By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
The North Central Texas College (NCTC) equine department’s youth mini-camps are in full swing this month under the direction of NCTC equine science instructor Bill Kaven and equestrian team members.
Kaven, with over 20 years experience as an instructor, trainer, breeder, clinician and judge, has developed the program in conjunction with a 4-H program from his home state of Colorado in order to introduce young riders to all aspects of horses and horsemanship.
The camps are divided up into levels including beginner and intermediate groups with seven or eight participants in each group.
“We group the riders by experience and strive to develop their skills based on what level they are at,” Kaven said.
The camp begins with students become accustomed to the nuances of riding.
“On the first day of the beginning class, we have an experienced member of our team walking beside the horse and new rider to help the rider become more relaxed and less fearful,” he said. “Slowly students learn balance and knowledge during the classes as they learn to use their voice, weight, legs and hands in communication with the horse.”
Kaven said he believes the three-day camp experience is rewarding both for students and their teachers.
“It’s really fun to take a kid that has never had the opportunity to be around a horse and see them overcome their fears as they learn how much fun they can have on a horse,” he said. “You can actually see inexperienced first-time riders grow in confidence as they learn to trust not only their abilities but the animal they are on.”
Kaven said the camp is designed to instill a lifelong love for riding in its young participants.
“We believe with growing confidence and trust, the riders foster the desire and the passion to ride,” he said.
Beginner I camp is for children with no previous riding experience or who have a fear of riding. Beginner II camp is for riders who are confident walking, somewhat confident trotting or who have completed the first beginner class. Beginner III classes include riders who are very confident trotting, ready to lope or who have completed the second class. The Intermediate camp is for children who are confident riding at all gaits, need to work on more advanced skills or who have completed Beginner III.
Kaven hopes these students will continue to develop a love of riding and one day eventually become students in the NCTC equine program.
The mini camps are open to children ages 8-15 and although this year’s camps are full, a waiting list is available in case of a cancellation.
Kaven is also considering starting a beginning adult classes if enough people express interest in it, he said.
Each three day camp in June is $175 with proceeds going towards yearly expenses for the NCTC equestrian team.
For more information on the camps or the NCTC equestrian program contact Kaven at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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