More than Just Horsing Around
Here are places to go horseback riding and take lessons in Philadelphia and its suburbs as well as Delaware and South Jersey.
Whether it's the exercise, getting outside, improving balance and coordination or the fun of having a friend who's 6 feet tall, horseback riding has a lot to offer kids.
Several Delaware Valley farms and stables furnish ponies, which can thrill young children and spark an interest in horses. Other providers offer lessons, trail or arena rides, summer camps and therapeutic riding for kids with special needs.
When choosing where to try horseback riding, one consideration is whether you want your child to form a relationship with a horse. Sarah Mongnoni, owner and manager of Labrador Hill Farms in Waterford, NJ, has strong views on this subject. "If you are not willing to take the time to get to know a horse on the ground — as an equal and companion and a partner — do not ride!" she says. "Riding is only 20 percent of horsemanship. The other 80 percent is a thorough exploration of the animals' intellect, emotions and behavior."
Joanne Moore, who with her husband, Abe, has operated the Haycock Stables in Perkasie, PA, for 47 years, sees it differently. Although Haycock offers lessons, its primary emphasis is on trail riding in nearby Nockamixon State Park. Moore uses trail guides who "know all the horses and names and personalities. Most of the riders are beginners and without a guide, the horses just wouldn't go.""Once you get to know your horse, feel free to request a favorite," she adds. In addition to whether rides are guided, she suggests parents find out where the riders go, and about safety equipment such as a hard hat.
At Labrador Farms, trail riding is a function of lessons. "For independent riding off site, a minimum of two months of weekly lessons is expected," says Mongnoni. "Some kids take considerably longer than that to establish real control. Age is important also."
If you think horseback riding might interest your child, have your questions ready and contact one of these providers.
Where to Go Riding
- Ashford Farms, PO Box 586, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444, 610-825-9838, Sept.-May, Tues.-Sat., 9am-5pm; lessons, (ages 8 & up); summer camp.
- Black Horse Stables, 426 Pineville Rd., Newton, PA 18940, 267-304-5228, Daily, 7am-9:30pm; Lessons; private, group; ($50-$80, age 4 & up); riding ($40/hr., indoor & outdoor arenas, trails); summer camp; equine swim therapy.
- Brigadoon Equestrian Center, formerly Little Bit Farms, 901 Cherry Ln., Newton, PA, 18940, 215-598-9696, Lessons; riding (outdoor & indoor arenas,, trail rides); ponies; summer camp.
- Chamounix Equestrian Center, 98 Chamounix Dr., Phila., PA 19131, 215-877-4419, Apr.-Nov., Wed., Fri.-Sun.; lessons; riding (enclosed outdoor ring); summer camp.
- Courtesy Stable, 901 East Cathedral Rd., Philadelphia, PA 19128; Lessons; private, boarding; barn days.
- Durango Farm, 1469 Morstein Rd., West Chester, PA 19380 , 610-344-0753, Mon.-Sat.; lessons; riding (indoor arena, outdoor rings, trails); summer camp.
- Evolution Horse Training, 171 S. Bridge Rd., West Chester, PA 19382, 484-880-1387, Lessons; group, private; trail rides; pony party.
- Foxhollow Farm, 271 Swinehart Rd., Glenmoore, PA 19343, 610-942-9001, Lessons (age 3 & up); riding (indoor ring & outdoor arena); ponies; summer camp.
- Greylyn Farm, 790 Darby Paoli Rd., Berwyn, PA 19312, 484-566-9440, Lessons (age 6 & up); private, group; boarding.
- Haycock Stables Inc., 1035 Old Bethlehem Rd., Perkasie, PA 18944, 215-257-6271, Tues.-Sun., lessons (age 4 & up.); riding (age 7 & up, by appointment); ponies.
- Heaven's Gate Farm, LLC, 5590 Bradshaw Rd., Pipersville, PA 18947, 215-766-0133, Lessons; riding (outdoor ring & indoor arena); summer camp; therapeutic riding.
- Hickory Run Farm, 426 Pineville Rd., Newtown, PA 18940, 215-598-7456, Lessons; riding (outdoor rings, indoor arena).
- Hope Springs Farm at Marsh Creek State Park, 800 N. Reeds Rd., Downington, PA 19335, 610-321-1960, Lessons; private, semi-private; (age 8 & up); boarding.
- Northwestern Stables, 120 W. Northwester Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118, 215-242-8892, Lessons; group, private, semi-private; horse clubs; summer camp.
- Oakbourne Equestrian Center, 708 Oakbourne Rd., West Chester, PA 19382, 610-696-3139, Lessons; private, semi-private; (age 8 & up); boarding.
- Painted Dreams Farm, 941 Park Ave., Wrightstown, PA 18940, 215-598-7370, / Lessons ages 3 & up, daily 9am-8pm; riding (indoor & outdoor arenas); ponies; summer camp.
- Pegasus Riding Academy, 8297 Bustleton Ave., Phila., PA 19152, 215-742-1500, Special needs only. Lessons; riding therapy.
- Rainbow Ridge Farm, 4841 Applebutter Rd., Pipersville, PA 18947, 215-766 9357, Lessons (all ages, waiting list); riding (indoor and outdoor arenas); ponies; summer camp; therapeutic riding.
- Red Buffalo Ranch, 1106 Anders Rd., Collegeville, PA 19426, 610-489-9707 / 9am-4pm; summers daily; lessons (age 7 & up); riding (trails); summer camp.
