New Horseback Riding Arena!

Camp Horse Arena Rendering

Last summer we announced Rockbrook’s plan to improve its horseback riding facilities by building a covered riding arena and new modern barn. It was a quiet announcement really, but it included this architect’s rendering showing the open-air design we had in mind. Well, it’s time to announce it more publicly and officially! We’re thrilled to share the news that the construction is well underway and we’ll have the arena finished and ready for action this summer!

We began the construction in late August by using a bulldozer, a large excavator, and multiple dump trucks to prepare a large flat area of the upper pasture. This was a major job since we needed almost 42,000 square feet (almost an acre!) of flat land to fit the two new buildings, and redesigned outdoor ring. A civil engineering firm from Asheville helped us establish the correct grade, plan for storm water drainage, and survey a new road through the property. Since that time, Richie Case, Rockbrook’s full time Site Manager, has served as the project’s Contractor and led a team of workers through every step of the construction. We’ve received 90-foot steel roof trusses from Missouri, 30-foot long pressure treated timbers from Washington state, and bundle after bundle of lumber arriving on probably a dozen different trucks. More than 30 trucks have delivered concrete for the footers, post forms and sections of the barn floor. One highlight was the 100-foot tall crane that, over four days, lifted each steel roof truss into place on the riding arena.

The Rockbrook Camp Riding Arena

OK, so what’s it going to be!!?? The arena is huge! It’s 180 feet long and 90 feet wide, has a vaulted ceiling going up 26 feet, a 5-foot rail all the way around, a full lighting system, and a footing of sand, mixed with special additives ideal for the horses and hunter-jumper riding. On one end there’s an additional covered area for a mounting ramp, equipment storage, and observation. Certainly among horse camps, it’s the largest in western North Carolina, but more importantly, it will allow Rockbrook girls to ride all summer long no matter what the weather… rain or shine! In the shade and with fewer bugs to bother you while riding, it will be a wonderful place to ride.

The new adjoining 96×50 barn is wonderful too. It has 10 large 12×12-foot stalls, a heated feed room, separate tack room, a spacious 14-foot wide aisle, and a full 3,000 square-foot hay loft. Each stall has rubber mat floors, sliding stall doors, and rear dutch doors that open to the outside. Under a wrap-around shed porch, there are two wash stalls, equipment storage and more areas to observe what’s happening in the riding arena. It will be so nice to tack up, walk your horse down the barn’s aisle right into the arena, and ride— all under a roof.

Camp Riding Arena and Barn

Stay tuned for more updates. As you can see from this recent photo, we’re not quite finished, but we couldn’t keep it a secret any longer.  If you ride at camp, you’re gonna love it!

Finally, here’s a fun little video shot from a drone. It shows both new buildings and gives you a sense of how they relate to the other riding areas at camp.

Have any questions about the new arena? Let us know in the comments or get in touch.

New Horseback Riding Video!

You can learn a lot about the Rockbrook horseback riding program by reading through the many resources on our Web site. We’ve written about being an advanced rider and a complete beginner. We’ve talked about our horses, our staff, even some of the games we play in addition to our mounted lessons.

Now we have a new video to show you! It’s a great way to see our horses and riding program in action. Cara, our Equestrian Director, explains the philosophy and main goals of the Rockbrook program. Go ahead an check it out… And share it with your friends!

Her Very First Ride

Little Summer Camp girl horseback riding

For little girls, taking their first equestrian lesson can be a mix of excitement and nervous jitters. It’s exciting because horseback riding seems so fun when you read about it or see it in movies, but for your first riding lesson, it can easily be a little overwhelming. There is so much to learn— special clothes, important safety rules, riding gear for the horse, how to mount, different riding positions, and communicating with your horse. The horses and ponies can seem so huge! And there is a lot to remember all at once.

That’s why it’s so important that a girl’s first experience learning to horseback ride be a safe, caring, gentle introduction. It’s crucial that her instructor be experienced working with small children, that he or she be kind and patient, and that the pony be calm and gentle in the ring. Taking small steps, gradually gaining confidence and greater understanding, is the best way to maintain a girl’s enthusiasm for riding. The best children’s horseback riding centers know how to pace this kind of progression.

