Our first few years we went on trail rides -- but since HAWS really wants the kids to learn something about the animals they interact with, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the fact that we were just getting a ride without taking away knowledge.
A few years ago we were lucky enough to learn about Knollwood Farm in Hartland. Their Riding School Director, Nancy Turner, puts together a wonderful experience for HAWS campers. We spend an afternoon at Knollwood and the kids get a tour of the facility, learn about appropriate behavior around horses, learn how to groom and put on tack, and get a riding lesson.
Some of the things we've learned at Knollwood are: Always keep your hand on the horse when you're walking around them so that they know where you are. Taking care of a horse is a lot of hard work. Riding horses involves muscles you never knew you had -- and they will hurt the next day.
One of the best lessons wasn't officially part of the program. Knollwood has a 34 year old horse living there -- with a life expectancy of 25-30 years, that is a very old horse. I unfortunately don't remember the name of the horse, but I'm impressed with the compassion a business can have for an animal that served for so many years. This geriatric, blind horse is kept comfortable and is obviously loved by employees and students of Knollwood alike. I hope HAWS camper's learned something about compassion through this experience.