Longacres Riding camps
Longacres Riding camps Equestrian Site & Other Longacres horse Projects
Longacres is an equestrian and jumping oriented summer riding camps in the New York (NY) state area.
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Detailed information on our riding camps program
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Alex on "Star", one of our most promising young large ponies!
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Longacres Equestrian Riding camps Start Page -
The Longacres Riding camps is a children's summer riding camps in western New York. We are a small family style program with only ten students at a time, but we keep a large string of horses to provide for five hours a day of riding for each student! We attract many more experienced equestrian riders, but also welcome beginners of all ages.
Above: Tovah on "Quantum", our most powerful jumper!
Longacres riders attend regular horse shows at all levels, train young horses, do trail riding, are exposed to basic dressage and eventing/combined training, and just plain "hanging out with horses". It is a horse lover's paradise. And has been so for 65 years in the same family!
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Where to find more Longacres Riding camps information, below:
IF YOU ARE NEW TO Longacres Equestrian Horse Riding camps:First, you will probably want to click on the "Latest Longacres Newsletters" link above. We update that page very frequently and if there is something new in our riding camps program or a change in available sessions, it will be announced there first.
Second, click on the "Detailed information on our riding camps program" link. This page has quite detailed descriptions of how our riding camps program works, and links to numerous articles of interest to new prospects, including "A Typical Day at Longacres Riding camps".
Third, you will likely want to visit the "Schedule, Prices, more info" link to check our rates and availability of sessions. The link here works, and there are links on other pages.
Fourth, you will surely want to visit the "Penpals and References" page. This page includes e-mail addresses for a number of our Instructors and students who have offered to answer questions from people new to Longacres Riding camps. Many of them will also offer to talk with you on the phone after you have exchanged e-mails if you like.
LONGACRES RIDING CAMPS LATEST NEWS
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The Longacres Riding camps welcomes you! Be sure to click on the Longacres Latest News or Detailed Info links at the top of this page to visit the rest of our website and find out more about Longacres. Sponsored by:
Longacres - : Contact and email info,
1529 Mill Road
East Aurora, New York 14052
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Below is a copy of the text from some of our other webpages in case the above links do not work for you. The following information is better formatted if you follow the above links.
How Many Hours a Day of Riding, REALLY?
Sometimes I tell people that even if we were the worst riding teachers in the world at Longacres riding camps, you would still make a big improvement in your riding during your stay. You can't help it; by riding so many hours every day you just about HAVE to get better!
Fortunately, we also have some pretty good teachers, but nearly all of you have chosen Longacres riding camps for your riding vacation primarily because of how much riding time we offer. Our basic schedule offers five hours of riding opportunity daily, and you often will actually spend all five of those hours in the saddle. We ride from 10 until noon (part of the 11am group until 12:45), again from 3 to 5PM and again after dinner every week day. And we keep about "one and a half to two" horses for each riding camps student, so that under normal conditions there will always be a horse for everyone.
But there are times when someone may have to "sit out" a lesson. There are a hundred things that can go wrong and put some of the horses out of action for a few days. Horses pull muscles, throw horse shoes, step on sharp rocks, get saddle sores - you name it, and sometime during the summer, it will happen to one or more of our riding camps horses! Normally, we have enough extra horses to cover these losses, but sometimes not.
"A" and "B" Riders:
If we are short of horses for a lesson, we have an organized system for deciding whose turn it is to "sit-out". Every riding hour, half of you are assigned as "A" riders, and the other half as "B" riders. "A" riders always have priority - if someone has to sit out or have last choice on horses, it will be a "B" rider. Almost always, everyone gets to ride. Perhaps once every four or five lessons, someone is required to sit-out. Rarely, more than one person.
