Wednesday, June 17, 2015

As Always, the Best Pony Clubbers in the World

Last week was pony club camp.

It was the usual awesomeness, good, hardworking kids eager to learn. Camp is a lot of work to get ready for--lots and lots of mowing and weed-whacking, lots of grocery-shopping and cooking (you've never seen kids drink so much milk, or eat so many avocados. Avocados. Who knew?). This year I had an emergency new barn toilet. Camp is worth it, though. Worth it for M and her pony learning to be a team again--worth it for K and K and C doing an upper-level switch ride, so nervous any one of them might have puked, and doing well--worth it for E, our youngest and newest club member,who took excellent care of her mare, learned to properly clean a stall, and bravely (happily) spent the night. Worth it for little S jumping her pony brilliantly, for C coming into the barn with a face-splitting smile. Worth it for 7 members who passed ratings. Worth it for my dear daughter, who in the week before camp, as part of an upper-level ratings project, built a new cross-country jump wholly on her own and repaired all the rest on the farm, a herculean, week-long effort, and worth it because as the last camper drove away my daughter grinned at me and said, "We did it, Mom."

Worth it to have the indomitable Cathy Wieschhoff as our instructor again. I try explaining to the campers and their parents how rare it is to have a rider and teacher of this caliber teaching our little camp--Cathy went from our farm to teach the Area 8 Young Riders, a much bigger deal, and is going next week to teach at the event camp run by Olympians Karen and David O'Connor. My campers don't really know. How could they? We live in podunkville. I happen to like podunkville, but I'm grateful to learn from Cathy whenever I can. On Wednesday, when we were having an adult clinic with Cathy as well as ratings day for half the campers and a certified regional upper-level prep for the other half--along about Tuesday night I wondered if I'd really attempted too much, but it was too late by then--anyway, on Wednesday Cathy got to the barn early to work with a couple of campers who were having specific issues, to make sure everything got ironed out before she left. Also Cathy made the campers clear their own mess from the dinner table, which I appreciated, and told stories about her own memories of being a pony clubber at pony club camp.

I was never a pony clubber. I started riding when I was 18, which means I've been riding for over 62% of my life now. (Yes, I just did the math. I'm that way.) I don't know whether my own pony clubbers will keep riding as adults or not, but I hope that someday they'll look back and tell stories about their own happy days at pony club camp.

P.S. a few days after camp, our oldest member happened to be with her other club in Aiken, South Carolina--she's grown up now and lives in Aiken mostly--and an adult I've never met nor heard of told her that Holston Pony Club was known to be one of the best clubs in the country. I repeat this only so y'all know it's not just me. These are the best pony clubbers.