You get to improve your riding skills AND drink a lot of wine — here’s why you definitely need to try a riding camp this year
1. There’s a camp out there for everyone — from dedicated dressage camps to riding confidence courses. Many riding clubs run summer camps, usually over a weekend, and some equestrian centres offer camps, too. Normally, the cost of around £250 to £350 includes two lessons per day, stabling for your horse and camping or accommodation for you. Do your homework — think about what you’d like to get out of the experience and hunt around for the camp that best suits your needs.
2. If the word ‘camping’ summons up horrifying memories of shivering inside a damp sleeping bag as your dad tries desperately to stop the tent from blowing away in a howling gale, don’t be put off! You don’t have to sleep in a tent — unless you want to! Most people choose to sleep in their lorry or trailer (just make sure the sealant round the doors and windows is definitely watertight first!) Or failing that, book a local B&B.
3. Don’t fret that you’ll hold everyone back — or vice versa, that you’ll get frustrated because the pace isn’t fast enough for you. Everything is tailored to rider ability, so you’ll be with people working at a similar level. Expect to be pushed out of your comfort zone though — that’s really the point of an intensive riding weekend.
4. If there’s something about your riding you’d like to improve — whether that’s your dressage marks, shaving seconds off your cross-country time or getting more confident around a course of showjumps — this is your chance to really blitz it. Most camps offer two lessons per day, and you’ll be asked to fill in a form detailing your strengths and weaknesses and what aspect of your riding you’d most like to work on. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you progress without any everyday distractions — just you, your horse, an instructor, and a bunch of people egging you on. Bliss.
5. If you don’t know anyone else going, don’t worry. There are usually plenty of ‘solo travellers’ at camp. If there’s one thing that you’re guaranteed to bond over, it’s horses, so you won’t stay lonely for long.
6. There’s nothing more enjoyable than relaxing with a glass of wine and good company after a hard day’s riding. Also, it’s a proven scientific fact that sleeping out in the open (well, almost) completely prevents hangovers, so you don’t have to worry about the effect on your riding the next day — honest!
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7. Whatever your level of experience, it’s an opportunity to improve your skills, meet new people (or hang out with old friends) and bond with your horse. What’s not to love?