North Fork horseback riding camps to check out this summer

Hedgewood Farm horse

Nancy Mullady of Southold grooms her horse Chelsea at Hedgewood Farm. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Perhaps Leonard Dank, owner of Fox Run Farm in Cutchogue, summed it up best when describing the benefits of horseback riding. Mastering equestrianism, it seems, can be a metaphor for succeeding at life.

“Riding, like any sport, it teaches you how to train. How to practice how to become better,” he said. “It’s a social thing, too. But mostly riding is an individual competition with yourself.”

It’s also one of those endeavors that has the benefit of being its own reward.

“The sense of accomplishment is the true value of horse riding,” Dank told us. “It builds emotional, cognitive and physical abilities to the fullest.”

If all of that sounds appealing for your children, here are some North Fork farms offering horseback riding camps this summer.

Fox Run Farm

Fox Run Farm, a 25-acre indoor/outdoor riding facility in Cutchogue, offers 10 one-week sessions of pony camp during the summer. There, children ages 5 to 14 will learn how to ride and care for horses. The program runs from 9 a.m. to noon and begins June 26. There is also a three-day immersion program during school holiday weekends.

It’s also one of the only East End facilities to offer a therapeutic riding program, which can be helpful for people with special needs ranging from autism to post-traumatic stress disorder. It was recently designated as a Special Olympics training facility.

“You can’t cure a lot of disabilities but you can sure make the adults and children maximize their abilities,” Dank said.

Fox Run Farm, 800 Cox Lane, Cutchogue, NY 11935, (631) 734-6199

The Little Red Barn

The Little Red Barn, also known as Jamesport Saddle Club, is more than just horses. Sure the farm offers a traditional pony camp in the summer, but children also get an up-close-and-personal experience with the other farm animals, which include bunnies, goats, lambs, and even a pig.

“We have so many things,” said owner Kate Nickles. “It’s a hand-on camp. They get to learn and feed the farm animals. They get to pet and play.”

Participants will also get to decorate the horses’ manes and tails and perhaps experience a visit from a vet, blacksmith and dentists.

The 40-acre farm also offers birthday parties and one-day family visits (call ahead.)

The camp’s one-week sessions begin June 26.

Jamesport Saddle Club/The Little Red Barn
353 Manor Lane, Jamesport

For information: (631) 566-1690 or jamesportsaddleclub.com

Sunnymist Farm

Sunnymist Farm in Mattituck offers a camp where children will learn to groom and ride ponies and horses and participate in arts and crafts and other fun games. There are programs for children ages 5 to 13 and all skill levels are welcome.

Weekly sessions run from July 3 through Aug. 11. The camp runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Private lessons are also available, but be sure to call ahead.

“It’s a fantastic experience to work with animals, particularly animals that are much larger than you,” noted farm owner Joanne Showalter. “It builds on a lot of different skills from day one.”

Check out their open house on May 20 from noon to 3 p.m.

Sunnymist Farm
18625 Main Road, Mattituck

For information: (631) 905-6396sunnymistfarm.com, or email sunnymistfarm@yahoo.com

Other programs:

Blue Ribbon Farm
361 Deep Hole Road, Calverton

For information: (631) 727-7388 or blueribbonfarms.net

Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp
3186 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow

For information: (516) 433-7970, ext. 11, or ccenassau.org/dorothy-p-flint-4-h-camp

Hampshire Farms
3 Bowditch Road, Shelter Island
For information: (631) 749-0156

Hedgewood Farm
4000 Main Road, Laurel
For information: (631) 298-9181

Hidden Lake Farm Riding School
Country Road 48, Southold

For information: (631) 765-9896

Highwind Farms
1150 Old Main Road, Mattituck

For information: (631) 298-4349 or highwindfarm.com

Hillcrest Sport Horses
1219 Middle Road, Riverhead

For information: (516) 768-5989

This story was originally published in Times Review Media Group’s Kids magazine