From left, Anna Montes nuzzles Doc and Cailynn Head talks to Bugsy during the Rocky Point Ranch Spring Break Horse Camp, Wednesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
The young riders at the Rocky Point Ranch horseback riding camp were leery of cantering around the practice ring earlier this week. But within just three days, camp instructor David Johnson said the girls and boys were beginning to shake their fear.
Building self-confidence and leadership skills is just one of the reasons the ranch, located off East 19th Street, hosted its first Spring Break horse camp for beginners this week, Johnson said.
â€œWe want them to experience the horsemanship, and thereâ€™s no fear involved,â€ Johnson said. â€œWe want to shake the fear away.â€
Barn owners Rebecca and Leandro Gutierrez, first began hosting horse camps for novices last summer. Rebecca says she realized that there werenâ€™t as many opportunities for beginners in Roswell, so she tailored a camp just for them.
â€œWeâ€™re happy to work with people who know absolutely nothing about horses and get them started on the right track,â€ Rebecca said.
Barn manager and camp counselor Jackie Johnson, Davidâ€™s wife, says that one of the best benefits of being around horses is that it boosts confidence and helps â€œbring kids out of their shells.â€
â€œWhen they first came here, they were kind of all quiet and kept to themselves, and now theyâ€™re all talking and helping each other,â€ she said. â€œI think thatâ€™s the greatest thing that happens.â€
Over the course of the week, the seven girls and boys enrolled in the camp will learn how to properly care for their assigned horses from grooming and picking hooves to cleaning out stalls. They will also be exposed to different equestrian disciplines, like English, Western, dressage and harness racing.
And, of course, they learn how to ride. First-time camper Emily Sweatfield, 10, says she loves horses, and her favorite part of camp is â€œeverything.â€
â€œI like trotting, I like saddling the horses, and I like brushing them and walking them,â€ she said before watching David Johnson give a demonstration on jumping.
David noted he was excited with the ridersâ€™ progress.
â€œSome of the kids had never cantered before,â€ Johnson said. â€œSome of them were holding onto the horn of the saddle earlier this week, and today they were keeping their hands at their side.”
Rebecca said that the barn will host more camps this upcoming summer, though the dates have not been yet determined.
â€œIt gives complete beginners to have a little taste of being around horses,â€ she said.