For a quarter of a century, young riders and horse enthusiasts from around the United States (and Canada) have participated in a unique camp experience: The Summer Riding Program at William Woods University.
This year, over seventy-five riders from all corners of the country are heading to William Woods to improve their equestrian skills. The first session will take place July 2–7 for riders ages 14–18, with the second session July 9–14 for riders ages 10–13.
Participants take riding lessons in the hunter, saddle seat, and western disciplines, and can be anywhere from beginner to advanced. They ride William Woods horses and receive lots of hands-on training from the university’s equestrian faculty and students, as well as lessons on tack and equipment, anatomy, horse health, and more. The students also organize and compete in camp horse shows to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
“I am very excited to be a part of the 25th annual Summer Riding Program,” says Jennifer Petterson, associate professor and chair of the Equestrian Studies division. “We’ve strengthened the program a great deal over the years. I can’t think of many summer horse camp experiences with the quality of instructors, the facility, and the horses that WWU offers. Campers may be riding a horse who has won a world championship.”
One of the best parts of the program: the camaraderie. “Every camper is a horse crazy kid, and that means instant friends and a common bond between everyone,” shares Petterson. “We emphasize safety and learning, while working to make sure that they have opportunities to create lasting friendships with campers from all over the country who ride all kinds of horses.”
Molly O’Connell, a 17-year-old competitive hunter and equitation rider from Blue Springs, Mo., has attended the camp for the last eight years. “Camp has helped me become more well-rounded and flexible as a rider,” she shares. “I have learned different techniques and styles to successfully ride all kinds of horses. Everyone at the camp is welcoming and energetic; it’s easy to make friends from all walks of life and riding disciplines. This is truly a fun and special learning experience.”