Posts Tagged ‘Horseback riding’

The Thrill of Horseback Riding

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

When riding a horse, I feel connected.

Trees blurring past, the thunder of hooves.  I held tight to the reins, remembering to keep my heels down.  Fourteen hundred pounds of power galloping through the forest.  Horseback riding is a mystical, powerful adventure.

When riding a horse, I feel connected.  It’s a mixture of love, fear, and respect.  Humans and horses have a long history together, a productive relationship that has lasted centuries.  Before machines, horses were the machine, they were a power that helped pull our civilization together.  Before cars, horses carried us across the land.  When we ride horses in this modern world, it’s a timeless event.  And Sanborn Western Camps is one of the best places to ride.

At Sanborn, one of our many goals is to foster a sense of wonder in every camper.  We work to inspire a connection with nature.  And one of the many ways to achieve that connection is to swing up into a saddle and ride a horse.

I gazed into the huge marble eyes.

There is something therapeutic about horseback riding.  Studies have shown that we truly connect with the animal.  Brain waves slow.  We even change our breathing to match up with the horse.  The slightest movement, a turn, the twitch of a muscle, it’s all communication.  The horse understands without words.  If a camper is stressed, the horse can sense that.  If a camper is relaxed, the horse relaxes as well.  It’s a feedback loop, animal to animal, a real time relationship.

Many years ago when I was a camper at Sanborn, I was afraid of horses.  I pretended I didn’t care, but the truth is I was scared.  The staff was ready for this.  The counselors and wranglers gently encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and give horseback riding a try.  So I did.

I thought we would jump right on a horse and ride, but the process was much more intricate.  The wranglers first taught me how to care for the animal, to understand it, to lead the horse gently, to speak to it.  They showed me how to brush the horse, tracing the contours of its power.  I began to relax and forget my fear.  I began to feel a sense of wonder.

I gazed into the huge marble eyes.  I ran my hands along the sway of the horse’s back and wondered if a Ute boy or a young trapper did the same with his horse two hundred years ago, right where I was standing.

We learned to saddle and bridle, tightening buckles, bringing all tack to the perfect length.

We learned to saddle and bridle, tightening buckles, bringing all tack to the perfect length.  Then, with mud on my rented boots, I swung up into the saddle.  We rode slowly, ambling away from the Big Spring barn.  That sunny afternoon, I went on my first ride.  And I’ve never looked back.

When we ride, we develop all kinds of skills.  Horseback riding is a two-way process.  You can’t just sit back and do nothing, you must interact with the animal with physical and verbal cues.  As a result, riding develops subtle communication skills.  Riding also develops balance and coordination.  Your core gets a workout, and you must stay focused on where your body is in space.  After a long ride, the next day you can truly feel it, aches in muscles you didn’t know you had.

At camp we do all kinds of rides, from half-day trail rides to five day pack trips deep into the Rockies.  It’s a range of fun that fits perfectly with the range of campers.  My favorites are the long trips, adventures that are unmatched.  We ride deep into rugged country, places where only horses can take us.  We sleep under the stars and rise before dawn to care for the herd.  It’s a unique experience that you can only find at a place like Sanborn.

In our modern chaotic world, it’s important to find ways to relax.  Horseback riding can do that.  Horses are a direct bond with nature that we can all share.  When you ride a horse, you find both companionship and solitude at the same time.

Any chance I can get, I’ll take a horseback ride.  The rasp of an old saddle, the musk of the animal, the joy of a slow walk through an aspen grove.  The world looks better from the back of a horse.  The Ute Indians of the Rockies once said, “The way to heaven is on horseback.”  I think they might be right.

- M. Huffman -

A few camper stories

Friday, February 17th, 2012

A few stories to send you into what is hopefully a good weekend for you…

Hi, I’m Daniela and I want to tell you about a great horseback riding experience! Here at Sanborn, they teach you everything about the horses and give you time to love them. There is time to appreciate and learn about them. The wranglers help you understand the horses and how horses understand your feelings. Horses teach you how that everything is possible! They give you a feeling of comfort, even though the horses are bigger than you. The horseback riding experience at Sanborn is unforgettable and you shouldn’t miss it!

