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Adult horse camp? Ideas and feedback?

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  • Adult horse camp? Ideas and feedback?

    Mr. FG and I are in the process of purchasing an equine property which has been operating primarily as a summer camp for the last 50+ years. We will be offering traditional camp sessions for kids, but I would like to institute some options for adults as well.

    We would be targeting the average adult ammie. I was considering two options, one a more leisurely hacking/trail riding weekend, and one more intensive training featuring guest clinicians. Horses are primarily stock types some TBs, sane, sound, not fancy. Jump up to 2'6 and trail ride quietly. People could bring their own horses as well.

    Accommodations are rustic cabins with electric. Amenities include an indoor, four riding rings, some basic cross country fences. There's a very cute town nearby with great shops and restaurants. Meals would be provided though alcohol would probably have to be BYO.

    My thinking is to do it in the early fall, when the weather is still reasonable but the leaves are starting to turn, as there are miles of trails and the property is really pretty. I thought maybe a Thursday - Sunday, so adults wouldn't have to take too much time off work.

    Is there a real interest in this type of program? Which weekend would folks be more interested in.... more intensive riding or leisurely hacking? What kind of instruction/clinicians would you be looking for if you choose the training weekend? What would you expect to pay for such a program?

    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    I'd be there


    • #3
      You know I'm in!
      Ideas for adults:
      1) Try a different discipline! If you are H/J, take a weekend of intro dressage. If you are in dressage, try a weekend of team penning, or intro to jumping. There's a local place around here that bases an entire clinic around getting folks comfortable riding out of doors, out of the ring, jumping small natural obstacles. Not just trail, but kinda like baby foxhunting type riding.

      2) Combine riding instruction with some fitness classes that support riding skills and muscle strength needs. Send riders home w/ plans for how to continue in the real world.

      3) Have a top show groom teach a session on how to get a horse tip top perfect for the main English disciplines.

      4) Eventer skills weekend: sessions for 3 days, and at the end, ride a CT, and make the dressage test a 'fix a test' session. Include non-riding sessions like how to choose and use studs for XC.

      5) An all around intro to riding and horse ownership. Your audience is adult ammies who are new to riding, not re-riders, who don't have pony club and similar background to fall back on. How to choose an instructor. How to select tack, find a farrier, choose a vet, even some horse first aid. Finally, ideas about how to shop for and successfully select a horse and get the right horse for you and your riding needs. (a person could spend $500 on a weekend like that and save THOUSANDS in avoided bad decisions)
      I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
      I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


      • #4
        Sign me up! I personally love the idea of going to a more intensive weekend, but I think a fun, leisurely weekend would be fun to do with the not-so-horsey SO too. Can't really say what I would expect to pay because I've never been to anything like it. I think for the intensive weekend the rate would probably have to depend on the clinician and the discipline(s).
        It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
        Theodore Roosevelt


        • #5
          i'd love it--will you be in the northeast?
          fall trail riding with the usual comforts is really nice.
          my friends and i try to go somewhere in mid may and again in the fall for our vacations, and lots of our friends do the same.
          i've been to a few places and they all have good and not as good points.
          mostly i'd want a hot tub btw, sort of set off in a private space--not on the family deck like another horse camping place i've been please,lol.
          and also learning new skills clinics would be good, maybe intro to driving or clicker training etc. could be a good draw.

          oh and a trailer and truck clinic would be good. selecting, driving, care and feeding of, backing up, the list goes on and on. i've had my trailer for 12 years and still don't know everything i should about it! and would have loved a clinic where i could have learned to back that rig up in the early days.


          • #6
            Honest to goodness, I was sulking as I walked to work this morning wishing that I could go to horse camp. I'd like to get away from the regular sleep-work-eat routine, ride a bunch of different horses and do some different stuff! I'd like to ride twice a day, and yes, Thurs-Sun would be nice but I'd do Sat-Sat just as readily.
            Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.


            • #7
              I would be most interested in trail trial/obstacle stuff with my own horse.


              • #8
                Have something for the non-horse SO to do. Since often this is the DH, see what is available for golf, tennis, etc. So you have a main lodge? Again, thinking of the SOs, have at least a big screen TV for sports. I realize that individual cable service might be prohibitive. Also work with your local chamber of commerce to develop a list of entertainment options.

                Consider having a combination of on-ground teaching/lecture and riding. Consider a mixed program -- some yoga or pilates, maybe some sports psychology, maybe some saddle fitting, maybe some vet lecture, along with the riding component. Lori B had great ideas. I've been on some riding vacations and the ones that worked best had morning and afternoon sessions with plenty of spare time to relax away from the group.

                Talk to your insurance agent about the liquor. I am not sure how you want to handle it, but it is something you need to address. If host liquor liability is not too expensive, it might be okay to serve wine and beer (including it in the price) of the camp. Mr. IF and I enjoy a glass of wine and aspirin after a day of farm work!

