I grew up with horses, so it is no secret that I REALLY would love to see my kids get into horses and horseback riding. However, my oldest is sweet and sometimes a little timid, so I do not want to push anything on him that he is not ready for. What I needed was an experience, not a lesson quite yet, to allow him to test the waters. I wanted to find out if he is interested in horses, or whether he can learn the basics first without me having to purchase a package of lessons or a horse itself. (I mean, I would love to, but hubby says no.)
Good news, such an experience does exist at Horse Mini-Camp at Pferde Farm in Old Mill Creek. Pferde Farm specializes in lessons only, without horse boarding or sales, and developing the rider. During the spring and the summer there is a one-day mini-camp (which you can sign up for multiple days) that is two and a half hours long that introduces your four to 12-year-old child to some of the very basics of being with horses.
I took my five-year-old son to the spring camp. He was very excited to show up in his brand new cowboy boots he received for his birthday. We were greeted by Joe and Debbie, the ringmasters of Pferde Farm and their lovely young assistants. We started by signing waivers and took a tour of the barn. Many of the kids had been to the previous camp sessions, as a camp was held Monday, Wednesday and Friday of that spring break week, but we were there to begin on Friday. The kids were introduced to grooming (or horse brushing), and instructed on how to use it, and were given their own tools to go brush the horses.
Three magnificent horses were brought in for the kids to interact with, and brush and groom. At least one of the horses had a very impressive resume of high-level dressage work. After the horses were groomed, the assistants put the saddles and bridles on two of the horses and led them into their large, indoor arena. Here the kids put on helmets and took turns going for a ride on the horses. When not riding, the students were invited to walk along with the instructor and observe firsthand until it was their turn. The instructors quickly built the confidence of the students. My son had a huge smile on his face as he was being led around, and was eventually allowed to take the reins himself.
After the time in the arena and the horses were put away, the kids were given an art project, where they painted a canvas (like a real canvas, not cheap piece of construction paper!) and attached their own horse to it. This is my son’s painting, the horse is eating an apple, although it might look like Mr. Horse is bleeding from the mouth.
After art and craft time, while the masterpieces dried, the kids were given a generous lunch to refill their energy after a busy morning at the farm.
The facility is big, beautiful and well maintained. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the barn and how healthy, happy and well cared for the horses were. There are two viewing areas for parents and families to watch lessons or camps in comfort. And half of the barn can be closed up and heated, which makes it perfect for winter events. Besides lessons and camps, the farm loves to host birthday parties, events, schooling shows and more.
My only concern was that there was not a talk about being safe around horses given during the tour, or before they interacted with the horses. One did happen eventually, but I think it should have happened much earlier. Perhaps this was explained on Monday or Wednesday, but it bears repeating when there are new students.
I anticipate bringing my son again, and my daughter (who is two) was begging to be a part of it as well.
Check out their summer day and week-long camps and sign up before they fill up.
41770 N. Hunt Club Road, Old Mill Creek | (847) 840-5278
Disclosure: This review was unsolicited and the writer received no compensation for her review. All thoughts and opinions are her own.