Welcome to the Camp Cedarledge Equestrian Center, which was built in 1995 and opened in 1996. We have 40 stalls with 35 horses in the summer, and 25 in the spring and fall. We have a hayloft, a grain silo, three pastures, and a small covered arena. The bathrooms were supposed to be built in 1995 also, but they were, in fact, completed in 2005.
Each summer there are up to 10 wranglers, and a general total
of 35 horses. Riders ride in Western style. Riding is done out of two
areas: the Upper Corral (for lessons) and the Lower Corral (for trail rides).
Oscar (head wrangler)
CD (assistant head wrangler)
Horses: Summer 2013
Cedarledge's horses are rented from a woman who keeps large herds of horses to lease and sell to camps in the area. She keeps most of them over the winter, though a few of them have real owners. Only mares and geldings are kept at camp, though since there are stallions in the herds they come from, a mare will occasionally come pregnant. We do not have the facilities to deal with birth on camp, so pregnant mares are sent back. Horses are also sent home if they are lame or sick and not healing well, or if they cannot live well on camp for another reason. But the wranglers and WITs take the best care possible of the horses, and the vet and farrier come whenever they are needed.
In 1995, the Upper Corral was moved from the current site of Gail's Place up the hill to its current site in the middle of three pastures. The barn at the Upper Corral has 40 stalls for horses, one sick stall, one shower stall, a tack room, a wrangler office, and is topped off by the hayloft. It is an open-air barn, equipped only to hold horses in warm weather, which is why the camp rents horses, and cannot keep them there over the winter. Horses stay in their stalls during the day and are released into one of the three pastures at night. The horses eat grain and hay in the morning and evening, and a double order of hay for lunch. WITs and wranglers feed the horses before they get to eat.
Outside the barn, there is a small grain silo, a large pile of mulch to fill the clean stalls with, a muck pile where the mess taken out of the stalls sits waiting to be hauled away, a new bathroom/shower house, and a small covered riding arena. Since the barn and arena are on top of a tall hill, both are equipped with lightning rods for safety, so that campers can ride while it rains. Riding is still cancelled in the case of thunderstorms, extreme heat, or other disasters not in the wranglers' power to overcome. Upper Corral is one of the most secluded areas used on camp, so a CB radio is used for quick communication.
The front of the barn faces the camp's back gate, which opens out to a small back-road. Very convenient for deliveries of mulch, hay, grain, horses, Johnny-on-the-spot guys, etc.
Facing the back gate, the pasture on the left is known as "the small pasture." It is not used as frequently as the others due to its size. One of the rangers' houses is on the other side of this pasture.
To the right of the barn is a larger pasture, known as "Gail's Pasture" or "Upper Pasture," because Gail's Place (where the WITS live) is on the other side of it, and it is the highest pasture. A gravel road runs through it between the two buildings.
The third pasture is called "Terraces," because the land is set up like terraces or rice paddies, and the hill goes up in steps. It is located in the back of the barn, and has a dirt path running through it from the barn to the gravel road between Whispering Winds and the lake.
The main portion of the equestrian program is run out of Upper Corral, since this is where the horses stay. Riders at Upper Corral ride in the arena. Horses may move as fast as a canter, depending on the rider's level, but there is no galloping or jumping on camp. Trail rides are not given at Upper Corral except in special circumstances when the horses need to be kept there for the day due to shoeing or too many normal trail ride horses being sick or lame, requiring horses to be used that are also ridden in lessons.
In the spring and fall, before and after the normal camp sessions, a separate riding program is offered, usually with a ride about an hour long and various levels of lessons about horses and the barn. Girl Scout troops come to ride on weekends and on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these weekdays, cookouts are offered after the ride. Mmm, hot dogs.
The Lower Corral is located across the road from Timber Trails, roughly between New Dining Hall and Whispering Winds. It was the location of the first barn, from days of a far smaller camp with far fewer horses. It consists of a rectangular paddock with a few hitching posts, a gate at each end, and a small open shed holding the essential equipment for riding and such.
