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Christine Adair: Radnor Hunt Stables

June 12, 2010

From time to time, we interview camp directors to get their tips for parents in planning their kids summers. I exchanged emails this week with Christine Adair at the Radnor Hunt Stables.  This was my first interview with the Camp Director of a Horseback Riding Camp, and I found her comments specific to horseback riding camps to be very helpful.

With so many camps available, how do find the right camp for your child?

I think you should consider your objectives as well as your child’s goals relative to the program you’re considering- especially as it relates to specialty camps. For example, we run a horse back riding camp- there are lots of horseback riding camps. What our camp program does best is start young riders with the intention of having them grow into technically sound riders with opportunities to show and compete. There are other camps that are focused to leisure riding. I think if you do your due diligence, the programs will start to separate themselves.

What questions should a parent ask a camp?

For any camp, I would ask:

– What are the qualifications of the instructors teaching my child?

– What are the size of the instruction groups?

– How are the lesson groups determined (i.e. age, experience, etc.)?

For riding camps I would also ask:

– What safety precautions do you take for children that haven’t ridden before?

– I would ask them to describe their typical student?

– What is offered at the stable beyond camp?

– Ask them to talk about their lesson ponies & horses… Successful riding lessons are as dependent on the horses as the instructors and the stable. You can tell a lot by the quality of horses and ponies your child will ride by the way the staff talks about them.

Many children are in camp most or all the summer. Any tips to prevent camp burn-out?

I think it goes back to choosing the right camp. If your child is enrolling in a specialty camp, find a camp where they will have the opportunity to grow through  levels, and build on the prior weeks. We see kids who have never ridden before start out on the lead line, and by the end of the summer, they’ve advanced to and intermediate group doing all kinds of things. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching when you see those kids get better in that amount of time. So… I would say if you’re enrolling your child in camp the entire summer,  choose a camp that will set goals for your child on a weekly basis, so they’re constantly achieving, and building on the week before. I think they’re less likely to burn out if they have that kind of momentum.

How should parents prepare kids for camp?

Do your education, learn about the camp activities and schedule, and communicate with your child. I think when they come in having an idea of what will be expected, they’re more relaxed, and looking forward to the happenings of the day. Make sure they have what they need for the day, whether it be a water bottle, lunch, or special equipment. And, talk to the staff about any allergies or special needs your child might have.

Please tell us what is special about Radnor Hunt.

Three things set Radnor Hunt Stables apart from other programs- in our area or anywhere else:

  • Our commitment to help each rider identify and achieve their individual goals. To that end, Susie Beale has competed at the top levels of her sport, offering an opportunity for advanced riders to compete at a high level as well as a passion for  correctly starting young riders.
  • Our horses. Each horse is cared for as an individual, whether it be a boarder, a sale horse, or our beloved lesson horses. For camp and lessons, our horses are typically former competition horses whose job is to teach our students. Our horses are as much a part of the rider’s education as the instructors, and we pride ourselves on horses that will keep the kids safe, know their job, and enjoy working every day.
  • Our staff. In addition to Susie’s long list of credentials, she has employed hand-picked instructors from New York to South Carolina whose teaching style, riding, and values fit the high standards of Radnor Hunt Stables.
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