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Fun Ideas with Kids...

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  • Fun Ideas with Kids...

    So this summer I'm doing the summer camp program at my barn, and I need some ideas for fun unmounted lessons. I'll just have 4-6 kids a week, between 10 and 13 years old (one week of littler ones, but planning is easier for them) who range from just starting to jump to owning their own horses and starting to event BN.

    Mounted ideas are easy (I love torturing children!), but I'm not feeling too inspired on unmounted lessons this year. Last summer, I just filled in for one week, and we did mini lessons on types of bits, mane pulling, wrapping legs, and parts of the horse. That one was fun because they had to study all week and their "test" involved getting to paint on the horse... which quickly descended into amazingly fun chaos they'll never forget.

    I don't really want to do the same things this year because I'll have some of the same kids. Also, a lot of the kids have acquired their own horses since then and have travelled a bit wiht their horses, so show grooming and wrapping legs and such won't be too new.

    Any ideas? I thought about walking courses/counting strides, possibly checking heart rate & respiration... the kids will most definitely expect to have a chance to paint on the horses again... I've been studying up on anatomy a little more, and while I don't quite think I could pull off the full Anatomy in Motion workshop, I might could get the older kids to do something like this...

    Any more ideas?

  • #2
    You could do an overall Quiz Session, maybe on the last day. Get little prizes, have them in teams, etc. Make sure you offer prizes other than 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc, eg. best competitor, most improved, that sort of thing. Setting up a course to jump in later session is always a good/practical suggestion, and have a discussion about setting up distances, how to make the course challenging, what is appropriate at which levels etc.

    For a rainy day you could watch horse movies and point out what is wrong with them, haha.

    For young ones crafty stuff is always fun (making a horseshoe picture frame went down well at the little kids camp I helped run). For older kids see if you can get your farrier or vet to come out for a demonstration. Getting a vet to talk to the kids about important things to have in a first aid kit is a good idea & going over basic first aid.

    If any of them compete, get them to make up cards for checklists of things they need for themselves and their horses. Laminate the cards so they can reuse them.
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


    • #3
      What about judging dressage tests (you could have some videoed and let them point out what they see or don't see). You could also do this with conformation

      They could do mini-course design using "tinkertoy" like jumps

      There could be some sort of rules symposium to help them learn rules especially those that often cause trouble for less experienced eventers

      How about putting together bridles. You could take apart a bridle and have groups race to see who can put it together fastest

      Could you have someone in for saddle fitting to show them a little about different types of saddles

      You could have them do "build a show kit" if they are showing and may need to do that anyway (they could label brushes/spray bottles and so on with tape and/or glitter pain in their own colors). This could actually be done for a lot of their tack and equipment and can be fun as well as keeping things organized at the barn

      How about a feeding less where they actually get to help feed and see the different types of feed and supplements and learn a little something about the reasons for them

      Maybe a lunging lesson, if you have a horse that could be lunged and space to do that, showing them different types of lunging equipment and basic aspects of lunging a horse
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • Original Poster

        Oh, good ideas! The farrier comes twice a week, so they will definitely be holding some horses for him. The kids go along on any runs to the vet, and there are several mares bred, so I'm sure we'll be going. They do help with all the feeding and chores as well. A lunging lesson would be great-- especially with the number of babies we'll probably have next year, they all want to know more about working with them.

        I usually make nice stall signs for all the horses going to shows, but I've fallen behind on all the little kids with new ponies... so we'll have some afternoon painting sessions for them to make their own. They usually also design and paint a wall panel for a jump.

        Show kits and lists are great ideas too! And I hadn't thought about quiz sessions. I'm going to the used book store tomorrow... they usually have some old PC manuals...

        Oh, and the recent show on HRTV on the history of Badminton has some short sessions that talk about course design, dressage, mistakes on cross country, etc... I plan to have the kids watch that if I can get it recorded next time it comes on!

        Thanks! Keep 'em coming!


        • #5
          Make their own stickers and have them put stickers on a horse as I call out parts, (there are sets on amazon to make their own stickers, just need the stamps and some white sticky labels). "horse bath day". Make "obstacle course" to ride the next day, rainy day - horse puzzle books. Watch the farrier and see the hooves etc. Thrills and spills videos if you have a tough group of kids lol. Memorize a simple dressage test - and run it out in the ring with the letters. Do the same with jumps, build course and jump it, kids love to "canter".

          will think of more but have to go teach lessons now haha.


          • #6
            Do they know how to braid? That was the most useful thing I ever learned in summer camp Tack cleaning day, horse bathing day (pick the hottest day of the week), human horse show day, scavenger hunt, afternoon horse movie (also good for really hot days). If half the kids show and half don't, pair them up so the more experienced ones can work with the ones just learning.