At least once a day I will see a lesson where one or more riding camps students have voluntarily decided not to ride. Five hours of riding a day is A LOT OF RIDING, especially when you first get to Longacres riding camps, and it is not uncommon for someone to simply be tired and want to take a break. As long as you are participating most of the time, we respect your decision if you ask to rest for an hour. Also, before an instructor formally asks a "B" rider to sit-out a lesson, they will ask if anyone would like to volunteer to sit-out. We also are doing more training of young horses every year, and some of you will be involved in ground work or other training certain hours.
"Tom, Can We go to the Mall?"
The most common reason for not getting in a full five hours of riding in a day, is when you riding camps students as a group ask Tom for permission to take the afternoon off and go to the Mall! We are a riding camps, and most of the time I expect you to work on your riding and take advantage of the opportunity that you are paying for here. But it is also your vacation, and we want you to have a good time. Once or twice a week, it is nice to take a break from riding camps and go into town. Usually everyone agrees that "it is time for a road trip". About the only time we have some disagreements is during the July 7th to 21st session. By then the full season students are getting a little stir-crazy, and eager to take occasional breaks. But the students here for only that two week session want to get in all the riding camps time they can. I try to balance those interests evenly.
I hope this article gives you newcomers a better idea of the time you will spend riding and how we ration that time. Almost never do we have anyone complain that they aren't getting enough riding time at Longacres riding camps.
How We Assign Horses -:
I'll tell you today a little about how we assign horses in riding camps lessons. Your first few days at Longacres riding camps we do a lot of swapping horses during lessons so that you'll get to know a number of suitable horses. We also post a chart on the wall of the barn where you can list your favorite horses. Often you will add to or change that list during the first four or five days of your session.
Horses for your lessons are assigned by one of the staff at the beginning of each day. The person doing the assignments is supposed to consider several things. First, they will check the schedule to see who is an "A" rider and who is a "B" in each lesson. They should also look at the list of favorites that each of you has posted in the riding camps barn. They will then do their best to assign one of your favorites or another of the most desirable horses to everyone who is an "A" rider each hour, with next choices going to "B" riders. This may sound a little complicated, and it is for the first few days of each session until the staff get to know you and the kind of horses you prefer.
In practice, the horse assignment process becomes very easy after the first week. We always have a few situations where two or three people have the SAME horse as their favorite, but most of our students find a favorite mount that is special only to them. Once that pattern sets up, my instructors will go out of their way to assign you your favorite horse several times a day. Because all the horses need breaks, you will also ride a variety of other horses during the day.
We also have certain riding camps lessons that are designated as "greenie" lessons, where we have everyone ride the least experienced horses and work on training them. Other lessons will be designated as "show horse" lessons where you will be assigned the horse you plan to ride in the next riding camps show.
You are ALWAYS welcome to tell the assistant instructors if there is a horse you would like to ride, but haven't yet. Generally I leave horse assignments to my assistants, but if you are never assigned a horse that you think you could safely ride, I am also very open to have you tell me personally. If I agree with you, I will mention it to the girls doing the assignments.
Summary: You will often ride your very favorite horse at Longacres riding camps, but not every hour. It is important for you to communicate and let all of us on the staff KNOW who you want to ride. (The line between communicating well and being a pest is a fine one!) Go out of your way to get to know all our horses - you may be pleasantly surprised at how well you get along with some horse that no one else particularly likes - then you will be able to ride him much more.
At Longacres riding camps we try to provide you with several things. First is the amount of riding, often five hours a day as explained above. We also offer you the chance to ride a variety of horses, including many that are real show horses, much more interesting than the average school horse you will ride at many stables. We also do our best to make sure that you are supervised by responsible assistant instructors and student-leaders during the day who have good judgement on what they can allow you to do with safety, while giving you an enjoyable time riding and learning.
But there is another very important factor in the equation that makes up the Longacres Riding camps program, and that is my personal participation in your instruction and the evaluation of your riding camps progress. I have been in the riding camps and horse and rider training business for many years, and our horses have been consistent winners at western New York shows during that time. One of the important benefits of coming to a small riding camps like Longacres is that in addition to your many hours practicing with assistant instructors, you will have direct personal attention from an experienced professional trainer.