I love horses! I ride English at home and compete in lots of horse shows. I really love to come to camp and ride Western. It is fun and relaxed and I still learn a lot. The wranglers are all really nice! I am able to sign up for lessons on Saturdays, go on a horse overnight, and different rides in the morning and afternoon. Even though it is a different type of riding, the wranglers help me improve my riding skills so I will be a better rider when I go home. I like going on trail rides because we get to play games on horseback and talk to our friends. I definitely recommend riding while at Sanborn!

We are getting ready for our last overnight this week. I am really excited to go on the Pirate overnight. I heard we get to build a pirate ship, go on a scavenger hunt, and play fun games! I loved all of my trips and activities this summer. I can’t decide which is my favorite! I am going to be really sad to go home soon. I have made such great friends this session – I’ve made some new friends and spent time with some people who were here last year. This has been such a fun summer and I can’t wait to come back next year!

Jackie- The World’s Favorite Mule

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012


Color: Chestnut

Gender: Molly

Breed: Mule

Jackie is our one and only mule at Sanborn Western Camps.  She is affectionately known around camp as “The World’s Favorite Mule.”

Jackie can be used as a traditional mule and be packed with food, supplies, and sleeping bags to go out on trips.  She also loves to be ridden by campers on trail rides and in the arena.

When Jackie calls for her friends in pasture,  it is a combination of sounds.  She starts with a whinny and ends in a hee-haw!  It is her own original calling card that cannot be mistaken for anyone else.  Jackie’s closest friends are Corona, Credence, and Peanuts.  They know her bray very well!

Since mules don’t have withers, and their backs are much flatter than horses’ backs, Jackie’s saddle has a few special parts to help keep it in place.  Campers get very skilled in learning how to put Jackie’s saddle on all by themselves.

Jackie takes a little rest-- with a full pack on!

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Crystal Blue- Half Horse Half Giraffe

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Crystal Blue

Color: Skewbald Paint

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Quarter Horse Cross

Crystal Blue is an awesome horse that was born right here at Sanborn.

His extremely unique marking is the white giraffe on the side of his body! Can you spot it in these pictures?

Crystal Blue’s name comes from his mother who was named Crystal Bar plus he has two clear blue eyes.

Crystal Blue is also a talented horse to ride. He is very responsive to cues, is great at rounding up other horses in the morning, loves to be the leader on trail rides, and knows how to handle himself around cows.  His long legs make it easy for him to cruise around and have fun being a horse!

Long lost cousin?

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Ace in the (key)Hole

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


Color: Sorrel

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Mustang Cross

Ace is a spunky little fellow with a big personality.  He has lots of energy and loves to keep on going day in and day out!

Ace is a very versatile horse.  Not only is he a great pack horse that will carry your rip-n-tear to your campsite without squishing it, but he is also an All-Star in gymkhana events.  He runs barrels like a professional and is right on target in the Keyhole event!

Ace is frequently requested by both campers and staff alike for half days, all days, long trips, and everything in between.

He is a guy who can really do it all!

Ace cruises around the barrels in the gymkhana

Rafter The Gentle Giant

Friday, January 20th, 2012


Color: Red Roan

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Appaloosa Cross

Rafter is a gentle giant who has called Sanborn his home since 1996.  He is one of our biggest horses, yet our smallest campers love to ride him.  Rafter’s got a very calm demeanor and overall mellow attitude.  He also has a very smooth gait when he trots and lopes.  Rafter loves to lounge in the sun on warm afternoons and munch on hay with his fellow “seniors” (our other horses that are 20 years and older).  Our senior horses are often used for Sanborn Junior riders because they have years of experience in safely teaching younger children how to ride.  Rafter’s name comes from his unique brand that he had when he first came to Sanborn.  On a foot note… Rafter has very large hooves!

Rafter usually needs some pretty short stirrups!

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Jaunts With Jasper

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012


Color: Chestnut

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Mustang Cross

Jasper is a very talented horse in more than one way.

All his friends call him Houdini for his amazing skills of escaping from any locked gate or corral.  He can also quickly untie a knot no matter how tightly it’s been tied.  Jasper not only frees himself, but he encourages his friends to join him for a little rendezvous.

