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Voyageur's Best Features of 2006

CJ's Ranch Camp

CJ's Ranch Camp comes to Cromwell
by John Grones  |  August 1, 2006

This past weekend, the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club held their annual Pleasure and Games Show. The show is held the end of July each summer in Cromwell and is great for experienced or novice riders.

This year, a large group from CJs Ranch Camp near Wright attended the Pleasure Show. Camp owner Cindy Schweich, along with Executive Director Suzy Goodin and summer intern Jessica Stylski, headed up the long day of preparing horses, changing outfits and instructing the campers. The three campers in attendance were Allison Cawley, Michaela Kim and Anna Vallez. Two junior counselors, Melanie Kimari and Sarah Taylor, were also on hand.

The group also had a special rider. One of Suzy’s dance students, 5-year-old Payton Schneberger, participated in her first show and came away with the first place trophy. Payton participated in the Lead Line class with the assistance of Suzy.

“This was the first year we had campers come to the Cromwell Horse Show,” said camp director Suzy Goodin. “Most of our camps are one week long, but these campers are staying two weeks.”


“None of the girls had shown horses before,” added summer intern Jessica Stylski. “The girls practiced all week on their [retired show] horses. They practiced all the techniques that they were asked to do in the arena.”

The goal for the campers this past week was to work on their equitation. “How to sit, how to ride correctly, instead of just riding,” added Suzy.

Allison was the first to ride in the morning. She rode in the English Pleasure class. “She did a wonderful job,” shared Suzy. “She was in a very tough class and didn’t have the greatest horse.”

“The goal is just to get them the experience,” added Jessica, “whether they walk out with a ribbon or not. Just a chance to show off what they’ve been working on all week is a big deal.”

One camper that did get a ribbon was 13-year-old Anna Vallez. Anna road in the junior horsemanship class where she placed second. When Anna’s name was called on the loud speaker, a big smile came over her face and she received a large ovaition from her friends.

Michaela and junior counselor Sarah Taylor also participated in Horsemanship.

Suzy also participated. She competed in English Equitation and English Pleasure.

The focus this weekend was definitely on the kids and it was a hot and challenging day, not only for the campers, but also for the horses. Cindy, Suzy and Jessica made sure the kids and the horses drank plenty of water. 

CJs Ranch Camp is a small horse camp that features a lot of riding time. “We only take 14 kids and the kids pretty much get to ride as much as they want,” said Suzy. “We usually have three counselors and two junior counselors, so there is a lot of one-on-one attention. They really advance that way.”

One of those counselors was summer intern Jessica Stylski, a student from North Dakota State University. The internship began June first and will go until August 18. “This is part of my Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Science and Agriculture Business,” said Jessica. “After that, I will graduate and jump in the air a few times. I’m planning on applying to Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Program.

“I wanted to do an internship with horses and with kids,” added Jessica. “I’ve shown horses my whole life and love working with kids. We get to choose our internship and I knew it had to be something with kids.”

Jessica is glad she stumbled upon this internship position in Wright, Minnesota. “It was just randomly mentioned in class and thought it sounded good. I heard ‘Wright’ and I immediately thought Wright County, which is close to where I live. Then I found out it was up here and thought that was even better, because it was up north and it’s not that far from home.”

Jessica concluded by stating that the internship has gone very well and it has been quite rewarding. “I think the favorite part of my internship has been to watch campers come in on Sunday. A lot of them are really timid. Some of them really haven’t ridden and [I like] to see them progress and connect with their animals. Then on Friday, to be able to show their parents all they have worked for. Just to see them succeed.

“I think we give kids the opportunity to work toward something during the week. It’s something they wouldn’t normally have the chance to do,” Jessica concluded.

That something was a chance to ride a horse correctly in the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club Horse Show. They all succeeded.


LEAD LINE – Payton Schneberger

PEE WEE – Liesl Francisco

JUNIOR – Alyssa Michaelson


SENIOR – Liana Bolen

SENIOR PLUS – Kim Bombard

This article first appeared in the August 1 issue of the Voyageur Press.