The view from the trails looking out across Vermont and New York farmland will immediately remove any feelings of stress or anxiety a person may have stored up during the day or during a year. Blue and green mountains, rolling pastures, red barns, grazing horses and shredded-wheat hay bales are spread out in a panoply of serene beauty. Red-tailed hawks soar and chee above, deer rest hidden in the woods, turkeys travel in flocks…nature and peace are all around. Take a deep breath and enjoy. You deserve it!
The relationship between young women and horses is a fascinating and ancient one. Adolescent girls and their equine riding partners share a deep bond that has a mystery and magic running through it perhaps not easily understood by non-horse people. Maybe it has to do with the sweet, warm smell of horseflesh breathed in when tacking up or the looks deep into large, limpid eyes that return human glances or maybe it’s the tremendous power and satisfaction a rider feels astride a horse of any size, disposition and ability. Something spiritual and soul-nourishing binds young women and horses together with a bond of mutual respect, love, and learning.
At the Gallop To Success program, girls of all ages develop friendships with their peers as well as the carefully selected group of horses they work with so closely each day. Stalls must be mucked, water troughs cleaned and filled, horses lovingly groomed and tack cared for and chosen for lessons. In just a week’s time Bennington college student and chief riding instructor, Genevieve Freeman, along with a few teenaged counselors-in-training, have brought each camper to a higher level of confidence and competence. Genevieve’s style is firm, quiet and kind towards both her students and the various horses they ride.
The girls who come to stay at the Gallop To Success program during the month of July are sponges soaking up horse lore, techniques, triumphs and sometimes, set-backs. Each young woman possesses a unique personality with all of its strengths, weaknesses and quirks. One characteristic is common to all, an undying love of horses and the wonderful life that obsession can bring. Discouragement may be experienced, but is short-lived. Gentle teasing and laughter predominate. No one stays up too late; a full day of activities and riding make bedding down in the bunkhouse a pleasant end to each day. Campers are here to talk, think and breathe horses and that is what they do. Equine dreams of the giant Brambles, the mischievous Whisk, the good boy Sonny, the pretty Penny pony and other favorite mounts sustain them until next year.
Irene Baldwin, writer, teacher and horsewoman, is employed as an arts and crafts counselor for Gallop to Success this summer. Her palomino quarterhorse, Crical Jack, is enjoying summer camp as well. Gallop To Success is housed at Kimberly Farms Stables, 1214 Cross Hill Rd, North Bennington, VT 05257. For more information, call the Camp Director at 802-442-5454”