Ton-A-Wandah’s riding program has been built by strong, committed women over many, many years. Horseback riding has so many wonderful things to offer your camper. The confidence and self-assurance they build while working with horses is second to none. Our stables are a place where beginners can learn the basics and experienced riders can seek out new challenges.
Our program is based on a safe and correct instruction following Hunt Seat Equitation. We have based our classes on a level system ensuring that our students get the best out of their time at Camp TAW. Whether they have never been on a horse or are heavily competing at home, we have something for everyone. Our instructors are hand chosen based on experience and roles in their equestrian community. We love having a diverse staff because being able to provide a wide reange of instruction is important and (most importantly!) FUN for our students.
Each girl progresses at her own pace, and there is no pressure to advance beyond basic equestrian skills. However, we follow four levels of instruction and provide different opportunites in how to obtain these levels.
Riding Opportunities at Camp
Activity Riders will ride for three class periods and take horsemanship classes for three class periods (each lasting about 45 minutes each). They will be placed in an appropriate class that matches their skill level. Our Activity Rider program is small, so please ensure your camper really wants to learn and progress with
her riding skills as space is limited (75 per session).
"JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE" RIDERS:
"Just for the Experience" Riders will have the opportunity to visit the barn and ride a horse if they want. Your camper will not have horseback riding as an activity but will get to test their skills on a horse for fun! This is a perfect solution for your camper if she is unsure about committing to a class period for the whole session. There will be five spots available daily, so if space is available, your camper may be able to sign up multiple times during a session if she chooses. "Just the experience" riders will pick their sign-up day after they arrive at camp.
Meet Our Riding Director
Hi! I’m Harriet, riding director here at TAW. I have been around horses all my life (6 decades). I was that girl that got a pony in her backyard - I was fortunate to grow up in the country with an old barn and a few acres of pasture. A couple of college students kept their horses at our place and taught me about horses and riding. I rode my pony backwards, upside down, standing on her back; she was my best friend. I was hooked on horses!
I have been connected with many amazing horses during my life. My first show horse was a young chestnut TB mare (oh yes!) and I definitely learned how to be a quiet and effective and brave rider. We bred her when she was 10 and my heart horse was born. Both lived into their early 30’s; quite a 2 generation span!
I started teaching the neighborhood kids when I was 14. They paid me in their hard earned pennies! I discovered my love of teaching not only riding, but how important horses are as teachers and healers. Although I rode and trained hunter/jumpers, bareback with no bridle remained my favorite way of riding because of the way I communicated with the horses; if I was not clear and authentic, they did not respond favorably!
At age 25, after college and a 3 yr stint at veterinary college, I opened a riding and boarding stables in Greenwood, SC. I was 25 and had no idea how to run a business. Or what an entrepreneur was. There was no social media back then, only word of mouth. The business grew over the next few years to over 20 lesson and boarding horses, a slew of barn rats and a college team. By 1995, the horses and I needed more space.
That year I found some land in Abbeville county SC. My parents and I had acreage cleared and planted, a barn built and a ring constructed. The horses moved in the summer of 1996 which was a good thing because the other place flooded when a dam broke. I also got married in the fall of 1996.
Over the next 2 decades, the business grew and changed, my 2 girls were born, business went on a downslide, prices of anything equine went up and I felt a pull towards a different way of interacting with horses. I studied Linda Tellington Jones’s Ttouch which I love to this day. In January of 2011 I enrolled in Melisa Pearce’s Equine Gestalt Coaching Method program. I graduated in October 2012 to become a EGCM Practitioner. This is an amazing type of life coaching and is unique in that the horse is part of the coaching team and not used as a tool.
In 2018, we made the hard decision to sell the farm and move to the mountains of North Carolina. My plan was to retire from the horse business (but who really does that!) and focus on my art. Our oldest daughter is in the horse business, so the remaining horses were with her or farmed out to friends. Our younger daughter is in school to become an equine vet tech, so horses are still in the family!
Last year I missed teaching and answered an ad for part time riding instructor at TAW. I was actually a counselor and riding instructor at TAW 40 years ago. By 3rd session, I filled the role of riding director which is a job I love. I spent 5 summers directing a riding program at a different camp in the area.
And here we are at the summer of 2023! I love camp. I look forward to keeping campers and horses and barn staff safe and happy. I love camp and my greatest wish is that we all learn about ourselves and continue on a path of growth.
Four Levels of Instruction
Level One: All about the basics! This level is all about your daughter becoming comfortable with her horse. Learning to tack, lead, adjust her stirrups and tighten her girth. Once these have been learned, she will mount up and begin getting familiar with the aides. Being able to learn a correct seat, steady leg and soft hand from the beginning is key! She will be confident with steering, stopping and moving forward upon completion of this level. She will even have her first trot and begin to learn the post as well as two-point!
Level Two: This level is in place to allow your daughter the time to develop her trot seat. This level probably takes the longest to complete because we are asking our bodies to do some pretty hard stuff! Our students will learn all about their diagonals and become efficient walk trot riders. They will even be able to go on their first trail ride! Ending this level with the chance to have a nice canter. We will start talking about what to expect next and become comfortable with the different gaits of our horses!
Level Three: If level one was walking and level two was trotting… yep! You guessed it! Level three is all about the canter! This is a thrilling level for our girls because they get to really push themselves. So many things will be continuously worked on in this level. Soft seat, tall chest, shoulders back. She will gain confidence and grace without even knowing! We begin to add in jumps here as well!
Level Four: This is for students who compete at home or have ridden at camp consistently throughout the years and already possess the skill level to walk, trot, and canter. This is about perfecting our dressage and putting together complicated over fences courses.