Riding Without Fences

I am not a trail ride kind of girl. I enjoy the confines of a ring.  I like the feeling that the fence is there to, in a sense, protect me.  Sound silly?  Perhaps.  But when I am in the ring I feel safe and secure.

So, when a trail ride was being planned, I came up with several excuses why I wouldn’t be able to go.  Feeding time, volunteers, stuff to do….anything I could think of.  But Shirley was relentless.  She said “You have to do this”.  Shirley is VERY persuasive…. :  )

So off we go.  I’m looking around for fences, feeling kind of exposed.  Wondering when the next car will just knock us all off the road.  Then we finally make it to the fields.  Someone asks how I am doing.  My response is “I don’t see any fences!”.

Well, obviously we all made it back safe and sound.  But the picture above tells the tale.  Check out the white knuckled grip I have on the reins.  They aren’t getting away from me!  And the less than relaxed posture…..and don’t even mention the crooked helmet.  So you get a good idea of how I was feeling.

But it made me think.  In life, how many of us ride without fences?  How many of us are brave enough to take our horses out of the ring?  Sure, we all have to start in the ring.  We get the basics taught to us and we practice and practice.  Then one day, the gate is opened.  Do we go through?  Out to the open, with no fences?  Do we dare???

Every week CATRA has riders with varying degrees of ability riding their horses in the ring.  Learning and doing the basics.  At the end of each lesson, every rider has a mini trail ride up to the goat pen.  After the trotting portion, it seems to be the highlight of the lesson.  They aren’t afraid.  They are excited.  Excited to get out of the ring and away from the fence.  Out into the open.

We should all live our lives like that.  Understanding that the fence is there for you but that there is so much more beyond.  We should ride without fences more often.

PS…..Thank you Shirley for being relentless.


What A Wonderful Day for a Horse Show….

Sunday June 25th  dawned with the promise of a beautiful day.  Which is what we needed at CATRA for the annual Mini Horse Show…….

Ok, some background….Kaylin runs the mini horse show and starts planning about a month and half before the event.  (She does a great job, by the way). She has to plan the events, and the courses, do the registration paperwork, find a judge (thanks Alex!) and set everything up on show day.  The mini horses (hereinafter to be referred to as “minis”) attend lessons and mini camp with their respective partners, young and old!  The mini lessons started this year in February and mini camp was held the week before the show for three days.

Mini lessons on a hot day

Mini lessons are designed to teach equine handling skills to anyone wanting to participate.  The skills learned by the kids in lessons and camp are put to the test in the Mini Horse Show.

The events started with grooming and showmanship and moved through the barrel races, obstacle course, mini basketball and musical minis. The Line Driving event featured Kaylin and Jenna in the Sister competition (they competed against each other all day)!

The kids did such a great job and won lots of ribbons!!

There was some “down time” waiting for the next event.  Luckily we all had shade!

Waiting to compete…..

A girl and her mini…….

Waiting to compete…in the shade!

And the audience was great!  We didn’t have to bring out the “Clap Now” signs at all……..

So, to the youngest……

The littlest competitor

and the oldest competitors (sorry Julie……)

The first event

and everyone in between….Congratulations!  You demonstrated what CATRA is all about…and just how important the smallest horses can be.

Folks…..keep your eyes on the CATRA web page – these minis GO PLACES!  They will be at the Ag Progress Days in State College in August and you can always find them at the Farm Show.  And sometimes they take field trips when the farm just gets too boring for them……

Want to walk a mini?  You can at the 2017 CATRA-THON on October 21, 2017!!!  Watch our newsletter for details!





Kids Sing Country 2017

Kids Sing Country 2017 is now a memory, but what a good one!  Sure – it wasn’t 83 degrees and sunny but it was fun!


Congratulations to all the singers who entertained us with their talent.  I’m pretty sure we saw some future Nashville stars on Sunday!

For our shopping pleasure, we had vendors selling everything from soaps to sea glass jewelry.  Of course, we can’t forget the food!  Special Kids Sing Country Tshirts were available and super cowboy boots for a great price!

Thank you to our CATRA volunteers for being available to answer questions about the many things that we do at CATRA.

Pennsy Supply and Triple K Fleet Services had their trucks there – a great treat for all!  Thank you Pennsy Supply and Triple K Fleet Services!  (Ok, a picture here, would be perfect, yes?  I had some great pics of these two trucks but….well….never take a camera you are not familiar with to an event…….).  And thank you to the Grantville Firemen for letting us use their carnival grounds.


It was a super day!  See you all there next year for Kids Sing Country 2018!!

PS – Bring your line dancing boots!!!