I will get to know some of you very well during your time here. I pledge that I will pay attention to each of you and to be familiar with your riding progress and with what you should be practicing to improve.
Most days I will either teach one of your lessons personally or if I don't, I will either be video taping one of your lessons to discuss with you later or I will observe while one of the other instructors actually teaches the lesson. Either way, I will be very aware of your riding level, your progress, your strengths, and your weaknesses as a rider. I will discuss your riding regularly with the other riding camps assistant instructors, to be sure we all are doing the best we can to help you.
I will be happy to answer your questions about your riding during the day between lessons.
The barn manager and other instructors assign you horses in your daily lessons, but if you feel you are qualified to ride a horse that they do not let you ride, you are always welcome to speak with me about your request. I tell my riding camps assistants to be conservative and careful in letting you ride horses that are at the limit of your ability. They would not be doing their job if everyone always got to ride every horse in the barn that they requested, so I expect some of you to ask me for special permissions, and sometimes I will say yes. I pledge to hear you out if you have a special horse request.
Perhaps more important than anything else, I pledge to hold you to a high standard of horsemanship WHEN you ride with ME. I hope that some of you care enough about your riding to try to be your best all the time, but we recognize that Longacres is not only a riding camps, but your riding vacation, and you come here to have some fun with horses. When you are riding with assistant instructors or on trails, you will have numerous chances to ride more informally. In my lesson, you will pay close attention, both to what I am teaching you and to your horse and your equitation.
To give you an example from my lessons, I expect all my riders to be sitting up straight in the saddle with their legs on the horse and contact through both reins even while you are standing in line waiting your turn to ride a jump course. I am told that I have eyes in the back of my head! When you are lined up at the side of the ring waiting your turn, I want you to have your horse standing straight and square with the rest of the line, his nose even with the two horses on either side of you. Part of this is simply to keep you sharp and ready to perform well, but a big part is teaching you that a serious rider is "riding their horse even when they are standing still". A horse loses interest in and respect for a rider who is slouching and not paying close attention. You will be very aware of that when you ride with me.
High Standards in Return from me:
I expect a lot from you when you ride with me. I try to give you my best in return. I haul jumps all around the fields to set up interesting challenges for you. I don't get lazy very often and simply throw a single rail on a jump for you to go over - I set solid jumps with good ground lines. And I know my course design theory backward and forwards. If I tell you a line of two fences is set carefully for a five stride official horse show distance, you can bet that it will be darn close to 72 feet.
I also care about the appearance of our farm and the jumping arenas. You'll often see me on my trusty old Ford tractor or with a weed trimmer in hand right before an important jumping lesson, trimming around the jumps just so they will look pretty for your lesson that day. A horse and rider doing a fine job over a jump course is a beautiful sight, and that picture deserves to be framed with well painted and maintained jumps and a well trimmed arena. I try to provide you that at Longacres riding camps!
Lots of Video:
We have many thousands of dollars invested in professional video equipment at Longacres riding camps, and we take many hours of video of you riding during each session. We frequently meet at the main house after lunch or in the evening to review and comment on those videos. This video work and evaluation is another important personal contribution I make to your riding progress at Longacres.
I try hard to set a standard of excellence at Longacres riding camps, and to praise and reward those who work hard towards achieving that standard. I try to create an atmosphere where people try to do their best in my lessons even if they are a relatively inexperienced rider. And the better you are, the more I will expect of you! At the same time, I am realistic enough to know that this is supposed to be fun for you, and after your lesson with me, you will have many more relaxed riding opportunities. You'll also have some FUN with me! I love to include surprise gymkhana's and mounted games and contests as part of my lessons. And because I have the final responsibility for safety at Longacres, you will often have a chance to jump a little bigger in my lessons than the rest of the day. There are rewards for hard work.
