My father used to ride religiously at a stable called “Camelot” in Trinidad, CA. Riding spirited horses was a pastime of ours that stretched back nearly four decades, and I resisted returning to his special place until this past October since he would no longer be there.
For those who are seeking tamer rides, fear not. Most Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Trinidad there is a little-known communion of spirits who share a love of horses. My husband and I went to scope it out for the Get-Out-Guide because we have a family friend, Sally Upatisringa, who goes regularly in her wheelchair. The stable uses all-gelding, Norwegian Fjord horses for their calm and gentle disposition.
We think Sally says it best:
“Ten years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Before long I found myself giving up much of the life I had taken for granted – traveling the world alone, impromptu trips to the beach or the mountains, and eventually walking unaided. In the midst of the ‘giving up’, and to everyone’s surprise (mine included), I learned to ride a horse. Suddenly, I had a new life and that new life led me to the kindness that is Camelot and 4-H TRAIL.”
From the Camelot brochure, “During the last nearly three decades, 4-H T.R.A.I.L. has served hundreds of people of all ages in a variety of ways. We offer assisted trail rides through the forest and on the bluffs overlooking Trinidad State Beach.”
What always amazed me about my father, and I saw the same thing in the volunteers at 4-H T.R.A.I.L., was that his love for horses was so great he was willing to spend hours of his time sharing that love with others. This meant grooming, saddling, assisting with the mount from the ground (in the case of Camelot, the mount is elevated so that disabled riders are able to mount more easily), and walking patiently for hours on end leading the horse so that someone else could experience the joy of the ride.
I spoke with Doug Jager, founder of Camelot, who told me a story about Kaitlin, a girl who came to their stable for the first time as a three-year-old. “It is hard to explain to someone that age who cannot speak or see that you are putting a helmet on her head so that she stays safe while on the horse,” Doug said. During her first ride, Doug advised the volunteers to “just start moving that horse”, and as soon as they did, Kaitlin stopped screaming. Up to that point, according to Doug, Kaitlin had never said a word. Then one Saturday, Kaitlin was in the kitchen with her mother who asked, “What do you think about going riding on Saturday, Kaitlin?” Kaitlin replied, “Walk on, Lance” repeating the command she had heard the volunteers at 4-H T.R.A.I.L. repeat to get her horse to go. Doug shared that Kaitlin now often sings and leads the entire riding group in a song, and that she will clearly be able to achieve whatever she wants to do in life. He didn’t say as much, but it was obvious he attributed her awakening to the world to the magic of the ride.
Awaken your world. Contact Camelot and volunteer, donate, or ride. 707-677-0604 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook at: 4-H T.R.A.I.L.
Dana Murguia owns CareMatch, a professional caregiver recruitment firm. You can read the full-length article at the blog: caregiverhire.com.