Horse Camp for Beginners: What to Look for and What You Need

Picking a summer horse camp can be tricky. Most lesson barns have some form of horse camp for varying riding levels. What is most important to look for in a camp may change depending on the camper’s age and riding level. Knowing what you should be looking for and what to expect makes choosing the right camp for beginners, easier.

What should you look for in a horse camp?

What to look for...

Most lesson barns have a horse camp, but they won’t all consist of the same activities, riding styles, or duration. For beginners, look for a camp that teaches horsemanship from the ground up. Summer camps that teach beginners how to behave around horses makes for a safer experience. A ‘Horse 101’ that teaches everything from parts of the horse to grooming and tacking makes camp more than just pony rides. For very young riders, a camp that is only half a day can be less stressful. Alternatively, a full day camp has it’s benefits too. There are more games and crafts included, rather than only intensive riding, which is a good break for some. At most camps for younger riders, the games and crafts are almost as important as the riding portions. These other activities can teach kids about horses without it becoming boring. Some camps will play games that require kids to bathe horses and whichever teams horse is cleanest, wins. For crafts, decorating horse shoes or stall plates is very common.

Maybe even more important than what the camp includes, is who teaches and works at the camp. Always ask if the horseback riding instructors are experienced both as riders and instructors. Having insurance and certification through a reputable organization is standard for most instructors. Find out who else will be interacting with campers. Most camps will have volunteers or workers other than the riding instructor. Check to see if those people are teenagers that went to the camp previously or not. If they are happy to work there now, they probably enjoyed the camp when they were campers. Always visit the camp before enrolling to make sure what you see and hear is true. It is easy to tell in person how safe a facility or training might be but not so easy online or over the phone.

What you will need when going to horse camp.

What you’ll need...

For any horse camp, there are some basic requirements. The campers need to have the right clothes. For beginners: long pants, a shirt that fits the weather, and shoes or boots with a small heel are all you’ll need. Most barns will provide certified riding helmets if you do not have your own, but always double check before picking a camp. If you ride English regularly, jods or breeches and paddock boots with or without half chaps, are appropriate. For western, riding jeans and cowboy boots or similar are also suitable.

Picking the right summer horse camp can be daunting. Hopefully in knowing what to look for, the decision is easier. The right horse camp can turn a beginner rider into a lifelong equestrian.