Over the next several weeks, we will introduce the Camp Balcones Springs Horseback Department through a series of blog posts. One of our most sought-after camp offerings, the horseback program is steadied by an innovative and well-rounded curriculum, a fleet of trusty steeds, and our charismatic and experienced director, Tiffany Janke. Today, we’re going to give you a look into the mind and background of Tiffany, Camp Balcones Springs’ resident equestrian expert.
At the reins of the horseback program – pun intended – is Tiffany Janke. Tiffany hails from Leon Valley, Texas, just northwest of San Antonio. When she was just three-years-old, Tiffany’s parents gifted her her first pony, and, as they say, the rest is history. As a child, Tiffany started her horseback training with barrel racing, but her and her family soon decided to pivot to a more traditional route, and Tiffany began taking general riding lessons in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas. At the age of 12, Tiffany started working for trade with the riding barn, cleaning stalls and preparing horses for shows and lessons so that she could continue her training year-round.
Around the same time, Tiffany also started taking part in a 4-H Horse Judging Team. Stepping out of the saddle and encountering horses from this different angle helped Tiffany begin to learn about the different types of horses and what makes a horse desirable – of course, based on what you desire of it. In high school, Tiffany worked for several horse ranches and an equine veterinarian, developing a passion for and burgeoning interest in the health and nutrition of the horses she was riding and taking care of. After graduating, Tiffany enrolled at Sul Ross State University to study both Equine Science and Agriculture Business as a double major. Unfortunately, once Tiffany was two years into her degree program, the university disbanded their equine science program, so Tiffany transferred to Texas State University and completed her undergraduate degree in Agriculture Business and Management. Throughout college, Tiffany worked at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow as the head wrangler and would assist with rides during their retreat seasons.
After graduation, Tiffany went to work at a feed store in the San Antonio area. There, she continued her education in animal husbandry and learning the nutritional needs of horses and other livestock. Tiffany cares deeply about the proper care of all animals, but especially livestock, and her time at the feed store grew in her a passion for educating animal owners and ranchers on how to best look after the animals in their care.
In 2017, Tiffany married her husband Thomas and moved back to Alpine, Texas, to begin working at Sul Ross State University as the Livestock and Equine Manager for the university’s animals. While working at the school, Tiffany was able to complete her master’s degree in Agriculture with a concentration in Animal Nutrition. In March of 2021, Tiffany will also be getting her Certified Horsemanship Association Instructor Certification.
Starting in May of 2020, Tiffany joined the Camp Balcones Springs team as the Horseback Director. Although arriving at a strange time on the cusp of a Covid-19 summer, Tiffany’s presence was paramount to the camp’s successful summer season. At CBS, Tiffany was able to tie together her love for horses, equine education, and animal nutrition. Tiffany is a firm believer in teaching horsemanship from the ground-up, believing that campers and riders should familiarize themselves with the entire process of riding and caring for horses, not just their time on the saddle. This holistic approach starts with learning the whys and hows of grooming horses, mastering the art of saddling the horses properly, and finally developing the actual horsemanship skills it takes to be a good rider. If a rider does not care for their horse holistically, they simply will not have a horse to ride. Tiffany says this lesson is very important for every rider to learn, no matter their age, and is the key to a long-lasting relationship with a horse and the overall art of riding.
Horses are a serious business, but they can be fun too. Tiffany believes in being serious and careful when needed but also learning how to enjoy the horse that is beneath you. There are so many fun ways to enjoy the art of horseback, from trail riding, to play-day events, to using our time on the saddle to more thoroughly appreciate the natural creations around us. Quite literally, Tiffany cannot remember a time in her life that didn’t involve horses. Her holistic love for the animals – riding them, caring for them, and learning their different breeds and personalities – is the foundation of our horseback program at Camp Balcones Springs. We’re so excited and grateful to have someone on staff who understands and cares for these animals in an all-encompassing way and in turn, imparts that to every camper that comes through our barn.
Be on the lookout for part two of this series where we introduce you to some of Camp Balcones Springs’ most popular staff members – the horses themselves!