A Glimpse into Summer Life on the Ranch Part II
Copyright 2015, Anne E. M. Van Gilson, all international rights reserved. No part of this may be used, transmitted, shared or quoted in any format without express written permission of the copyright owner.
At “Above the Sun Ranch,” owner Amy Stoltzfus is calling out some early morning instructions to the girls riding her horses for the week, including which bit to use on this horse, and which set of reins to use on that horse. Horses here have bloodlines from Frenchmans Guy and Dash Ta Fame. And each horse has its own plan for training and for future success.
Some of the young girls ride horses they bought from Above the Sun Ranch, many of which Amy bought years ago from prestigious ranches in Arizona, Idaho, and Montana, which she then hauled back to Pennsylvania, and raised and trained herself.
It’s beautiful to know that a two year old horse with Amy’s expert training put into it has now grown into a four, five, or six year old champion and prize winning barrel horse and is being ridden by new, young owners, themselves not that much older than their own horses!
“It’s all about the bloodlines”, Amy explains. “It’s about the heart of the girl riding too, but it’s also about the bloodlines,” she continues, explaining further that a well-bred horse can usually outrun another horse any day of the week.
By 7:30 am, everyone is on their horse and in the arena, and they are walking, trotting and gently warming up their horses, as the girls get ready to start their week (or more) of horse camp at Above the Sun Ranch.
You can hear the sounds of a ‘four wheeler’ ATV from down in the glen at the main barn and stables which is now zooming up the hill along the gravel road. Amy has two horses on lead ropes trotting behind her, and she ties them off on posts at the arena area. The very young ones start to stomp their hooves and paw at the ground. Those with a little more training stand patiently calmly looking around at everything going on around them.
Then it’s back down the hill on the ATV and soon after, Amy herself arrives back to the arena on her own champion horse, ‘ponying’ yet another horse which is also tied off. Amy heads into the arena, and girls on horses form a ring around Amy as they get ready for the morning’s instructions and training and competitions.
All year, these girls look forward to their week at Above the Sun Ranch.
Some girls live on farms with their own horses and have their own arena to train in. Some are working at the ranch for the summer to learn and train their way through hard work, riding Amy’s horses for 6 or more hours a day. Their dream is to buy their own horse but for now, they ride Amy’s horses. Some board their horse at Amy’s. One client boards two horses; another has three with Amy year round.
Whether they have their own horse or ride Amy’s, you rarely see these girls with their heads down and all addicted to their phones; instead, their hands are full of hay, bags of grain, manure forks, saddles and reins.
For the most part, they are both too busy and too tired to be bothered with the online world. And some have parents who make them pay their own way on their cell phone plan. For most girls, the decision on where to spend their money is easy – they spend their winnings on a new bit, on a new breast collar or on a new saddle pad for their horses and not on expensive plans with unlimited texting and such.
“I want a high quality special woolen thick saddle pad with some custom leather work on mine” says one 9th grader, aged 14. “That’s $400”. And she works hard, wins, saves, and as a result, plans to get her saddle pad at the end of this year.
This particular youngster is working at the ranch for the entire summer and this amazing opportunity and the chance to work closely with Amy every day (for over 90 days), is only one ingredient to her success as a competitor.
Make sure to check back next week for Part III of, A Glimpse into Summer Life on the Ranch.