From its beginning over 90 years ago, Brown Ledge has committed to teaching real horsemanship, refusing to be satisfied with the ordinary policy of merely providing an opportunity to ride.

Brown Ledge has gone through many changes in its riding program since its inception. Both horse care and riding instruction have evolved over the years, and we have made a point of tailoring our program and hiring staff that keep us up to date on the current methods of both endeavors. We provide instruction in both Hunt Seat and Combined Training (a combination of basic dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping).

Brown Ledge campers make progress that is genuine and measurable through weekday riding lessons. The ability to practice each day what they learned the day before gives our riders an advantage over those who only have lessons that occur once each week. It also gives the avid “horse loving” campers an opportunity to spend as much time as they like around horses!

There are, in our experience, two very distinct lines of interest among campers who ride. There are those who eagerly absorb all of the instruction they can get, want to show or event, and hope to someday be owners and trainers. There are also those campers, equally important, who think of riding as pure recreation, who want instruction aimed at giving them the skills necessary to enjoy – safely – the pleasure of being able to handle a horse with confidence. The Brown Ledge horsemanship program answers the aims of both groups by providing lessons that are tailored to each rider’s needs, both on and off the horse.

Riding Lessons

Campers are grouped according to their ability for daily, one-hour riding lessons. Class size ranges from 3-8 campers, with beginners starting in the smallest groups. We find that Brown Ledge riders can make significant advances in four or eight weeks of daily riding. Those just beginning can expect to learn to groom, saddle, and bridle their horses, to mount, and dismount, and to lead and “cool off” their horse after riding. Under control at the walk and trot, beginners will make progress on position and aids, and even play a few games to work on balance and confidence.

More advanced riders will have ample opportunity to improve their equitation on the flat, practice the basics of dressage, and learn to jump single fences first and then a course. Depending on interests, there may be opportunities for trail riding or jumping on a course outside the riding rings. On occasion, outside clinicians come to camp and give instruction to the upper-level classes.

All riders are required to show up 15 minutes before their lesson to groom and tack the horse they are assigned to ride that day; they then stay 15 minutes after their lesson to un-tack and cool down their horse if it is not to be used in the next class. Learning to groom and tack up a horse is very much a part of horsemanship, as horse care is important both on and off the horse. Brown Ledge takes pride in teaching our riders the importance of properly caring for the animals that provide them so much pleasure.

Stable Management

In addition to riding instruction, Brown Ledge teaches Stable Management. 

Every camper who rides will learn to be responsible for the basics of grooming, tacking, cooling, and watering their horse. Those that wish to go beyond the basics may receive instruction in a wide variety of topics from feeding, anatomy, and conformation, to ailments and vet care, to tack, stable care, and more. Some campers who are beginner riders, or do not ride at all, have advanced through the stable management program because of their love of animals. An array of classes is offered during regular activity hours.

Beginners to horse care at Brown Ledge learn:

  • How to groom
  • How to halter and hand walk a horse
  • How to feed and water
  • How to clean a stall

Intermediate and Advanced instruction includes:

  • Basic healthcare and treatment procedures
  • Lectures on equine diseases and when to call a Vet
  • Lectures on equine conformation
  • How to fit tack to a horse and what kind to use
  • Basic training and conditioning techniques
  • What to look for from farriers shoeing horses

Riding Facilities

We are very proud of the renovations and updates at the Brown Ledge Stables. Our stable provides a good example for our campers as to how horses should be housed and cared for.

We have 32 box stalls, each with its own water supply, almost all with a window and all with cross ties, creating a safe environment for grooming and tacking. Two large barn fans keep the barn well ventilated and cooler for both the horses and campers on hot summer days. Hay is stored in a separate enclosure for safety reasons.

In addition to our stable, we have three outdoor rings for lessons, all overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain. The two large rings have their own set of standards, rails, and flower boxes for those riders learning to jump. We also have access to both open fields and woods to ride outside the rings, for those riders that are capable.

Horses are turned out on non-riding days to relax, spend some time with their “buddies” and stretch their legs!

Horse Shows and Events

Camp horse shows provide our riders with the opportunity to demonstrate their newly acquired skills and to gain experience in a competitive environment. Brown Ledge hosts one in-camp horse show at the end of each session. Campers who have regularly participated in an intermediate- or advanced- level riding class that session are eligible to ride in one or two events throughout the day. Each class shows in front of a qualified judge. Campers are assigned to one of the horses that has been in their classes all session, and ride along with others from their daily lessons, exhibiting their new abilities on horseback. They are judged on the skills they have been taught in class and ribbons are awarded at the end of each class.

Beginner and low-intermediate riders participate on the same day in a Gymkhana, showing off their newly learned skills by participating in competitive games on horseback. These games have been practiced in class and are great fun for the riders, with “bunkies” and parents coming to watch and cheer them on! Ribbons are also awarded.

More advanced classes get to perform twice on show day, being judged once on flat work and once over fences adjusted to their level. Campers who wish to learn about running a horse show are encouraged to be involved in helping to both setup and run the shows and Gymkhana. Parents are always welcome and encouraged to come and watch.

Drill Team

The Drill Team has been a part of Brown Ledge’s Riding program for many years, and the annual Drill Team performance occurs whenever there are enough advanced riders to make up a team. This coordinated horse drill, designed and led by campers and junior counselors, is performed from memory and is set to music. It is performed midday at the August camp horse show, as part of the 3-day Final Events Program, in conjunction with the Theatre Department’s Musical and the Waterfront’s Aquacade.

Only the best riders are chosen for the team of 10-12 troopers and 4 color guards. The two Drill Captains are chosen from the advanced class by the riding staff, and the Captains themselves then choose the troopers and color guard after a series of auditions (held in the intermediate and advanced riding classes).

Once the captains have designed the movements of the drill and picked their music, practice begins. These practices are outside of regular riding classes and are usually held at the day’s end or early morning. It is a significant honor, and also a significant time commitment, to be a part of the Drill Team.

Meet the Staff

Meet the Horses