                It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Have fun with it!
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                • #9
                  My dream is to trail ride with on a bomb-proof but responsive horse, alone or with others but not restricted to a set course. I could do this for a week or so. Other activities could be offered when not riding: walking, reading, canoeing, crafts, cooking. Sounds so relaxing! Would like to bring my dog, too, so kennels would be good. I would pay extra for that.


                  • #10
                    For sure! I would expect to pay $1000+ for something like this, especially if you can manage to get decent clinicians, are providing meals/housing and I'm using your horse/tack.

                    I would like to either do a super intensive session in my own discipline, or have more of a intro type camp to other disciplines. Even throwing in one day of different stuff would be fun, like if it was H/J focused, doing a day with a western clinician would be a blast.

                    Ditto learning stuff that is unmounted. Like I think sessions with sports pyschologists would be beneficial (since we adults are always in our heads), maybe a pilates instructor, or someone good at trick training/groundwork.

                    Having some amenities like a hot tub would be nice, but if not, not a big deal. I think if you're going to be in an area where there are lots of other sights to see, if might be fun to have a half day arranged to take tours of the area.

                    So where are you, and where can I sign up?


                    • #11
                      I had a long period of time where I rarely rode due to some medical issues. When I was able to start seriously riding again, I started taking lessons - trying to get my mojo back. :-)

                      But, I would have loved a one week (or even a long weekend) summer camp kind of thing where I could spend every day riding well-trained horses and doing riding-related activities, such as a workshop on dealing with fear issues, exercises that are good for getting into riding shape, or demonstrations/discussions of disciplines and competitions that might appeal to the, um, "mature" rider who isn't interested in returning to the wild ways of her youth.
                      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                      that's even remotely true."

                      Homer Simpson


                      • #12
                        I like the thursday through sat idea.

                        I'd even enjoy something in between your two levels for those of us that aren't up to two training rides a daybut want to do more than hack. A lesson for the first session adn a hackfor the second session would be ideal.

                        and the idea of a family horse camp would be Freak'n Awesome.. or motherdaughter kind of thing... seeing has how I have a horsey SO we might be fighting over who had to stay home with the kids
                        If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                        • #13
                          I would totally do this, especially with Sam! I think a combination of more intensive clinic-y stuff with also fun trail rides would be ideal. Plus sitting around drinking by the campfire at night. (; Yoga for equestrians or other things like that could be neat, too.

                          Talk to the Bests for maybe doing health care/first aid/bandaging/farrier lectures... or maybe Tom with round-penning or NH kinds of things... those could be neat little afternoon informational sessions.

                          Thursday through Sunday seems reasonable. Even just an overnight clinic with some trail riding thrown in would be neat. Again, with drinking around the fire...
                          "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                          Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                          • #14
                            Where are you located, I'm making plans now
                            I would love this type of thing especially if you offered the SO options, I think my husband who is very timid and not so sure about the horsey thing would love it.


                            • #15
                              There are a few Adult camps I know of; two are successful, one not so much.

                              The Successful ones:
                              - Allow for advanced training, but make sure that nervous adults are still able to be included.
                              - Yoga or similar activities, taught by someone who rides, and who observed the riders to give them applicable exercises. Also some mental exercises for nervous riders or to help with show nerves and the like.
                              - Longe line lessons if there is a good horse for it.
                              - Some good food for lunch

                              The unsuccessful one:
                              - models their camp after the kids camps.
                              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Lori B View Post
                                You know I'm in!
                                Ideas for adults:
                                1) Try a different discipline! If you are H/J, take a weekend of intro dressage. If you are in dressage, try a weekend of team penning, or intro to jumping. There's a local place around here that bases an entire clinic around getting folks comfortable riding out of doors, out of the ring, jumping small natural obstacles. Not just trail, but kinda like baby foxhunting type riding.

                                5) An all around intro to riding and horse ownership. Your audience is adult ammies who are new to riding, not re-riders, who don't have pony club and similar background to fall back on. How to choose an instructor. How to select tack, find a farrier, choose a vet, even some horse first aid. Finally, ideas about how to shop for and successfully select a horse and get the right horse for you and your riding needs. (a person could spend $500 on a weekend like that and save THOUSANDS in avoided bad decisions)
                                I would be there for both of these in a heartbeat. Although I think saying 5 wouldn't appeal to re-riders is ruling out a group unnecessarily, since I'm a re-rider and there are still a LOT of things about horsemanship that I didn't learn (no Pony Club around me when I was a kid) that I would love to know before becoming a horse owner. I'd actually be interested in doing a full week for something like that - for the riding portion I would include probably 'electives' so that people can mix and match based on what they're interested in/what they need.

                                Because you'd potentially get a mix of types of riders, so someone who primarily trail rides isn't necessarily going to want to HAVE to take a dressage session, you know? But on the other hand, it would offer the opportunity to branch out a little. I think I'd keep it to stuff that was relatively easy to manage - no stuff requiring cattle unless you have them handy anyway, for example - but one elective might be 'getting comfortable on the trail' and another might be 'dressage basics to benefit everyone' or whatever. So even someone who is only a pleasure trail rider could go 'hey, that dressage thing sounds like it'd give me some useful ideas' - and include riding electives which are relaxation rides, also, so if you just want to unwind on a horse, you can do that.