Once last summer I was talking with a group of students about the day's lesson, where someone had been chastised for not paying attention. I said, "Yes, I'm kind of an old meanie."
One of the students responded, "You're strict, but you're not mean!" If you girls who are new to Longacres this year feel that way at the end of your stay with us, I will feel that I have done well.
Are you a Recreational Rider or a Serious Student?
Let me say first, that Longacres riding camps welcomes you either way! But it is important for us (and for you) to know what you really want to achieve in your riding.
I like to classify riders in three groups at our riding camps.
First are riders who enjoy being on a horse and riding, but really have no interest in learning technique or going on to any more advanced riding. I am glad to have girls with this attitude attend Longacres and take advantage of the many hours you get to ride here. But I would have to say that you are kind of wasting your money to pay to come to a place like Longacres if that is all you want to get out of horses. Still, if that is your goal, you are welcome here. We will of course teach you and especially make sure that you learn what you need to ride safely and have fun with horses. But we will be less demanding in the way we teach and evaluate you.
Second is the group that includes many students who come to Longacres. Students who love riding and who do want to polish their technique and learn to go on to more advanced riding and do some showing. Riders who are interested in learning, but who want to show mostly for the fun of it. Riders who do not consider themselves highly competitive. Riders who like riding because they love horses and spending time with them. Riders who are interested in much of what we have to teach you, but who want to be able to relax on their horse and not have too much pressure put on them in lessons. This is a fine attitude to have about your riding. I am pleased to have students like this at Longacres riding camps. Students in this catagory will get a lot out of Longacres, and will be pushed a little harder in my lessons, but I will go a little "easy" on you!
Finally, we come to the group of students who I will call serious, competitive riders. These are the girls who are competitive by nature and who have ambitions not just to go on to more advanced horse showing opportunities, but to WIN when they do. These are the students who make a point of practicing good equitation even when they are on a casual trail ride. The students who are sitting up straight and in full control of their horse even while they are standing in a line waiting their turn to jump a course. The students who during a "free ride" session on the training field are off in a corner by themselves doing dressage exercises or practicing clean lead changes while many others are riding casually with friends chatting about the day's events.
As I read over the above paragraph, it sounds as though I think every student should be a "serious competitive student". But that's not true at all! Riding is a great recreational activity, and Longacres really does welcome students who are here more for the fun and chance to learn a little more, than to win at all cost. I do, though, want you to know which kind of student you are. If you set the highest standards for yourself, I will have those same highest standards in mind when I teach you, and I will be the most demanding of your performance when you ride.
Favoritism in the Longacres Riding Program
Favoritism - preferential treatment; these are bad words around riding camps programs for children and young people. But preferential treatment exists at most institutions, and it exists in a planned way at Longacres riding camps to an extent. By frankly discussing this here, I hope to avoid resentment and jealousy as much as possible when all of you are here riding in the summer.
Longacres is a riding camps that tries hard to give all our paying students an equal chance to ride nice horses and to show if they wish.
Longacres is ALSO a competitive show stable, with a long history of fielding very successful horse and rider combinations in western New York jumper competition. We have won every possible show jumper championship in western NY over the years with horses like China Heart, Yorke Springs, Deamyn, Rameses, Tip-Off, Miscellaneous, Peppermint Patti, Leather 'n Lace, and Quantum Leap. And with riders like Julie Murray, Sue Bell, Linda Reading, Sarah Helmstadter, Sarah Pistone, Meghan Duthie, and Tovah Abrams.
Number One Rider
I think it is good for our riding camps program to have the excitement of some of our horses bringing home the blue ribbons at a show. I think it is good for our program to have one or two extremely talented riders on our team as examples to us all. Because of this, Longacres riding camps almost always has a student who is in the "Number 1 Rider" position, a student who often receives financial help from Longacres based solely on their talent and potential as a show rider.
