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April 24, 2012

Raintree Ranch Bolo Program

A tradition started many years ago at Raintree Ranch is our Bolo System. But what is a Bolo? A Bolo is a western type necktie fastened by a rope or cord and usually with a decorative stone or jewel. The stone or jewel can slide easily up and down making it much easier tighten than tying a normal neck tie. The style became popular in the 1940’s in the Wild West but the origins go back to 1866 in New Mexico. It is also sometimes referred to as a Bola, and in 1971 Arizona legislature named the Bolo tie the official state neck wear. It has come to symbolize the Western United States and many politicians from Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Texas have worn a Bolo tie on Capitol Hill.

Each week a camper attends Raintree Ranch they can earn one of our specially made Raintree Ranch Bolos for their horsemanship skills and knowledge. There are 8 Bolos total, each getting progressively harder and requiring more work to be done down at the barn. Campers will fulfill some requirements during riding lessons or time in ground classes and a final written test is given on Friday morning to complete the process.

While the Bolo program is optional, almost all the campers work hard to obtain a level each week. Even the camp staff take some of their time off to earn Bolos. Bolos are a great way to set a goal, work toward that goal and get a feeling of accomplishment during the summer. Campers are given a study packet at the beginning of the week they can use during down time or refer back to in ground classes to help retain the knowledge needed for the test. Material is reviewed every day during ground classes, and staff also provide support to anyone who needs it during the testing process.

New campers at Raintree Ranch come with varying levels of horse experience, and their lessons are split into ability level, but everyone still starts by earning the first Filly Bolo as tradition. While most campers can only spend 1 week with us to earn 1 Bolo per summer, we have some campers who spend multiple weeks at camp each summer and earn a Bolo each week. The highest levels can sometimes take more than 1 week to complete.

Here is what some of our campers and staff say about what their Bolos mean to them:

“I still have my Trail Master that I earned 15 years ago! It reminds me of all the summers I spent working towards it”

“My Bolos are on my doorknob, and they remind me that I can accomplish anything as long as I put forth the effort

“My Bolos remind me that if I try and reach my goal I can do it and they all hang proudly on my wall”

“My Bolos remind me of the great memories I’ve had in the past and make me excited for the future. It also helps me remember that I can achieve any goal with the effort that I put in”

“My Bolos remind me of the best summer I’ve ever had, all the friends I made, all the blood sweat and tears I put into getting all of them”

“Hard work, pride and great memories

The best summer I’ve had in my life. They remind me of working hard toward goals, sharing the love of Bolos with everyone else who has earned them and studying with other campers.”

Here is what each level requires

Level 1: Filly

  • Demonstrate proper approach, lead, mount and dismount
  • Identify 5 parts of horse
  • Identify 5 grooming tools & their use
  • Give 3 horse safety rules
  • Identify 3 parts of the bridle and 4 parts of the saddle
  • Describe 2 gaits of a horse
  • Ride a walk in proper equitation
  • Stand in the stirrups at the walk
  • Describe your favorite moment at horses

Level 2: Colt

  • Identify 10 parts of a horse
  • Identify 5 breeds and discuss their proper use
  • Properly groom a horse
  • Give 6 horse safety rules
  • Demonstrate proper safety around the horses
  • Describe 4 gaits of a horse
  • Tie a safety knot
  • Assist in cleaning manure out of one pasture

Level 3: Stallion

  • Identify 15 parts of a horse
  • Identify 6 parts of the bridle
  • Identify 10 parts of the saddle
  • Groom and tack-up a horse
  • Identify 5 colors of a horse
  • Discuss the history of one breed of horse
  • Clean out two watering troughs in barn area
  • Begin a trot
  • Learn how to properly tack up a horse

Level 4: Ranch Hand

  • Identify 25 parts of a horse
  • Clean and oil a bridle and discuss why this is important
  • Identify all face markings
  • Discuss feeds and proper feeding of a horse
  • Properly wrap a horse’s leg and explain reasons for wrapping
  • Begin a posting trot
  • Identify all parts of the hoof
  • Discuss why and how a horse is lunged

Level 5: Junior Wrangler

  • Identify 40 parts of a horse
  • Name 5 common horse diseases including prevention and cures
  • Clean and oil a saddle
  • Identify all leg markings
  • Discuss proper health maintenance of a horse
  • Help with morning chores twice (tack-up)
  • Clean all pastures once
  • Assist teaching one ground class

Level 6: Wrangler

  • Identify 35 parts of a horse
  • Ride an extended trot and a collected lope
  • Discuss and perform first-aid on a horse
  • Discuss how and why to deworm a horse
  • Discuss why it is important to groom and was a horse and 5 reasons why a horse should be clipped
  • List all of the trail ride rules
  • Teach beginning riders trail etiquette
  • Identify every Raintree horse by name
  • Demonstrate safe tack up of a horse

Level 7: Raintree Rancher

  • Disassemble and reassemble a bridle and saddle
  • Repair damaged bridle and saddle
  • Discuss proper reactions to trail hazards
  • Describe how you check for lameness on a horse and how you can tell if the lameness is in the front or back end
  • Pass a pattern test in the riding arena
  • Help tack horses 4 times
  • Help in one feeding each day
  • Assist with the horse show
  • Write an essay on what horsemanship means to you and include your thoughts on the 4 YMCA core values

Level 8: Trail Master

  • Help instruct one trail ride
  • Feed twice daily
  • Help tack or untack daily
  • Help do first aid daily
  • Assist with ground classes
  • Help with daily ranch maintenance chores
  • Name 20 possible careers that have to do with horses
  • Write an essay about your camping experience at Raintree

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