By Linnea Cauble
Her quiet giggles as she carried out her masterful plan to win the egg and spoon contest quickly turned into roaring laughter as everyone at summer camp took notice of Jada. She and her trusty steed Sugar were poised, ready to begin and win the race! Like everyone else, Jada was balancing her egg precariously on the end of her spoon, but she had found that steering Sugar with one hand and holding the egg & spoon in the other was entirely too difﬁcult. Jada had decided that the only way to win was by holding one of Sugar’s reins in each hand and placing the spoon between her teeth! As the race began, Jada soon discovered that although it was easier to steer, guiding Sugar on a straight path was a huge challenge as she stared cross-eyed at the egg, balancing on the spoon, at the end of her nose.
What memories ﬁll your mind as you reﬂect back on those warm summer days of your childhood? Horseback riding camps are a great way to ﬁll your child’s mind with experiences they will never forget! Here are ﬁve things to consider when you’re looking to send your child to a summer riding camp.
- Instructors and staff
Rule number one: every instructor that gives your child lessons should have years of personal time in the saddle. If they are unable to mount and control a horse, how are they going to be able to teach your child to control a 1000lb animal? Second, a good instructor should be able to clearly convey instructions to students and make adjustments to their teaching style based on the student’s learning style. Third, consider the student vs. instructor ratio. Does the instructor additional supervision to help when the number of beginner students and horses increases, or does one instructor try to corral 6 students and 6 ponies all by their self?
Students should always be required to wear an ASTM/SEI approved helmet and smooth-soled boots with a small heel whenever they are mounted on a horse. Everyone who rides a horse will tell you that falling off is part of the learning process. You can help to safe-guard your child by ensuring their head is appropriately protected and that their foot will easily slide from the stirrup in the event of a fall.
- Independent riding vs. Pony rides
How much is your child learning when they ride? Are they developing core muscle strength by learning how to control their horse all by their self, or are they just sitting up on the horse and being led around at the end of a rope?
- Education vs. Arts & Crafts
Craft projects can sometimes be utilized as a way to help the campers remember all they have learned during their week of camp. Other times, craft projects are horse themed but are just a way to eat up time. When your child is involved in a comprehensive riding program they will be able to recite a dozen different parts of the horse, identify all of the bay colored horses in your neighbor’s ﬁeld, and inform you that the only breed of horse that will ever race in the Kentucky Derby is a Thoroughbred.
How much time do the campers spend actually learning about how to take care of a horse? Are they receiving a variety of hands-on opportunities and learning to experience the great outdoors from a totally different perspective?
- Camp length vs. Price
Be sure to note the time frame and price of each individual camp. Usually, the price of all the camps in one area are about the same. However, some camps run all day long, while other camps only take place during the morning hours. Occasionally, there may be camps that only run Monday through Thursday but are priced similarly to other camps that take place Monday through Friday.
Keep these ﬁve tips in mind as you choose the ideal summer camp for your child, one that will cultivate lasting friendships and unforgettable memories.
Sunnybrook Farm is a beautiful location in Advance, owned and operated by Sunni Ball. Boarding is available for those who own their own horse(s). For the past several years, Sunni has allowed me to utilize her facility to operate my riding program, Dayenu Equestrian. Sunni and I have a combined total of 60+ years of experience in the equine industry and tirelessly strive to provide a safe, fun and family-friendly environment for kids and adults to ride.
The equestrian program offers riding opportunities which include:
- Summer Camps
- Riding Lessons
- Horse Show Team
- Mini Camps
- Winter Riding Challenge
- Boy/Girl Scout Clinics
- Horse Training
For more information about Dayenu Equestrian at Sunnybrook Farm, visit DayenuEquestrian.com.
Sponsored by Dayenu Equestrian