What Every Horse Camp for Girls Should Be Like
Horse camps hold a conflicting place in my mind. On one hand, I dreamed of having incredible adventures, making amazing friends, and riding horses every day at summer camps in my youth. On the other hand, that dream never fully materialized.
The horse camps I experienced as a child never lived up the hype. The other girls frequently formed cliques, counselors didn’t put their hearts into the work, the horses I was assigned weren’t good fits, and I usually ended up wanting to go home early.
After several failed attempts, I decided the horse camp of my dreams simply wasn’t real.
When Vision Films reached out to see if I wanted to screen Horse Camp: A Love Tail, I assumed I’d be in for yet another story of mean girls, bobbing for apples, and off-key Kumbaya by the campfire.
As it turned out, however, this sweet, family-friendly film introduced me to the real-life horse camp I wish I had attended in my youth — Black River Farm & Ranch (“BR”) in Croswell, Michigan.
Check out the Horse Camp movie trailer:
Setting the Scene
The movie opens with a lovely sunset horse vaulting lesson, and I’d take the draft/Paint cross home in an instant! I later learned that the BR has a vaulting program. That’s one discipline I’ve never tried, but it sure looks like a fun camp activity.
Over the next few minutes, we’re introduced to the lovely facility and our core cast of characters:
- Mr. C runs the camp
- Bonnie is the new head riding instructor
- Miss Lisa is a former camper and the new head counselor
- Miss Stacy is a former camper who was going to be the head riding instructor until Bonnie was hired
- Miss Jessica used to be the head counselor and returns to help out part time
- Dave is Jessica’s husband and a local sheriff
- Jerry is the onsite handyman (Fun fact: He played Al on Home Improvement)
- Riley is a returning camper with a bit of a rebellious streak (“I’m not a nice girl. I don’t have it in me.”)
- Kimberly is a returning camper who is eager to reconnect with friends and horses she loves
- Rebecca is a first-year camper sharing a cabin with Riley and Kimberly
- Zoey is a young camper who recently lost her firefighter father
The film follows along as new counselors move into leadership roles, older campers return to the BR, and younger campers experience the ranch for the first time.
Plus, there’s a cute little love story between Bonnie and Jerry — a romance wholeheartedly encouraged by the older campers.
Raising Strong & Capable Women
One of my favorite things about this movie was the focus on developing authentic, powerful, and kind women leaders. While some of the script hit you over the head with the intended lessons, most of the time you got to gather your own takeaways.
For example, Miss Lisa (the new head counselor) was particularly introspective. She was clear about her feelings, willing to have tough conversations, and confident in her abilities. At the same time, she wasn’t above being vulnerable, asking for help, or taking advice from those with more experience.
I think it is important to make films that the entire family can watch together. Horse Camp is great for the kids, but parents will enjoy it too,” says director Joel Reisig. “I hope that families will enjoy my film and also take to heart the positive lessons found in the film.
Here are some of my own takeaways from the film:
- Always support each other.
- With the help of your friends, you can conquer your fears.
- Be kind to everyone, especially those who are tackling something new for the first time.
- Open yourself up to new friendships — even with those people you don’t expect to like.
- Give back to the people and places that have blessed your life.
- Take chances to achieve your goals.
- Horses can change your life for the better. (I already knew this one!)
This fun and charming film celebrates not only the grace and beauty of the horses that draw the girls to the camp but also kindness, strong female friendship and the courage to face your fears. – Press Release
Family Fun Done Right
Every viewer can decide whether this movie’s script, music, and lessons are his or her cup of tea. But several things stuck out to me that the writer, producer, and cast did very well.
- Diversity: I really appreciated all the diversity in the human — and horse — cast. It was clear that the BR (and the film crew) is committed to inclusivity and equality, and that showed through in the African American, hispanic, Native American women. The cast also spanned a wide range of body types, and one of the younger campers highlighted dwarfism. I was also delighted to see all the different breeds and colors of horses throughout this film.
- Safety: There were so many HELMETS!!! One of my biggest pet peeves is horse movies that don’t model basic safety like wearing helmets and appropriate footwear. This film gets top marks for putting helmets center stage.
- Mentorship: I loved the camp counselors, and it seems they’re closely based on the real-life staff at the BR. Almost all of their counselors are former campers who have, in many cases, been coming to the ranch for decades. These people aren’t there for the paycheck — they genuinely love the camp and love helping give younger girls the type of amazing experiences they had. It made me want to visit the BR and see it for myself — even though I’m far too old for camp now!
- Introspection: It’s rare for kids and teenagers to take stock of their behavior and decide to be better, so I found this refreshing. After researching the real BR further, I also find it 100% believable that these conversations and transformations actually take place at the camp every day.
“I haven’t been mean to Rebecca.” – Riley
“I asked if you’ve been nice to Rebecca.” – Miss Lisa
There were several quotes I wrote down while watching the film — some were funny and others were more serious.
- “How does you going to Africa help Africa?”
- “Well, I’m not flying coach. Have you seen it back there? It’s barbaric!”
- “Remember when I said sometimes it’d be better if we rode in silence? This is one of those times.”
- “Watching reruns of Mr. Ed, that’s my version of horse camp.”
- “Things aren’t always going to be the way we remember them.”
- “We’re all made of imperfect clay.”
- “Horse camp is a place of safety, learning, and fun — not only for you, but for the horses, as well.”
- “We want things to always stay the same. But sometimes the changes we’re resistant to most are actually for the better.”
- “First things first, you need to lose your fear.”
- “When’s the last time you rode just for the fun of it — when you didn’t care about being the best.”
- “You owe me.” (Jessica kisses Dave on the cheek.) “Paid in full.”
- “Do you think there will be horses in heaven?” “Absolutely.”
- “We build strong female leaders — women of confidence who spread kindness in the world.”
Horse Camp: A Love Tail is a wonderful reminder of the incredible things young girls can do when they work together”, says Vision Films CEO/Managing Director, Lise Romanoff. “Families will enjoy watching this uplifting summer film because it appeals to all generations and has a lovely romantic twist in the end.
The Real BR Farm & Ranch
My view of this entire movie shifted the moment I realized it was based on a real camp in Michigan. When the real people of the BR popped up on screen during closing credits, I was delighted!
I immediately Googled the real ranch and read nearly everything on their website. They’ve been around more than 50 years, and it’s been family owned for three generations (and counting!). Plus, the camper-counselor relationships I enjoyed in the film are even richer in real life.
Check out this wonderful video about the BR:
From riding lessons to trail rides, vaulting to swimming, arts and crafts to boating, more than 800 girls attend camp at the BR every summer. That’s incredible!
“If you have a dream, stick with it because you never know when that dream’s gonna come true.” – Mrs. D, BR Farm & Ranch Founder
Will this movie for everyone? Of course not. If you’re in the mood for a lot of action, fancy effects, or high drama, pick something else for tonight. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something light, family friendly, and female-centric, you’ll enjoy Horse Camp: A Love Tail.
Grab some popcorn and enjoy!
P.S. Want to explore free horse resources? Trot on over to:
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