Horse Summer Camp Craft and Game Ideas
Learning How to Budget: How much does horse tack cost?
Every summer, we have our campers' parents sign permission slips to take a field trip off the stable grounds and to our local tack shop.
Out of politeness, we always gave our tack shop a call to let them know we were coming - they welcomed us with open arms! The manager was very friendly and always gave us a tour along with answering the never ending amount of questions from the children.
To get started with our project, we would pair up the campers and give them a budget. The budget would include enough money to purchase all the necessities for horse ownership - including horse tack, first-aid items, brushes, etc. Of course, its up to you to set up the guidelines as to what items the children should be shopping for. If some of the children are young, we would team them up with an older camper, one who could count better and we sometimes would exclude a saddle and bridle to make the math easier.
Back at the farm, we would discuss what each pair would and why. Some children would buy used tack and therefore had more money to buy more horse care items. It was fun and interesting to see what the kids would come up with. We would judge the project and pick the pair who we thought got the best deals and were able to budget correctly with the items they really needed.
This project can be done without a tack shop as well! Last year our tack shop closed and we were forced to use catalogs instead but the kids had just as much fun!
Horse Painting - Make it Educational and Paint Horse Body Parts!
It is a not summer camp here without a little bit of horse painting! We use non-toxic and washable finger paint (can be purchased from any craft store) on the horses and allow the campers to paint a few of the horses. We give the kids a choice of paintbrushes to use or they may choose to use their fingers. Campers of all ages have fun with this activity as the older kids use paintbrushes and create some really beautiful master pieces while the younger campers enjoy painting more with their hands!
We like to judge the horsey-Picassos after the painting is done and we always have several categories such as "Most Creative" and "Most Unique" but come up with your own idea!
The paint can go fast as most horses are a large surface area to cover so it may be ideal for you to put the paint in bowls to limit the amount of paint. No refills!
Usually before we let the kids free draw on the horses, we go over the body parts. We will have one kid paint a blue star on the horse's left hindquarter or ask a camper to put a handful of paint on the horse's fetlock!
I recommend washing the horses right after this activity as the longer the paint stays on, the harder it is to get off! To be on the safe side, do not use the paint on a horse you plan to show the next day or two! The paint does come completely off but sometimes it takes a day or two for all of it to come out in its entirety.
PAINT VARIATION: I did not have any paint one day and was too lazy (and cheap!) to run out to the store and buy some so instead I made a completely safe and chemical-free paint out of flour! I put flour in several small bowls and had the kids use food dye to create and mix the colors they wanted to use (be forewarned, food dye stains so please use supervision!). I added just enough water to make the flour into a paste. Not a liquid but a goopy, paste. This flour paint comes out very thick on the horse's coat so it would be hard to use paintbrushes but it worked in a pinch when I needed it!
PAINT VARIATION TWO: Kool-aid is another way to paint horses but it does not work on horses' coats unless they are grey or very light colored. The kool-aid will color a sorrel or chestnut horses' mane (or lighter color) and it will also color any white marking on any horse. To make kool-aid paint, added a small amount of water - just a little at a time - until it forms into a paste. It can also be used in human hair! *Be aware that kool-aid is mostly sugar and it does attract flies in the summer time!
Flour Paint - Cheap Alternative and Chemical-Free
For our daily grooming routines that all campers must complete before they ride their assigned horses, we like to have grooming contests! One day our winner will be "Cleanest Horse" where the camper with the horse that is the most spotless wins which includes the mane and tail brushed out, coat, legs, head, belly, etc. Another day we will have "Most Creative" or "Most Craziest" which cleanliness is a main factor but we let the campers use extra items such as braiding bands, hair clips, stickers, and more!
Cheap and Easy Ideas for the Summer Camp Horse Salon:
- To make your own horse nail polish, use non-toxic and washable paint. To make your own glitter horse nail polish, use glitter and strong hair spray!
- To make glitter gel for mane, tail, and body, use glitter and hair gel.
Scavenger Hunt - Barn Edition
Create a scavenger hunt - it is very quick and easy! I typed up a list of 20 or so questions related to the barn and our horses. For the younger campers, we did the hunt together and the older, more advanced campers did the hunt in small groups or pairs.
Here's an example of questions:
- Name three horses in the barn that are chestnut in color.
- Name two horses in the barn that are grey. (Trick questions - only one grey horse at our farm!)
- Name all the horses that have a "STAR" marking on their faces.
- Find and collect a hoof pick.
- Name three brands of horse saddles in the barn (Campers physically needed to examine saddles)
Use your imaginations - possibility of questions are endless! You can make the questions easier or harder depending on campers abilities!
Horse Treat Making
This was a big hit with the campers as they were excited to feed their horses the treats they made! Each camper was assigned a job - measuring, mixing, pouring etc. We used the following recipe as our base:
Basic Horse Treat Recipe
4 cups dry oatmeal
6 tablespoons molasses
Combine all of the ingredients. Add enough water to make a soft dough and stir well. Form cookies and put them in the oven at 365 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
You could of course use your search engine and look for other "horse treat recipes". Using our basic recipe, we would have bowls of shredded or chopped apples, carrots, pears, grain, oats, etc to be added before the cookies go in the oven. Kids were able to make their own flavors and decorate their own cookies how they wanted for their horses!
Upcycled Painting - Old Horseshoes & Brushes
What better way to reuse used horseshoes and grooming brushes by having campers paint them! After 50 years of running a horse farm, we have accumulated a large collection of brushes! As the brushes get over-used and bristles break, I put them to the side and wait for summer to come for the campers to paint them. Its better than just throwing them out and allows me to clean up the barn a bit at the same time!
I buy acrylic paint from a craft store in several colors and squirt a bit of each color in a few paper bowls for easy clean up and less waste.
Used horseshoes are another great craft for the campers to make! Nails must be taken out of the horse shoes as they are dangerous and sharp! I briefly scrub the shoes in water to get some of the dirt off but no need to make them clean as they are just going to get painted! The campers have fun guessing what horseshoe was on which horse and they usually paint the shoes with their horse's name on it. When dried, ribbons can also by tied on and through nail holes. Campers can bring home and hang their horseshoes - a memory that lasts a lifetime!
In-hand Obstacle Course
Give campers the confidence they need to handle their horses as well as challenging them with an in-hand obstacle course.
Be sure to give clear and concise directions on how to correctly handle a horse on the ground such as:
- Hold the lead rope in your right hand approximately 12 to 18 inches below the clasp. Hold the remainder of the lead rope in your left hand - be very careful not to wrap the slack around your hand!
- Walk your horse from the near (left) side.
- Leave at least a foot or so between you and the horse.
- Keep your shoulder between the horse's shoulder and its head.
- Cluck, kiss or tell your horse to "Walk."
- Look forward as you walk, don't look at your horse (it is a sign of aggression that may scare the horse or make him move away).
- Tug on the lead rope if the horse walks faster or tries to walk away.
- Tell your horse to "Whoa" periodically to make sure he is paying attention. Do not let him walk off; make him stop. Pat and praise him to reinforce good behavior.
Set up an obstacle course but before attempting to have the kids practice, show them first how each part is done. After you show them, you can have them work in stations before having them go one-by-one.
Make a very simple course for younger campers and you can make a more skilled course for the advanced campers!
Here are some ideas: (Pick according to level!)
- Weave cones
- Halt in a box made from poles. Reverse out of box. Full circle in box.
- Back Up
- Turn on the haunches or forehand
- Trot poles
- Leading from opposite side
There are no limits to what you can do - you can keep changing it!