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2017 Fall Horse Camp in SRPMIC

Horse Camp facilitator and horse expert Si Johnson (right) works with youngsters at the 2017 Fall Horse Camp in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The three-day camp attracted a dozen youngsters.

A late-summer weekend camp in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was dedicated to the horse way of life.

From September 8 to 10, Community youngsters learned firsthand about quality horse care and safety at the 2017 Fall Horse Camp.

About 30 youngsters attended the camp, which was hosted by the Salt River Rodeo Committee, in cooperation with Kawyu Apedag Wapial Oidagkam.

Horse expert and camp facilitator Si Johnson was back. He shared tips on riding and tending to horses. Between meals and horse-related activities, guest speakers stopped by to share their personal stories.

One such story was offered by Salt River Department of Corrections inmate Max Mendoza, who is serving three years for drinking and driving. Mendoza, wearing his DOC inmate clothes, spoke to the youngsters about his past mistakes and his goal to give back to the Community. He said he’s taking college course work while he’s incarcerated and is hoping to earn a business certificate.

“You know, I’ve made some bad choices and I think I’m going to be better for that, knowing what those choices can get me,” Mendoza said. “Those choices put me in here. I’m learning from it, [and] making better choices.”

Angie Silversmith, one of the camp organizers, said the Horse Camp can accommodate up to 45 youth ages seven to 17. Earlier this year, about 50 youth took part in the Spring Horse Camp.