It is always a good time at the Thompson Horse Camps.

Thompson Horse Camp


Thompson Horses began running horse riding camps in January 2016 from the Thompson family farm in Kirwee. The initial Camp saw four children attending, nowadays things are a little different, with a waiting list of those wishing to attend.

Thompson Horses is a family business, with all six members of the family playing a part in it. Parents Lisa and Andy Thompson have ridden horses for years and passed their love of all things equestrian on to their four daughters, Chris (23), Maddi (19), George (18) and Gus (15).

“We all started riding at a young age and we have been lucky enough to have done everything from pony club, show hunter, eventing, mustering and following our passion for showjumping and hunting,” Chris explained.

The Camps came about after the sisters went to a ‘Wilson Sisters’ Camp in Whangarei. “It was these girls that inspired us to do what we do, as we totally loved their Camp,” reflected Chris. “We realised that no one was providing these camps in the South Island; we figured we had the facilities, horses and supportive parents to help us, so why not go ahead and offer them.”

The four-day horse Camps are offered as an extra, over and above their riding school and are run every school holidays, with the occasional weekend Camp or adult Camp. The majority of the Camps offered are for school-aged children, with the girls suggesting they’re most suited to those aged between six and sixteen.

Children attending the Camps  are taught about caring for their horse and how to improve their overall awareness of, and relationship with, them. For the younger riders, there is a focus on gaining confidence through games and farm riding also.

The Camp offers participants the opportunity of bringing their own horse and gear along, however, the girls have between eighteen to twenty-five horses that can also be used.

The Camps allow for the campers to ride in an all-weather sand arena, to go hacking over the farm and to explore a cross-country course. If that is not enough for the horse enthusiasts the Camp offers show jumping, show hunter and cross country specific instruction.

The farm can accommodate a  number of children in various types of accommodation. “The children can choose their sleep locations on the day,” Chris said.

The Thompson girls are typical young people who also have busy lives outside the riding school and camps.

“Maddi is the driver and the main player of Thompson Horses,” Chris explained. “Gus is still at school, and when not at school she gives lessons or works her own, or clients’, horses. George and I are more behind the scenes now as we lead busy lives of our own, and just work our own horses.

“Maddi works with horses full time and runs the riding school. While most of her work is done at our property, she often travels to give lessons or work horses on their owner’s properties.”

Horse riding is in the blood of these sisters and when one is away, or busy with alternate ventures, the others step up to keep the school running. “Maddi is due to go to Canada in the next month to work with horses there, so Gus, George and possibly myself will be all hands on deck to keep the place running while she is away,” Chris added. “Last year Maddi went to Switzerland for winter and trained under Olympian Eva Ursin, so she has a fair idea of what to expect while away and is definitely excited to be going to Canada.”