Katie has loved horses ever since she was a little girl. She recalls reading any book having to do with horses and begging her parents for "horseback" rides on their backs. Now, with her job as an English-style riding instructor at Camp Discovery, rural Paynesville, 16-year-old Katie is able to turn that special interest into a profitable venture, profitable in more ways than one, according to Katie, who says her level of patience has grown as a result of her work at the camp.
"It can be frustrating when kids come with no horse experience, but it's also rewarding when I see that my horse and I are giving [the kids] pleasure," says Katie. "I think it's good for everyone to have exposure to horses."
Katie works, on average, four to five days a week at the camp. In addition to giving riding lessons, she also acts as a guide on trail rides.
Camp Discovery is an independent operation that hosts children from neighboring camps, including Green Lake Bible Camp and Decision Hills. Campers interested in horses come for a few hours during the day to learn more about riding and general care of the animals. The camp also has workshops for handicapped children. In addition, the camp has private camping sites for the general public, those who may be interested in participating in guided trail rides, etc.
The camp owns 19 horses, but Katie prefers the familiarity of her own horse "Doc" for lessons with campers. This summer she purchased a horse trailer and brings Doc to the camp each day.
Katie's exposure to horses goes back to age five when she first rode a horse. She later took advantage of opportunities to ride with friends and also at her uncle's farm. When she was in seventh grade, Katie attended a horse rescue center in Underwood, Minn., where the reality and commitment of caring for horses set in. Apparently Katie was able to handle the routine, because the owner of the camp told Katie's mom that she was a natural and should own a horse. The family took the owner's advice, and, after purchasing riding lessons for Katie, was able to buy their first horse when Katie was in eighth grade.
Today Katie has two horses, Doc and Skip. Though Katie is reluctantly trying to sell Doc, she shares a full history with him. Besides giving private riding lessons with her horses, she also enjoys barrel racing, jumping, and taking them to horse shows.
Katie wants to pursue a career in the horse industry. Her plans are to attend college to study equine management and to someday own and operate an equine facility.
It looks like her dreams have started to come true.
Katie's advice to young people wanting to own a horse:
"The most important thing is to get a horse than can be handled, preferably over 10 years old. Read books and talk to people with experience on the care of horses. Realize it's a huge daily commitment," she says.
The bottom line: "Owning horses is a lot of work, but it's well worth it," says Katie.
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