The new covered horseback riding arena and stables at Rockbrook are creating quite a buzz, so let me mention that first. After more than a year of planning and design work, we began building the facility last August and working throughout the winter and spring to finish in time for camp this summer. The arena is 180 feet long and 90 feet wide with a 26-foot vaulted ceiling, a 5-foot rail all the way around, and a high-bay LED lighting system. Most importantly, the arena footing is a special blend of white silica sand (trucked in from SC), nylon and polyester fibers that give just the right amount of grip and stability, but also cushion and rebound. Designed by an arena footing expert, this surface is amazing. On a regular basis we use a sprinkler system to keep the sand a little moist, which makes it virtually dust free, and also use a complex drag to level and groom the surface. We’ve been told that this arena, both because of its size and quality footing, is the best covered arena in western North Carolina, but that’s not why we built it. We simply know how much nicer it’s making our campers’ riding experience— cooler in the shade, fewer annoying bugs, and of course an all-weather space that nicely handles the ordinarily wet climate of this county. With its gleaming white sand footing, and treated wood framing, it’s a beautiful building and a delightful place to ride.
Along with the arena, we built a new adjoining 10-stall teaching barn. We made the stalls huge (12×12 feet) to accommodate our larger horses, added sliding stall doors, rubber mat stall floors, and rear dutch doors that open to the outside. There’s a heated feed room and separate tack room, an extra-wide 14-foot aisle, and a giant 3,000 square-foot hay loft. With this barn, it’s now possible to tack up your horse and walk down the aisle right into the arena, all under roof.
Nearby outside, we also constructed a new 90-foot round ring to complement the existing 100×300 jump course ring in the lower pasture. If we divide these large riding areas, we can hold five mounted lessons at the same time, which really helps when we have almost 80 girls at camp who are currently riding. We’ve been taking full advantage of these great facilities keeping all our young riders as busy as possible.
Since today was cabin day, the day when we change up the afternoon schedule to allow cabin groups to enjoy an activity together, we gathered all of the Middler campers for a grand trip into the forest. A trifecta trip of sorts, we charged up the group with a fun picnic dinner, visit to Sliding Rock, and a final stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar. Middlers have such a great time on this trip, eager to play games in the grass after their meal, excited to plunge into the chilly pool below Sliding Rock, and thrilled to select a unique “camp flavor” of ice cream at the last stop. We had a total of 115 people on this trip when you include all of the campers and staff members, creating quite a mob. At Sliding Rock, we completely filled the place! Going in the evening (after regular hours) allows us to do that, have our own lifeguards and give the whole event a Rockbrook feel. The photo gallery will show you what I mean, but girls really enjoyed the excitement, the adventure of it all, the classic mountain summertime delight that we’ve loved for years at Rockbrook.
Back at camp, mostly dry in a warm sweatshirt or fleece, the girls had no trouble making a quick path to bed. Today we have played, laughed, and played some more… just how summer should be.