With five horses and 10 years of teaching experience, Donica Draper the owner of Rolling Hills Riding Academy, shares her knowledge and love for horses through teaching weekly camps during the summer.
“We want the kids to have a good time and gain correct knowledge of horses,” said Draper. “We want them to know how a horse works, what they’re thinking and how what they do and how they ride affects the horse immensely.”
Draper’s love for horses started at a young age and ended up transferring over to her oldest daughter, Briana Draper, who now helps her with the horse camps. Donica is a certified instructor of PATH, Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, and also has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business management. She started horse camps seven years ago with the desire to impact children’s lives in a positive way.
“We love horses and we know what an instrument of good it has been in our lives and we want as many kids as possible to get the same experience,” said Draper.
The camp, Crazy for Horses Kids Summer Camp, runs Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 a.m. and is $175 per person. Throughout the week, campers ride horseback in either a western-or English-styled saddle as they learn to direct the horse while walking or trotting. They also learn about the behaviors of a horse, grooming, breeds and safety rules. The last day includes games and sends the campers home with a horseshoe to decorate a picture with them and their favorite horse.
Samantha Joseph, 15, helps at the camp by leading and preparing the horses for the campers.
“I was a camper when I was six and really liked it,” said Joseph. “It’s really rewarding now to help and see the students grow.”
The summer camp runs through the end of July and there are spots still available for parents to sign up their child, according to Draper. If a child doesn’t want to do a horse camp in the summer, Draper offers camps during all school intercessions in the fall, winter and spring. Private and semi-private lessons are also offered, which is open to special needs children as well.
Horse camps and lessons take place at 9015 Camino De Anza, which is off of West Calle Concordia on a dirt road.