Ready to Ride!

Girls Summer Riding Camp

Everything is coming together down at the Rockbrook equestrian center in preparation for this summer. Here’s a quick note from Cara, the Equestrian Director.

Many of the most popular horses are back like Gordon, Annie, Woody, Reagan, Buddy and Fritz. We have some new horses that we think you’ll love. Happy is a 16 hand Warmblood mare that has been a successful show hunter. Tobie is a Halflinger pony that does therapeutic riding during the school year. He is so fat and adorable! We can’t wait to show him off to everyone!

The Barn Staff has many surprises for riders this summer and is ready for campers to arrive!

Campers arrive at camp this weekend and we’re ready to ride!  There’s hay in loft. All 30 stalls are clean and prepared with fresh bedding. The fields or mowed. The fences are all cleared and strong. The feed room is stocked. The riding rings are groomed.

Let’s get horseback riding!

Big (Horse) Hug!

Horse Riding Girl Summer CampHug your horse!

Why would you do that? Well, it’s because you love your horse. He or she becomes a really good friend of yours at camp. Like all good friends, you’ll grow closer with good communication, trust, and consistency. Horse riding requires all of these, and over time riders and their horses become more and more responsive to each other. A real emotional bond begins to form, a real feeling of care.

That’s what we mean when we say at camp you can “befriend a special horse.” Riding, you’ll develop a special relationship with someone wonderful. It won’t take long; soon you’ll be hugging your horse too!

Why do Kids Love Horseback Riding?

Kids Riding HorsesWhy do kids love horses so much? Certainly they enjoy the fun of riding. They like the freedom of being up high, the challenges of learning how to work with such a large powerful animal, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from perfecting different gaits. It’s easy to understand how being able to ride is a big part of being “horse crazy,” but don’t you think it’s a lot more than that?

And let’s not forget the physical exercise that goes along with horseback riding, and the bugs, and the stable chores. Some of the things about horses are definitely “work” too. So what is it that gets kids, and perhaps girls in particular, so excited about horses?

One way to think about it is to focus on the friendship that forms between a horse and a rider. It’s a big part of riding— communicating sincerely, trusting, respecting, sympathizing, really feeling the horse. Horseback riding creates a very intimate and powerful relationship that kids really appreciate and fuels their confidence, perhaps because it’s so different from most of their other daily human relationships. Beings friends with a horse, in this special way, is a big part of what makes riding so important to kids.

What do you think? Do you love riding because you love your horse?

Hilarious Horse

hilarious camp horse

Isn’t that the funniest picture you’ve ever seen!? You just never know what kind of silliness will burst out down at the Rockbrook stables. Certainly making the horses “look good” is a part of it!

We love this photo also because it so beautifully represents the feeling of the riding program at Rockbrook. It shows that the girls are not only learning a lot about riding, improving their horsemanship skills and experience, but also having a great time. Being together at the barn is for some girls, their absolute favorite part of camp life. Rockbrook is well known for its riding program because it does an amazing job balancing things like this.

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 Camp of Horses

horses riding summer campLet’s talk horses! Every summer at camp we have a herd of easy-going ponies as well as excellent, schooled horses for our riding program. Some of these are owned by Rockbrook and others by St. Andrews University Equine Program, but all of them work year-round staying in shape for their 12 weeks of summer riding in the mountains of North Carolina. Rockbrook is definitely a camp of horses!

So without further ado, here are some of the horses returning to Rockbrook this summer. Most of them were at camp last summer too. Do you recognize any of them?

Annie — black mare, 13.2
Danny — bay gelding, 14
Buddy — grey gelding, 14
Lacy — strawberry roan mare, 13.1
Moe — chestnut gelding, 16.2
Oliver — chestnut gelding, 16.2
Woody — bay gelding, 16
Special — chestnut gelding, 15
Louie — brown gelding, 15.3
Robbie — brown gelding, 15.3
Bruce Leigh — bay gelding, 15
Fritz — bay gelding, 16.2
Deacon — brown gelding, 15.2
Emma — bay mare, 14.3
Watson — chestnut gelding, 15.2
Bailey — bay gelding, 15.3
Quincey — chestnut gelding, 15.2
Gilmore — bay gelding, 16
Nikita — bay mare, 16
Gordon — grey gelding, 16.2
Profound — chestnut gelding, 16
Katie — grey mare, 15.3
Naxos — bay gelding, 16.1
Pepi — bay gelding, 14.2
Reagan — chestnut gelding, 15.2

Isn’t that exciting!!? So, which horse do you want to ride?

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.