A day off from school is good. A day off from school to learn about and play with horses is great.
Such a day took place at Meadowood Riding Club's Winter Workshop on President's Day. Throughout Monday morning and afternoon, Meadowood owner Anne Faffley, manager Kay Tabb and instructor Sara Meli treated 17 area youngsters to a very busy day of having fun and learning about horses.
The day began with all the youngsters watching a safety video starring Faffley's 17-year-old daughter, Melinda. The video showed Melinda making lots of mistakes (on purpose) as she worked around the barnand horses.
The kids watching the video had to identify the things Melinda did wrong. The video then showed Melinda doing everything the safe and correct way.
"They were very good and caught all of the mistakes," said Tabb as the youngster split into groups based on their experience with horses.
Next on the agenda for the beginner group was a session on tacking up the horse and learning about the horse's different parts. The more advanced group worked on developing a game of horse trivia and coming up with "words of the week" for the bulletin board.
After lunch, helper Erin Klingebiel -- a 17-year-oldLaurel High School student -- took a group of children on a scavenger hunt to find pieces of tack and equipment that had been hidden in Meadowood's orchard.
Throughout the day everyone took riding lessons, three at a time, according to experience. The rides were relived on videotape in the cozy lounge after the lessons were over. Everyone was a star.
Libby Schmehling of Columbia, who was attending her second workshop, received high marks for the nice canter she did on thePinto pony named Woody.
"It's fun riding here because they have an indoor arena," said Libby, an enthusiastic Trinity School student. She said the scavenger hunt was her favorite activity after riding.
Lindsey Bloom, 9, of Columbia, another Trinity student, enjoyed herworkshop experience so much that she now is lobbying her parents forriding lessons.
"I really liked the scavenger hunt because we found almost everything," said Lindsey. "The most important safety thingI learned was leading the pony without getting stepped on."
Christie Sauer, who at 5 was one of the youngest participants, brought herpony, Chocolate Chip, to ride.
"I've had her since I was 2 years old," said Christie. "Now she's a very old pony."
Christie is an alumna of all of Meadowood's workshops and she takes regular lessons there on the riding club's school horses.
Stephanie Huber is a newcomer to Meadowood. She has been riding there for three weeks and thiswas her first time attending a workshop.
"I'd ridden Western before I came here, but now I ride English," said the teen as she tacked up Jose, the chestnut Quarter Horse she was scheduled to ride. "I'm really looking forward to learning how to jump. This is lots more fun than Western!"
GET IN THE SADDLE AT MEADOWOOD
Meadowood Riding Club is located at 6800 Dorsey Lane in Woodbine. Instruction is given inprivate, semi-private and group lessons on school horses or your ownhorse.
An introductory package of group lessons is offered for beginning riders. Meadowood stresses complete instruction in horsemanship and horse knowledge, not just riding instruction.
The next winter workshop will be conducted March 3. The $35 cost includes a full day of activities, riding instruction and a pizza party lunch. Children ages 5 to 16 are invited to participate.
During spring break, Meadowood will offer a full week of horse-related activities for kids. The summer camp will feature instruction, trail rides and nature studies.
Information: (410) 549-7227.