By Lindsey Besecker – North County Times
SAN MARCOS – Alana Primes comes to Bheau View Ranch every Sunday for her horseback-riding lessons.
On Wednesday she was there again, but this time for a different reason.
Primes is one of 62 Girl Scouts from around San Diego County who walked, ran and rode around the San Marcos ranch this week as part of a new Girl Scout program called “Riders and Writers.”
“It’s fun to listen to their writings after they have experienced something with a horse,” Nancy Tarsha, Bheau View Ranch owner, said Wednesday. “It’s not about what I can teach them — it’s about what they can learn about these animals.”
The weeklong camp provides the participants with a variety of activities, including making beaded necklaces, painting with watercolors, writing stories and riding horses. They learned how to communicate with horses through body language and also learned what horses were trying to communicate through their movements.
“It’s not just horsey stuff,” volunteer Button Watkins said while watching her group make necklaces. “I like the writing aspect because kids’ brains kind of go blank during the summer.”
Watkins said that with the writing, it lets the girls do school-type activities in a different way. She added that her group has “really enjoyed working on their journals.”
“It’s fun,” 11-year-old Amber Pietzyk of Rancho Bernardo said while working on a story. “You do a lot of writing and art.”
The Girl Scouts split up into six different groups and worked on a rotating schedule. At one table, the girls wrote stories and then placed them in paper school folders — decorated with horses, of course.
“This is so great,” said Lillian Watson, one of the volunteers. “I think it’s important for a child to learn to express him or herself in words.”
“We write about horses and dogs and anything on the farm,” said Alana, 7, while sucking on a lollipop and looking down at her blue cowboy boots.
“I learned how to saddle and de-saddle a horse,” said 10-year-old Brianna Alexander, while painting. She said that at the camp, she enjoyed “making friends, riding the horses, and also making friends with the horses.”
Another group sat on wooden benches and blue blankets under the shade of a tree, listening to volunteer Lynn Borst tell them about Marguerite Henry, who wrote many books about animals. Tarsha helped Henry write her last book before she died.
Tarsha said that one of the main things she and the volunteers were trying to teach the campers was communication — written communication and communication with the horses.
Tarsha showed one group how she could communicate with a mustang — appropriately named Sally — by talking to her and doing different things to gain her trust. Tarsha also explained what Sally was trying to communicate to her.
“I think the children are amazingly open to really wanting to establish a relationship with the animals,” Tarsha said as she groomed Sally. “I learn from the kids just like they learn from me.”
While Tarsha was working with Sally, about 10 volunteers led horses around a nearby dirt ring on the property, showing the campers how to communicate with the horses while riding.
“Being the first time … I think it turned out very well,” said Angela Murphy, director of the camp. “Overall, the girls are loving it.”