Rain, hail, sleet, snow, out into the inclement weather we go! Nothing seems to stop these kids from wanting to ride and be around the horses. So the threat of rain on a Sunday morning did not deter the group of kids that were just waking up to get ready for horse camp. As I sat at my desk with my morning coffee, my hands wrapped around the warm cup, I shivered at the sound of the wind blowing outside. Looking out the window I knew it was going to be one of those iffy Nevada days, where one moment it’s blowing and spitting rain, and the next moment it’s calm and sunny. The forecast verified a 90% chance of rain. I contemplated what to do in terms of canceling the camp or taking our chances with the weather. I had already canceled the Friday camp due to bad weather, do I dare cancel the Sunday camp for more of the same. As I stared blankly off into the distance, pondering what to do, my thoughts wandered back in time to when I was a young teen preparing to head out for the day.
It was a wet and rainy New York morning. I grew up in a small town called Pound Ridge; a truly magical place to be raised where the landscape was a myriad of trees and fields, stone walls and streams, and the outdoors was my playground. There were no tech devices to distract anyone from participating in life; no video games that kept us indoors; nor any parents that would allow such a thing. There was no need for parents to find ways to entertain their kids, there was plenty to do once you opened the door and stepped outside. We did not have a multitude of activities to keep us busy, our imaginations kept us busy. And in my case, on this particular rainy day, I had found a horse to take care of for the weekend.
The owners were away and had hired me to care for the horse in their absence. I was over the moon and beyond delighted to start my day. My mother questioned me as I headed for the door, even though she knew I had a job.
“Why don’t you wait until the rain stops before you ride over there.”
I looked at her like she was talking Greek to my English. “She wants me to do what. Is she serious? Wait until the rain stops? That could take hours? More hours? All day? Surely she is not serious.”
In my typical fashion, I told my mother I would be just fine, not to worry, and scurried out the door and jumped on my bike. As I pedaled along the road, sprays of water splashing my pants; the smell of cold rain lingering in the air; and the orange and red autumn leaves lying on the road as if pasted to the ground by the rain; I was in heaven and overjoyed as I continued pedaling to the barn. Once I got there the smell of manure, mud, rain, and horse hit my senses like the finest perfume. That wonderful musty smell that many turn their noses up to was a scent I love to this day and a scent that can transport me to another place and time. As I leaned my bike against the fence rail and trudged through the muddy paddock to begin my chores, I could not have been happier. This was the best day ever and I would have stayed there all day if I could. After I completed my chores, I tacked up the horse and rode around the small paddock moving through the heavy mist that now blanketed the barn and me. It did not matter that I was cold and wet; it did not matter that I was a mud-splattered-mess; all that really mattered was that I was with this horse. As I reluctantly prepared to go home, checking and double checking everything; as I bid good-bye to this horse until next time; as I latched the gate before heading out; I looked over my shoulder one more time, soaking in the beauty of this little run down barn, the muddy paddock, the now wet horse whose head was hanging over the barn door as he munched contentedly on his hay; and thought to myself, a more lovely picture could not have been painted.
As I pulled myself back to the present moment, I made the decision that rain or shine, I would do this camp. While the parents may have questions about my decision, I knew the kids would not care in the slightest. The fact that this memory has stayed with me for a lifetime and is one that easily comes to mind bringing with it a feeling of sheer joy, was enough to make me decide in favor of the camp. Few kids have the luxury of owning a horse. I never owned a horse as a kid. So for these kids who do not have horses, coming to horse camp, rain or shine, was not even negotiable. This was as important to them as it was to me so long ago. With the threat of rain hanging over the ranch, I noticed in the far distance, a small speck of blue sky – just enough to give me hope as I prepared for the day and the arrival of the kids.
As it turned out the day was much like mine years ago. Spitting rain, heavy mists, dry spells, and even a rainbow that seemed to arch right over the arena – but most important of all a group of happy, happy, kids! A memory – with a whole bunch of stormy weather – was created; one that will last a lifetime and one that will certainly bring a smile to each one of these kids as they get older and remember those sweet days of childhood and horses.
Weather … what weather?!?
Kim Chappell, M.Ed., Instructor and Equine-Facilitated Life Coach. For further information on riding programs and Equine-facilitated life coaching, you can contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.chappellranchllc.com