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Kaylee Elgin of Worthington and Lily Goerdt of Farley high five during the Eastern Iowa Horse and Pony Camp on June 25. The camp is held every year at the Dubuque County fairgrounds.

What began as a 4-H camp is now a non-profit Iowa corporation for equine education and activities and a tradition for those who come down to the Dubuque County Fairgrounds every June.

The Eastern Iowa Horse and Pony Camp (EIHPC), established in 1971, recently hosted its 42nd camp, with 87 youth riders from around the area. 

The week-long event consists of riding and lessons, time to work with and take care of the horses and special electives—dressage, roping, showmanship and Western pleasure, among others. Riders bring their own horses, in order to improve the relationship between horse and rider.

Camp participants come to Dubuque from all over Iowa and surrounding states. Additionally, more than 75 volunteers helped over the course of the week in the kitchen and barn, as registered nurses and as chaperones. The camp staff is entirely comprised of volunteers.

 “We have a lot of different talents represented from all over the area,” said Rodney Carroll, one of eight directors at the camp.

Many of the volunteers are returnees to the camp they attended as children, and several riders are part of a second generation of EIHPC attendees.

“One of our registered nurses who’s volunteering with us participated in the camp as a kid,” said Shawn Strief of Cascade, another camp director. “We also have several kids whose parents attended when they were young.”

For more than 40 years, the Eastern Iowa Horse and Pony Camp has been a strong presence in the lives of area riders, and it doesn’t look to be fading away anytime soon.