Written by Victoria Peace
Photos Courtesy of Jumpin’ Jax Farm
Middleburg is an amazing place for children to learn to ride. However, there are so many different equestrian opportunities around that it can be hard to pinpoint how to get started. With summer just around the corner, participating in pony camps is a great way for kids to get a taste for the sport while developing their horsemanship skills and riding abilities in a fun and educational environment.
At Jumpin’ Jax Farm in The Plains, head instructor and owner Allison Tripp offers a summer camp series that is perfect for riders of all skill levels. Beginner students learn pony club fundamentals, develop a strong seat and sense of balance, and learn the foundations of dressage. More experienced riders focus on fine-tuning their flatwork, equitation, and jumping — both in the ring and on the cross county course.
Tripp organizes three week-long camp sessions over the course of the summer as well as a few weeks of “mini” three-day camps. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Every day, each camper gets an hour-long lesson. No more than four children are ever in the saddle at one time so Tripp can give them each individualized instruction. “Throughout the week there is a dramatic improvement in skills,” Tripp emphasizes. While campers are waiting their turn to ride, they learn how to perform various horsemanship skills such as cleaning tack, grooming horses, bathing horses, cleaning stalls, and doing simple veterinary procedures.
After they ride, campers untack, cool down, and turn out the horses together. Then, they get their own chance to cool off at the farm’s pool while they eat lunch. At the end of the day campers go on one last “fun” ride, which is usually bareback. Tripp sets a challenge for them such as the game “ride a buck,” where campers compete to see who can keep a dollar bill between their leg and the horse’s back for the longest time. At the end of the week there is a small schooling show where campers get the opportunity to show off the skills they learned.
For families interested in the summer camp series, Tripp encourages them to visit her website and send in an application via email. She still has a few spots left for June, July, and August, but they usually fill up fast. However, if the summer dates don’t work, Tripp’s year-round lesson program also helps riders build many of the skills that are taught during her camps.
Lessons are “based around pony club fundamentals.” In her program, riders focus on “growing and climbing through the levels with confidence-building horses.” Tripp says, “The horses and ponies I have are very safe. I’ve had them for years — they are great schoolmasters that really love their job and love the attention.” Tripp’s lesson program is also tailored to each rider’s goals. Students who want to show have the opportunity, but there is never any pressure.
Some riders prefer to just come out each week to enjoy the company of the horses and the tranquil atmosphere of the farm. “The farm is a special story,” Tripp explains. As a child, Tripp moved around a lot because her father was in the military. However, her mom “was always supportive of [Tripp’s] passion [for riding] regardless of their government transfers.”
When her parents retired, they fell in love with Middleburg and the surrounding area. They purchased Jumpin’ Jax Farm in 2003 at a great price, but it needed some love. Thanks to their hard work and devotion, they were able to fix it up and turn it into a professional facility. Initially, they rented it out to various local trainers. However, after a few years, Tripp took over and built the thriving program that now attracts students from the Middleburg area all the way to D.C. ML
For more information about Jumpin’ Jax Farm or signing up for a camp this summer, please visit jumpinjaxfarm.com.
This article first appeared in the June 2022 Issue.