1. What Will My Child Learn?The activities offered at horse camps vary greatly with some totally focusing on horse related activities while other will offer other traditional and non-traditional camp activities. I know of one camp that combines computer training with horseback riding activities. Camps are available for kids who want to learn jumping, dressage, rodeo, distance riding or just about any other equine sport imaginable. Camps for kids with special needs will be equipped with ramps and special saddlery and equipment. Most camps focus on trail riding, basic western riding skills or hunter and jumper disciplines. For sport specific camps check with regional or national equine sport associations.
In addition to riding skills, most camps will involve the campers in the daily care of the horses. They’ll learn to clean stalls, turn horses out, feed, water and groom horses. Some time may be given to theory and learning horse lore. They may ride a variety of horses, or be paired with a specific horse throughout the duration of the camp.
2. How Much Will Horse Camp Cost?The price varies greatly in accordance with the accommodations, services and activities offered. You might pay as little as $100 for a day camp or over $1000 for a week of camp that offers laundry service, adventures such as river rafting, mountain biking or specialized instruction.
3. How Long Do Horse Camps Run?Typically camps run from one week to three weeks although some might offer summer long programs.
4. What Type of Horses Are Used?The type of horses used depends on the style of riding offered. School horses will be well behaved, well trained horses that offer a fun and safe experience to beginner through to more advanced riders.
5. What Should I Look for When Visiting a Camp?Check the condition of the horses by noticing if they appear too skinny or if their hooves look long and ragged. They should appear to be in good health. The barn should be neat and clean with ‘a place for everything and everything in its place. Gates and fence should be in good condition, not held together with binder twine with broken rails and sagging gates. The barn should not smell strongly of manure, and the tack should be clean and in good condition.
Some camps sell their horses at the end of each camping season to save money. Ask how long they’ve had a number of the horses and if all appear to be recent acquisitions, suspect they haven’t had them very long and may not know them well. (I personally dislike this, but understand why camp owners do it.) Of course, you’ll also want to check the quality of the accommodations, menus and other activities.
You’ll also want to check into the qualifications of the instructor and learn the instructor to rider ratio. A large number of riders in each riding class means each will receive a very limited amount of personal instruction. You’ll also want to know how much time your child will be riding. Ask what accreditation the camp itself has and for references from past campers.