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Monday, June 26, 2017

The horses are back for the summer

Preschoolers at Congressional School enjoy rides on Tinkerbell, seen here with camp counselor Julia Utting. 
Back in the day when the Annandale area was dotted with farms, horses were a common sight. They’re gone now, as the area has urbanized.

But there is still one place left in Mason District where you can find horses happily grazing on the grass – Congressional School on Sleepy Hollow Road keeps 14 horses and ponies during the warmer months for riding lessons.

Splash (left) and Milo.
After spending the winter at a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, where they have a warm barn and large pasture, Buttons, Splash, Milo, Aladdin, Tilly, Snap, Pop, Trigger, and the rest of the gang are back at Congressional, where they get plenty of attention from the kids in the school’s summer camps.

Oreo with Lisa Humfelt, a camp counselor and riding teacher.
Laura Short, assistant director of auxiliary programs, and Alyce Penn, communications director at Congressional, took us on a tour of the stables and introduced us the horses, which range from mini-ponies like Tinkerbell to full-size animals like best friends Huck and Cowboy.  

Charlie, the "miracle phony," who almost died after eating a poisonous plant. 
A “pony camp” currently under way offers riding lessons for 15 rising first-graders, as well as other activities. 

Campers not only learn how to ride, they help with feeding, grooming,“tacking up” (taking care of the riding equipment), and “mucking up” (cleaning the stables), says Lisa Humfelt, a camp counselor and riding teacher. The kids also learn about horse anatomy and behavior.

When camp ends at 3 p.m., the horses are let out for free time in the field, where they spend the night sleeping standing up. In the morning, they come back to their stalls, in a large rental tent-like stable.


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