By Melissa McCullough & Chelsea Thompson
Being apprehensive about sending the kids, whose only past contact with horses was by way of pony rides, was a total waste of brain cells! After one quick conversation with Janelle Martin, program manager at Jolong Park, I was confident they’d have an amazing day at the purpose-built, state-of-the-art equestrian property.
“The Jolong Park school holiday programs have been designed to allow children a unique opportunity to understand the basics of horses, progress with their riding and make like-minded friends.”, says Janelle.
We joined the Dragon group for the full day school holiday program which caters for kids aged seven and up and who are eager to learn to ride horses. This program provides children with the ultimate learning experience, through riding, theory and interactive activities.
On arrival, we immediately spotted a few happy horses. Eeeeeeeee!
All the elders checked their kids in and milled around in a group for a few minutes. The lush green property is manicured exquisitely with sweeping views over the track, stables and indoor arena. After a quick talk to the kids by Janelle and her affectionately deputised “2IC”, or second-in-command, Madi, anyone not a child was politely excused for the day and offered the opportunity to arrive back a bit early to witness the kids in action and take their guaranteed* sleepy bodies home.
Before leaving I had a quick look at the itinerary for the day, which consisted of familiarization with the horses, introduction to riding and then putting the theories into practise. Then a quick thumbs up to the kids and off I went.
Upon my return to the grounds, I found the group at the indoor arena taking turns riding with an aide running alongside. The kids performed small tricks riding for a few moments with one hand or no hands. Some horses trotted over small barriers…nothing crazy or dangerous. What was clearly obvious, was how much fun the group was having. With beaming smiles and eager anticipation, the kids each had a turn on every adorably named horse. (I’m looking at you Maggie, Raffy, Dixie, Toto, Jimmy, Nugget, Buddy et al.)
The day was filled with all things horsy as well as snacks and lunch for both equines and humans.
Janelle also mentioned, “There is also a program for the little ones! The Panda group caters for ages three to six years old. Beginner riders can enjoy this half-day program, jam-packed with everything horses. Activities, riding and a shortened theory lesson are included in this program.”
*I picked them up at 4pm and it was a snooze fest in the car by 4:07. Wondered if it was too early to put them to bed for the night.
If your pony-loving poppets are looking for more time with their horsey friends and love a sleep-over, Jolong Park also offers a two day overnight equestrian camp. This in-depth experience is a self-improving equestrian course tailored for intermediate riders with a horseback riding foundation. The aim of the program is to improve riding skills; enrich horse related knowledge; exercise team spirit and enhance independent social skills.
Chelsea and Bianca, from our Peninsula Kids team, and their horses, went along to this experience and have nothing but neighs and rave reviews. Horses are provided if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own!
“What a great couple of days at Jolong Park. From the minute Bianca and
I arrived, we felt welcome.”, exclaimed Chelsea.
Their horses were also made to feel comfortable, and after exiting their floats, they were put in a small sand yard with hay so that they could check out their surroundings and have a bite to eat. After the horses settled, they were moved into a lovely paddock that would be their overnight accommodation.
The girls then got their tents ready and after a couple of hours brought the horses back to the tie ups to get ready for their first dressage lesson. “The lesson was great. I learned many things and it was very useful.”, said Chelsea. Following the first lesson was morning tea and a break followed by a yummy bbq lunch and then a show jumping lesson.
“When the lessons were finished, we hosed down the horses, put them back in their paddock and fed them. Bianca and I made our way back to the tents, had a shower and got our sleeping bags ready. We had a delicious pasta dinner, then roasted marshmallows and ran around before heading off for a well-earned sleep.”
The following morning’s breakfast was a choice of cereal, fruit, scrambled eggs and/or baked beans, and hot chocolate for everyone. This full day of activities was comprised of more lessons including dressage and show jumping, and a chance to tour the grounds of Jolong Park. “I had lots of help from the kids in the younger groups and my pony loved all the pats and cuddles.”
After many goodbyes and thank yous it was time to leave. “Overall it was a fantastic two days. It was so much fun to have been a part of such a well-run camp and the opportunity to meet so many new, nice people. What an amazing two days!!”
Jolong Park pioneers the way horses are seen by the world. Here, you’ll capture the very essence of horses at a location which is only a short 20-minute drive from Mornington. With the primary focus being horses and the secondary being education, Jolong Park provides six distinct product offerings including: Education, Agistment and Training, Horse World, RTO, Club House and Events.
For more information about what’s on offer at Jolong Park go to www.jolongpark.com.au
Jolong Park is located at 128 Riverbend Rd, Bangholme VIC 3175