Being "Number One Rider" at Longacres is pretty nice. And any one of you reading this article might be recruited to this position. I am always on the lookout for girls with exceptional talent and ambition who might grow into this role in our program.
Whoever is our current top rider does get some very nice benefits. They will ride our best jumper in the biggest horse shows. They will get special private training sessions from me, and may ride the top show horses extra hours in training. But heavy responsibilities come along with the rewards. If I am giving extra attention and benefits to a very fine rider, I expect a lot of them in return. I expect them to help other students in any way they can. I expect them to ride any horse that might need training or be giving someone trouble. I expect them to be always working to do the best for our horses and to assist the barn management. And I expect them to be NICE to the rest of our students and a good example as a person. Ah, that last sentence! By her very nature, a teenage girl who is a successful show jumper rider is likely to be an intense, competitive type "A" personality.
I think that some of our most recent successful top show riders have done very well at being supportive and good for the rest of our riding camps students while riding to win for Longacres. Sarah Pistone was the "it girl" in 1997 and 1998. She was one of the best riders I have ever coached. Meghan Duthie came to us for just two weeks in 1999 as an unpolished, but very gutsy and determined young rider. I was so impressed that I invited her to return for the big Hamburg Fair horse show at the end of that season, where she fell off once - - - and then WON a big class! Meghan returned in 2000 as my primary jumper rider, and was with me the following two years again as both a student and an instructor. She was a great help to me and to Longacres. Tovah Abrams moved smoothly into the #1 rider role and our head trainer position in 2003 and 2004.
We try hard at Longacres to give each student an equal opportunity to learn, to ride nice horses, and to try new things. It's just that one rider is going to get just a little bit "more equal" opportunity!
I want all of you coming to Longacres as students this year to know that those special "top rider" benefits are not given as personal favoritism because someone is a good brown-nose or suck-up. They are earned benefits and a planned part of our program. I hope that each of our students will benefit from being part of a riding camps program where excellence and success are nurtured and rewarded. And as I teach all of you this summer, I will be wondering which one of you might be a candidate to step up to that "top rider" position when Tovah Abrams outgrows Longacres and goes on to other things.
Hope this article helps you understand more about Longacres.
Let's All Get Along - June 20th, 2005
As I get ready to open the regular 2005 season, I am remembering that we are coming off one of the best years ever at Longacres riding camps last summer. We had a great group of girls who were in high spirits all summer and worked together wonderfully. Many of them are returning. I have high hopes for another great year, but anytime we have a success as great as we did last summer at Longacres I am a little nervous that we can't possibly quite measure up again. It will take effort and some accommodation from everyone if we are to have the same spirit as last year.
We have the tools in place for the same kind of year. Wonderful horses, a great show schedule, and a good core of returning riders from last summer.
Just about half our students most years are returning from last year, and half are new to us. That's a good combination for creating a good riding camps group. But our returning students must go out of their way to make all the new people feel welcome right away. There are a couple of things I do to help make that happen.
1) I try to put two girls who come together in the same bunk. But I also make sure that new students are evenly divided between our two bunks. If four of our students are here for the full eight weeks - to some of their slight displeasure, I will insist that only two of them be in the same bunk so we do not have a "clique" of full season riders at our riding camps.
2) Often when you get here, you will meet someone in "the other bunk" who you buddy up with and you might ask to change bunks the first day or two. My answer will be "no". Part of going to a riding camps is meeting new people and fitting into a group. I rarely allow a bunk switch during a session. If I do it will be later in the session, not during the first day or two.
3) We will have lots of "bonding" activities during the first week besides our regular riding program. It is a tradition at Longacres riding camps that someone will ask for a "scoonies ice cream stand" trip after a day or two!
A Typical Day at Longacres
So, with the above few qualifications, the following article on a "Typical Day at Longacres" will be useful to you. Read on!!