Jasper also has uncanny swimming skills.  His favorite day in the summer is the Super Wrangler All Day because he gets to pretend to be a very large fish and take campers for a dip in the Witcher Fish Pond.  Lost Lake is another favorite stomping ground of Jasper’s.  He will jump in with campers on his back again and again!

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Cowboy Take Me Away

Monday, January 16th, 2012


Color: Bay

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Quarter Horse Cross

Cowboy is a gentle, wise soul who has been at Sanborn for over fifteen years.  He used to be a wrangler horse who loved to pull shenanigans and was always looking for adventures.  Now he is enjoying being more mature and has the experience to get you anywhere around camp – from Top of the World, to Lost Lake, to Fish Creek, to the Big Spring Barn or the High Trails Stables.  Cowboy has his own special saddle with his name right on it because of high withers on his back.  He also has quite the forelock which gives him a Justin Bieber-esk quality.  He could definitely pull off some great karaoke if the situation arose! He and Rafter are best friends and have been for a long long time.


Cowboy sports the Bieb's hairdo

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Happy 2012 Sanborn Camps News Update

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year to all of our friends across the world.  As we reflect on the happy moments and blessings of 2011, we are so grateful for the wonderful campers, staff members, friends and alums who are such an important part of our lives.  And, as we look ahead to 2012, we are especially excited about the friendships and adventures that will occur at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior next summer.

Mike and Julie will be heading out in mid-January with the new digital slide show about a summer at Sanborn Western Camps and look forward to seeing many of you as they tour the Midwest.  Beginning January 18, they will visit Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Louisville, KY, St. Louis, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklanhoma City, and Santa Fe.  Those of you who are on our mailing list will receive information in the mail and all the details are posted on the website.  It is a great program and takes less than an hour so save the date!

We have a lot of projects underway to make 2012 great!  We are looking at every aspect of our program and pursuing ways to make it better.  We’re ordering the equipment we will need and hiring the staff who will become our outstanding counselors, wranglers, assistant counselors, and ridge leaders next summer.  We have already had an excellent response from our 2011 staff and are looking forward to working with many of them again next summer.

Our maintenance crew has begun building all new tent frames on MOPQ Ridge at Big Spring.  During the winter, they will be working on repairs and painting in the cabins at High Trails as well as the continuing restoration of the outside of the Big Spring Lodge.

Maren, Rosie and Scot are busy caring for the horse herd and planning some exciting new rides and trips for next summer.

Enrollment is well underway for 2012 and many of our age groups are over half full.  We are always happy to send our brochure, DVD and references to interested families.

We hope that you have the happiest New Year ever!

Camper Posts

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

The summer may be over, but we still have more stories to share from the campers of 2010! We love hearing campers’ stories of growth and accomplishment and sharing the benefits of summer camp with others!

It’s like something out of a dream. My seventh, and last, year at Sanborn. How did the time go by so fast? I still feel as if I’m in Kinnikinnik or maybe even Columbine, comfortable in the middle with years left to return home to Colorado. Sanborn has always been such an integral part of my life, even before I officially started coming, I grew up on my brother’s camp stories, counting the years until I could come myself…And now it’s almost over, my entire Sanborn career. Is it fair? Not really. Of course, some could argue that I’ve already had my run, but then again, I’ve been here so long that I feel on par with some of the office staff. Conceited. I know, but it’s how I feel. I just never thought that Sanborn would end, and I wish I didn’t have to leave!

- JC, 2010

My Wonderful Years at Sanborn: Right now I am thinking of the right words to say, but it is soo hard to think about all the things we do here! I love all the things about Sanborn! A week at Sanborn is…Monday, wait I can’t say what a week is like because you get to pick what you want to do everyday! There are about 15 activities to pick from everyday. WOW! I cannot wait for more years to come!

- Sierra Z.

Since my long trip, I feel I have become a more confident rider and become more confident in myself! Jessie, Pippa, and Laura’s encouragement helped me through all the bumps in the road for 4 full days! How to thank them? No idea! I just know I’ll never forget my 4-day horse trip in 2010!

- Maddie Mac.

I love camp! I’ve made so many new friends and have tried new and amazing things. Sanborn has really helped me challenge myself and learn who I really am inside. I hope all the friends I’ve made will stay my friends forever. Everyone here is great and all the girls have taught me a lot. I DON’T WANT to leave! I love it here!

- India Upton