-themed Hangman while enjoying snacks in front of the fan. After taking time to care for the chickens and ducks, it was campers versus counselors in a water battle and, boy, did the counselors get soaked! The most exciting thing about today, though, was that the campers all got to make unicorns – twice. First, they turned Jack into a unicorn using finger paints. Then, they painted unicorn lights to take home. And, of course, they also took time to care for the horses, making sure to feed them dinner before heading home to get ready for tomorrow.

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Session 5, Day 5 (July 14th)

On the last day of Session 5, campers had a grooming contest, dividing into two teams and pretending they were preparing their horses for a show. Both teams did a great job, drawing on everything they’ve learned. They practiced lots of other horse care, too, scrubbing water buckets, bathing Jack (our white horse who always seems to be brown), mucking stalls, and more. They took time out to play with Harriet (counselor Caroline’s kitten and officially our youngest camper), make wooden horse ornaments and sprawl in front of the giant barn fan with popsicles to cool down. Since it was Friday, they had a pizza party for lunch. Best of all, they got to ride for their parents at the end of the day, showing off all their new skills.

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Session 6, Day 1 (July 17th)

The first day of Frenchtown Riding Club’s Summer Session 6 began with horseshoe painting, followed by a morning ride. After an ice cream break, campers gave the chickens and ducks some attention, then took a lunch break. In the afternoon they learned about horse markings and colors, worked together to clean saddles and buckets, rode the horses again, played with Harriet and competed in an obstacle course around the indoor arena.

 

We’re looking forward to another day tomorrow and hope our campers are, too!

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Alyssa & Emily teamwork 2023-07-17.jpg
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Session 6, Day 2 (July 18th)

Tuesday’s campers began the day by making beaded bracelets and decorating photo frames. Then they divided into two teams for a grooming contest with Cricket and Jackson and played a round of horse-themed Jeopardy, before grooming and tacking their horses and heading to the indoor arena to practice steering, posting and half seats. They bathed Capri and took her out to graze, before sitting down to enjoy their own lunches. Once they had refueled, they mucked stalls and filled the horse’s water buckets, then lunged Odie and treated him to a bubble bath. They honed their balance by posting and doing half seats in saddles mounted on barrels. After a break for chocolate milk, they gave the horses dinner and said their goodbyes.

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Payton grooming 2023-07-18.jpg
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Session 6, Day 3 (July 19th)

Wednesday was another full day at Camp FRC! We started off by refreshing our knowledge of horse colors and watching the vet give the horses their shots. Then we treated the horses to a good graze in the grass before making clay creations. After our morning ride, we took a walk outside while it was drizzling to cool off before we sat down to lunch. Then we brought inflatable stick horses into the ring and created many, many different jump courses! We took an ice cream break, then hopped on the horses again for a bareback ride to end the day!

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Session 6, Day 4 (July 20th)

Our campers started off today with a challenging and fun scavenger hunt, which sent them all over the property in search of different horses, items, snacks, and more! Then they cooled off with some cold drinks and went right to work painting yesterday’s clay creations. After that, they took care of the chickens and ducks, carefully collecting all the fresh eggs and making sure the birds had plenty of cool water and fresh food for the hot day ahead. Once all the animals were cared for and content, campers enjoyed a quick ice cream break before grooming and tacking their horses for their morning ride, which consisted of lots of goofy games, like red light green light. After they hosed off their horses and had a nice lunch, they learned about lunging horses with side reins and they all took turns practicing. By the time we were ready to head home for the day, the campers, counselors, and horses were all very happy and ready for a nap! 

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Session 6, Day 5 (July 21st)

The last day of each camp session at FRC is Pizza Party Friday and this past Friday was no exception. Before enjoying their pizza, though, campers worked on activity sheets related to parts of the bridle, horse colors and markings, grooming tools, and other things they’d learned over the course of the week. Then they groomed and tacked their horses, took a riding lesson, hosed off the horses, and cared for the chickens and ducks — all before lunch. The afternoon was filled with silliness, during which campers enjoyed a spirited game of horse-themed Hangman, painted Jack like a unicorn, created an obstacle course in the indoor arena, and played limbo and other games before pickup. What a fun way to end the week!

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Session 7, Day 1 (July 31st)

Frenchtown Riding Club’s Summer Session 7 started with an ice breaker, in which campers drew their names and added pictures or a list of their favorite things. Then it was time to meet the horses and learn about horse safety, grooming tools and how to tack a horse. Once the horses were ready to go, everyone headed to the indoor arena for their first riding lesson of the week. They all did a great job!

Campers opted to spend the rest of the morning working with modeling clay. In the afternoon, they took time to paint their clay creations. They also bathed Jack and Maverick and played a game where they took turns identifying horse-related items while blindfolded. Then it was time for an ice cream break before feeding the horses, collecting eggs from the coop and getting in a quick game of horse-themed hangman while they waited for their parents.

