If your youngster longs to learn to ride, a Chepstow centre's pony club is perfect for you, as KATIE EDWARDS reports.

Good news for all parents who listen to their children wishing for a pony every birthday or have youngsters with a future goal of becoming the horseracing Olympic star. Severnvale Equestrian Centre, Chepstow, can help you. Throughout the year Severnvale Equestrian Centre opens its arms to children from 4 years old who want take their love for horses that one step further. ‘But what happens if my child doesn’t have a pony?’ might be question that you have in mind. Fear not. Severnvale Equestrian centre has plenty of ponies for your children to pick from in the stables. Joint owner of Severnvale riding stables, and Portuguese eventing team’s national coach, Lizzie Winter, said: “For those who don’t own a horse, it’s a real test of what it’s like.”

During half terms and holidays there have been ‘Have-A-Go’ days, ‘Fun Days’, and ‘Own Your Pony’ days which provided children with an opportunity to experience the reality of what is like to ride and look after a horse. If your children enjoyed a daily experience, braved the grubby work of cleaning the stables, and were not put off by bad equine temper, then Pony Camp this summer is a must! No experience is needed to take part in a fun day or summer camp as Severnvale will help everyone along the way.

Severnvale’s Summer Pony camp has been running since 1990s and stands as a unique experience on offer in the area. The summer camps are open to both young boys and girls. They not only teach the children riding elements but also give them an idea about the ‘behind the scenes’ part of looking after horses. Pony camps offer children the chance to have a go at camping outside in the midst of nature with BBQs and toasting marshmallows around camp fires. (An indoor arena is available in case of bad weather conditions). Severnvale entertain the children with gymkhana games, treasure hunts, stable management, cross-country riding, and show jumping. A favourite part of the Pony Camps for most young horse-lovers can be the ‘paint your pony’ activity and making pony treats.

Severnvale Equestrian camps introduces children to new friends with a common love for horses, forming friendships and encouraging social interaction. Children will mix with a range of people of all ages and grow in confidence along the way. 16 year old Pony Camp assistant, Ellen Canavan, said: “The great thing is you find new friends, and learn new skills that you just wouldn’t know from just coming for lessons on a Saturday morning.” Ellen’s time at Severnvale’s camp has helped her to grow from a nervous beginner to an excellent horse rider. She is now a confident and ‘knowledgeable helper’ at the centre with a growing passion for horses.

An important factor of Severnvale’s Pony Camps is that it is a perfect way of encouraging young children to exercise. Instead of wasting their summer holidays indoors glued to the TV and playing on the latest games consoles, children will benefit a lot more from a healthy outdoor lifestyle at Pony Camp. If children find themselves captivated by the experience at Severnvale, they might want to continue helping at the centre and push for a future in horse riding.

Children often dream of holding an Olympic medal and Severnvale Equestrian Centre may just be the stepping stones to success. The 2012 London Olympic gold medallist in dressage, Carl Hester, preached hope after his achievement and said: “any kid could do this”. Horse riding is accessible to all and anyone can achieve this dream. As long as horse-lovers are determined to aim high and overcome any obstacles, then success will soon follow.

And of course, Severnvale Pony Camps are not all about ‘Olympics and ambition’, but most importantly about enjoying doing the thing that you love. Camps are far from strict and offer a fun and relaxed environment for all children. The summer camps run for four days, but are completely flexible, allowing boys and girls to only participate for one day if preferred.

This summer pony camps are available on the following dates: Tuesday 22nd to Friday 25th July; Tuesday 29th July to Friday 1st August; Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th August. To try out a riding session or to book a summer Pony Camp either text Juliet on 07817511235, telephone 01291 623412, email svec@clara.co.uk or go to www.severnvale-equestrian.co.uk.