I learned to trot and cantor on dusty trails under hot skies. A camp tradition exposed that I was the youngest camper at the sleep-away horse camp. In the evening the camp kiosk would open, vending sweets to hungry campers. There was a rule to queue by age, youngest first. Someone asked me my age.
“I’m six years old,” I said.
No one believed me, since you had to be seven to attend camp. Nonetheless, I was grudgingly pushed to the enviable position at the front of the line. The older campers hated me for my first crack at the candy and snacks. The offerings were bright and colorful. Michael Jackson was on the Pepsi cans. The choices were too many, or maybe I just didn’t want candy before bed… I was a budding naturopathic doctor after all. In the end I froze and let everyone down by buying nothing. I peeled off, heading back to the dormitory. We slept on bunk beds over bare concrete. I fell out of my top bunk onto the floor. The counselor heard a thud and, noting I was still sleeping, put me back in bed. I knew nothing of in the morning.
I was there with my older brother. Older, but not by much. He was eight. His horse’s name was Flip. Flip didn’t take a shine to my brother.
“He didn’t like me putting his bridal on,” said my brother.
Anyway, it was an adventure. Our grandmother was at the root of it. She had a duty toward our horse education. She said,
“We had a horse one summer when we were small out here [at Point Petite]. We built a barn up in the back by the parking lot. All that I can remember is that one time the horse lay down when I was on it and rolled over, so I was never very gung ho for it. Then when our children were young, we had a horse that we kept over in Mr. Hancox’s meadow. But neither of them was very enthusiastic about the horse so those two times were our attempts at having horses.”
So by the time 1984 rolled around, I guess she figured horse camp would fill the bill without so much hassle and commitment as boarding a horse at Newman Lake or building a barn on the hillside. We got our horse experience, singular and memorable. I remember loving the trails. Until the cantering. I think we were a bit too young at the time. I still don’t know how she smuggled me in, underage. to horse camp. What a hoot! And here I am now, giving Lady Kitty her horse experience, right up under this horse’s nose. She’s perhaps a bit young, but who knows. These are the perfect days. I’m glad I spent them with you…