horse shadow

Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Stables is once against holding their summer long Horse Camps to teach military youth good horsemanship. This year’s camps will begin June 19 and go through to Sept. 1.

Summer Horse Camp has been a tradition for the Stables since it was established. At the camp, the instructors teach young children between ages 3 and 16 the fundamentals of riding horses. The weeks are broken up in to age groups. Trot and Tots, the 3-5 year old group with parent inclusion, is three consecutive one hour days (9-10 a.m.) where the little ones get to learn about horses and do some arts and crafts among other activities. The children are grouped in to age ranges of 5-8 year olds, 9-12 year olds, and the teen camp 12-16 year olds.

Amanda Chaves, NAS Oceana’s stable manager said she considers the camps to be a great opportunity for military kids to learn what it takes to be a horse owner. “A third of the camp is dedicated to theory lessons, barn chores and grooming so the campers understand the responsibilities that come with being a horseman. They also get to do some riding but we do a lot of grooming.”

Attire for the camp is long pants, boots or closed toe shoes with a heel, and a horse riding helmet. Closed-toed shoes are worn for the safety of the riders. Cowboy or paddock boots are preferred because they keep the riders shoes from slipping out of the stirrups. Helmets are to be bought ahead of time. Only horse riding helmets are accepted for safety purposes. There are eight children in each class and each child is assigned their own horse out of the 27 government owned horses that reside at the stables. The classes are arranged in small groups to ensure that each student gets an ample amount of attention.

“These kids don’t only learn to ride horses,” Chaves said. “They learn responsibility, leadership skills, caring for an animal and how to work as a team. These lessons help the children in their lives outside of horsemanship.”

The camp is for DOD dependents only and is designed to provide a pleasant, discounted experience. The Stables do not provide lunch during camps but campers do get time to stop for a snack. Each older kid group camp is five days long and runs from 9 a.m. to noon and costs $270. The Trot and Tots camp is three days for one hour each day; parent participation is required, and it costs $75. Full payment is due at registration. The classes normally have waiting lists so it is highly recommended to sign up as soon as possible.

“If your child shows interest in horses and learning to ride this camp is a great introduction,” Chaves said. “The children who participate in the camp also get priority for our Riding Lessons program.”

Horse Camp is designed to provide a safe, friendly and fun way for military kids to get into horses and equestrianism.

For more information and dates of the program, call the NAS Oceana Stables at 757-433-3255.

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