Lower Corral is used for trail rides only, though up until 2004, there were pony rides given there for the youngest campers. These trail rides are generally very short, and the horses will not move any faster than a walk.
Ten horses are taken down from Upper Corral to Lower Corral every day. They are saddled at Upper, and led down the hill by two or three wranglers and about three WITs. Two wranglers ride with the trail rides. At lunch time, the saddles and bridles are taken off and hay is spread out for them to eat. After lunch, the WITs and wranglers re-saddle the horses and run more trail rides until a bit before dinner time. At that time, the horses are either led or ridden (holding the lead-ropes of the spare horses) back up the hill to have their saddles taken off and eat dinner with the rest of the herd.
1. Listen to the wrangler first.
2. Listen to all directions, then follow them.
3. Ask wranglers permission to enter the corral.
4. Notify a staff member immediately if you are hurt.
5. Notify a wrangler if a horse is in trouble.
6. Always wear a hard hat at the corral.
7. Wear long pants, socks, and hard-soled shoes in the corral.
8. No gum or candy at the corral.
9. Leave canteens, jackets, etc. at the picnic table.
10. No running or shouting at the corral.
11. Leave all gates as found.
12. Approach a horse only when told by a wrangler.
13. Approach a horse from the left.
14. Keep horses one horse's length apart at all times.
15. Wait until a wrangler is in the arena before entering.
16. One horse at a trough at a time.
17. Feed horses only at feeding times, and only their proper food.
18. Put all equipment away when finished.
Other Guidelines (these apply to non-barn areas too!)
- Drink water. By all that is good and holy, drink water. Bring your water bottle to the corral with you, and bring it full.
- If it's hot and the wranglers offer to hose you off, or at least get your head wet, don't sacrifice comfort and safety for vanity. You look a lot worse if you faint from heat exhaustion than you do with a wet shirt.
- Campers, don't sit at the wrangler table. You have your own tables.
- Campers, don't go in the wrangler office. Don't even look. It's ours.
- Please be respectful. Everyone likes that.
- You are the horse's boss. Don't let it be the other way around.
- Everyone knows you love horses and have great respect for the wranglers if you're in a riding program, but that doesn't mean you don't have to respect and listen to your counselors.
- Don't assume that just because you always see the wranglers slumped over their table, they do nothing. They're so tired because they got up at least an hour before everyone else and have been working all that time.
Guide to the parts of the horse and tack This image isn't very clear, but it shows all the parts of the horse, saddles, bridles, halter, hoof, even grooming equipment.
Knots: It's hard to describe knots in words with no visual aids, but I'll do my best. There are two knots commonly used at the corral, the horse knot and the T-knot.
The horse knot is used to tie the horse's lead rope to a hitching post or a ring in the arena, to keep the horse in one spot. First wrap the rope around the hitching post so it will not slide down to the ground or over to the other side of the post. You should have two ends now, the one attached to the horse and the one hanging loose. The end attached to the horse should be pulled straight. Then, make a loop with the middle of the other end and flip it over 180 degrees, and put this under the first side of the rope, with the base of the loop under the straight rope. You should have a good amount of the loose end of the rope left, and with this, make a straight loop without flipping it. Position this over the straight rope, and put the straight loop through the flipped loop. Pull both the straight loop and the straight rope towards the horse, and this should tighten the knot and move it to sit neatly at the hitching post. To untie the knot, you only have to pull the loose end of the rope. This is convenient in case the horse gets scared, so it can get free instead of feeling trapped and panicking, hurting its head and breaking the halter and rope.
