Whether you are looking for a relaxing and high-quality horse riding summer camp experience for yourself or for your child, there is a lot to understand and think over prior to choosing the right camp.
You want to choose a summer horse riding camp that provides safety, organization, well-trained horses, experienced personnel, good food, quality sleeping facilities, and a good amount of other activities beyond just horse riding.
In addition to providing you with a list of the best summer horse riding camps by state, I will also cover information you need to know when choosing the perfect equestrian summer camp.
Note: We also included some information from each camp’s website to make it easy for you. If you know of a great summer camp we missed please let us know!
What is a Horse Riding Summer Camp?
I spent a lot of time at horse camps throughout my childhood. As a horse show competitor and equine enthusiast my entire life, I dreamt about summer camp each year!
I spent most summers with my horses at camp, in the barn taking lessons, or at a show, and loved it.
However, I quickly realized there were some negative aspects and misguided ideas that can come along with summer horse camps.
I have seen both the best AND the worst of equestrian summer camps.
As a mother and horse trainer, I may look at summer camp a bit differently, and am going to share with you the things I have learned through the years.
Hopefully, this information can help you make the best decisions for your family concerning summer horse camps.
Reasons to Attend a Horse Riding Summer Camp
Summer horse camp is a great experience for kids of all ages! Horse riding camps provide kids and adults who love horses the opportunity to spend time in the saddle.
They will also learn about horses, spend time caring for horses, make memories, and even new friends.
At horse camp your camper will also be able to take part in special events, usually trail rides, and even daily horseback riding lessons in a safe environment with qualified instructors.
Some equestrian camps, like one I attended as a youth rider, even let me bring my own horse with me for a multi-week long stay.
Not every horseback riding summer camp is made the same. When considering horse riding summer camps, there is truly a camp type and style for everyone.
Some of the most common types of equestrian programs that offer summer camps are:
- Day sessions
- Summer-long camps
- Overnight camps
- Or cross-country camps (usually 1-3 weeks long.)
Difference Between a Specialized Horse Camp and a Traditional Summer Camp
There are many, many great summer camps that involve a little bit of horseback riding.
You may be wondering, What is the difference between a summer camp that focuses on horseback riding and even showing horses versus a traditional camp?
To put it simply, a traditional camp experience will combine (generally) horseback riding, camping, outdoor activities, games, and other fun summer-themed activities.
However, a horseback riding specialty camp will generally focus solely on horses.
While each camp type is ridiculously fun for kids of all ages, your camper may find that they prefer one over the other.
How to Choose Which Horse Camp is Best For You
There are many things to consider when deciding on the best camp for your kids. Keep reading!
When to Choose a Traditional Summer Camp With a Horse Experience
The best choice for a camper looking to experience multiple activities or adventures would more than likely be a camp with an additional horseback riding option.
This way you can fit in as much as possible. OR if you are looking for a traditional summer camp experience a camp with an additional horse program would be a great choice.
When to Choose a Specialized Horse Camp
Are you a dedicated equestrian or looking to advance your horse experience over the summer?
Many specialized equestrian summer camps or programs are aimed at young riders who are very serious about competing and showing.
Not all of them are set up this way, but if you are interested in spending the entire time learning about, caring for horses, and riding, this is the best choice for you!
Either option is an excellent one, it will simply just depend on what you are looking for in your horse riding summer camp experience!
Please note: Younger children with less horse experience may do better at a camp with an added horse program or less time on horseback.
Benefits of Going to a Horse Riding Summer Camp
Horseback riding summer camps are truly a magical experience for kids of all ages who love animals, horses, and exciting new adventures.
The memories made at summer camp, especially involving horses, will in fact last a lifetime! I can’t tell you all the wonderful memories I have of going to camp as a girl.
I loved every part of the trip, even the drive!
I can tell you that if you or your child gets to experience jumping, carriage driving, a great horse show at camp, or get to spend the night out under the stars after trail riding up a mountain all day, those memories are going to stay in their heart forever.
Summer Horse Camps Provide Long-Lasting Memories
Experts say that your children will only remember 7-10 of the greatest experiences through childhood (milestone memories/ trips.)
Summer camp is a great way to create some of the longest-lasting and greatest memories.
Summer Horse Camps Help You Network
Another benefit to horse riding summer camp is the opportunity to meet and work alongside some excellent horsemen and women.
If you are seeking to make a living horse training, riding, or any form of profession involving horses, summer camp will expand your experience levels.
Camps are also an excellent way to gain additional opportunities for older teens looking to start entering the workforce.