            And heck, they're kids. Give 'em an hour of free time to run amok
            The big guy: Lincoln

            Southern Maryland Equestrian


            • Original Poster

              Oh, they get plenty running amok and pool time. Usually, it's ride in the morning, noon feed & chores, lunch break, unmounted barn lesson of some kind, pool and movie time, then a late afternoon trail ride or bareback riidng, dinner, and lounging around watching movies at night. Any kid's ideal day.

              I'll do some braiding with them if I can bribe somebody else to pull a few manes first.


              • #8
                Originally posted by archieflies View Post
                Oh, they get plenty running amok and pool time. Usually, it's ride in the morning, noon feed & chores, lunch break, unmounted barn lesson of some kind, pool and movie time, then a late afternoon trail ride or bareback riidng, dinner, and lounging around watching movies at night. Any kid's ideal day.

                I'll do some brading with them if I can bribe somebody else to pull a few manes first.
                This makes me want to go back to horse camp SO BADLY!!! *checks for stables near where I'll be living this summer*. How long do the sessions run for?

                You could ask farms in the area if you can bring the kids for "tours". Learning about other disciplines, eg. Polo, Racing is always fun. If there's a breeding farm in the area that would give the kids a tour that would be cool. I did a 4 H camp for a week and we visited farms all over our area to practice our conformation judging skills and talk about different confo for different disciplines. It was really fun to see/compare all the different disciplines, some of which at the time I hadn't even heard of!

                For fun evening activities you could do talent shows and skits, they can be hilarious. I got into those even as a 14-15 y/o camper. If you can get your hands on some horsey cut out cookies you could have them make their own horse themed cookies for desert. I'm sure they do this of their own accord anyway but "noodle races" in the pool are always fun!

                Play "fox and hound" - pair kids up, assign one pair to be fox and hound. Hound chases fox until fox sits down with another pair then person on other side of that pair becomes the hound, and the old hound becomes the fox. There are probably clearer rules if you google it, but it's a great game if you need to tire them out!

                The card game Horse Show is always a crowd pleaser. My mom gave it to me years ago as a stocking stuffer and I brought it along when I was a camper then again when I was a counselor. Even the older kids weren't too cool for it.
                "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                • #9
                  How about a twist on one of my old favorites from 4H camp:

                  Pair up the campers in teams of two. Assign one camper as the "horse" and one as the "rider." Have each pair do a dressage test - the "horse" (in the ring) being signaled by the "rider" (outside the ring) through voice commands. Then reverse the roles. I loved doing this (we did it as pattern work - horsemanship and reining - complete with distinguishing each gait, speeds, etc.)

                  You could also do it for a stadium round over poles in the arena - or heck, even XC if you have a small starter course

                  It is a great way to have kids learn to read, interpret, and memorize tests.

                  A few other ideas that might be fun if you have access to several horses (especially different types/breeds)-

                  1. Hold a conformation clinic. Maybe go over some materials/learning points one day (I'm sure you can find plenty of things related to conformation online for free) and then let them show what they've learned the next day using the horses.
                  2. Grooming contest. Assign teams (mayber 3-4 kids per team?), equip them each with a set of brushes/grooming tools, a few dirty horses, and give them a certain amount of time (5-10 minutes). You can judge each team after the time is up and award small prizes.
                  I have Higher Standards... do you?

                  "For the love of my horse, I know who I am."


                  • #10
                    Oh I want to be a kid at your camp!
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                    • #11
                      The show or lesson kit idea is a great one - you could then take the best one and post it for free at www.tackmeup.com under your camp name as a prize.
                      'What's in your trunk?'
                      Free tools for Trainers and Riders


                      • #12
                        Sorry if some of these ideas are repetitive, I copied my response to another camp thread!

                        Having people come in to talk to the kids can be fun and educational for them- farrier, vet, chiro, etc. Especially good if they can watch them work.

                        Horsey crafts- if it's in your budget: decorating saddle pads with puff paint and fabric markers, decorating brushes (with puff paint, acrylics or with magazines/mod podge), decorating halters (puff paint, glitter glue, etc), painting horseshoes (spraypaint them first with black or white glossy paint then use acrylics, puffy paint, sequins, ribbons, etc) or painting a panel jump.

                        Do an afternoon with fun grooming things like bathing, braiding, quarter marks, hoof polishing, and glitter. You can even make this into a little contest with the kids broken up into teams and given a certain amount of time to beautify a schoolie.

                        Do a lesson that uses different tack- western, bareback, sidesaddle, anything different from what you do. The campers can swap and feel what it's like to ride in different tack, and learn a little about the different disciplines.