The T-knot is used to keep the saddle firmly on the horse's back. The long latigo (either a leather or vinyl strap) is brought through the ring of the girth from underneath, and straight up over itself. If it is especially long, it may have to be doubled over. From here, the latigo is tucked under the left side of the D-ring towards the horse's head. It is then pulled across the top of the D-ring towards the horse's butt. Then it is pushed back under the right side of the D-ring and pulled up through it towards the sky. You should have made a loop with the latigo by now, so the last step is to pull the latigo down through that loop towards the ground and pull it tight. The way to remember this knot is "head, butt, sky, ground."
Once you have your horse out of its stall in the morning, you're ready to throw a saddle on and ride, right?
First of all, with a halter and lead-rope on your horse, lead it out to a hitching post and tie with a horse knot, then go back inside to get your grooming equipment. You'll need a currycomb, hard brush, soft brush, and hoof pick. Don't bother with a mane and tail comb, you probably won't have time for it.
The currycomb is used first. It is an oval black (or red or blue) rubber brush with blunt rubber points all over it. It can be used on the horse's back, barrel, butt, and heart-girth area. Be sure to brush the heart-girth area well, because it often gathers little clods of mud that can be uncomfortable with a saddle on. This is a rough brush, so avoid the sensitive flank area. This brush is used in hard, circular motions towards the butt and with the hair. Press hard, this feels like a massage to the horse. It is used to get the dirt to the top.
Second is the hard brush. It looks like a scrubbing brush with hard bristles, and should be easy to tell apart from the soft brush by feel, and they should also be labeled. The hard brush is used on the back, barrel, butt, and heart-girth, like the currycomb. Again, avoid the flank. Try not to poke your horse by slamming the brush into it. This brush is used in short, hard flicks in the direction of the horse's hair. This gets a lot of the dirt off of the horses.
Third is the soft brush. It looks like the hard brush, but don't be fooled… It's soft. The soft brush can be used anywhere at all on the horse, as long as you brush with the hair. It smoothes out the hair, brushes off more dirt, and makes the coat shine.
Finally, we have the hoof pick. It was once simply known as "fun" at the barn, because it is! The hoof pick is a piece of metal bent to be held and pick dirt and rocks out of a hoof easily. It should be kept in a back pocket or in your boot when not being used, because it is easy to leave on the ground, and could badly injure a horse if stepped on. At Cedarledge, we only pick the front hooves, because the back hooves have no shoes, and if they need picking, a wrangler will do it. Stand facing the butt, right up against the horse, even with the front leg, and run the hand closest to the horse down that leg to let it know what's going on. Don't be afraid of getting your butt bitten, the horses are used to this, and want clean feet. Not to mention the fact that your butt has a lot more padding than your head, if you would get nipped. Just before the ankle joint, you will feel the flexor tendon in the back of the leg. Apply pressure to this and lift the hoof with that hand, and then hold it in your palm. If your horse refuses to lift the foot, lean your weight into its side to assure it that it will not fall. You may have to pull a bit at the leg. Once you have the hoof in that hand, quickly take the hoof pick and pick out he dirt, but especially any rocks. Pick away from yourself, and go as quickly as possible, since horses do not like standing on three legs for very long. When you are finished, gently set the hoof on the ground. Do not let it drop and hit the ground hard, this could startle the horse (who may have fallen asleep while you were working).
This grooming is done every morning by the early morning group of Bits and Bridles or Saddle Sense. WITs also groom their horses before they ride, and they may be asked to do a "quick groom". This means using only the hard brush and hoof pick, since the horses should not be too dirty after working all day, just sweaty. Always start at the left side and then do the right side, for grooming, saddling, and anything else.
Saddling and Bridling
The next step is saddling. Your horse's saddle should be on a 'hook' in the tack room, probably with a saddle pad on top. Be sure nothing is dragging on the ground, like the bridle or girth. Take the saddle and pad, hug them, with the seat of the saddle close to your chest. The saddles normally weigh between 25 and 50 pounds, and this is the best way to carry them. Take the saddle close to your horse, and set it down on the ground resting upright on the horn. This prevents the saddle from warping or breaking.
