Summer Camp Spotlight: An Equestrian Experience at Chatfield Stables

By Christen Reiner, Macaroni Kid Lakewood-Littleton & Macaroni Kid Denver Editor and Publisher April 7, 2021

Would your child enjoy learning real horsemanship skills, like grooming and feeding their partner horse? Does the idea of riding every day out on the trail or in the arena appeal to your summer camper? Do you love the idea of your kiddo bonding with one horse for a whole week?

Chatfield Stables, nestled into a pleasant corner of Chatfield State Park, offers riders an authentic western experience for campers of all skill levels during their summer horse camps. 

Trained, knowledgeable wranglers offer experiences tailored to meet your child's personal needs. From lessons and safety helmets for first-timers all the way to extended round-trip excursions for those riders who yearn for a bit more of a challenge, Chatfield Stables is only a phone call away.

My teenage daughter has pegged a week-long horse camp at Chatfield Stables as one of her favorite must-do activities of the summer.

Dressed in boots, jeans, sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat, she immediately prepares to saddle up her horse under the watchful supervision of one of the trained wranglers in attendance. Don’t get me wrong; she has undergone her own detailed training in how to buckle, strap, and blanket that saddle so that it is solid on the back of her assigned horse for the week while she rides along. 

Because she has attended horse camp in the past and has had her skills reviewed formally and informally by the Big Man In Charge, she has earned more personal responsibility with the horse. She accompanies other less-experienced riders on their twice-daily rides but is permitted a tiny bit more freedom than first-timers. 

This additional freedom proves to be just what an early teenager needs: personal acknowledgment. Based on her previous experience and current skill level, the staff adjusts their expectations of her daily, almost like a classroom tutor. She notices that she has earned differentiated horse-care and rider responsibilities by the staff, and ends up trying harder each day to meet or exceed their expectations.

The staff at Chatfield Stables is keenly aware of the temperaments of each of the 40 horses that it has on-property and matches the strengths of the rider to the horse that best fits, so it was not long before my youngest son begged me to bring him along and enroll him in a week of lessons. He was convinced that if she could control a horse, he could too, even as a novice.

My son had noticed how much fun my daughter was having each day, the seriousness of caring for a horse, and how professional my daughter had become over a six-hour day — then the span of a week.

He also wanted to use the proper horsemanship terminology, learn how to saddle a horse, ride it, then what to do at the conclusion of a ride to prepare the horse for the rest of the day.

At the end of the week-long camp, the staff at Chatfield Stables has an informal celebration where personalized certificates featuring each rider proudly mounted on “their” horse are handed out to each child after the final closing activities are done for the day. 

I’d be lying if I said that there were no dusty tears on the cheeks of my children on the drive back to our house and back to suburban reality.

A Word from Bob, Chatfield Stables Owner…

We have operated Horse Camps for about 30 years (1985-2012 at our first location and here at Chatfield since 2002). The concept was originated in 1987 when we had a guest who had moved here from California ask us if we did a camp with horses. We asked, what is that!? She told us all about the camps her child attended in California.  

What a great idea!  

The first year we scheduled three weeks for the horse camp. The response was so great that we expanded the camp to eight weeks the following year. We continued to have more requests than we had space for, so the camp grew to include all twelve weeks of summer! 

We have been flattered that many other horse operations have followed in our footsteps and tried to emulate our concept. As we state in our literature – ours is the longest continuously running camp with horses in the area, and it’s all about the kids and horses. For over 30 years, thousands of children have gotten a really great hands-on experience with horses here at Chatfield Stables!

Chatfield Stables offers everything from horse camp to rides to lessons to birthday parties to hayrides! There are still a few summer camp openings — and you do NOT want to miss the opportunity to spend a week immersed in caring for and enjoying your "very own horse" for the week. Give them a call today to set up your own equestrian experience!


Chatfield State Park | Littleton, Colorado | 303-933-3636