This weekend has been truly a blessing. As you all know I have been a product of and a committed devotee of Lendon Gray’s dressage4kids and all of her amazing programs. I have tried over the years to get as many people involved as I could in any way I could in her many great ideas. This weekend I flew to Muskegon, Michigan to help out at the Midwest Dressage Youth Festival and Lendon’s EDAP clinic. It was my first visit to Michigan which is really ironic because my mother is from Alpena, Michigan. Most of her family still lives there and I think I even have like second or third cousins in Muskegon. Anyway, I arrived late Thursday night and got whisked off to Kim Boyer’s house for a late night meal and bed. OMG! I have eaten Kim’s husband’s cooking before at the Robert Dover clinic and I know he is a chef but what amazing food. The kitchen has got to be some sort of chef’s fantasy. I have some cousins and a great Aunt if Florida who are all chefs and bakers who would kill to cook here.
Friday I watched Lendon’s lessons to the participants from inside the viewing area. I was kind of stuck inside a bit while my allergies got under control. At lunch I spoke to the girls about what we learn from our horses and what I have learned from my former horses. It was a really informal discussion and I had a great time getting to know all the riders. After the afternoon lessons we had another amazing dinner and I gave a speech to the group of youths, parents and volunteers. I sort of told a brief story about my life. Ok I’m only 19 so the story isn’t that long. But I threw in some fun facts about some benefits of the horse life. One of the dads gave out a big whoop when I said it helps teenage girls to focus on horses instead of boys! I had a really fun time and I think I may be getting better at speaking. I have to thank Lendon for giving me the opportunities to continue to grow as a speaker. Just like training horses or riders, it takes time and experience to develop these skills and I really thank her for giving me a chance to do so. I got to ride a bit after dinner! Ok it was only a tiny pony that in fact was so short that with my long legs my feet actually dragged the ground like some sort of lurch when I rode. It was funny, it made the little kids laugh hysterically at me, but you have to learn to laugh at yourself too! I got to give a little back to Lendon and the youth when I presented everyone with a gift from Nike! They are really supportive of youth camp development and were happy to send the swoosh for all the participants. Later that evening Chealsea and I had an amazing ice cream as I told the kid behind the counter to surprise me at the flavor. I think it was the biggest mound of stuff I have ever eaten. We all got sticky when it melted and I really had an amazing time.
Saturday I got to experience my first youth festival. Wow! This is a lot of work and such a great experience. I got to help out by watching rides and giving a little advice and motivation where needed. Again, I have to thank Lendon because this is an opportunity for me to learn how to give training advice in a clinic type situation where I don’t know the horse and rider well. I think this is an unexpected benefit for me of wanting to help out. I wanted to help Lendon to make her program grow and to give her what support I could, but in the end her youth programs not only develop the youth and give them opportunities as riders, but when we come back to help we get opportunities to grow as future trainers. Maybe there should be a D4K graduate program. What do you think Lendon? Didn’t Genay and I volunteer that idea before? Hint Hint!
Saturday night I got to go with Kerrigan, Chelsea, and Katrina out for dinner and a walk on the pier. There is an amazing light house and a beautiful lake. I never imagined Michigan as quite so beautiful. It was a really long walk (particularly in high heels) but it was fun. Come visit me soon girls! Sunday after breakfast I said my goodbyes then it was back to the airport to catch a flight back to the west coast.
It was the most rewarding weekend. I enjoyed every minute and I want to volunteer right now to help any time Lendon! I also have to say the biggest thank you to Kim Boyer and Hampton Green Farms. Your facility is amazing, your home and family were beautiful and welcoming. I was blessed to get to spend some time with you and hope to do so again soon!
Well I have to board my plane out of Chicago now. I think my mom gets me long layovers on purpose so I get writing done while it is fresh in my mind. Home and up in the morning to go see my love Sjapoer at the barn. Thanks again Lendon and Kim, miss you already and everyone check out their websites below. Great information.