You can’t beat horseback riding for exploring the great outdoors with friends and family. Whether you’re a child or adult, there are a number of benefits to be reaped from riding – fresh air, improved posture and balance, exercise, and the sheer pleasure and stress relief of connecting with a horse. While many stables in the Philadelphia area only board horses or offer lessons, there are a number of them that offer trail rides year-round. Whether you’re new in the saddle or a seasoned rider, this list is sure to include a stable with the hours and riding experience to fit your needs.
Daisy Field Farm
White Haven, PA
Located not much more than two hours from Philadelphia’s city limits, Daisy Field Farm is a family-run, privately operated homestead. They provide trail rides for all ages as well as wagon, hay and sleigh rides. Trail rides for all ages and abilities are available, and they even provide a specially-tailored experience for families that allows older children and adults to enjoy riding their own horses, while littler ones and anyone who’d rather opt for an easier go of it can accompany the posse from the comfort of a horse cart or carriage. If you need to wrangle several young’ins under the age of ten, then the pony trail provides a 15 minute or longer ride through forest and field (not those boring old circles ‘round and ‘round the paddock). Turn any riding experience into a party by adding a picnic to the ride package, and don’t forget to make time to visit the rest of the working farm!
5785 Milford Road
East Stroudsburg, PA 18302
Philadelphia area families often head just under two hours north to the nearby Pocono Mountains to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Fernwood Stables can make your Pocono Mountain getaway all the more special by incorporating a riding experience into the recreation mix. Packages include trail rides through mountain and countryside, and are timed to ability and age. Beginner rides take around 45 minutes, perfect for easing the novice into riding mode.
Gateway Stables Riding Center
949 Marrybell Lane
Kennet Square, PA 19348
Gateway Stables Riding Center in the Brandywine Valley, near the Pennsylvania and Delaware state border, provides wonderful experiences for both the novice rider and the more advanced. Packages for both large parties and families are available, and there is even a special package for families with children under eight years of age. Tours are always guided, as the staff is familiar with the property and its boundaries, but guests will enjoy walking and trotting the horses along five miles of scenic trails that wind through 200 acres of woods, fields and streams. Basic horsemanship tips and instruction are provided before heading out on the trail. Tips center on the basics: starting, stopping, steering and safety. Reservations are strongly advised to guarantee that you’ll have an opportunity to ride.
Happy Trails Stables
1623 Hamlin Highway
Salem, PA 18436
Happy Trails Stables in Hamlin takes great pride in providing a thorough pre-ride instruction session on basic horsemanship before riders hit the trail. Riding adventures are offered for all ages and abilities, and are provided year-round so that visitors may experience riding in all types of weather. In the wintertime, when there is snow on the ground, in addition to riding in the snow, Happy Trails provides sleigh rides – perfect for getting into that holiday spirit! In addition to trail rides, Happy Trails provides lessons in both western and English styles of riding, as well as boarding services.
Red Buffalo Ranch
1106 Anders Road
Collegeville, PA 19426
Red Buffalo Ranch in the Collegeville area is privately owned but provides guided trail rides through the adjoining lands of Evansburg State Park. With 3,500 acres and a number of trails to explore, you’re sure to enjoy the trail ride, which averages from one to three hours. In addition to the standard trail ride, this venue offers western weekend camping excursions, as well as programmed outings for scouting groups, camps and birthday parties. Summer camps teach horsemanship and provide the opportunity to experience both western and English riding. The facility is open year-round, but be sure to call for a reservation ahead of time if you want to ride.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.