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10 Western & English Today PUBLISHER'S forum To Dance, Like April in the Moonlight I don't even know if April was her real name. I do know she was more than 25 years old. All I was told, as a starting riding instructor, was to call her April, and she was one of the 20 horses on my string that summer at Fox and Billie Smith's Red Raider Horsemanship Camp, the dream job of my summers between college in the early '70s. T e talented/ fearsome/formidable coach Lynn Frye was my boss. I was so thrilled to "make the grade" as a Red Rider instructor: Back then, any horse-crazed college kid in seven states would have cut of his/her right arm to work there. T ey had incredible horses, scores of trails through cathedrals of virgin timber, breathtaking hills and streams, a world-class stadium jumping ring and a cross- country course that crowned a hilltop, with rolling farmland vistas spreading out in all directions. Red Raider also served a bevy of wealthy boarders, who of en hired camp counselors to excercise their world-class mounts, an incentive that sort of hung out there in front of us young, earnest riders much like the veritable carrot on a stick. Although I was crushed, at f rst, to not be assigned to Senior Camp at the "Upper Barn," where the f ne boarder-owned horses, most elegant school horses horses and highly focused teenage campers were … I fell head-over-heels in love with Junior Camp, at the "Lower Barn," tucked into the hillside leading to the verdant green empire above, where elegant thoroughbreds sailed over giant fences and precisely executed dressage movements. Watching them from afar, it all started to look too much like work; I soon lost my longing to be at the Upper Barn. At Junior Camp, we played! We explored. We challenged ourselves, too, but we had fun. So here I was, with the pre-teens and the older, calmer horses, charged with endlessly coaching younguns atop aged mounts in exchange for a few hours of freedom a day, where I could ply the high cross-country course as an exercise mount for elite boarders. I found I loved my job — masquerading as the Red Raider Knight in a full suit of body armor, thrusting forth my shield and lance, and galloping thrugh campsites at night … the creek hikes … the ghost stories … all of it. Having been horseback before I could walk, spending 24 hours a day around these majestic creatures seemed as intoxicating to me as, well, living solely on the scent of gardenias. When I brought my f rst paycheck home to show to my father, Daddy claimed my take-home pay amounted to 40 cents per hour, af er the deductions for my meals and the bunkhouse. But in experience, it was everything, and my daddy understood that. I had a favorite on my 20-horse string. April, I was told by Fox and Billie, had been a Madison Square Garden Gold Cup Jumping Champion. T ey bought her retirement, they explained, so she could just walk around with giggly children on her back and not have to "work" anymore. She was a 17-plus hand dappled grey with a chest worthy of a treasure ship. My boss Lynn was a bit more of a taskmaster with her staf and with her horses than were owners Billie and Fox — I remember her schooling her stallion Warlock

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