TYPICAL DAY AT LONGACRES:
An important part of the riding instruction plan at Longacres has always been the promise that I will directly teach or personally watch every one of you ride every day. I have high standards, and part of what you are all paying for is being exposed to those standards. We split our riders between two groups who have their most formal lesson of the day at either 11 to 11:45 or 11:45 to 12:30.
With only half of you mounted at a time, you will all have a good choice of horses for this most important lesson of the day. You will spend less time waiting your turn. I will have more time to give personal attention to each of you.
The first 11AM group starts horsecare at noon, and the second has to get ready for lunch when they get off. It's a hot day, and if there is time, you and a couple of friends may decide to take a quick lap in the canoe or go "sneaker-creeking" down at the Cazanovia Creek!
Meghan put together a lunch for each bunk and packs it in a wicker picnic basket after breakfast every day. You get together with the other kids in the bunk and decide each day whether you want to eat at your bunk, take a hike by the river, or have lunch on the patio next to the dining hall. You pick up your wicker basket and box of goodies from the refrigerator, have your picnic with the other kids in your bunk, and start back to your cabin for rest hour. (Reality Note from Tom Kranz: Though Longacres these days is a riding school with no "nature walks" or other traditional summer camp stuff, I have fond memories of many years ago when we did these things as part of the riding camps program. For this reason I encourage students to take these mid-day picnics, but I don't insist, and 90% of the time everyone plops down on the patio outside the dining hall for their lunch rather than taking the picturesque picnics I'm so fondly describing here. Oh, well!)
You meet some of your friends from the bunk next to yours who are climbing into Tom Kranz's or Meghan's car to go to town for ice cream. You ask if you can go, but there's no more room. You're a little mad that you can't go, but remember that Meghan brought snacks to your bunk for a pizza party two nights ago.
Yesterday you took a regular rest hour, sleeping in your cabin, but Tom took video's of your riding lesson this morning, and he's asked your riding group and your instructor to go up to the main house and review your videos during rest hour today. (We take about 20 solid hours of video tape every summer, and all of it gets reviewed while our students are here at Longacres.)
At 2:45 you go up to the barn to tack up for afternoon riding. You have horses assigned for both riding periods. If you hadn't already ridden two hours, you might ride straight through, from 3 to 5, but the three o'clock ride is an informal trail ride, it's hot, you're "B" group this hour and the horse you're signed up for wasn't your first choice today. You are looking forward to your second formal lesson at four when you're an "A" and one of our frequent guest instructors is teaching, so you decide to pass up the ride this hour and go back to the canoeing pond and snooze in the sun on the dock for a little bit! On your way you meet a friend who asks you to come with her to try fishing in the pond. You've never fished in your life, but you go with her for fun, and come back to the barn in time to be ready for your 4PM lesson.
You ride from 4 to 5, working in the ring most of the hour, and taking a fifteen minute trail ride to cool out at the end of the period. You help put the horses away at 5.
After dinner you go back to the barn and work on drill team practice. Other evenings, groups may have a lesson, go on a trail, work with green horses, or take a longeing lesson. You've just ridden your fourth hour today, and you could have ridden five if you'd felt more eager at 3PM. You help put the horses out to pasture for the night, and go back to your bunk to get ready for bed. Your bunk counselor asks you about your day, but right after everyone's in bed she has to leave for a staff meeting to help make riding camps horse show plans for this weekend. Some of you take this time for a shower and others go right to bed. After lights out you whisper with your cabin mates about the different horse you rode today. By the time your own counselor comes in from a riding staff meeting at 10:30, you're all asleep. (Maybe!!! - tsk)
THE LONGACRES RIDING CAMPS; 1529 MILL ROAD; EAST AURORA, NY 14052 (716-652-9495)
Is Longacres Right for You?
I wish that Longacres was the perfect place for every girl who loves horses to spend her summer, but unfortunately, we can't be all things to all people. What we ARE is a place where you can spend more time actually riding than perhaps any other riding camps in the United States!
