Last year, a question on Yahoo! Answers stated, "Are there any summer camps for someone interested in horse racing?" The questioner was specifically looking for a place to, "learn about horse racing [and] go to racetracks." As it turns out, the summer of 2012 has a wide range of camps for kids that love horse racing, jockeys, saddlery, and the art of being a blacksmith.
While some of these are day camps, do not forget that out-of-town people can still attend and turn this opportunity into a family mini-vacation. As your kids are having fun all day at horse racing camp, you and your partner, relatives, or family friends can enjoy some kid-free tourist time (wine tasting anyone?).
Altogether, these camps give every child from each kind of physical or learning background a chance to interact directly with the world of horse racing.
2012 Churchill Downs camp?
In June 2007, Churchill Downs opened their doors to children 5-12 years old for a horse racing camp. While it was pricey and short lived ($150 for two days), the camp included, "experts from the racing industry, including jockeys, trainers, veterinarians, and a wide variety of other professionals who will explain and interact with the children about the care and training the horses receive."
With so much excitement, is it safe to assume that the Churchill Down horse racing camp was repeated? Sadly, this camp may have been discontinued. On the other hand, the Bluegrass Riding Academy outside of Lexington, KY offers similar benefits, lasts longer, and takes you on field trips to, "visit famous horse farms, equine veterinary hospitals, Kentucky Horse Park, Keeneland and Churchill Downs."
Bluegrass Riding Academy is for ages 8-15 and limits to 12 overnight campers per week. Campers can stay for one week or sign up for multiple weeks. For more horse camps in the Bluegrass State, consult MySummerCamps.com.
Camps for kids that dream of being jockeys
Most kids are spending their summer at basketball, soccer, lacrosse, or football camp. However, what about children that dream of riding a horse during a race? For two days, Norwalk, Ohio will host a Jockey Camp from July 27-29. For alarmed parents, do not worry. This camp is very safe and no real horses are used.
For three days, there is simulated training on "Equicizers" and kids also learn how to get careers in the Thoroughbred horse racing industry such as being a jockey and exercise rider. In addition, there is the exciting opportunity for kids to listen in on celebrity surprise phone calls from leaders in the horse racing industry.
Canada's harness racing youth camps
As part of Canadian law, some of the monies from taxation on bets at horse racing tracks is given to a youth program called Hands on Horses. With that, the Ontario Harness Racing Youth Camp is having its 10th Year Anniversary and this year's camps will be held from June 27 to August 25 at four raceway locations. According to the website, these camps are geared toward kids from 10-13, lasts about three to four days, and includes two exhibition races.
Kids that want to be breeders and trainers
Working with horses means being akin to their souls. This specific skill is now commonly referred to as horse whispering. At the SHHR Summer Horse Whispering Camp website, its states that this is for kids that, "want the experience of being with horses in a kind and respectful way."
They further state that, "this camp is perfect for sensitive children who are not interested in bullying or hurting a horse." Held from July 23 to August 10, the four day camp is divided into three age group weeks starting at age 3-5 and up to age 11.
A camp for making perfect horseshoes
Pounding molten metals into molds and beating it into horseshoes is an art still needed at racetracks around the world. Thankfully, a horse camp that features the blacksmith trade is opening their doors to kids again this year. At the Bar 717 Ranch Camp in Hayfork, CA, learning to be a blacksmith is only one of many old-fashioned West Coast horse farm programs and activities that kids will learn.
Farrier, groomer, and equine care camp
Does your child fancy a kind of career with horses that involves cutting their hair, keeping horses looking camera-ready, and understanding their nutrition? Behind the scenes of every good horse racing team is a proper stable. Speaking to this group of specialized needs, the Ellis House and Equestrian Center in Manooka, IL has pony day camps ranging from one to five days and covering ages 3-13.
These day camps are described by the Morris Daily Herald and are said to include instruction on, "horse behavior, safe handling, first aid, feeding, grooming, stabling and tack care." The Ellis House website says that their organization wants to provide, "a safe and welcoming environment to learn and experience first hand the lifestyle of a working farm and holistic horse care."
Horse saddlery and braiding classes
For 52 years, Okanagan Saddlery served the horse industry from their headquarters in Vernon, B.C. Canada. Of course, retirement was inevitable for the owner, but there is still a chance to learn from this unique master tradesman. While the shop is closed to everything but special orders, they are currently offering a 4 week long saddle making and braiding classes.
To participate, you must call the telephone number at their website to inquire about the next available class.
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Maryam Louise is life-long participant of summer sports and recreation through her experiences living next to Lake Barkley on Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky. In her lifetime, she has also traveled to many of the world's nature reserves and parks in Iran, Switzerland, Yemen, Mexico, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States.