Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saving Grace Farm in Salisbury NC – Where the Horses Whisper Back!

Max - the Biggest Horse at Saving Grace Farm in Salisbury NC © Katrena
Saving Grace Farm, located at 565 Trexler Loop in Salisbury, NC, offers a wide range of horse-related opportunities for people in and around Rowan County. My two older kids have enjoyed a summer horse camp at the farm, and even my youngest has had the opportunity to learn a bit about horses (and dogs!) from the sidelines.
Connect With Animals © Katrena
Horse Farm in Rowan County © Katrena
We first heard about this camp after a friend, who has a son with autism, absolutely raved about the wonderful staff and how they interact with the participants. Her son has enjoyed many physical and emotional rewards from the equine-assisted horse activities at Saving Grace and loves to tell us about riding and working with Max.

Summer Horse Camp © Katrena
Those participating in the summer horse camp have a wide variety of learning opportunities. The kids learn safety issues, such as where to safely stand near a horse and how to read a horse's body language. The horses at this farm are not simply trained to walk around in a circle. The riders learn to steer and work with the horses according to the participant's physical and mental abilities.

Learn About Horses © Katrena
Horses have distinct personalities, and the beautiful animals at the farm range from slow, calm, and steady to a bit more spirited and spunky. Lots of staff and volunteers are available to help as the campers begin to interact with their chosen horse.

Horses & Kids Have Personalities at Saving Grace © Katrena
My oldest daughter discovered that a horse named Jubilee seemed to pick her out as she began to follow my child as she walked outside. My second oldest was immediately drawn to the spirited pony named Misty. Other kids in the camp began to develop one-on-one relationships with these beautiful animals.

Kids Learn How to Balance and Focus © Katrena
Before riding, the kids learn about balance and the importance of using muscles in order to avoid falling off. Practicing several exercises while standing on the ground also allowed the instructor to help the participants learn the importance of focus and listening.

How to Clean a Horse's Hoof © Katrena
Grooming techniques are taught, and the kids have the opportunity to groom their chosen horse or pony from head to foot. Staff and volunteers encourage the campers to become more self-sufficient as the week progresses.

Horse Tack at Saving Grace Farm © Katrena
They learn about various pieces of equipment placed on or used with the horses, such as a fly mask, bridle, lead, reins, blanket, stirrups, and saddle. The campers also learn about how to carry and store the items as well as how they are used on the horse and are given the opportunity to put this knowledge to practical use as they prepare to ride.

Horse Riding Trail in NC © Katrena
Campers are split into smaller groups during the riding portion. All riders are required to wear helmets. The nurse in me likes that safety rule! One group participates in craft activities and nature hikes while others ride in order to allow for more focused individual attention by the equine specialist, who checks each horse and rider personally to ensure that saddles and stirrups are properly adjusted as each child mounts.

Canada Geese at the Farm © Katrena
The location of Saving Grace farm is quite serene and offers a nice display of natural beauty as campers have the opportunity to see a wide variety of plants and animals. As the kids walk or ride the trails, they may see a family of geese, turtles, or fish at the pond. They also have the opportunity to learn about flora in the area.

Horsemanship at Saving Grace © Katrena
Riding Backwards on a Horse © Katrena
Early in the week, leads are used so that the campers can learn the art of balance while riding a horse. They may ride on a trail or in an arena. They might even ride backwards or with no hands! As they become more comfortable, they are offered the opportunity to steer and practice posting while trotting. They are given lots of feedback for ways in which they can position their bodies in order to connect better with the horse. Additional skills are taught as the children gain confidence.

Learn to Ride a Horse © Katrena
Horse Camp in Rowan County © Katrena
Just as all horses are different, each camper also has different strengths, weaknesses, and fear levels. A healthy respect of horses is always encouraged. Those who might feel uncomfortable may be encouraged to move back to an activity that feels more comfortable until ready to move to the next level.

Kids Gain Self-Confidence by Working With Horses © Katrena
Riding a Horse Without Using Hands © Katrena
I was surprised to see how quickly the campers progressed and learned various skills. A horse camp can do more than teach skills and knowledge. I could see all of the children grow more self-confident and self-sufficient throughout the week. Some people connect with horses by whispering, but those who connect best are the ones who learn to listen as the horse whispers back!

Trail Riding at Saving Grace © Katrena
Saving Grace Farm offers a wide variety of activities in addition to their summer camps, some of which include:
  • Riding lessons (private or group)
  • Programs for veterans who have experienced illness, injuries, or wounds after September 11, 2001
  • Equine assisted activities for children and adults with special needs
  • Growing and Living Lives of Purpose (G.A.L.L.O.P.)
  • Community workshops such as survivors or grief, abuse, parenting challenges, etc.
  • Connection and leadership skills for horse owners
  • "Sunshine Seekers" Hospice grief camps
Find Healing by Working With Horses © Katrena
Find more of my articles at the Wildflower Bouquets site map. Those interested in equestrian camping might also like to read my article on South Mountains State Park.
Find Joy in Equestrian Activities © Katrena

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