Parents who want their children to spend more time outdoors this summer, learn responsibility for another living creature and build community might want to consider enrolling them in horse camp at Lucky Break Ranch near Rivers.
Kim Richardson, who owns and runs the ranch, located 41 kilometres northwest of Brandon, has offered horsemanship and horseback riding lessons to children ages eight and up since 2016. Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t have much of an effect on running the camp over the last few years, she said.
“We were fortunate that we were able to still go through COVID because we were outdoors, and because it’s just small groups of people. We followed all the protocols … it was good to keep that going.”
Richardson said she believes it’s that connection with nature, the outdoors and other children that helped the kids who enrolled in her camp thrive through the tumultuous years of the pandemic. Not only do the children and youth who attend Lucky Break Ranch get to learn how to ride a horse, but they’re assigned one of the animals to care for during their time at the day camp.
“They’re going to feed [the horse], they’re going to groom it, they’re going to learn about the horse. We do some horsemanship programs, and kids get workbooks — that way they can take it home after camp and keep learning,” Richardson said.
When it comes to actually riding horses, kids don’t need any prior experience to participate, she added. Every child is assigned to a horse that will suit their temperament and skill level.
“That’s going to build their confidence. That’s what we’re all about — building confidence and getting the kids involved with the horses and the outdoors, animals and livestock,” she said.
For Richardson, there’s nothing more empowering than having a horse think of you as their leader — something that will stay with the children who come to the camp for a long time.
“That’s huge, and just letting kids get out in nature, being able to experience the great outdoors and the animals — it’s therapeutic,” she said.
Campers also take part in an anti-bullying program that is near and dear to Richardson’s heart. The program sees the children going through some sessions and working together as a group.
“They’re learning about communication and negotiation … different skills that everybody needs in life,” Richardson said.
The anti-bullying program merges seamlessly with the horsemanship and horse-riding aspects of the program, Richardson said, giving campers a holistic experience that will, hopefully, shape their futures.
“Instead of talking to their horses and demanding a horse to do stuff, they’re learning to stop and listen and hear what their horse is saying to them, too.”
Throughout the experience, the children and their assigned horses form a special relationship, she added.
“They truly do become a partner with their animals.”
Once the week’s camp is up, the campers graduate on a special day with their family and friends, and they get a chance to show off what they’ve learned.
Registration is now open for the day camps, which run from July 3-7, July 17-21, July 31 to Aug. 4 and Aug. 14-18. The camps run from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cost $535 per youth to attend. For more information, contact email@example.com.
By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 19, 2023 at 08:34