Monday, August 9, 2010

Finding Horse Sense

One of the specialty camps HAWS holds every summer is a horseback riding field trip camp. The field trip of the week is an chance to learn about an animal we don't have at HAWS, and to get to do something many kids don't have an opportunity to experience.

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.

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