                                I suggest relaxation rides mostly because I'd hope to be learning stuff in non-mounted sessions like nutrition basics, first aid, how to apply wraps/bandages, tack maintenance, hoof 101, with the goal to not necessarily teach someone everything about a subject, but to give them enough to go away with so that future reading they do on their own makes more sense, so they can talk to their farrier/vet/trainer more knowledgeably, etc. But if I'm doing that much brain work when I'm not riding, then I'm not necessarily going to want my time in the saddle to also require a lot of attention/work. (Does that make sense?)

                                3 and 4 would also interest me, but as a returning camper moreso than a first time visitor.

                                2 is an interesting idea but I think you'd have to be careful with it - I probably wouldn't offer it myself unless I could find someone who was a really good personal trainer who understood the needs of riding AND how to adjust things for individual issues (like knee problems or whatever) just because I've been other places that seemed to kind of take the attitude that they could include that sort of stuff (yoga, often, or pilates, since they're so 'in' right now) but with someone who isn't a very good instructor, and if I'm paying for a full weekend with developing an exercise/fitness routine as the take away goal, I'd be really quite cranky if it was all a cookie-cutter approach. If I want that, I can just go buy a book or look online for an exercise routine.

                                Hmm. What about an adult weekend for parents of horse-crazy kids? Not necessarily to teach the adults to ride or get them on horses (which could be a nice option if you want to give your horses some time off - you could maybe get away with just offering one trail ride at the end of the weekend so they could have a couple of days to chill) but as a sort of introduction to the horse world - to help them with stuff like finding instructors, lessons vs leasing vs buying, being a show parent, etc. (Depending on how you're set up, you could make this a family weekend instead and have the kids off doing more mounted stuff while the parents do their thing.)

                                Another less mounted weekend idea - The realities of horsekeeping at home, aimed at people thinking about buying a farmette. Basically you'd walk them through the stuff that you need to do to keep up the property that can be nasty surprises when you're just thinking that you'll move your horses in and feed them and it'll be Lovely. (Exciting topics like manure management! Pasture rotation! What to do when your tractor starts making that funny sound!) The only thing I think you'd want to watch out for with that is to make sure people don't end up feeling like they're paying you to fix your farm. Helping out with something like repairing a fence would be a task that makes sense, but the focus would have to be the education, not getting the fence done.

                                I think you might want to consider electives you can offer also, regardless of which weekend it is. Like if you can find a photographer in your area who is good at animal photos and is a good teacher, so many people have some kind of camera now that spending an hour or so getting tips for better photos might be quite popular. (I don't mean Works Of Art photos, I just mean things like thinking about the angle you're taking the photo from, what the lighting is like, considering the background. Stuff you don't need any fancy gear to deal with, but will make a photo come out nicer.)

                                And don't forget to include stupid camp stuff like a campfire at night, those sorts of things that make it more of a Camp Experience.


                                • #17
                                  I would like the option to bring my own horse, yet still maybe ride one of your lesson horses also.


                                  • #18
                                    I like the idea of the "try a different discipline" weekend. I'm a Western rider that is vaguely interested in trying Dressage and maybe even jumping a cross-rail, but there's no where around here that I'd be comfortable calling for lessons as I really just want to try it, I don't necessarily want to convert. And I haven't sat in an English saddle in nearly 25 years.

                                    Having an opportunity to do it in a setting meant to be fun? On a well trained horse? With wine at night? I'd totally be in.


                                    • #19
                                      Depending on how many people you are talking about hosting at once, if it is more than a handful, you could offer more than one class at the time, like a relaxed riding group and an intense education working one.

                                      This way you hit both, the riders that want to get much done and those that want to have a leisure vacation with horses.
                                      This would fit many couples and families.

                                      Why don't you start with one day first and see what you get, poll participants for feedback, then to to two days and a few longer, several day long camps later, once you see what your area will support?

                                      One way to add other for those not riding is to have a mini golf course.
                                      Easy to set up, great fun and keeps anyone that is not riding having a good time outside.

                                      So many people are wanting entertainment and if you can provide that around horses, there is a large market out there today.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                        Depending on how many people you are talking about hosting at once, if it is more than a handful, you could offer more than one class at the time, like a relaxed riding group and an intense education working one.

                                        This way you hit both, the riders that want to get much done and those that want to have a leisure vacation with horses.
                                        This would fit many couples and families.
                                        That's kind of what I was thinking... you could have two groups signed up for one weekend, with one being more intense and one more relaxing, and have different sessions for both riding and still have un-mounted demos, trail rides with picnics, etc., for both groups to choose to participate in.

                                        Incidentally, FG, I like leading trail rides. (;
                                        "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                                        Graphite/Pastel Portraits