Summer Horse Camps Promote Learning
For parents, it can be stressful finding fun, safe, and productive summer activities that encourage growth and learning.
Equestrian centers offering activities or camps are a great way to encourage growth, learning, and adventure without having to worry about the safety and well-being of your children.
Summer Horse Riding Camps Improve Riding Skills
And maybe the number one reason to attend a horse riding camp is to become a better horse rider! Many children don’t get formal training on how to ride their horses.
Summer riding camps are a great way to improve!
How to Choose a Horse Riding Summer Camp
While every horse camp is different, you can expect some general rules of thumb to apply to every camp you attend.
Here are some of the commonplace things you should expect from a summer camp dealing with both horses and children.
The American Camp Association (ACA) provides a list of training and certifications available for horseback riding summer camp programs.
Knowing about these certifications and checking with camp directors or staff regarding these certifications can help to ensure a safe and fun experience for your campers!
Types of Horse Riding Summer Camps
Since not all horse camps are made the same, you may be wondering what your options are!
There are camps for every type and level of rider from beginning riders all the way to advanced riders who are competing at horse shows.
When you are considering a camp, consider the level and needs of your young equestrian.
Questions to Ask Summer Horse Camps
Here are some great questions you can ask the camp.
- What are the children’s ages that generally attend the camp?
- What level of riders is the camp used to having?
- Are there daily riding lessons or is the horseback riding portion of the camp more of an add-on?
- Will your child have the opportunity to partner with their favorite horses on-site?
- Can you bring your own horse?
- What is the experience level of the camp director and the helpers? Are they certified in anything? If so, what?
How to Choose a Camp for an Elite Equestrian Athlete
If you have a young equestrian that is dedicated to the sport, then choosing a summer camp that will aid in their goals is a great idea.
Picking an elite equestrian camp can give your rider extra time in the saddle and time with trainers that they may not generally be able to have.
If you own or lease a horse you may even be able to bring your horse with you to a camp like this, as I have in the past.
Be sure to make certain that if your horse is used to being stabled inside that they have adequate barn space for your horse and a pasture area free of noxious weeds.
It is also advisable that you ensure that they will not put other riders on your horse without your consent.
Generally, most camps will not do any of these things, but protect your horse and your camper all the same.
Choosing a Camp for a Beginning Rider or Young Rider
A summer camp for a beginning rider is an exceptionally fun experience! Especially if your kiddo has been a horse lover for some time.
Summer camp can be a fun and exciting way to encourage younger campers to enjoy horses and learn more about them in a safe and regulated environment.
There are even therapeutic riding programs available and other specialized programs.
How to Prepare for an Equestrian Riding Camp
Getting ready for a horseback riding camp is exciting, but you want to make sure you go prepared.
Going unprepared to camp is not the end of the world, but it sure does not make for as nice of an experience.
Steps to Plan Your Summer Horse Riding Camp Adventure
Here are some helpful tips for planning and preparing for your summer riding camp adventure!
- Start planning ahead of time.
- If you are traveling a long distance or flying for camp, make sure you book flights and reserve hotels/ travel accommodations in advance to secure the best deals.
- Make sure you do a lot of research about the camp you are sending your children and/or horse to.
Read reviews, talk with people who have been to that camp, and even speak with the camp counselor.
- Check with a horse trainer you know and trust. Ask them about the camp or ask them to vet the camp.
Picking the Best Summer Horse Riding Camp Checklist
- Can you bring your own horse?
- What camp horses will your children be riding?
- How far is the camp from where you live?
- How long has the riding camp been in business?
- Can you see reviews or talk to others who have been there before?
- Can your children stay overnight at the camp? Where will they sleep if so?
- How many days long is the camp?
- How many people work at the camp and what is their background?
- What is the ratio of camp personnel to camp attendees?
- How many total children will be at camp?
- Can parents attend with their children?
- Is the camp coed or single-sex?
- Is the camp religious based?
- Does the camp accommodate special needs children?
- How much does the riding camp cost? Are there extra fees?
- When do we have to pay for camp and is it refundable?
- What activities does the camp offer beyond horse riding?
- How many hours per day will my child be horse riding?
- Does the camp offer riding instructors? What level of experience do they have?
- Does the camp teach English or Western riding or both?
- Are camp personnel trained in basic medical treatments?
Picking the Right Summer Horse Riding Camp Matters
Ask any child who has ever been to a horse riding summer camp and they will most likely have lots of great stories to tell you about!
Take the time and effort to make sure you choose the best summer camp for your kids. These horse camps provide memories that your children will cherish for their entire lives.