Thorncroft 2017 from my point of view….

I really didn’t know what to expect volunteering for Thorncroft.  Sure, I had been to and in horse shows but that consisted of making sure I had the right clothes and a pair of good boots…..

Thorncroft starts at CATRA way before the Saturday of the events.  Laura and Amy learn the trail course, Alex starts the tack and supply process, Shirley teaches the riders their dressage test.  Ben and the guys make sure our vehicles and trailers are ready for the road and safe.  Amy plans who rides which horse and how each rider can have a horse at each event on time.  Already it is overwhelming, right?

Amy and Mike at Trail event

Friday is horse bath day.  Those volunteers get soaked as they clean the accumulated winter dirt and hair from each horse so they look their best on show day.  Friday night everything is packed up according to the lists on the white board.  Can’t forget anything…..The clean horses are placed in clean stalls.

The day of Thorncroft starts at 3:30.  The show horses get fed.  Then……we get to reclean them.  Yes, I said reclean.  If we are lucky they don’t lay down.  This year we had a few heavy sleepers….so by the time they are clean again, the rest of the volunteers start to arrive and the horses are prepared for the trip.  They are loaded into the trailers and away we go – 5AM scheduled pull out time.

Once we get there, it’s like setting up camp.  Horses come out of the trailers, water buckets and hay bags get attached to trailers and filled.  Tack gets organized by horse.  Each horse has a team of volunteers who are responsible to get the horse ready for the rider at the right time.  Thank you Shirley for the detailed instructions with times…. Those who can figure out the poles, strings and canvas set up our shelter.  And then, all of a sudden, FOOD appears!!! Like magic!  If all has gone well, there is a short time for a snack before the events begin.

Then the events begin.  Don’t even think of sitting down for any extended period of time until your rider has ridden in all their events.  It is a beautiful whirlwind and lots of walking.  Oh, and MORE food shows up – it is a spread fit for a king!

Mike and Will pas de deux.

As the day goes on, there are highs and lows.  Elation and perhaps disappointment.  Someone may discover they CAN do it, something they thought was not easy.  This is what our riders work for all year.  The smiles wipe away all your exhaustion.  Speaking of wiping away…I have never cleaned a horse’s back end and legs as much as I did Nickel’s.  Every time I turned around, he had cleanliness issues.  Just goes with the territory and doesn’t dim the warm feeling I got as I looked around at everyone and thanked God that I was able to be a part of this event and the CATRA family.

Matt Dressage

Matt and Wendy after Equitation



Thorncroft 2017

Matt Equitation

Will & Mike Pas de deux

Thorncroft 2017 is now a memory but we will be celebrating the success of our riders all year.  The CATRA riders were wonderful and brought home an impressive array of ribbons!  And we can’t forget the CATRA horses – Nickel, Pacman, Diehler, Kuel, Mik and Prescott, who did a great job.  Thanks also go out to all the volunteers who helped make this day a success!  Looking forward to Thorncroft 2018…….

Paws N’ Read Summer Reading Program

Did you know your child can lose up to three months of knowledge over the summer months? Keep them reading this summer and make it fun.  Come out and read to the animals at CATRA!  Sign up Now

Kids Sing Country

Only six more days until the 4th Annual Kids Sing Country Music Festival and Craft Fair.  This year’s festival will take place on Sunday, June 4th from 12 noon to 6 pm at the Grantville Carnival Grounds – 215 Fire House Road.  We have a great lineup of singers and some of the region’s finest artists, artisans and crafters.  You’ll have a chance to line dance and have some great food!  Bring your lawn chairs and spend the day!

Volunteers Needed: Winter / Spring 2017 Lessons

The Holidays are history and the New Year is in full swing.  That means lessons will soon be starting at CATRA.  The first day of lessons is Monday, January 30.


With the start of lessons, our need for volunteers increases drastically.

In addition to many other chores at CATRA, volunteers help groom horses in preparation for lessons.  They also assist riders during lessons. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at CATRA, we’re having an informational session on Saturday, February 4 from 1:00-3:00 pm and again on Saturday, March 11 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Join us for one of these sessions to learn more.

While experience with horses is helpful, it’s not required. We offer volunteer training monthly; and, for those interested in learning even more, Horse Mastership Essentials offers additional complimentary training on equine topics well beyond general volunteering.


Returning riders, please be sure to get your returning rider application to us right away.  You can complete the online form or download the application and fax it.  New riders will need to contact us  to arrange for a site visit and complete both a new rider application.


Welcome to the new CATRA website.  We hope you enjoy the new site and look forward to seeing you here again soon!