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Why You Should Go to Horse Camp

Photo courtesy Camp Hebron/Certified Horsemanship Association

As the school year marches along and the frigid weather rolls in, you’re probably already dreaming of next summer. How will you spend your summer vacation? At horse camp, of course! Every day is a new adventure, hanging out with some super sweet horses and learning all about your favorite animal. Spending each day at the barn with your friends and your favorite horses is why camp is the best. Here are all the things to look forward to at camp.

1. More riding time! At camp, you can get your fill of horses and time in the saddle. Riding sessions may be once or twice a day, depending on the camp.

2. Ride all the horses! Riding camps will have a barn full of well-trained, experienced horses of all shapes, sizes and personalities. Riding your favorite horse at home all the time is great, but you can learn a lot from riding different horses. Slow or fast; smooth or bouncy; stubborn, sweet or sassy—every horse you ride teaches you new things and helps you become a better rider.

3. Become a better rider. Riding every day at camp can lead to big improvements in your skills, especially if you don’t get to take lessons or ride regularly during the rest of the year.

You’ll get to master new horsemanship skills, both in the saddle and on the ground, when you go to horse camp. Photo courtesy Wears Valley/CHA

4. Learn all about horse care. You’ll get to spend plenty of hands-on time in the barn learning to groom, feed and take care of horses.

5. Have a horse of your own. If you are assigned a camp horse to ride and care for, it’s like having your very own horse!

6. Meet friends who love horses. You won’t feel like the only one obsessed with horses. You’ll meet friends just as horse-crazy as you are at camp.

Camp is a great way to make lifelong horsey friends! Photo courtesy Camp Hebron/CHA

7. Have all kinds of horsey fun. When the horses need a break from riding, there are plenty of horse- related things to do at camp. You can learn even more about horses, like breeds, colors and conformation, and different types of tack and equipment. Or you might get to give one of the camp horses a bath and a makeover. Horse-themed arts and crafts, like decorating a horseshoe or making a stall sign for your favorite camp horse, are other fun activities that many camps offer.

8. Unplug. Camp offers a chance to get away from screens and devices. Instead, you’ll be in the great outdoors enjoying the view from the back of a horse. Heaven!

9. Try new things, like vaulting, cross-country jumping or barrel racing. Many camps give you a chance to try all kinds of horse sports that you might not be able to do at home. You just might discover a new favorite horse sport at camp!

Whether you want to spend all day in the saddle or ride as well as do other activities, there is a camp for you. Photo courtesy Wears Valley/CHA

10. Hit the trails. Camps located in the mountains or in a wilderness area will have plenty of scenic trails to explore on horseback.

11. Come home with a ribbon or two. Many camps offer fun playdays with games on horseback or a camp horse show to put your new riding skills to the test. Some even take campers to nearby competitions.

12. Enjoy everything that camp has to offer. No one is bored at camp! When you’re away from the barn, camp offers plenty of activities to keep you busy. You’ll have fun with your friends swimming, doing crafts, and having s’mores and songs around the campfire.

Finding a Camp

The American Camp Association and Certified Horsemanship Association are two great places to start your search for an awesome riding camp.

◆ Book early! Camps fill up fast. You can also save money: Early-bird pricing ends in February for many summer camp sessions.

◆ If you can’t decide, look for camps that offer open houses in early spring. This way, you can see them in person before booking and know what to expect before you arrive.

◆ Home or away? Going away to camp for the first time is a big step. Many local barns offer day camps.

◆ Camp isn’t just for summer! You will also find camps and riding schools that offer mini-camps on weekends or during school breaks.

◆ Keep an open mind, and be willing to consider a camp that offers a different type of riding than you normally do. If you’re an English rider, you just might have a blast learning to neck rein and run barrels at a western camp.

◆ Make sure any camp you attend is safety-minded and has experienced instructors. Ask what qualifications the riding staff has. This might include certifications from equestrian organizations known for safety, such as U.S. Pony Clubs, the British Horse Society, or the Certified Horsemanship Association.

This article about why you should go to horse camp appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Elizabeth Moyer

Elizabeth Moyer works in marketing and development for the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. She served as a longtime editor of Horse Illustrated and Young Rider. She is also the author of two Horse Illustrated Simple Solutions books on grooming and horse safety (BowTie Press). Moyer is a lifelong equestrian and horse lover. Prior to becoming part of the equine industry, she worked in advertising and is a graduate of the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She lives in the beautiful bluegrass horse country of Kentucky with a pack of adopted Dachshunds.


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