A Parents’ Guide to Kids’ Horseback Riding Camp Preparation

Two young girls with strawberry blonde hair are standing in a grassy field. The girl on the right is wearing a pink top with purple pants and black boots. She is holding the lead rope attached to a small black pony. The girl on the left is wearing a light blue long sleeve shirt and navy blue pants. She is holding the lead rope attached to a slightly larger white pony.

Your budding young horse lover is about to have a dream come true: submersion in horses and ponies at an upcoming camp! Great experiences for young and beginning riders, most horse camps include riding lessons plus unmounted instruction on horse handling, grooming, feeding, tack cleaning and barn chores.

Camp days are packed with activities, education—and opportunities to make new friends of the two- and four-legged varieties. At Dover Saddlery, we’ve outfitted thousands of riders for horse camps. Here’s how to prepare your youngster for a good camp experience. We’ve included a brief explanation about the importance or benefits of each item on our list.

Must-Have Horse Camp Equipment

The front view of a greyish blue TuffRider riding helmet.

Riding Helmet: Your camp may offer the use of an equestrian helmet, or you may wish to purchase your child’s own. Either one should meet the current safety standard and should be labeled ASTM F1163-15/SEI Certified. The helmet should fit snugly, fasten securely, allow a clear line of vision and stay in place as your child moves. Helmets made for bike riding do not offer enough protection for horseback riding and should not be substituted for a well-fitting equestrian helmet.

Example: TuffRider® Starter Helmet

Black paddock boots with zippers on the front.

Boots/Closed-Toe Shoes: Your child’s footwear should feature a one-inch heel. The heel is a safety measure that helps prevent a foot from sliding through a stirrup. The boot or riding shoe should preferably be made of leather or synthetic leather (as opposed rubber) for overall foot protection. Zip- or lace-front paddock boots are a perfect choice for camp because they can carry your rider through all the activities of the day.

Example: Riding Sport™ Kids’ Provenance Zip Paddock Boots

Dark grey riding tights with light blue thread details.

Breeches, Jodhpurs or Tights: Riding pants give kids a comfort and performance advantage over jeans for riding. Breeches, jodhpurs and tights are made of smooth, stretchy and snug-fitting fabrics that resist bunching and let riders move freely. Seams are generally minimal or strategically placed to avoid chafing skin. Reinforced or grippy areas at the knees, called knee patches, offer added stability and support in the saddle.

Example: Riding Sport™ Kids’ Poppy Knee-Patch Tight

Optional Horse Camp Equipment

Magenta colored riding gloves with black palms. On top of the thumb area is a white cartoon unicorn.

Riding Gloves: Thin and stretchy, riding gloves protect hands from friction caused by reins. Areas in contact with reins are reinforced to add durability and coverage. Children, especially beginning riders, can be fussy at first about the feel of riding gloves but they are worth considering for safety.

Example: Kids’ Perfect Fit Gloves

An aqua blue long sleeve quarter-zip shirt.

Riding Tops and Tees: Any comfortable shirt that lets a rider move freely will work well. Riding shirts, however, are made of performance fabrics loaded with benefits. The lightweight fabrics wick sweat, provide breathability and stretch freely. Some shirts are made of cooling fabrics or have cooling mesh inserts. Many riding shirts offer amazing UV protection, shielding skin from sunburn.    

Example: CoolBlast® 100 Kids’ Colleen Long Sleeve Shirt

A pair of black suede half chaps and black paddock boots.

Half Chaps: If your child will wear paddock boots, they can be topped with half chaps. This lower legwear creates the look and feel of a tall riding boot. Half chaps go on and off easily and provide comfortable, extra protection and support to the rider’s lower legs.

Example: Riding Sport™ Kids’ Synthetic Suede Half Chaps

You can also shop our entire selection of Kids’ apparel and equipment here.

If you have any questions on fitting your child with riding apparel, we’re here to help. We’re particularly careful about helmet fit. We also take pride in offering starter items at budget-friendly prices, perfect for growing riders or those just getting introduced to equestrian sports. Stop by any of our Dover Saddlery retail locations or give us a call! On our website, our Equestrian Library is also a great free resource.

Is your summer riding camp checklist complete? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

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