By Justin Seward
Local horsemanship instructors Nikki Nickolson, Dalton Kraft and Jared Pancoast will join Linda Kraft in teaching a Rodeo Skills Summer Camp near Irvine next week.
The Skills Camp will be ran out of Kraft’s Avalon Equine, north of Irvine, and will focus on teaching beginner riders skills from the High School Rodeo circuit.
“Linda and I came up with the idea last summer,” said Nickolson.
“It is something that we thought would be really beneficial for this area because there is a lot of youth and rodeo families in the area. So we thought it would be something really cool to offer.”
Riders will learn about barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying to name a few events.
“It just gives these kids a little taste of what High School Rodeo could look like. It exposes them to the events that they could potentially participate in. We feel very strongly about providing horsemanship fundamentals.”
The beginner level is from six to 14 in age.
“But it really more depends on the individual at what level they are at,” she said.
“Some kids get started later than others. Some ride more than others. It’s not so much on their age as it is their skill level.”
Nickolson says they chose this age range because they are fun and easy to entertain.
With High School Rodeo starting at Grade 6 and at this stage of the game, if riders are exposed to these events, and know where their interests are, this is a stepping-stone to get them on that path, she explained.
All instructors will have a handle on each area being taught.
“Each instructor has a fortay in these events,” she said.
“But all instructors are well-rounded enough to be able to support. There is going to be a lead instructor for each of them, but the rest of instructors will be able to follow that lead.”
The Skills Camp will take place from July 13-16 at Avalon Equine (3101 Twp. Road 124).
The sessions go from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.
Organizers are encouraging families to camp and there will be activities throughout the night.
“I really believe that socializing is so imperative on a youth’s development and this isolation is really hard on our mental health,” said Nickolson, on the importance of having this event go through for kids.
“It’s really easy to socially isolate while on horses because we need to respect horses’ bubbles. There’s not really a lot of interaction between us when we’re riding.”
Full deposits had to be paid by July 10, but there may be a few spots left because a few riders had not paid their deposits yet.
Cost is $550 for the whole week or $200 a day, which includes lunches and snacks.
Nickolson said if someone calls on July 11 or 12 and wants to pay right away, and there is a spot open, they would not be turned away.
More information can be found by contacting Kraft at (403) 866-6955 or Nickolson at (403) 952-6844.
A second camp in August could be hosted if there was enough interest.
More details could be found on the Avalon Equine Facebook page if a second camp were to be a go.