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I’ve written quite a bit on here about Horse Boy Camps. Unfortunately the links on those posts are now a bit out of date as the camps are no longer being run by Worldwide and so contact details for these camps have now changed. There’s a new website and Facebook group. Your first choice of contact in the UK is probably Gillian Naysmith. They’re in the process of setting up several permanent sites in the UK and are also now running training camps.

Rupert Isaacson is still overseeing the  camps and Karen Thursfield is still a camp leader in the UK so although there will be changes the concept of the camps shouldn’t have changed that much. I have noticed that the age limit has changed. Previously there was no age limit; in fact an adult attended our camp, but the camps are now only open to children aged 2-12.  This seems a shame and a rather arbitrary limit (what is it with autism and animals? No service dogs for the over 11’s, no horse boy holidays for the over 12’s). I promised Joseph one of Archie’s brothers after the camp this year that he would be able to go on ‘the best holiday ever’ again next year. It seems as if it might be the last year given that Archie will be turning 12 next year. The majority of children on our camp were the same sort of age as Archie and it worked pretty well so I’m a little surprised by that change.

I will keep an eye open for similar ideas suitable for older children and will of course post anything I find on here.

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My friend has started up a Facebook group; You know you’ve got a child with autism when…. . It’s proving very popular. I was the second person to join; when I next visited a few days later it had over five thousand members. It a good way to spend five minutes with a cup of coffee and I am always amused at how familiar so many of the stories are.

We had a ‘you know you’ve got a child with autism’ moment today. Ever the optimist I popped out shopping this morning to get waterproof trousers for everyone for our upcoming Horse Boy Camp – I am hoping that spending money on waterproofs means we’ll have a mini heatwave at our camp. On arriving home I found Archie climbing the walls. It quickly became apparent that he wanted to go shopping. I was given plastic bags and various goods carrying various supermarket brands. Well, I say given; more like had them shoved at me. With some suggestion from my end this did narrow down from any supermarket to Sainsbury’s. I also noticed that in some cases he was showing me the word Sainsbury rather than the logo. Clever boy Archie.

Anyway we had to eat lunch first which led to much shouting. We’re still not that good at waiting. Then I was given string of instructions (via pointing and shouting ‘ah ah ha naiya ah’) about the route I had to take. I obliged and we arrived to find a couple of disabled parking spaces free (useful when I am on my own with Archie and trying to move a trolley and keep hold of him and move him if he decides to have a pavement sit in). I parked, jumped out, then…. nothing. Couldn’t get Archie out of the car. Lots of shouting but a genuine refusal to move. By now we were providing the entertainment for a few passers by. One couple even stayed in their car to have a good old gawp. I tried some bribery ‘Sainsbury’s then swimming tomorrow’. Nope. Didn’t work. ‘Do you want Sainsbury’s or home’ (assuming that as he’d just spend the last hour trying to get out of home the decision would be easy’. His hand hit ‘home’. Oh right. Sudden inspiration. ‘Sainsbury’s or Tesco?’. TESCO! TESCO TESCO TESCO. A very clear choice. To be fair the first plastic bag I had had shoved at me had been a Tesco bag, I’d suggested Sainsbury’s.

Tesco won that particular battle and we managed to pick up a little trolley with just a small amount of shouting and some gentle attempts to knock me over.

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I’m really pleased to say that horse boy camps are getting really popular. They are running a lot of camps this year. Details in the WorldWild newsletter. Keep up to date by signing up to receive the newsletter at the WorldWild website.

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Leading rein Oh my goodness I am so excited by this. Horse Boy Camps are coming to the UK. If you haven’t already read Horse Boy it is well worth a read. It’s quite a powerful book, well it got me back into horseriding after a 16 year break so it captures something about the experience. I now try and go weekly (although usually I only manage fortnightly).

I’ve also been able to take my son (well three sons actually) horse riding a few times at a friend’s house. The effect on number 1 son has been very noticeable. Calmness is not always an easy state for him to achieve, but as soon as he’s on a horse he’s calm. He doesn’t usually bother holding on, but his seat is very good and he has absolutely loved trotting without any fear at all or any signs that he might fall off.  I hope that horse riding is something that he can continue to do and I of course amuse myself getting carried away dreaming of the perfect bombproof family horse.

So anyway back to the Camps. The first camp looks as if it is next week which is probably too soon for us to make, even though we are local. However, it sounds as if this might be the first of many, so I have emailed for details in the future.

For the more adventurous there is a 2010 Mongolia trip planned. I would be booking my place (can’t think of anything more heavenly), but although I am confident that number 1 son would love a week horse riding, I am not confident that he would cope with a plane ride.

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