Take the saddle pad and examine it for burrs or anything else that could hurt the horse. The side that looks dirtier will go on the horse's back, so be especially careful of that. If the saddle pad is rectangular, it should have leather bits on the top indicating that end should go towards the head. Take the saddle pad and set it on your horse's neck, then slide it back into position, so the front end is even with the horse's foreleg. Do this two more times and leave it there, so that the hair is smoothed down, and not uncomfortable. You may want to go around the other side of the horse to make sure it is even on both sides.
Next comes the saddle. Pick it up again, this time holding the front and back in your hands. Tuck the right stirrup, girth, and anything else that dangles, over the saddle so it won't get caught underneath. Set the saddle gently on the saddle pad so no part of the main part of the saddle is directly on the horse's back where it could rub and leave a sore. The bridle should be hung on the saddle horn.
Next, go around the back to take down the hanging parts on the right side. Going around the back of the horse can be dangerous if done the wrong way, so be careful. Stay close to the horse, press against it, keep your arms on the butt as you walk around, and try to talk to the horse as you go. That way, the horse will not try to poop, kick, or stomp on you, and even if it were to try, it would not be able to. Take the stirrup and girth down and let them hang. Never throw them or let them slap into the horse, which might scare it. Look at the girth to be sure there is nothing that could hurt the horse, like burrs or dry mud. Cross back to the left side.
Next reach under the abdomen and pull the girth towards you, being sure it is not twisted at all. Pull the long latigo through the girth's ring and tie the T-knot (see above), being sure it's tight. The horse may not like this, but keep at it.
Once you have your horse saddled, give it a drink, bring it in the arena, and tie it with a horse knot, the wrangler will soon tell you to bridle your horse. First, unclip the lead rope from the halter and take the bridle off of the saddle. Hold the bridle up and look at it, to make sure nothing is broken or twisted. Hold it as if it were on the horse's head, to make sure you know how it should be put on. There should be a chain under the horse's chin, so be sure it doesn't look like it would go over the nose.
First, put the reins over the horse's head, over the saddle horn if they are long enough. Most horses do not like having a cold metal bit put in their mouths, so you will have to hold the head while you do this. If you are tall, you can hold the headstall in your right hand, and put that arm over the horse's head, between the ears. If you are shorter, or have a tall horse, you can wrap an arm around the horse's long head, wrapping it underneath and holding the lower headstall of the bridle, both sides in the right hand. With your left hand, hold the bit in your flat palm (so the horse doesn't accidentally bite your fingers), and hold it up to the horse's teeth. Press the bit against the teeth and encourage the horse to take it. Stick your thumb behind the front teeth into the horse's mouth and tickle the tongue. Yes, it's gross and sticky and gooey, but there's a big area without teeth, and your thumb is in no danger. As soon as the horse opens its teeth at all, quickly slip the bit in past the teeth, and quickly put the headstall over the horse's ears. There. You're all bridled!
This is VERY important! Always do your safety check before riding.
Check all the straps on your saddle and bridle. They shouldn't be twisted.
Check the girth. It should be tight, so you can fit no more than two fingers between it and the horse. If it's loose, pull the T-knot tighter.
Check the stirrups to see if they're the right length. Put your hand on the saddle, with the heel of your hand on the skirt, and stretch the stirrup with your arm. If the bottom of the stirrup fits into your armpit, it's a good fit. If not, you can shorten or lengthen the stirrups with the buckle under the fender.
Mucking is done with pitchforks, rakes, and shovels, with a large shared wheelbarrow. It is done by WITs, but Saddle Sense campers often learn to do it as well. Each WIT has about 3 stalls that they are responsible for mucking out, which is done in the morning and afternoon. The rake is used to scrape loose hay and poop off the top, then the pitchfork is used to dig more poop and wet mulch out. A stall is suitably mucked when there is no poop, wet mulch, or hay left on the floor. If necessary, and if enough mulch is available, the whole stall can be stripped down to the ground. If maggots are found, there is an obvious problem with the poop, or the horse has not eaten his or her grain, a wrangler should be informed.
