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Walking horse camp scheduled for next week

Thirteen horses poke their noses through stall doors at CampDavid, but they’re not waiting for the President of the UnitedStates to visit his Maryland vacation retreat.

Horses like Magic, a tall chestnut Tennessee Walking Horse, havea busy week ahead of them at Camp David Stables, which is locatednear Summit on River Road, as they will be a part of a horsebackriding camp. The camp, which takes place Monday through Friday ofnext week, will be put on by owner David Lightsey.

Lightsey has trained Tennessee Walkers for over 20 years. He saidhis love for the breed and the urge to pass that passion on is partof what gave him the idea to hold a horse camp for areachildren.

“What we’re doing is using this as a chance to introduce kids towalking horses, and horses in general,” he said. “A lot of the kidscoming to the camp are kids who have never been around horses,though we’re glad to include any children in that age group.”

The target age group for the first horse camp is ages 9-14.Lightsey said while much of the class is geared to beginners,experienced riders are also welcome.

“If I see a kid is a little more advanced, I’ll work a littledifferent with them,” he said. “That’s what we’ll try to determinethe first day is what a kid can do with the horse, and do what wecan to teach them from the stage they’re at.”

There are still a few slots open in the first camp, and he saidanyone who is interested may call anytime up to Monday morning forinformation or to enroll. The fee for the week is $250.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is a naturally mild-mannered breed, andLightsey said his horses are all gentle, making them the perfectlearning partners for inexperienced beginning riders. He also saidthe attendees of his camp won’t just be learning to ride, but alsohow to groom and care for their equine friends.

“We’ll learn general care of the horse, like grooming and feedingas well as riding. It’ll be a lot of hands-on,” he said. “We’llalso be working on how to act around the horses.”

Lightsey said he has enjoyed showing Tennessee Walkers in his yearsas a horseman, and he wants to show the children how easy it is totransition from pleasure riding to showing their horses in the ringonce they’re ready. But, he said, there won’t be barrels and cattleand rodeo clowns.

“This isn’t a cowboy thing,” he said. “These are pleasure horses,and I want them to see going from pleasure riding to showing isn’ttough.”

The lessons each morning will be in the arena at Camp David,Lightsey said, and children will have the opportunity to rideEnglish or Western.

“Whichever they’re more comfortable with,” he said. “But Idefinitely want to introduce them to English riding.”

Campers will be asked to wear jeans each day, and boots if theyhave them. But if not, Lightsey said, tennis shoes are just fine.In addition, each child will be provided a safety helmet during theweek of the camp.

Another important premise the campers will learn is that horses aretheir friends, but should be respected and handled with care.

“I don’t want them to be afraid of the horse, to where they don’twant to be around them,” he said. “They do need to have a healthyrespect for the horse. But you hear things about how you can’tstand behind the horse or it’ll kick you, when the fact is you canbe back there if you know how to do it right.”

Lightsey said this is just the first camp he’ll be holding thissummer. As the summer progresses, he plans to have other camps, aswell as offering lessons, training, and boarding.

The hours of Lightsey’s camp are from 9 a.m. to noon Monday throughFriday of next week. For more information, call Lightsey at (601)823-4357 or (601) 669-1707, or Bobbie Bayham at (601) 833-1726 or(601) 757-7128.