Camps get kids outdoors and in saddles

Novice horseback riders will be trotting around hundreds of acres of Shelby County this summer as they fall in love with new animals and new hobbies.

Susie Clements, owner of Cameron Oaks Farm in Westover, is one of many farm owners hosting a summer horseback camp.

“The thing we really wanted to focus on was having something for the whole family,” Clements said. “There’s not only the training rings, but a playground for the smaller kids and a miniature petting zoo. They can really get the full farm experience.”

The Clements opened their 50-acre farm for their daughter who’s shown horses on the national level. They opened to the public this year and have two trainers who live on site.

Barbara Grubbs is one of the trainers. She began training kids in the hunter jumper sport more than 25 years ago.

“This sport teaches responsibility. It teaches sportsmanship,” Grubbs said. “It’s a partnership between animal and child.”

Cameron Oaks’ camps began June 1, but another will open July 20-24. Each camp will last from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day and will focus mainly on riding skills and animal care. Students will perform their skills for parents on the Friday evening at the end of camp. There will also be a specific Horse Show Camp Aug. 3-7 for more experienced riders looking for an overnight camp.

Sharing the love of horses with families sparked Ginger Alred’s interest in hosting a summer camp as well.

Alred lives in Riverchase but purchased a farm in Jemison 20 years ago. Although Alred grew up riding horses, she has not been able to ride for eight years due to a back surgery. Her Mystic Highlands Farm allows her to teach others instead.

“I wanted to share my love of horses with others,” Alred said. “We’re trying to make [the farm] a center for family and a place for kids to get out and get active.”

Mystic Highlands offers four riding trails, fishing and horse-drawn wagon rides for kids. The summer camps, which begin July 6, include daylong lessons on everything from trotting to grooming.

“Anyone who comes to the farm gets experience not only riding, but in how to take care of the horse. It’s more than just riding all day,” Alred said.

Numerous other stables and farms plan to host camps this summer. Some of those camps include:

Clairmont Show Stables

Location: Sterrett

Dates: June 17-19 (Camp for riders 5-8 years old), June 23-27 and July 14-18.

Times: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Tuesday-Friday

This camp is designed for campers to learn horsemanship and riding skills. Campers will participate in daily lessons and activities. For more information, call 672-3174.

Shelby Oaks Farms

Location: Wilsonville

Dates: June 8-13 and July 20-25.

Times: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Shelby Oaks Farms is co-owned by trainer Christie Saunders. Saunders provides kids with two riding sessions and games throughout the day. For more information, visit Shelbyoaksfarm.net.

Windwood Equestrian Center

Location: Pelham

Dates: June 8-12

Times: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Windwood Equestrian Center offers a week-long camp for kids age 5 and up. The camp will focus on the basics of English riding disciplines. The camp will also include demonstrations on grooming and horsemanship. For more information, call 907-5373.

For more information on Cameron Oaks Farms, visit CameronOaks.com. For more information on Mystic Highlands Farm, please call 688–1223 or 266–8386.