Horse Camp Essentials: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Summertime is in full swing and so are the horse camps that many of our children will attend.  While some kids are seasoned veterans who have the experience but lack the horse, others are first timers and for their parents this poses some challenges.  Many of you out there, for example, are wondering “How much money should I spend on riding equipment for a child that may never ride again?”

It’s definitely a real concern, especially when funds for just about everything are pretty tight these days. So here are some honest facts and tips on how to get the most for your money.

  • Horseback riding is expensive.

This can certainly be a daunting sport where there are simply varying degrees of expensive ranging from “pricey” to “why didn’t we just buy a yacht with a helicopter pad instead?” And a horse crazy child can easily morph from someone perfectly content with watching The Black Stallion and playing with model horses into a soul obsessed with achieving the Olympic dream. Enter horse camps- a great way to test the waters with your kids to see if they still truly enjoy everything (from picking hooves to cleaning stalls – not just riding) about working with horses.

  • There are LOTS of options.

Horses teach many wonderful lessons of responsibility and the rewards of hard work. And the bond formed between horse and rider is a wonderful thing for any child to experience. But don’t break the bank when outfitting you child for a two week horse camp! Helmets run from as low as $39.99 and riding pants (without those pesky inner seams that can rub a leg raw)  start at just $24.99 with paddock boots (the short kind – no need for tall boots yet!) being moderately priced at 34.99!

That means for under $100 you can outfit your child both safely and stylishly for his or her foray into horse camp!

  • The helmet is key.

Seemingly calm, quiet school horses can still be spooked or frightened and inexperienced riders can fall off of even a stationary horse. This leads me to the most important thing I’ll tell you in this post.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

THE HELMET IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN BUY.

Please do not use helmets that the camp provides. It’s tempting, we know, but not worth the risk. You have no idea how old the helmets are and the protective materials inside degrade over time. You also don’t know if the helmet has been involved in a fall which seriously compromises the ability of the helmet to protect the head (helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years and always after every fall). For the reasonable prices brand new helmets start at there’s no reason to not invest in one.

For affordable options that will keep your camper safe, try the Troxel Legacy or the Deluxe Schooler helmet from Ovation.

  • Bike helmets are not the best choice.

Some people ask, “What about my child’s bike helmet? Can’t I just use that?” It does seem reasonable, but the two types of helmet are designed much differently. Typically, riding helmets cover more of the head and offer more protection to the back of the head, an area that statistically riders hit when they fall. A fall from a bike is different than a fall from a horse and equestrian helmets are specifically designed to protect for those circumstances and conditions.

  • Upgrading might actually save you money.

Lower priced things tend not to stand up to a lot of use so consider how much your child will be using things before they outgrow them. For the more experienced child that will be spending all day, or more than one day a week, at the barn, it would be wise to consider purchasing slightly nicer, more durable pants and boots. If your child is on the brink of stepping into the show ring, pants and helmets that could make that leap are often worth the bit of extra money. For this stage, try the Ariat Performer breech  or the Euroweave Side Zip for riding pants and the Ariat Devon III for an upper level paddock boot.

So whether your child is just starting out on this great horse adventure or is ready to try for that blue ribbon in the show ring, let us take care of your “what to wear?”.