Today is National Day of the Horse and we invited Camp Sycamore Hills Equestrian Assistant Jen Vaughn to give us some insight on the equestrian center and Camp Sycamore Hills.

Happy National Day of the Horse! This is a day where we celebrate our equine friends and all that they bring into our lives.

If you have visited Camp Sycamore Hills in the last 40 years or so, you are sure to have made some amazing memories while here! Who could possibly forget our red barn, slide, swinging bridge, or – of course – our herd of horses? Currently, Camp Sycamore Hills is home to more than 40 horses that come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and ages. But camp hasn’t always had horses, and riding wasn’t offered as an activity until 1971. Back then, girls could attend two-week horseback riding camp sessions for only $55!

So many things have changed over the last 43 years… The original herd of horses was stabled in what is now the craft barn, but, like all great things, we grew! A larger barn was built in 1980, followed by a covered arena. Then we grew again. Now, with another new barn built in 2010, our horses are each able to have their own stall, and we can give more horse experiences to Girl Scouts in Middle Tennessee. Last year alone we were able to offer about 6,000 horse experiences!

Juliette Gordon Low was an avid horse lover and had her own horse named Fire when she was a girl. Horses have been a part of Girl Scouts for nearly as long as Girl Scouts has been around! If you are able to look through the very first handbook, you’ll see all of the requirements for the Horsemanship Badge. A few of these requirements included being able to walk, trot, gallop, groom a horse properly, and tack up for riding or driving.

At Camp Sycamore Hills, we have kept to the spirit of the original requirements while also adding our own spin for programs, workshops, and summer camps. Some of what we do focuses on riding such a trail and arena rides and weekly lessons. Other activities focus on building your horsemanship skills on the ground by grooming, leading, and learning to draw a horse.

There are so many ways to get involved with horses whether you want to be a rider or not. We hope to see you at camp and help you make some wonderful memories. Happy Trails!