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Session 7, Day 2 (August 1st)

This week’s campers like to stay on the move. After playing mounted games, including three very competitive rounds of Red Light Green Light in which everyone excelled, they waged a fierce battle with foam blasters and with water guns, before moving on to a game of water tag, in which the blindfolded player who is “it” must tag one of the kazoo-tooting remaining players with a blast of water (you had to be there), then moved on to corn hole and volleyball. Despite all this, they still found time to groom and tack the horses, take a riding lesson (kudos to Olivia and Maddie, both of whom trotted for the first time!), test their recently gained knowledge in a round of horse-themed Jeopardy, feed frozen treats to the horses, watch one of our horse trainers at work, enjoy some ice cream and give all the horses dinner.

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Session 7, Day 3 (August 2nd)

Frenchtown Riding Club’s campers took advantage of today’s fabulous weather by taking the horses for a stroll out and about the grounds, but only once they’d burned off a little energy playing volleyball and badminton and competing in an unmounted jump course, individually, en masse and in potato sacks. They also gave ladder ball a try, collected eggs from the coop, ate lunch in the gazebo, took care of the horses, walked and trotted in their afternoon lesson, then relaxed and cooled off with frozen treats.

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Session 7, Day 4 (August 3rd)

We asked our campers today what their favorite activity has been so far. The answers were “riding,” “riding,” “trail riding,” “volleyball,” and “badminton.” So, of course, we played more volleyball and badminton and we did a lot more riding, although, sadly, we ran out of day before we got the chance to trail ride again. And, of course, we cared for the horses and the chickens. Then, at the end of the day, we played a little more badminton while we waited for pickup. We even got Maddie’s dad to join in!

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Annabella Emily & Ferg 2023-08-03.jpg
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Session 7, Day 5 (August 4th)

Session 7 ended on a lovely note yesterday, with more horseback riding and horse care, more volleyball, and more laughter and camaraderie. Campers played Musical Freeze in the indoor arena, in addition to a few extremely competitive rounds of Red Light Green Light. They chilled in the gazebo, scarfing down pizza and soda. And they had an epic scavenger hunt.

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Session 8, Day 1 (August 7th)

Session 8 has brought us another great batch of campers! Monday started with a review of grooming tools and methods, after which our eager beavers insisted on grooming all eight school horses. Then they played an obstacle course game with the jumps in the indoor arena; worked with clay and beads outside in the gazebo; tacked up the horses; took a group riding lesson, in which everyone walked and trotted; and played mounted games - and that was all before lunch! After the lunch break, they bathed Odie, mucked stalls, and made horse cookies. It was a great day!

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Session 8, Day 2 (August 8th)

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Tuesday morning started with a pickup game of volleyball. Then campers headed to the indoor arena to play the Helmet Game, in which participants pair up and take turns as “horse” and “rider” to better understand how to communicate via the reins. Tuesday’s Helmet Game quickly devolved into hijinks and silliness, however, which was fine because, hey, it is camp, after all. Having blown off a little steam, but still in high spirits, campers played another cutthroat game of Red Light Green Light, plus Musical Freeze. They had a looong scavenger hunt, during which they found every single item on the list – plus a teeny, little frog, who was not on the list – then made shaved ice. The day ended as it began, with a little more volleyball.

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Addie with Ferg 2023-08-08.jpg

Session 8, Day 3 (August 9th)

Wednesday was another glorious summer day here at Frenchtown Riding Club, perfect for playing volleyball, tending the chickens, and lounging on the patio. But, first, campers decorated wooden photo frames to take home, then selected their favorite horses and posed for portraits together. They took a group riding lesson, played mounted and unmounted games, and gave Zola both a bubble bath and a mohawk. Then they turned out the horses, fed them all dinner, and headed home to rest up for another day of camp.

Aryanna with photo frame 2023-08-09.jpg
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Photo frames 2023-08-09.jpg

Session 8, Day 4 (August 10th)

Thursday’s wet weather did nothing to dampen our camper’s spirits. They split into two teams – Team Fergalicious and Team Peanut – for a fierce game of Barn Family Feud, with Team Peanut winning by a landslide. They also played Freeze Tag and competed against each other in an unmounted mock horse show, where they learned more about gaits and horse shows. And, of course, they took a group riding lesson and cared for all of the horses, chickens and ducks. As with previous sessions, one of the things we’ve enjoyed most is watching how much the campers progress over the course of just a few days and how well they work together as a team. It’s hard to believe this week is almost over already.

Session 8, Day 5 (August 11th)

Setting up dinner 2023-08-10.JPG
Picking a hoof 2023-08-10.jpg

This week’s summer camp ended much as it began - with laughter, high spirits and camaraderie. Campers groomed and tacked and rode horses, continuing to learn new skills and hone others. They had a pizza party on the patio. They played volleyball and horse-themed charades. They left with fresh eggs they’d collected from the coop, custom-framed portraits with their favorite horses from Wednesday’s photo shoot with Counselor Caroline, and a very full week’s worth of happy memories. 

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