What we ARE NOT, is a well rounded summer camp that happens to include horses. There are riding camps s like that, good ones. Places where you can ride an hour or two every day while still doing waterfront sports, crafts, drama, etc.
Longacres has NONE of that other stuff. We keep approximately two horses for each of our students, and you will ride and ride and RIDE some more, every day but Sunday. Read the article on A Typical Day at Longacres to get a better idea of what it is like here.
Choices to Make:
You have to be pretty sure that total immersion in horses will make you happy before you decide to sign up for a riding camps session at Longacres. You should also know in advance that we take only a very small group. We try to have between seven and ten riders here at a time so that we have plenty of good horses to go around. That small group works pretty well for us. It is like a family farm, with the older riders helping the younger. You have very personalized instruction, and our many professional guest instructors work closely with each and every one of you. Every time we video tape, ALL of you are taped! Those are some of the advantages of a small group.
But a small group is not to everyone's taste. Some people looking for a summer riding camps program will prefer a larger program that offers more opportunities for big group activities and the chance to make more new friends. And I can't promise you that there won't be somebody in our small group that you simply don't like. That is part of life. In a larger group setting, you can simply choose to be around a different group of people and stay away from someone you don't hit it off with. At Longacres we are forced to confront personality conflicts and deal with them. That's not ALL BAD, but it is something that you should consider before choosing a small group program like the one we offer at the Longacres Riding camps.
Year 2006 Schedule & Tuition
DOWNLOADABLE REGISTRATION FORM: signup.htm
DOWNLOADABLE REGISTRATION FORM:signup.htm COSTS: $500 per week - Pre-camp week $650 - Mother/Daughter and Alumni Session $1730 for regular two week sessions $3460 for first four week session $3200 for second half season session $5450 for eight week full season
DOWNLOADABLE REGISTRATION FORM:signup.htm
Video Of Your Shows & Lessons
Check out our description of Longacres Video productionHERE.
Elmira "A" rated show:
Although it has not been part of our schedule in recent years, most of the other stables in our area going to the big "A" rated show in Elmira, NY the final week in our first four week session. We are considering taking a few riders this year. It is a very nice show - it would be expensive, since it is 150 miles away, and there would be motel costs involved. Inquire early if you are interested. Two of our riders attended in 2003.
How to Sign Up:
Big Jumping at Camp Longacres
NOTE: The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for the Longacres Log newsletter late last year. Although this article is more concerned with advanced riders, our basic attitude towards teaching outlined here applies to all levels of riding at Longacres riding camps. Campers and parents considering Longacres for 2005 may find it an interesting look at our concern for providing excitement and opportunities for advanced riding to individuals, while maintaining a safe program. It's more complicated than you might think sometimes. Read on!
Fairness, Excitement, & Safety
I've wanted to write to all of you for some time about something that has bothered me from time to time - how upset some of you sometimes get when we jump bigger than usual and you have problems. I hope you all can show this article to your parents and talk with them. I think it will be helpful to you and to your parents in understanding how I try to balance your fun, your advanced instruction, and your safety at Longacres.
I think we do a good job at Longacres of giving you all a lot of jumping and lots of variety in jumping conditions, courses, grids, etc. But I have to set standards in regular riding classes that will keep you safe as possible. That means that some of you always have an itch to jump a little higher than you do in most of your lessons.I think that jumping bigger jumps is good training for those riders who are properly prepared and who are on a suitable horse. Obviously, jumping higher is also exciting and fun. Riding and riding camps should be fun, so long as you are still safe. To give you this kind of opportunity at riding camps, from time to time I personally hold a special "bigger jumping" opportunity, either in one of my classes, or as a special event, such as we held on the last day of camp when I let many of you jump Peppermint Patti and some of the other better horses. Whenever I do this, some of you have wonderful experiences - it is very good for you. But a few always are disappointed; some very much so. This is not good; not good that you are unhappy, and certainly not good if it really lowers your self esteem.
