BEGINNER: Riders who've never been on a horse or need more experience and time to develop their confidence and steering. This stage is all about learning to relax and enjoy the experience and magic of riding, as well as learning body language cues that help us know what our horses are thinking and feeling. At this level we spend a lot of time on the ground learning to be comfortable approaching, catching, leading, grooming and tacking up our horses.
INTERMEDIATE: Riders who are comfortable at a rising trot without assistance and are able to guide their horses with quiet hands. This stage is all about putting in the miles until it becomes easy. Riders will build a foundation to be comfortable and balanced following the horse over varying terrain (including hills). At this level, riders are starting to be comfortable catching and grooming their horses with little assistance, but may need more support tacking up as it takes a lot of practice to get the little details right.
ADVANCED: An Advanced rider is stable and confident in riding simple canter transitions, and is beginning to work on jumping technique over cross-rails. This is the stage where we start to grow our awareness of how the horse is moving under us and how to shape their body so they can be more comfortable carrying us. We'll introduce bending, laterals, and impulsion as baby steps for starting to understand what it means for a horse to soften and come onto the bit. At this level, riders should be able to confidently catch and get their horses ready without assistance.
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This is our signature series, the ultimate Mountain Horse School experience! What could be better than spending 5 days on a farm with horses? More than just a horseback riding camp, we strive to offer a deeply personal journey in connecting with both horses and the natural world that's grounding, nourishing, and allows friendships, curiosity, joy and deep relationship to naturally flower into experience.
Monday to Wednesday we develop and further our horsemanship skills both in the saddle and on the ground, in the ring and out on the trails of the farm. On Thursday, we pack our lunches in saddlebags and have a picnic adventure ride out on one of the larger trail systems in Pemberton. Friday is obstacle course day, where each group of campers has a chance to set up their own course to ride through on the horses, a true test of the teamwork, riding skills, and relationships they've built all week.
Day 1- FRUIT LEATHER- We'll make a tray of delicious fruit leather to enjoy the next day, incorporating seasonal + local fruits
Day 2- CYANOTYPE PRINTS: We'll make beautiful nature prints on watercolour paper that's treated with a special substance that makes it change colour in the sun!
Day 3- YARROW MOSQUITO REPELLANT: We'll make our own bug repellant using homemade Yarrow oil and other essential oils
Day 4- PICNIC ADVENTURE RIDE + HANDMADE PAPER: We'll make our own beautiful paper sheets embedded with flowers and other natural materials.
Day 5- HORSE PAINTING + BAREBACK RIDES- This last day is left with some extra space in it so each camper can have a chance to paint a work of art on a horse and try riding bareback!
In this camp, we'll work with and ride the horses in the morning, and in the afternoon we'll celebrate the abundance and joy of the harvest season by making apple and pumpkin chips and rose hip tea. We'll talk about how horses and other animals prepare for winter, and see which horse is growing the best winter coat so far. (Winter coats in September?! It's true!)
In this camp, we get to go for a mushroom hunt on horseback! We'll learn to make a spore print, and ignite our curiosity with the questions: what IS a mushroom, anyway? What are their roles in the natural world? How can they be helpful to humans? We'll learn about what makes mushrooms different from each other, and will look at gills, teeth, pores, veils, spores, and mycelium. Our goal is not to be able to ID every mushroom, but to kindle enthusiasm, curiosity and exploration, Safety around edible and poisonous species will be covered.
We will spend the morning befriending, grooming, riding and caring for the horses and other animals. In the afternoon we will explore the world of plant healers, and ask and attempt to answer the following questions: What is medicine? Before we had pills and drugs, how did we heal ourselves? How do we know if a plant is safe? How do we harvest in a respectful way? Is it possible to have a relationship with a plant the same way we do a person or an animal?
We will go on a plant walk to meet a few new plant friends, and make our own White Chocolate lip balm infused with the healing properties of chickweed, wild mint, plantain, and wild Pemberton roses!
