Horse camp has successful second year in Monticello

Kendal Gruman of Wilton, 12, bathes her horse during the Eastern Iowa Horse and Pony Camp at the Great Jones County Fairgrounds. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Camper Emma Harland of Maquoketa (left) works to remove a horseshoe, with help from Cody Roller, during the camp June 21.
Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

   If there was any doubt about the value of having the Eastern Iowa Horse and Pony Camp in Monticello for a second year, it was likely erased during this year’s camp, held June 20-24 at the Great Jones County Fairgrounds.

   After a long run in Dubuque, the camp was moved to Monticello last year, and now appears to be here to stay.

   “We did sign a five-year contract with them,” camp board of directors treasurer Shawn Strief said, “but we had the option to bow out last year if things didn’t work out.

   “But the facilities were amazing. And the town has been so welcoming. You’re driving around town, and everyone’s waving. You don’t get that in Dubuque.”

   Ben Urbain, a camp board member for five years, agreed.

   “This place is absolutely beautiful,” Urbain said. “I feel like we make an impact on the town, and the town helps us out quite a bit.

   “The facilities are amazing, just top of the line. The Jones County Fair board has been amazing to us, and the businesses in town are always welcoming and receptive.”

   This year’s camp, the 54th annual, drew 131 campers, ages 10-18. More than 170 horses were on the grounds, and 34 mentors helped the campers work with their horses.

   The camp followed a daily schedule of morning and afternoon lessons revolving around riding, stall and saddle care, an e-cademy, a horseshoeing seminar led by Monticello’s Cody Roller, and free time. Electives such as calf roping, blacksmithing and specialized riding were offered in the late afternoon, and the evenings were devoted to recreational time, including use of the Monticello Aquatic Center and Legacy Lanes.

   “The swimming pool, bowling alley; everybody’s been really good to us,” Urbain said.

   The campers themselves seemed to appreciate the week, and the opportunities offered.

   Claire Henry of Durango, 13, said it was her fourth year at the camp, and she attends “to hang out with my horses and my friends, mostly.”

   Carly Manternach of Cascade, 14, said, “It’s a lot of fun, and there are a lot of nice people here. There are always people down at the barns helping you.”

   Added McKinley Curtis of Bernard, 14: “You get to learn a lot, and the people here are super nice. They teach you in a good way.”

   All of them said they appreciated the opportunity to swim at the Monticello Aquatic Center on the evenings of the two hottest days of the week, June 20 and 21.

   Urbain said the camp has been part of his family’s life for a long time.

   “My wife used to come to horse camp 25 or 30 years ago,” Urbain said, “and our kids starting coming because of her.

   “I didn’t really know what it was. But when I saw all the kids and how much time everybody puts in, I wanted to be part of that.”



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