Campers ride with pride at annual Sheriff’s camp

More than 1,500 kids have participated in long-running free event
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Lauryl Toulouse thought going to horse camp would be boring. However, more than halfway through the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Ride with Pride day camp, the 9-year-old was eagerly sharing some of the things she learned that day. For example, she never knew that there was a bone in a horse’s tail. “It’s really fun,” Lauryl said before mounting a horse for a guided walk around a field. Lauryl was one of about 40 kids participating in day two of the Sheriff’s Office annual camp. The camp, now in its 17th year, allows children aged 7 to 12 to learn how to care, handle and ride horse that the Sheriff’s Office uses for patrol and search and rescue. They also meet deputies and learn more about their role in the community. “We wanted to find some type of program that bridges the gap between law enforcement and kids in the community,” said Lt. Kevin Borden. “We found horses are good for that.” Borden has participated in the camp since its inception. Over the course of a day, campers learn about a horse’s anatomy, how to properly groom them and how to saddle and bridle a horse. They watch demonstrations about how officers use the horses for crowd control and later get to take a ride on one of the members of the four-legged fleet. “One of the most rewarding things is to see a kid who was initially fearful to get on a horse and later ride a horse,” Borden said. Lynn Harrison, community services officer, said the program continues to grow in popularity. About 1,500 kids have participated in the camp over its 17-year history. This year they upped the number of kids from 35 a day to 40 a day. There are also 74 children on a wait list and requests have come from as far as Oakland. “I’m always full within two days,” Harrison said. The camp is offered at no cost to participants. It operates on donations and sponsors in the community as well as help from volunteers. “It gives those kids who may not have the opportunity to be able to interact with law enforcement and ride a police horse,” Borden said. Nine-year-old Marin Lehr was enjoying her first time at the camp. She said she learned that she should use a soft brush to groom a horse’s face and a hard brush to groom the back. “I think it’s really cool,” Marin said. “It’s cool that they show you about a horse and how to tack and stuff.” Gavin Calhoun is a veteran camper. The 9-year-old was attending his third Ride with Pride event. He said he liked the games and learning about how to take care of a horse. “I like to ride horses,” Gavin said. Borden said he and the other officers are appreciative of the support that enables them to offer a camp which helps young children become familiar with law enforcement. “It lets kids know we’re just like regular people,” Borden said. “They learn we’re approachable and they can talk to us.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment. ---------- Camp is a ‘Hero’ in eyes of SPCA The Placer County Sheriff’s day camp Ride with Pride received the 2009 Hero award from the Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The award is based on animals doing wonderful things for people and people doing wonderful things for animals, according to Leilani Vierra, Placer SPCA CEO. Vierra said the day camp met both of those criteria. “They use horses not only in work but as a vehicle to promote character building in kids by teaching them to be responsible and respectful,” Vierra said. “This isn’t a ‘have to do’ for them. What a joy to see them going above and beyond the call of duty.” ---------- What team are sheriff’s office horses used for? Placer County Sheriff’s team of horses are used for a variety of events ranging from annual community parades to the county fair to patrolling shopping centers during busy holiday times. Some of the horses are also used during search and rescue efforts. ----------