The equestrian program at Rockbrook Camp has a long history of introducing young girls to horseback riding. Camp has just the right combination of skilled instructors and gentle ponies, enthusiasm for riding, and great equestrian facilities to encourage girls on their very first ride. At camp, we’re well prepared to make every girl’s first horseback riding experience a positive one. It’s the perfect recipe for a life-long love of horses and horseback riding!

Riding English

English Equestrian Horse and Saddle

At Rockbrook, our camp Equestrian Program teaches “English Riding” as opposed to “Western Riding.” But what is the difference between these two forms of horseback riding?

One difference you’ll notice right away, even before mounting your horse, is in the saddles. Western saddles are wider and deeper, with a very prominent horn toward the front. These are stable, comfortable seats designed for the cowboy (or girl!) who needs to spend a long time in the saddle. English saddles are smaller and lighter to allow the horse the greater freedom of movement required for the different hunter jumper gaits. And again, they don’t have a horn.

Other parts of the tack are different too. The reins are closed (left and right sides connected), the stirrups are shorter, and the bit is softer in the horse’s mouth in English Riding.

With these differences, naturally how you ride English is different from Western riding. As opposed to Western riding’s use of the reins, English horseback riding relies much more on balance and the rider’s legs to control the horse. In English riding, the rider is often up and out of the seat (two point, posting and jumping for example), as opposed to the seated position in Western riding.

Add to that learning to walk, trot, canter, dressage and jumping techniques, and you can see that learning English horseback riding is a wonderful sport.

Horse Girls of all Ages

Teen Horse Girls

One common question about our horseback riding program is whether all the girls at camp, from the smallest kindergartners to the oldest teenagers, can ride while attending Rockbrook. The answer is yes! We are very careful to tailor our riding lessons to accommodate both absolute beginners as well as those teen horse girls who want to spend as much time as possible at the equestrian center.

For those girls who are brand new to riding, camp is a perfect place to develop their interest and take their very first ride. They will learn important safety rules, how to mount, riding positions, how to communicate with their horse, and so much more. They will get to know some of the experienced, gentle ponies Rockbrook has especially suited for beginning horseback riders.

For older, and more advanced horse girls, there are special mounted lessons to match their ability as well. The Rockbrook horseback riding program is ready to teach more difficult riding techniques and likewise has great, well-schooled horses for skilled riders.

There’s horseback riding for everyone at Rockbrook!

A Confident Equestrienne

Equestrian Kids Camp Riding

If you’re a horse kid, an equestrienne (a girl who loves all things horse related), then you will love the equestrian camp programs at Rockbrook. You’ll of course learn a lot about riding and improve your horseback skills, but you’ll also gain important equestrian confidence. This photo shows a little of that. It’s a great shot of what it feels like to be comfortable in the saddle, to really know and trust your horse, and to build up a set of instincts about horseback riding.

The secret to all of this is not just great horses and great riding instructors; it’s also making the equestrian lessons fun for kids. With the right match of horse and rider and the right level of instruction, you feel good in the activity, not worried about anything and certainly not bored either.  At Rockbrook, we’re riding, and learning, and becoming more confident equestriennes, and having tons of fun doing it.

Equestrian Riding

Rockbrook Camp Horses

It’s really getting exciting around here at camp now because the horses are starting to arrive! Several have made it up from South Carolina, a few from Virginia, and a bunch from down in Laurinburg, North Carolina. It’s great to see them back in the mountains and enjoying their time in the Rockbrook fields. They’ll also be enjoying the latest addition to the Rockbrook Horseback Riding Program— a new double riding ring!

That’s Robbie in the photo.

RBC Equestrian Program Profiled

Horse Camp Girl Riding
Horse Information Logo

Rockbrook has recently been added to the “all things horse” web site infohorse.com. With information and articles about horse care, horse breeds, horse careers, horse training, and of course horse camps, it is a fantastic Internet resource. Since 1997, infohorse.com has been a great place for every horse enthusiast to find out about horse related products and services.

Rockbrook is proud to now be included. Our equestrian program has a very nice detailed profile on the site.

Want to learn more about horses and horseback riding? Head on over to infohorse.com!