Join us for our very last camp days of camp in 2021! We'll spend the morning being with and then riding the horses through the frosted sparkling fields and forests of the farm. In the afternoon we'll light a fire to warm up, and then dive into exploring the world of conifer trees using all our senses. We'll explore the questions: why do some trees lose their leaves while others stay green year-round? How do we tell evergreen trees apart from each other? What does each kind of tree smell like? As it's the season of gift-giving, we'll then have a chance to create some of our own treasures to take home including a handmade wreath and conifer-infused bath salts-- all while sipping Douglas Fir needle tea!
In this camp we'll explore the questions: how can we get sweetness from the wild? Where does Maple or Birch Syrup come from, and how is it made? We'll learn about sap, and tap a tree to see if the sap is running. We'll sample different saps, and make maple taffy on snow- yum!
This first week of March Break Camp is dedicated to intermediate and advanced riders! Come explore the fields and forest of the farm as the snow melts and the terrain. becomes available to us again. If the ring is usable, we can do more formal style lessons, if not, we'll adventure together and learn new skills on the go.
This first week of March Break Camp is dedicated to intermediate and advanced riders! Come explore the fields and forest of the farm as the snow melts and the land opens up to us again. If the ring is usable, we can do more formal style lessons, if not, we'll learn some horse training skills on the ground and adventure out into the world on horseback.
A review of our rider levels is as follows:
BEGINNER: Riders who've never been on a horse or need more experience and time to develop their confidence and steering. This stage is all about learning to relax and enjoy the experience and magic of being on a horse and learning body language cues that help us know what our horses are thinking and feeling.
INTERMEDIATE: Riders who are comfortable riding at a rising trot without assistance and are able to guide their horses with quiet hands. This stage is all about putting in the miles until it becomes easy! Starting to be comfortable and balanced following the horse over varying terrain (including hills)
ADVANCED: Riders who are stable and confident with simple canter transitions and are beginning to work on jumping technique over cross-rails. This is the stage where we start to grow our awareness of how the horse is moving under us and how to shape their body so they can be more comfortable carrying us. We'll introduce bending, laterals, and impulsion as baby steps for starting to understand what it means for a horse to soften and come onto the bit.
DAY 1: HAY WISPS: What's a hay wisp? It's an old grooming tool made from damp hay that's twisted into ropes and then woven together. Used like a cross between a curry comb and a dandy brush, we'll have a chance to try them out on the horses throughout the week.
DAY 2: CYANOTYPES: We'll make a series of postcards using pieces of the natural world and a printing technology that harnesses the light of the sun to develop our prints!
DAY 3: WILLOW WEAVING: using willow from the tree at the front of the farm, each camper will have a chance to make either a four-pointed star ornament or a small basket to take home.
DAY 4: BALM OF GILEAD: Kera just can't resist adding this to every March Break Camp... it just smells so good. This year we'll add a small amount of water and whip it up to make a cream that is a wonderful spring-scented moisturizer that's good for any minor skin irritations or rashes.
DAY 5: BAREBACK RIDES + HORSE PAINTING On this last day, we'll spend the whole afternoon making the horses into works of art and having a bareback parade at the end of camp.
This year, we've decided to format the second week of March Break to give Beginner and Intermediate riders a single-day option! Sometimes younger riders have a harder time in the cooler temperatures of spring, especially over a whole 5 days. This gives parents the chance to have their kids try out a day before committing to a 5-day summer camp, too! With no restriction on the number of days you can sign up for (except for availability, of course!), this week offers a nice flexible option for new riders, those driving from farther away (for whom committing to a 5-day camp doesn't make sense), or families new to Mountain Horse School who want to sample some of our programming.
For these days, we'll start nice and slow, with a full introduction to being around, leading, and grooming in the morning, as well as a fully supported ride for each child. (For those ready for more independence, we can offer that too!). In the afternoon, we'll have lunch, some free time to spend with the animals, do a chore or two (to see what it's REALLY like to be involved in the life and care of a herd of horses!), and then have a chance to try painting a work of art ON one of the horses, and feel what it's like to sit on them bareback.
In this camp we'll join in the celebration of spring by making dandelion or elderflower flavoured gummy candies and a dandelion flower essence! Gathering the flowers we need helps us understand the diversity of pollinators, and take in some of the life force that is waking through the natural world. the life Each child will go home with a jar of their very own gummies, and a dropper bottle of dandelion flower essence to share with their family-- and perhaps the faeries, if they wish.