The right horses and the correct equipment are key components to holding a successful summer horse riding camp. At Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, Vermont, the ideal camp horse is patient and tolerant of beginners. The camp offers trail rides and English and Western riding lessons.
“A horse who is happy to stand in the crossties for lengths of time being brushed, wrapped, bathed and doted on is ideal,” said Louise Bienieki, the resort’s Equestrian Center Manager. “The same horse also has to be willing to work with a variety of riders and ability levels, whether it be someone learning how to steer, first time out on the trails or learning how to jump or run barrels.”
Bienieki primarily chooses Quarter Horses in the camp’s program, but says there is no right or wrong horse for camp as long as the horse is safe, sound and patient.
Discipline-specific camps and those that help riders prepare for competition have to be more selective in the horses that are used. The Emory & Henry College equestrian program in Virginia has a string of horses used in the program ranging from those that can teach beginners to the advanced horses to those that are competitive on the "A" show circuit. Those same horses are used during summer camp sessions.
“Riders must be at a level that suits the types of horses that we have and the intensive nature of this camp," said Lisa Moosmueller-Terry, the college’s equestrian center director and Intercollegiate Dressage Association coach.
Horses are the critical component to the program, but the equipment is equally important.
"At the very least you need to have the basics such as brushes, hoof picks and safe tack for the discipline you offer," said Bienieki.
“A ring or round pen is ideal for any camp that offers lesson/ instruction as part of its program,” she said. “There are lots of extras that are helpful to have, but are not necessary, such as lunge lines, jumping equipment or an equivalent based on discipline.”