There are many, many horseback riding summer camps around the country. I found a site that listed some 960 to compare and choose the best one for your child. It is found at www.mysummercamps.com
Each one has it’s own unique way of approaching the art of learning how to ride and care for a horse.
I read about one in North Carolina called Rockbrook that has been in existence since 1921. Another one in Texas, The Sugar and Spice Ranch is a retreat for the mother and daughter. They also have family camp and all women camping times as well. This Texas ranch will take you out on a two or three day camping and trail rides too.
Another camp that goes by the name of Dovewood in Florida teaches both English and Western styles of riding. They cover such areas of horsemanship as bareback riding, dressage, and even some rodeo events. The instructions cover the basics of horse care too and the upkeep of a stable.
What Do They Teach?
Everyone of these nearly 1,000 summer horse riding camps offer a variety of activities. In the area of the horses, learning about how to take care of a horse is probably the number one item. Other instructions given would be the walk, trot, and canter. When cantering the camper would learn to start out on the right lead. Along with these fun activities, done in an arena to begin with, would be even more basic horsemanship.
The basics are do you know how to catch your horse? When he’s caught how do you put a halter on and tie him to a post so that you can groom him? Grooming is a whole school of learning in itself. Knowing what the different brushes and combs are used for to keep the horse clean and comfortable are important.
When he’s all brushed and shiny, then the bridle and saddle go on. At camp you learn how to do all this. Sometimes the stirrups have to be adjusted to fit the rider. One needs to know how to do that so they can sit in the saddle properly.
Another basic is leading your horse so he doesn’t run you over.
How does a rider mount a horse? Once you have all the gear on the horse, you want to know how to get up in the saddle. If the horse won’t stand still what do you do? There’s a lot to learn just to get settled in the seat.
Once you’re up there you will hold the reins, but not too tight or too loose. So there’s some more learning. The horse steps out and you are on your way. Be sure to know how to stop him and turn and back up. All this will be taught when you attend a horse riding camp.
When the confidence is built up and you can make the horse do all the moves then it’s time to go out on a trail ride. Going up a trail, through the woods, or out over an open plain; breathing the clean air and being a part of nature, and seeing the world from the back of a horse; well, there is no describing it. But it can be experienced and it’s worth it.
For more advanced campers, learning rodeo riding like barrel racing and pole bending is part of the agenda at some camps. There are numerous games and races that can be done and played on horseback. These are taught at camp from knowledgeable instructors.
So this is a short run down of what a camper can expect from attending a summer horse back riding camp. I wish I would have been able to go to one of these camps when I was younger. You not only learn about horses and riding and put it into practice, but learning responsibility is put in there too without even knowing it.
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