For parents who don't know how I hold these special jumping sessions, let me explain. I will usually set up several carefully spaced jumps that help set the horse's striding to make the bigger jumping as predictable and safe as possible. Then I gradually raise the height of the jumps as the riders take turns jumping. Using my knowledge and experience with horses, I set limits on the height each individual rider can attempt, depending on many factors, not all of them at all related to that rider's personal ability. And that's where we get some unhappiness and disappointment. As long as any particular horse and rider combination looks safe and in control, I'll let them jump. But when I see the rider having trouble controlling the horse, or even if I sense any fear or insecurity that could result in an unsafe jump, I say, "That's enough for you today."Because some riders jump higher than others, it's easy to see that there is potential for disappointment and unhappiness. What is VERY IMPORTANT for you campers to understand, is that it is NOT a reflection on you when I tell you can't jump higher. My decision is based on many things. Obviously the horse you're riding has a lot to do with it. Someone riding a very talented horse like Patti will usually be safe jumping higher than, let's say, someone riding Gary. The same horse may even be going in a safer more reliable way one day than another. Sometimes it's obvious that you should stop, say when your horse begins to try to refuse the jump, or knocks the jump down. Other times, you may feel you're doing wonderfully, but I think the horse is nearing it's limit. Several times this summer, I remember stopping Sarah Lindsey from jumping higher, and Sarah is in my opinion, one of the best jumper riders we've got. But Sarah likes riding Lewis, who has an excitable way of going, and at a certain height, I just don't think he's safe anymore., even when he seems to be clearing the jumps perfectly.
The easiest way to keep you all from having your feelings hurt or getting depressed by thinking that, "Tom doesn't think I'm good enough to jump as high as `so and so did.", would be never to jump higher than you do in day to day lessons. Keep all jumping to the lowest common level of the group, so everyone could do the same thing. But that wouldn't be Longacres. Longacres' riding camps program is great partly because we do have the horses, the jumps, and the teaching experience to take each and every one of you as far as you are capable of going as an individual. I want to challenge you - safely. I want to hold out an exciting reward for your hard work - a safe reward. And I want to send you home with stories to tell about that day at camp when you jumped a bigger and more exciting jump than ever before! - - - But I don't want you to be telling that story with a cast on your broken leg!
By no means do all of our campers ever try special bigger jumps. We teach both equitation and hunter style riding here, where the height of the jump is not important. But I have a lot of personal training and lots of interest in "Jumper" riding, where quick turns and the bigger jumps are the challenge. Longacres will always offer that kind of training and that kind of challenge to those who are interested and ready. But you have to understand that for safety's sake, eventually all of you will hear me say, "that's enough for you today." It will often come after you've had a less than perfect jump, when it's clear that you are reaching your limit for that particular day on that particular horse". Your job is to do your best not to take that event as a put-down of you and your ability. You should be proud that I think enough of your riding ability to let you attempt the bigger jumps. You should be aware that the horse you've chosen for the day has a lot to do with how high you can safely jump.
There's one more thing to say about this. I have to make judgments on how much you can do safely, and then stop you BEFORE you do something you can't handle, not JUST AFTER you do something you can't handle. Although I have many years of experience at this, I'm not always right. There are many times I've stopped riders from jumping higher, when they probably could have gone on and done more. Unfortunately, there are a few times when I haven't stopped someone, and they've had a crash. I'd rather be wrong fifty times and have you a little disappointed, than wrong once and have you hurt. Please understand that!
Longacres Riding camps
1529 Mill RoadEast Aurora, NY14052
Special links: Below are links to several web pages that exist only to help potential new students find Longacres when they use differing search terms in Google, Yahoo, etc. The information on these pages duplicates what you have read above, using very slightly different terms, such as "equestrian camp" or "riding campss" in place of "riding camps". There is no need to visit the following pages if you have read what's on this one.
English riding camps
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