Many equestrians have fond memories of going to summer horse camp. It’s a great place to meet like-minded horse lovers, make new friends, and learn a lot about what it means to not only ride horses, but to care for them too. Horseback riding camp is where kids learn life lessons about hard work, teamwork, and responsibility, all while sparking a love of horses to last a lifetime.
If you’re the parent of a beginner rider who’s sending their child off to horse camp for the summer, it can feel overwhelming. Finding and choosing the right safety equipment, footwear, and clothing can be confusing. We’re here to make your life easier with this in-depth horseback riding camp checklist.
Most horseback riding camps encourage every aspect of horsemanship, including daily farm chores, like mucking stalls, bathing horses, and cleaning tack. Because of all the hard work and elbow grease that goes into these chores, be prepared for your child to get dirty. Sawdust and shavings fly everywhere when cleaning stalls, someone inevitably gets wet while bathing a muddy horse, and all that dirt from cleaning tack and grooming has to go somewhere— and it’s usually all over your shirt.
So, when you’re packing your child’s clothing for summer horse camp, don’t pack anything that can’t get dirty. Prioritize clothing that’s comfortable and easy to move in. Clothing that dries quickly, or is sweat-wicking, is best as your child will be sweating in the sun. And if they’re bathing a horse or working with a hose and they get wet, they won’t have to spend the rest of the day in wet clothes.
It’s also a good idea to pack layers. Depending on where you are in the United States, mornings and evenings can be chilly. A night at the campfire can easily become uncomfortable if your child is without a jacket. A raincoat is also a good idea, as the horses still need to be taken care of, even in the rain.
For bottoms, a sturdy pair of jeans, breeches, or leggings/tights specifically made for riding are all good options. Jeans are more common at Western summer horse camps, while breeches and tights are more common at English camps. The jeans should be thick and heavy-duty in order to stand up to the wear and tear of the saddle. For a child that likes to be extra comfortable, riding leggings are a good option. They’re easy to move in, lightweight, and should almost feel like a second-skin. Riding leggings or tights typically have a reinforced knee patch for added durability. Whatever your child prefers is fine, as long as it’s not shorts or skirts!
Clothing Shopping List Ideas:
Horses are big animals. Even if your child is riding a small pony, it could still weigh 500 pounds. Getting stepped on hurts! That’s why it’s important to wear the right footwear to protect vulnerable toes. Paddock boots and Western boots are specifically designed to protect your child’s feet from the horse’s hooves. The strong leather construction is hardy enough to offer added protection and keep your child safe.
Not only do paddock boots and Western boots offer extra safety on the ground, but they also keep your child safe in the saddle. These riding boots usually have a 2-inch heel to prevent your child’s foot from sliding all the way through the stirrup and getting stuck. Typically, riding boots also have extra grip on the ball of the toe to help the boot stay in the stirrup.
Your child may want to change out of their riding boots and into something a little more comfortable for activities that don’t involve the horse. Pack a comfortable, easy-to-slip-into shoe, like a pair of sneakers. Muck boots or other waterproof shoes are also a good idea to bring along. This way your child won’t have wet feet and socks when they’re bathing a horse or using the hose. But keep in mind, they can’t ride in shoes that don’t offer foot protection or have a two-inch heel.
Footwear Shopping List Ideas:
There’s no way around it: riding horses can be dangerous. The ponies and horses at summer horse camp are usually gentle souls, who are older and very calm. That being said, most high-quality horseback riding camps won’t allow your child to ride without a properly-fitted helmet. A helmet will protect your child’s head in the event of a fall and should always be worn when riding, no matter how old you are.
Many summer horse camps will have a selection of helmets, but it’s safer and more sanitary for your child to have their own. That way, you’ll know for sure that it fits well, hasn't been worn in a fall, and is well-taken care of.
When purchasing a helmet, measure the circumference of your child’s head, roughly one to two inches above the eyebrows. When shopping online, this number will help you reference size charts and select the right fit. If you’re trying on your helmet for the first time, tighten it so that it is very snug and won’t fall over the child’s eyes. If you move the helmet up and down, the eyebrows should move with it. Don’t overtighten, as this can cause headaches.
When most parents think about safety at summer horse camp, helmets and boots may come to mind. But another important piece of safety equipment that often gets overlooked is a good pair of gloves. Riding gloves prevent your child from developing blisters while holding the reins. Most riding gloves also have a textured palm to add extra grip on the reins and prevent them from sliding through your child’s hands.
Safety Gear Shopping List Ideas:
At Breeches.com, we believe every child should have a chance to love, and be loved by, a horse. Horseback riding camp is a great place to spark a life-long love of equestrian sports. That’s why we offer high-quality riding apparel and equipment at affordable prices.
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