Horsemanship Shown at Camp

Aofnd memory of the horse show held at the end of a camp session in 1930. Yes, from the very beginning, horseback riding has been a core activity for the girls at Rockbrook.

Camp Show HorseThe Horse Show
“At last, all the polishing and shining was over. There was not a boot left in camp that did not shine to the highest degree in preparation for the horse show. Every girl who had been down to the riding field at any time during the summer was to be in the show. The first to ride were those in the advanced horsemanship class for Seniors. Each rider was asked to walk, trot, and canter. Finally, everyone came to the center of the field and awaited the judges’ decision. After that long deliberation which makes the audience want to wring the neck of each judge, the blue ribbon was awarded to Louise Lykes. Next was the music ride. The participants were divided in pairs, and as the music was played, each couple came to the center and formed the figures of a square dance. When this was completed, Dr. Wheeler announced the musical stalls. This was done just as one plays musical chairs, except when the music stopped each person rushed for a stall. The horses seemed to enjoy it as much as the riders, and soon needed very little urging. The last person to stay in was Barbara Leovy and she received the prize. There was also tandem riding, in which each girl rode one horse and drove another in front of her. After that, Bet Martin jumped sidesaddle. As a climax to the show, Elizabeth Klinesmith, who received the blue ribbon in Junior, and Louise Lykes were each given a large horseshoe of flowers. They then rode from the field with it about the horse’s neck.”

Jean Wall, 1930

 

The Riding Program Staff

Youth Horse CampsOne important aspect of Rockbrook’s youth horse camps is its horseback riding staff members’ qualifications. The equestrian program’s director, Cara Thompson, interviews and selects all of the riding instructors that work at Rockbrook. Cara has directed the Rockbrook horse camps for five years now, following her graduation from St. Andrews College with a Bachelors Degree in Equine Business Management. Cara insures that each of the women teaching riding at Rockbrook’s youth horse camps has several years of experience working with horses and instructing both beginners and experienced riders. Most of these instructors are studying a horse-related field in college, and in some cases, have already graduated with an equine studies degree. The horseback riding program enjoy great consistency too because every summer several of the riding staff members joining Cara return from the previous summer.

The youth horse camps at Rockbrook have continued to expand their reputation and to attract an impressive group of young riders.

A Noncompetitive Riding Program

Riding Equestrian KidThe equestrian program at Rockbrook follows the core philosophy guiding the camp, in particular its emphasis on encouragement and its overall non-competitive character. Being free from the pressure of competing, horseback riding becomes so much more fun for kids. The goal becomes personal satisfaction, greater self-confidence, and a simple joy of improving their equestrian skills.

Beginning and experienced riders alike thrive in this non-competitive atmosphere. Matching each rider with the right horse and the right instructor, the Rockbrook riding program allows everyone to learn at their own pace, and feel good about the experience. It’s just nice to not worry if you’re the best or not, and just focus on your own riding. Definitely exciting and fun, always educational, but relaxed too.

An Overnight Equestrian Camp

Equestrian Camp RiderFor horse crazy girls, overnight equestrian camps really are the best way to enjoy riding with friends and to quickly improve their riding skills. If you take riding lessons at home, coming to camp for a few weeks lets you learn from new instructors. This can be really helpful because you’ll receive different coaching and probably learn something you’ve never even heard before. Also, the horses at equestrian camps are excellent. Rockbrook’s horses are schooled throughout the year, and have many years experience working with camp kids. And because Rockbrook is an overnight camp, its equestrian camps give you even more opportunity to be with the horses. There’s always extra time to help with feeding and other barn chores. If you’re a complete beginner or an advanced rider, you’ll love the fun of Rockbrook’s equestrian program, but also be surprised how much you learn as well.

Befriend a Special Horse

Youth Horse RiderIt’s so easy to enjoy horseback riding at camp. Everything is right there for you: beautiful horses, wonderful instructors, excellent equipment and riding facilities, and other youth to ride with.

Part of that enjoyment comes from befriending a special horse, from being paired with a graceful powerful animal you grow to trust and who trusts you. It’s really a special relationship. With kind and gentle communication, you and your horse become more responsive to each other, and more comfortable together. There’s nothing quite like it— the feeling of power and freedom you experience when you and your camp horse willingly cooperate and ride.

It’s also a real accomplishment for a youth girl to build this kind of friendship with a horse at camp. It takes patience and a caring attitude, but with good instruction and practice, every girl can do it. Every girl can experience the joy of horseback riding.

The Youngest Equestrian Riders

Young Horseback Riding Girls

Can the youngest children at camp take horseback riding?

Absolutely, yes! The youngest girls at Rockbrook, who are 6 years old, are some of our most enthusiastic riders down at the equestrian center. Camp is a great place to develop girls’ interests in horses, even to take their very first ride. Rockbrook has several experienced, gentle ponies, perfect for these young beginning horseback riders, and our staff is well qualified to teach beginner lessons. There’s lots to learn— what to wear, safety rules, grooming, tacking up, how to mount, riding position, communicating with your horse, and so much more— but step by step, you’ll progress through it all.

Equestrian Riding is fun and rewarding: yes, even for the youngest girls!

 

Let’s Canter!

Riding Horses CanterAfter you feel comfortable controlling your horse in a walk, and learning to post while trotting your horse, the next step is to learn how to canter. The canter is a 3-beat riding movement of a horse that is faster than a trot but slower than a gallop. It’s a very natural gait where the first beat you hear is either the left or right hind leg. The second beat is the opposite hind leg and its opposite fore leg together, and the final beat is the fore leg opposite the first beat. Riding the canter involves the hips moving forward and backward slightly while keeping the rider in the saddle. It’s kind of a back and forth sweeping motion rather than an up and down motion like when you post. One important tip is to not pull on the reins for balance; this makes it more difficult for your horse to more forward as he needs. There are lots of types of canter to learn as well (“working,” “collected,” and “extended” for example), but in any case its great fun to learn this technique as you develop your horse riding skills at camp.

Horseback Riding Lessons at Camp

horseback riding girl camp lessonThe horseback riding activity at camp is a nice combination of learning, riding, and fun with all things horse and riding related.

With the great instructors and amazing horses down at the Rockbrook Riding Center, you learn so much about taking care of the horses and the operation of the barn (which is no small thing for 26 horses!). In the horseback riding lessons, you ride of course, but you also learn how to improve your riding skills and to become more comfortable on the horse. All of this is great fun, if you’re a little “horse crazy.” But even if horseback riding isn’t your number one thing to do, you’ll still enjoy being down at the barn with your friends, and you’ll learn a bunch too.