One thing I have noticed lately with every trip to a local tack shop is how many kiddos are getting outfitted for riding camp, or riding lessons. And maybe I just haven’t payed attention, or maybe since we are now post COVID more parents are doing this for the children – I had no idea this was a thing anymore. Firstly, I have to say kudos to you awesome parents who are letting your children do this!
Oh how I wished I would have been able to do this when I was young!
The closest I got to it was riding a welsh pony on one of those circular horse rides that used to be at every fair and carnival I ever went to as a child. I know, it wasn’t riding camp – but to me, it was heaven!
And in case you are brand new to the world of horses, I thought I might offer a little input of what you may need to have in order to be prepared for a week of horse camp, or even just riding lessons if an overnight horse camp isn’t an option.
Let’s Get Ready For Riding Camp!
Here is a checklist of basic riding equipment your young rider needs to stay safe in the saddle regardless of where they are lucky enough to do their horse riding experience.
I am of the opinion that a child should never get on a horse, or pony unless they are wearing an ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet.
The helmet is the most important piece of equipment because it will protect your horse’s head. The importance of wearing a helmet cannot be stressed enough in my opinion. The riding instructor may have a helmet that can be borrowed – but what if they don’t?
The helmet does not need to be a top of the line show helmet, unless this is what you are prepared to buy. There are many affordable options nowadays when it comes to riding helmets.
For example, this helmet is made by TuffRider and it costs less than $30.00! It looks traditional, yet it’s affordable and will keep your young rider safe in the saddle.
When your young rider first starts out, paddock boots are an excellent first pair of riding boots. They are more affordable than tall boots, and they are comfortable enough that they can be worn for barn chores as well as riding. They will be spending just as much time on the ground as they are in the saddle. So having comfortable boots that don’t rub is very important.
Paddock boots provide extra ankle support and the boots have a small heel that helps prevent tiny feet from slipping out of the stirrups. Unlike riding helmets, you can buy second hand paddock boots, if you can find them in good repair. However a brand new pair of paddock boots are pretty affordable. You can find a decent pair of paddock boots starting around $40.00.
Then as your child progresses in their riding, and if they are serious about it, you can add in a pair of half chaps if they are getting serious with their riding before committing to tall riding boots. Half chaps fit over paddock boots and give a little more stability along with giving the overall look of tall riding boots, without the expense. They are also cooler to wear instead of tall boots.
The half chaps may or not be required for riding lessons, or horse camp. And they are fairly affordable to buy. So if I were getting my daughter ready for riding camp, I would probably go ahead and pack a pair, just in case.
These are called jodhpurs, or breeches, or riding tights. And while your kiddo can wear jeans or leggings to ensure her legs don’t chafe against the leather saddle, Jodhpurs, breeches, or even riding tights are very affordable and are worth the investment. Eventually, you’ll want to buy a pair of riding pants such as breeches or jodhpurs, especially if your child really enjoys riding and is planning on doing it a lot.
There are different styles with either knee patches, or what’s called a ‘full seat’. And this means there is extra grip sewn into the pants that help the rider ‘stick’ in the saddle. This also helps the pants last longer too.
Pay attention to the requirements of the riding camp or center for specifics of what the are requesting your child bring. They may want more traditional styles, or they might be ok with the fun patterns and colors of the newer styles of riding pants. I would just check before purchasing something your son or daughter may not be able to use.
To protect little hands from blisters and, more importantly, to ensure a solid grip on the reins, a pair of gloves is the final must have for young riders.
Look for a comfortable, ‘grippy’ breathable fabric with Velcro-fastening for an adjustable fit that are easy to put on and take off for little fingers. You can find a good pair of kids equestrian gloves for around $15.00.
What Your Child Really Needs For Riding Camp Lessons
Hopefully this will help you to get your young rider ready to hop on her first pony. It’s a good idea to know what they will need for lessons, or camp. And once you have everything ready to go, the only thing left to do is have a wonderful time at riding camp!