Horseback Riding Summer Camps: The Time Of Their Lives

For a youngster who has never been on a horse, horseback riding summer camps may be a bit daunting – being forced to trust a great beast that's about ten times bigger and heavier than they are, and learning to actually control it with a mere tug of a flimsy rein and the prod of a boot heel – that alone is cause for panic in most children. However, wave after wave of camp graduates have thanked their stars that they had the opportunity to work with these fascinating, gentle creatures, not remembering for one moment the trepidation and doubt of Day One.

Horseback Riding Summer Camps: What They Teach

There are several horseback riding summer camps organized all around the country, usually starting around mid-June until schools reopen in September. Each camp varies in duration, with some being as short as a week or two, and others being full-fledged equestrian courses that last about 2 months. Depending on what level of proficiency that he or she may have already reached in the equestrian pursuit, there is a camp available for your child. Absolute novices will be taught the very basics of horsemanship, including riding, stable safety, grooming, saddling, training, feeding and the general care of horses. Experienced riders will have their skills honed to a professional degree with instruction in show-jumping, cross-country, and dressage. No matter what your skill level, there's something out there for you to learn. Every horseback riding summer camp has its own unique flavor that it will offer your child; there are those that only stick with general knowledge and practical tips on how to deal with horses, those that focus primarily on cross-country, and others leaning heavily towards stadium jumping. No matter what you choose, you can be sure that your child will have the experience of a lifetime, remembering the days with fondness even after several years have gone by.

Featured Farm: Hunter Crest Farm, Howard County, Maryland

A quick look at one such camp and what they offer should give you a fair idea of what to expect.

Hunter Crest Farm in Howard County, Maryland is typical of where you would expect to send your child for a horseback riding summer camp. The spacious farm is a family owned one that boasts all the requisite facilities to run a camp of this sort, although they limit their maximum participants to twelve in order to make sure that every camper is given as much one-on-one attention as they need to fully experience the learning that the camp aims to impart. In addition to that, only groups of five riders are taken for any given session so that the safety aspect can also be maintained. The duration of a camp is 5 days, and the camp is open to children between the ages of six to seventeen, so obviously safety is given top priority.

As a first step to grouping children by skill level rather than age, an evaluation will be done in order to match a rider with a suitable horse or pony. Once this is done, the grouping is done in such a way that the beginner, intermediate and advanced riders are in different groups.

Care of horses is the first lesson: brushing, bathing, feeding, and stall care form the foundation of learning. Then comes learning to lead, bridle and saddle their horse. When they are thorough with this, they will either learn to ride or learn advanced riding and jumping skills depending on which group they are in.

At the end of the week-long session, there will be a Horse Show for the benefit of the parents, which will allow the campers to show what they learnt during the week.

A typical camp such as this can cost anywhere from $395 per week, like the Hunter Crest Farm, to $2000 per week in some places like the Willow Hill Farm Camp in Keeseville, New York that offer highly specialized and intensive training. Make certain that any summer camp that you put your child in is accredited by an authority in some way, for example the American Camp Association, or at least have instructors that are certified.