                        A scavenger hunt is a fun way to help them meet each other and let some of the older/more experienced kids teach the newer ones. Put them in mixed teams and send them out to find farm equipment, identify tack, point out parts of the horse, answer horse questions, etc. You can also use this as a "show what you learned" at the end of camp and offer a prize like first pick of who to ride, or something along those lines.

                        Mounted games always seem to be a hit. Pick ones that are easy and safe to do, like sit-a-buck, carrot racing, simon says, etc. If you are in an area where you can do this and you have suitable horses, try a long trail ride with a picnic lunch break. Let them set up a course of small jumps or ground rails for themselves and teach them about making turns on course, spacing jumps, and different kinds of jumps.

                        Non-horsey summer things can be a fun break too, like a trip to a pool or setting up sprinklers or a slip 'n slide. On rainy days or quiet afternoons, watching an educational or fun horse video or learning about tack can give younger campers a little rest and relax time.


                        • #13
                          bridle races- have them take apart and put back together various bridles- this could be done with a tack cleaning day and also talk about why you clean tack

                          also do love the horseless horse shows- the kids at the camp i worked at loved these

                          What about making stall cards/record books? This would be good for the ones that go to shows and the ones that don't show would probably just love knowing all sorts of info about their ponies- plus they can decorate it however they want
                          here's a link to the Pony Club stall card- this just gives you a basic idea of info to put on (obviously you don't need to worry about all of it- like who's your chaperone! haha) Stall Card

                          Or even have them design a drill team that they can practice on foot and ride later on in the week? If you can get your hands on some fun music it's even better! Or divide by pairs and have them design their own pa-de-deax instead of the drill team

                          ooooo a good one would be teaching them how to tie a stock tie!!!! All it really is is a square knot
                          proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse (and one useful horse!)

                          Horse Thoughts


                          • #14
                            I need to find a horse camp for adults.....this thread is bringing back so many of my favourite childhood summer memories! I've done almost all these things at camp one time or another (I spent A LOT of time at horse camp both as a camper and then counselor - comes with the territory when both your parents are full time drs. I LOVED it. Summertime was/is the best!).
                            "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                            "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                            • #15
                              Pony Club can give you a lot of ideas since they hold a lot of dismounted meetings. We always go over our tack to make sure it's clean and safe, and identify parts. We do a trailer course. Loading, unloading, parts of trailer, etc.
                              Did the sticky notes w/ body parts labeled and place them on a horse. One woman also always did a puzzle of sorts of the intestinal tract using clear tubing, funnels, bags, etc, and got malt balls to pass through as if it were stool when the kids were done assembling it. They liked that.
                              Not sure if you're kids are too old but they kids also made stick horses.
                              You can probably do a google search for dismounted lessons and see what that pulls up for you. Have fun!
                              "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"


                              • #16
                                I go to this blog to find all my craft ideas to do with my kids. We have done a lot of them and had a lot of fun. Hope you find a few that you can do with yours http://factorydirectcraft.com/factorydirectcraft_blog/


                                • #17
                                  When I was a kid at camp, one of the most fun activities that I still remember to this day was the day we learned about poultice and put it on fellow campers arms for practice. We must have wrapped the arms as well, but all I remember is that there was poultice EVERYWHERE and we had a great time doing it! At least poultice washes out of clothes easily....


                                  • #18
                                    TPRs (just get a horse with an easy to find pulse, lol), more advanced wrapping (spider bandage, hoof wrap, figure eight hock and knee wraps, etc), a more in-depth bitting session, a conformation mini-clinic...
                                    Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                                    • #19
                                      How about putting together bridles. You could take apart a bridle and have groups race to see who can put it together fastest
                                      We had to do this blindfolded. (barefoot, uphill, in the snow!)
                                      Click here before you buy.


                                      • #20
                                        I think if you can go on some field trips to other farms of other disciplines that would be GREAT. I know I did that a few times when I was a kid doing riding camp, and it was always fun and interesting. And it wasn't always horsey. I know one time we went to a vet's farm, but the cooler thing than the horses was their wildlife rehabilitation. We LOVED it (what kid wouldn't love getting to feed a fawn a bottle or pet a baby raccoon!).

                                        If the farrier is willing and able, I'd see if he'd be up to showing them some things...maybe even have them "pull" shoes (highly doubtful kids of that age could totally manage it, but with a little coaching and help, they could probably break some clinches and pull the shoe). Maybe let them each run the rasp over a foot a couple of times, bang on a shoe (probably not a good idea to bang on a hot shoe, but maybe he can make a shoe from start to finish, if he ever does that kinda of thing).

                                        I know people do things like grain bag fashion shows (I never did that), and silly things like that.