When the wheelbarrow is full, one person takes it down to the muck pile, and should dump it as close to the middle of the muck pile as they can get. Meanwhile, another person or two should be taking another wheelbarrow to the mulch pile and piling mulch in it with pitchforks. The mulch is then taken to the barn, to be piled into the stalls with pitchforks and shovels. Mulch should be piled evenly so that the horse does not have to step down into the stall.
When all the mucking is done, the barn floor needs to be swept to avoid unnecessary messiness, and to make the barn look nice. If you have to leave to do something else in the middle of mucking (which you will), ALL of the mucking equipment should be locked in a stall not assigned to any horse. Horses can injure themselves, or at least get scared, by being around mucking equipment.
Here's some information about how the old barn used to run (a lot of it is just like what we do now), sent in by former wrangler Travis:
The barn was a pretty basic facility; an open air pole barn roughly 40' wide by perhaps 150' long. It included about 30 tie stalls where the horses were fed. One end of the barn was used for hay storage, the tie stalls were in the center and the other end was a "tack room." Tack room is a bit of a leap, as it was simply a corner of the pole barn which had siding and pegs to hold saddles, blankets and bridles. The wranglers and other staff were allowed to sit on upside down milkcrates, the campers sat in the dirt. The campers were regularly admonished "don't dust off in the tack room" when they stood up. Vet supplies were stored in a couple of metal cabinets and grooming equipment was stored in large wooden boxes. The barn was surrounded by a corral. The corral was enclosed by 10x10 wood posts and 2" metal tubing. There were two hitching posts in the corral. The wood posts were painted alternating colors; green-white-green-white-and so on. The horses were tied to these posts between classes. White post one day, green post the next. There was also a watering trough, into which various persons were often tossed. There was grain bin adjacent to the tack room.
Up hill from the corral was an open area riding arena of similar construction. Up hill from the riding arena was pasture, presumably the site of the present day equestrian center. We called this the back pasture and it abutted the county road.
There were six wranglers; head wrangler, asst. head wrangler and four others. We taught classes six days a week. Sunday was the horses day off, while the wranglers participated in regular unit activities. We worked three shifts. Morning - 6AM until lunch; afternoon - 1:30 until supper; and evening 7PM until dark. The morning shift led the horses in from pasture, tied them in the stalls and generally got the day started. The Wrangler Aids arrived at 7AM, along with breakfast which they had picked up at the dining hall. Breakfast was predictably cereal, doughnuts and milk (the milk was fresh sometimes). After breakfast the WAs groomed and saddled the horses. The first group of campers usually around 8:45. Every two week unit rode. The one week units got pony rides in the evenings. We did a lot instructing in basic horsemanship. The riding units (Tanda and Timber Trails at the time) also learned basic grooming, saddling and such.
At noon the horses were unbridled, tied in stalls and fed hay. The wranglers rode to lunch at NDH and tied up the horses at the hitching post out back. Occasionally that hitching post was home to wasps and that led to some wild times.
After lunch the shift changed and the afternoon was pretty much a repeat of the morning, ending with feeding. The evening shift was reserved for the Wrangler Aids, and they did much more advanced things. Pole bending, barrel racing, etc. They also unsaddled, groomed and turned the horses out for the night.
Trail rides were a once or twice a session event and were dispatched out of the corral. What is now known as the lower corral was then called sick pen, it was where horses with anything considered contagious went until they recovered. We also had a horse show for the riding units and WAs each session. The wranglers met on staff porch on Sunday evenings to schedule the following week and discuss/solve any problems.
Being a wrangler was a big responsibility, a lot of hard, hot, heavy
work and arguably one of the best jobs I've ever had in my life. It
a privilege to have been there and done that.
If you have some details I missed, or comments, or arguments, or anything else, please e-mail Indigo with it.
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