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Camp teaches youth about horses

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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

Surrounded by horses since they were young, sisters Sarah Lyons and Stephanie Mahoney have made horses their livelihood.

“Both my sister and I have equine degrees from Midway College,” Lyons said. “We’ve had Morgans and shown Morgans my whole life. We kind of built up into a little business, Royal Acres Morgans.”

Lyons, Mahoney and their mother, Katherine Roberts hosted a day camp from July 7 through July 11 at Royal Acres Morgans in Eminence. About 12 to 15 girls attended camp each day, ranging in age between three and 15. The camp was not limited to female children, but the equine industry is predominately female, according to Lyons.

“It was fun. It went really well, the kids had a blast. It’s better than I even expected actually,” Lyons said. “The kids loved being around the horses.”

The day camp began every day at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. According to Lyons, it was exhausting, but when the parents came to pick up their children at 4 p.m., the campers would yell, “I don’t want to go home!” There were girls in attendance who had never been on a horse and then there were girls who have been riding and showing for four or so years, Lyons said.

“My favorite part was playing ‘egg and spoon’ on the horse and riding bareback because ‘egg and spoon’ was challenging and bareback was fun,” Whitney Rodgers, an 8-year-old day-camper from Smithfield, said.

In the morning, the girls usually got the horses ready and then went riding. A total of eight horses were used during the day camp. The girls were split into groups. While one group rode in the indoor arena, the other would ride in the outdoor arena. Other children would work on crafts and then the groups would switch. Afterwards, they bathed the horses and put them away.

“I liked riding bareback and grooming the horses because I like to make the horses sparkly and riding bareback is fun because the horses have bony backs,” Macey Cravens, a 9-year-old day-camper from Eminence, said.

In the afternoon, the atmosphere was educational. After an educational lecture, the girls did a relay race that went along with the lecture. After that, there was a fun activity. For example, the girls finger painted the horses last Thursday. Finally, the day ended with another craft.

Day-campers made stick horses, decorated real horseshoes with ribbons and jewels, made foam horse magnets with fur on them, colored canvas backpacks with a horse theme, made sun-catchers and made picture frames as well.

“My favorite part is when a child is riding and they learn to do something and their eyes just light up,” Lyons said.

For example, when the girls achieved their goals and were excited about it. For example, one girl rode with her hands in the air for the first time and was clearly excited.

“I’m just glad they had a good experience and they received an education and experience from it,” Lyons said.

Lyons has past camp experience and that helped her plan the day camp, along with Mahoney and Roberts. It’s just a big family operation, according to Roberts. Each member of the family has a separate passion. For example Lyons enjoys giving lessons and Mahoney enjoys training the horses with the riders, as in putting the horses with the people.

“My favorite thing about camp is being taught by the Roberts,” Morgan Mohr, a 13-year-old camper from Leavenworth, Ind., said. “They’re always really nice, but they tell you what you’re doing wrong and they’re nice about it.”

Rumors are also circulating about a small day camp during Christmas Break.

“I hope to be bigger. I wanted to kind of start out small and limit the number of kids the first year,” Lyons said. “Next year I want to have more kids and have it on a bigger scale even if we have to do two different weeks of camp.”

The 2008 summer day camp was successful and ran smoothly, according to Lyons. As a result, there will be more camps of this nature for children to anticipate in the future.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.