All-Level Horse Camps
(If you haven’t already, please visit our main Summer Camp Page to get a feel for the scope of our camp program.)
The All-Level Horse Camp sessions have a maximum group size of 25 and a minimum staff:camper ratio of 1:5.
The emphasis during Horse Camp is, of course, horses! With our small camp sizes, awesome horse staff and wonderful herd of horses, most of whom were born and raised at Ekone, campers get in lots of riding time. Our approach to horsemanship is unique, emphasizing the special relationship between children and horses. Everyone spends time grooming and caring for the horses from the ground, and learn safe ground habits. We ride primarily bareback, especially with beginning riders. This may seem counter-intuitive, but 30 years of experience have taught us that children learn to ride much faster bareback, gain their balance more quickly, develop a closer relationship and better communication with the horse, and are actually safer without the trappings of tack to get tangled in and distracted by. We do have a nice selection of western saddles, and our more experienced riders sometimes practice with saddles, too.
With all beginning riders and those we haven’t seen ride before, our first lesson is in a large roundpen. In this contained environment, campers gain their balance, learn to move their body with the horse’s motion, and begin to learn to communicate with their horse. From there, we progress to our open arena, where obstacles create different patterns each day to hone the skills we’re practicing. Riders get lots of one-on-one coaching. And of course, we also go on lots of trail rides through our beautiful woods and along Rock Creek Canyon. Having a mixed-level group works very well for our program, since we have mixed-level horses. All campers get to ride many different horses, depending on their skill level. We limit the number of complete beginners to 5 in each session, for the good of our horses and to ensure enough staff attention for all levels of riders.
Most campers will progress to a trot, and a few will canter during the week. We ask campers not to expect high speeds, since we can only get so far in one week together! We find plenty of adventure each week, always seeking a good balance between safety and FUN. Returning campers looking for more challenge and adventure should consider Wrangler Camp.
Campers are typically with the horses for either a morning or an afternoon session, with an occasional before-breakfast or twilight ride thrown in. (Even with small group sizes, not everyone can ride at the same time!)
Other activities vary widely each session, depending on the skills and talents of the staff and volunteers, and the interests of the campers. On the first day of each session we all circle up and make our “Possibilities List” for the week–all the things we hope to do together. All the campers are invited to share their ideas, and then we try to do as many of those things as possible! Hiking, nature crafts, games, campfires, ranch projects, “secret pals,” garden and cooking projects, salve-making and herbal medicines, swimming in the pond, mask-making, and art of all kinds are typical. We work hard, play hard, eat well, take a siesta after lunch, and sleep under the stars many nights.
2017 All-Level Horse Camp sessions:
ONE WEEK SESSIONS for ages 8-18, tuition $900:
Session 1, June 18-24, co-ed
Session 4A, July 9-15, co-ed (concurrent to a Homestead Camp)
Session 7, August 6-12, all-girls
Session 8, August 13-19, all-girls
TWO WEEK SESSIONS for ages 10-18, tuition $1680:
Session 6, July 23 – August 5, co-ed
Debating between one-week and two-week sessions? One week can be a good introduction for kids who have never been to camp before or are nervous about being away from home. But we have also noticed that children don’t fully “arrive” and settle into ranch life until Wednesday! A second week allows us to go much more than twice as far into a life-changing experience–and get much further with their riding skills, too. We have also noticed that any homesickness is generally over in the first couple of days. We recommend two week sessions whenever possible.
And of course, contact us with any questions or for recommendations on the best session for your camper!
For a taste of Horse Camp, check out this 2015 slideshow: