Director Jud's Blog

Horsemaster's Director and SMA's Founder Pam Announces Her Retirement.

Posted by Jud Millar on Wed, May 17, 2023

Pam Hayes-Houldin co-founded Stone Mountain Adventures in 1983 with her husband (my dad) Biff. Since then, Pam has been the Equestrian and Horsemasters Director at camp.

A Little Bit of “Herstory”

overnight-horseback-riding-summer-camps-1-1Pam has been a horse lover her entire life. She grew up on a dairy farm in “Big Valley” (where the Amish Market is) named “The Heide” as the second oldest of six children (two boys and four girls). Her first love was showing cows, which she did with some success at Harrisburg Farm Show and eventually to Chicago.

Pam’s father Reed Hayes had a deep love for horses and competed in “Harness Racing” when Pam was a child. Pam and her brothers and sisters each had their own horse; they would ride deep into the mountains connected to their family farm. Riding and training with 4-H, Pony club and many instructors has allowed Pam to hone her balanced seat teaching skills to work with both children and adults.

Therapeutic Riding at Horsepower Farm

In 1979 Pam became interested in therapeutic riding and decided to pursue that field as well.

  • She trained at The Cheff Center for Riding for the Handicapped in Augusta, Michigan, and then became qualified as a Master Instructor through the Pennsylvania Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship ( and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (
  • In 1980, in conjunction with PRIDE (then Easter Seals) and the local community, Pam founded Horsepower, Huntingdon’s first equine assisted therapeutic program to help clients with many types of disabilities.
  • Pam has been involved with the Pennsylvania Council for many years, and is currently the President of the Board of Directors and is on the faculty for the Instructor Training Courses.
  • Pam received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA, for her work in therapeutic riding.
  • In 2010, she studied with Daniel Stewart and received the Ride Right Certification to teach Equestrian Sport Psychology classes.
  • As a Ride Right Specialist, Pam can teach riders of all levels how to improve their performance and increase their success through increased confidence and focus by learning how to control stress, distractions and performance anxiety.
  • Over the past 43 years Pam has taught literally hundreds of people with disabilities to ride horses.


The Equestrian Program at SMA

Pam Hayes-Houldin co-founded Stone Mountain Adventures in 1983 with her husband (my dad) Biff. Horseback Riding was such an integral part of camp that the first name of the camp was “Horsepower Adventures.”  In the winter of 1987, Pam and Biff decided to change the name of the camp because horseback riding was only one of the many outdoor adventure activities offered at camp. Stone Mountain Adventures is in the rolling hills of Stone Valley at the foot of Stone Mountain in central Pennsylvania. The name Stone Mountain Adventures seemed like a natural fit.

The Equestrian Program is centered around a 200 year old barn retrofitted with modern box stalls, a tack room and an indoor barnyard. The equestrian riding program combines experienced horses, qualified riding instructors, and excellent facilities to create an atmosphere in which campers can advance their riding skills, expand horsemanship knowledge, and have fun in the barn. All of the campers at SMA have the opportunity to ride horses at camp. In the 1980’s, we even did van supported Horseback Riding camping overnights!



The SMA Horsemasters Program

In 1988 Pam made the decision the start the SMA Horsemasters Program. This program was designed for campers who wanted to attend a traditional camp but focus on horseback riding every day. Campers enrolled in the Horsemasters Program will ride every morning and choose from other camp activities in afternoon.

The morning session will be split between Horseback Riding Lessons, on the ground Horsemanship, and Barn Management. Each day campers will get a total of three hours of hands on horse care.

Campers are paired with horses based on personality, experience, and ability.  Campers will ride multiple horses, interacting with multiple equine personalities while building versatility and confidence as a rider.  A typical morning may include a trail ride, bareback riding, a lesson in the arena and games on horseback.

Beginner riders develop skills and confidence and learn to be comfortable handling and caring for horses. Advanced riders are challenged on the flat, over fences, on the trail, or on lunge lines while learning new skills from seasoned Horseback Riding Instructors. Balanced seat is taught to all riders in order to develop a strong, effective seat doing flat work. Horsemaster Campers may focus on jumping, cross-country, or dressage. Campers will also learn about stable management, including:

  • Feeding the Horses
  • Meeting with and observing our Local Blacksmith
  • Tacking Up Before Lessons
  • Cooling Down the Horses After Lessons
  • Meeting with and observing our Local Equine Dentist
  • Cleaning Stalls
  • Meeting with and observing our Local Equine Vet


A Time for Change…

It is a Greek Philosopher named Heraclitus who is given credit for the quote, “Change is the only constant in life.” Pam recently celebrated her 76th Birthday and has made the challenging decision to downsize her herd from 22 horses to six. This was a difficult decision and the process of downsizing her herd has been emotional and therapeutic. This means that Pam will no longer run her Therapeutic Riding Program for people with disabilities (called Horsepower), and she will no longer offer the Horsemasters Program at SMA.

Pam is going through a “Transition” (I suggest not using the work “Retirement” around her - LOL). While she will no longer be teaching lessons, Pam will still have horses in her life. With six horses in the barn, Pam still gets to spend part of every day around the animals she loves so much.

Will We Offer Horseback Riding At SMA?

In a word: YES, we will still be able to offer Horseback Riding at camp this summer! We are incredibly lucky that one of our neighbors named Haley Campbell runs a Riding Program called Fox Run Riding.  Haley Campbell has a degree in the Equine Teacher/Trainer program from Lake Erie College. She studied three disciplines - Hunters, Jumpers, and Dressage. In addition to the Teacher/Trainer Program, Haley also has a concentration in the field of Therapeutic Riding/Horsemanship.  She loves working with off the track thoroughbreds and showing in the Hunter discipline.

Fox Run Riding also plays host to the Juniata College IHSA Riding Team. In addition, Haley has worked with Pam as a horseback riding instructor at SMA on and off over the years so she has a deep understanding of the teaching methods Pam has honed over her 43+ years of teaching.


In Conclusion…

Horses have been an integral part of the Stone Mountain Adventures Summer Camp experience since our founding in 1983. Over the past 43+ years, Pam has literally taught hundreds of SMA Campers to ride. She has taught with patience and passion and a love for the animals she has dedicated her life to. This chapter of SMA has come to a close. 

We LOVE YOU, Pam!!

We are beyond thrilled to start a new chapter with Fox Run Riding. As the Camp Director and Co-Owner here at Stone Mountain Adventures, I have 100% confidence in Haley Campbell. I am delighted that we are able to partner with Haley at Fox Run Riding and I am confident our campers will have a positive riding experience at SMA this summer!

Topics: Horseback Riding, Retirement

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This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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