Adventure is Out There
Spend a summer on horseback with four unique camps and experiences.
By Rachel Florman
A certain magic exclusively encapsulates a summer camp getaway; just driving down the forested roads that lead to your home-away-from-home can spark an excitement in anticipation of a fun-filled week of friendship, adventure and memory making. Those incredible days of singing, laughing and sharing your truest self always seem to fly by too quickly, but you’re always left with a happy, changed heart.
For the horse enthused, a week at camp wouldn’t be complete without some quality time in the saddle—there’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors, after all! Luckily, camps and vacation opportunities across the country offer equine experiences for horse lovers of all ages and abilities. Find an American Camping Association-accredited camp near you at acacamps.org or read on for Chrome’s pick of unique equine experiences across the country.
Camp Tecumseh YMCA
Where: Brookston, Indiana
Programs: Equestrian resident camp, day camps, horse packing adventures
Perfect for: Boys and girls, ages 11–15
Learn More: camptecumseh.org/summer-camps/equestrian
Paired with a vibrant resident camp program, Camp Tecumseh YMCA’s equestrian camp provides traditional summer excitement—ziplines, pool time, crazy counselors and more—but it’s inside the barns that the real fun begins.
Camp Tecumseh is ACA-accredited and guided by Certified Horsemanship Association’s skill book, and campers enjoy lessons that combine skills improvement with practical horse science and husbandry knowledge to advance their skills both in and out of the saddle. Riders of all skill levels are welcome—from first-time riders to competitive veterans—and returning campers progress through levels as their skills grow. Learning doesn’t just happen through books and railwork, though.
“Rather than have campers ride in endless circles, we aim to make lessons interactive and fun,” Assistant Equestrian Director Mary Anne Hunsberger said. “We use relays and obstacle courses to help teach or build upon skills, but we also try to create activities kids would rarely see in traditional barns.”
International Riding Camp
Where: Greenfield Park, New York
Programs: Resident camp, polo lessons, riding excursion trips, mother-daughter programs
Perfect for: Girls, ages 7–17
Learn More: ridingcamp.com
For the lover of horses and hunt-seat, the International Riding Camp is an equestrienne’s paradise.
“Our ideal camper is someone who lives and breaths horses,” Camp Director Arno Mares said. “She’d rather sleep in the barn with her equine friends than do anything else!”
The standard sessions offer up to six hours of daily saddle time with trained instructors in the arena and on the cross-country field, but it’s the add-ons that make this camp particularly intriguing
Enhance your experience through unforgettable trips to ride in New York City’s Central Park, or through the waves of Southampton Beach, and discover the trill of heart-pumping polo action while riding in your first match at Blue Sky Polo Club. Snowbirds can have fun, too, during the winter session that takes place in sunny Vero Beach, Florida.
Riders choose to stay one week or up to 10, and room is available for beginning to advanced skill levels. With a two-to-one camper/counselor ratio, there’s plenty of instruction to help new equestrians develop their skills.
“We provide the ultimate riding experience for the developing rider in a safe and nurturing environment,” Arno said. “Our limited enrollment and small class sizes accelerate our campers’ equestrian skills. Plus, all of our campers and staff are horse crazy; it gives everyone a wonderful sense of belonging to a group.”
With imaginative counselors at the helm, arenas become “battlefields” for games between pirates and ninjas, the rocky slopes of the “ultimate trail ride,” and even medieval stadiums for rounds of jousting and ring races.
“We strive to be extremely intentional, from the horse-and-rider pairings to the lesson groups to what we teach in clinics. We’re working to provide our campers with the best, most meaningful experience possible,” Mary Anne said.
Blue Sky Sage Horseback Adventures
Where: Big Piney, Wyoming
Programs: Women’s horseback adventure vacations, mixed-group camping trips, mustang horse adventure, fall color rides, special events
Perfect for: Adults, ages 16+
Learn more: blueskysage.com
Camp isn’t just for kids, and adult resident-camp programs are cropping up around the country. But if pool time and spa days aren’t quite your speed, pack your bags for Wyoming to ride out with Blue Sky Sage Horseback Adventures.
Primarily geared toward women—though men are more than welcome, too—Blue Sky Sage is an all-horseback adventure that breaks free of the standard nose-to-tail trail rides for some exciting, frolicking excursions through the wilderness of Wyoming.
Adventures are small in size—around six campers per outing—and designed for intermediate or advanced horsewomen. Necessary camping gear is provided for each attendee, and the horse stock is handpicked by staff and expertly pared to each rider’s needs. Fit, skilled and dependable, these horses are veterans of the terrain: healthy, responsive, well behaved and eager to work.
“Our trips are very intimate,” Bobbi said. “The small group size and the quality of the horses allow us to enjoy some more active, faster-paced riding for advanced skill levels. Plus, everybody gets just a little more attention with their horsemanship.”
Willamette Coast Rides
Where: Carlton, Oregon
Programs: three- and six-day English riding vacations
Perfect for: Intermediate to experienced riders
Learn More: willamettecoastride.com
Six days. Horses. Wine country. Where do we sign up?
Oregon’s Willamette Coast Rides is a gem of a trip, and the perfect girlfriends’ getaway for riders—and wine afficionados—of all backgrounds. More dream-equestrian-vacation than camping trip, the experience created by owners Lindley and Justin Leahy combines the best of both: extensive riding time and plenty of fun paired with delicious food and luxurious accommodations.
Rides are progressive and take riders into three of Oregon’s unique environments as the week goes on. The trip begins in Willamette Valley vineyard land with open, agricultural terrain and takes attendees into the lush forests of Oregon, through foamy waters on the beach and up mountainous terrain for stunning views.
“We’ve procured the best trails of the 60 miles between our farm and the ocean,” Lindley said. “So every day is a different experience because we’re riding in new places that look completely unique from one another.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.