With all the terror and tragic events taking place in the world today, I wanted to share some wonderful memories of a more peaceful time.
Growing up in South Africa, my three children belonged to the local pony club branch—Irene Pony Club, which was affiliated with the British Pony Club.
Members always looked forward to Easter Camp, an annual event, in which they brought their ponies and stayed five days over the Easter weekend. We couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful venue than Irene Estates, with acres of rolling hills, a year-round stream, and green pastures and arenas graced by stately old oak and chestnut trees.
As the District Commissioner for the club, it was my job to oversee the events, and I was blessed to have my husband’s invaluable help. An extremely dedicated group of parents and other volunteers made up the remainder of the adult crew, whose duties included cooking, setting up tents, first aid, building horse jumps, instructing, and anything else that needed doing.
We placed the tents in an open area close to our small club house, and the horses were housed a short walk away in the barns adjacent to the dairy. The ages of attendees ranged from six years old through seventeen, and they had to groom, feed and water their own mounts, and muck out their stalls.
Camp activities included instruction on horse care, mounted lessons in all the basic aspects of horsemanship, a moonlight ride or two, competitions, and fun and games. Ghost stories were often told around the camp fire at night.
On Easter Sunday everyone dressed up in their best clothes, and mounted their horses. Parents were invited to attend, and everyone gathered around a wagon or the back of a truck, which served as the pulpit for the priest who delivered the non-denominational Easter church service. Something about the tranquil atmosphere and the sight of those kids all sitting so still and quiet on their horses brings a lump to my throat even today.
I hope and pray for a happy and peaceful Easter for all who celebrate it this year.