- Reinbows End Farm, 1086 Green Lane Rd., Malvern, PA 19355, 610-827-5050, Daily; lessons (riding (indoor arena, outdoor rings); summer camp.
- Rosefield Farm, 906 St. Matthews Rd., Chester Springs, PA 19425, 610-827-5008, Tues.-Fri.; lessons (age 8 & up); summer camp.
- Saddlebrook Equestrian Center, 4870 Skippack Pike, Schwenksville, PA 19473, 610-287-0415, Daily, hrs. vary; lessons; riding (outdoor rings, trails); ponies; summer camp; therapeutic riding.
- Sandy Hill Farm, 1918 Sandy Hill Rd., Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462, 610-275-7551, Riding; ponies; summer camp.
- Sebastian Riding, 3589B Water Street Rd., Collegeville, PA 19426, 610-489-3741, Special needs only. Daily; therapeutic riding (indoor arena & lighted outdoor ring).
- Sheeder Mill Farm, 12 Sheeder Mill Rd., Spring City, PA 19475, 610-469-9382, Daily., 10am-dusk; lessons; riding, guided trail).
- Special Equestrians, 2800 Street Rd., Warrington, PA 18976, 215-918-1001, Special needs only. Tues.-Sat., hrs. vary; lessons (age 3 & up); therapeutic riding & hippotherapy (indoor & outdoor arena, sensory trail).
- Sunset Valley Farm, 880 Valley Creek, West Chester, PA 19380-1976, 484-885-4278, Lessons; private; boarding; special group events; summer camps.
- Three Diamonds Stables, 3802 Kratz Rd., Collegeville, PA 19426, 610-489-0480, Lessons; riding (indoor & outdoor rings, trails); summer camp., Lessons; riding, (indoor & outdoor rings, trails); summer camp.
- Thorncroft Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Inc., 190 Line Rd., Malvern, PA 19355, 610-644-1963, Mon.-Fri., 8am-9pm, Sat. & Sun., 8am-5pm; lessons; riding (indoor & outdoor arena, trails); summer camp; therapeutic riding.
- WillowMay Farm, 5254 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA 19073, 610-240-9951, Lessons ($45-$70/45 mins.); summer camp.
- Work to Ride, Inc. Chamounix Equestrian Center, 98 Chamounix Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19131, 215-877-4419, Lessons; private, group; boarding; summer camp.
- Bay Point Equestrian Center, LLC., 11655 Rotherwood Ln., Berlin, MD 21811, 302-396-0564, Lessons; boarding; training.
- Baybreeze Farm, 34376 Resort Ln., Frankford, DE 19945, 302-542-7068, Lessons; boarding; pony rides.
- C Line Stables, 3491, Townsend, DE 19733, 302-545-2026, Lessons; riding (indoor arena); summer camp.
- Carousel Farm Riding Stable / Carousel Park & Equestrian Center, 3700 Limestone Rd., Wilmington, DE 19808, 302-995-7670, Daily; lessons (age 8 & up); riding (trail rides); ponies; summer camp.
- Deer Antler Riding Camps, 1133 Deer Antler Rd., Clayton, DE 19938, 2139 Choptank Rd., Middletown, DE 19709, 302-659-1366, , Lessons; ponies; summer camp.
- Fair Hill Stables, Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area, Rte. 273, Fair Hill, MD, 410-620-3883, daily; lessons; riding (indoor arena & trails); ponies; summer camp.
- Gambler's Choice Equestrian Center, LLC, 238 Grey Fox Ln., Dover, DE 19904, 302-632-9777, Lessons; group, private, riding; grooming; (indoor arena,) year-round.
- Hoof Prints Trail Riding Center, 5367 Sixty Foot Rd., Parsonsburg, MD 21849, 410-845-8814, Lessons; rides, (ages 10 & up).
- Saddle Up Stables, 4528 Saddle up Cir, Bridgeville, DE 19933, 302-228-7859, Lessons; riding, ages 5+; field trips; pony rides for Birthdays or events; farm sitting; leather cleaning.
- Secret Pride Stables LLC., 9074 Spring Hill Ln., Salisbury, MD 21801, 410-543-2063, Lessons; private, semi-private/paired, group; Tiny Tots for 6 years and younger; summer riding club; Eventing lessons; Mommy and Me lessons; barns days; pony days; summer camps; pony parties; horse leasing.
- Southern Delware Therapeutic Riding, Inc., 17170 Harbeson Rd., Milton, DE 19968, 302-644-1920, Lessons; therapeutic riding; hippotherapy, private.
- Sunset Stables, Howell School Rd., Bear, DE 19701, 302-834-7588, Lessons; riding (age 10 & up); ponies; summer camp.
- Sweet Meadow Stable, Sweet Meadow Ln, Selbyville, DE 19975, 302-396-0564, Lessons; group, private, semi-private; therapeutic riding; summer camp; day camp.
- Whispering Meadows Equestrian Center, LLC, 77 Eastburn Dr., Clayton, DE 19938, 302-653-7738, Lessons; riding (lighted outdoor arena); ponies; summer camp; therapy pool.
- Windswept Stables, Dawn Beach, Rte. 24, Lewes, DE 19958, 302-645-1651, Daily, 6am-7pm; riding (trails); ponies.
- Compassionate Friends Therapeutic Riding Center, 40 Cooper Tomlinson Rd., Medford, NJ 08055, 690-320-5363, Therapeutic riding; Hippotherapy.
- D&D Stables, 279 Pancoast Mill Rd., Buena, NJ, 856-697-6317, Daily; lessons; riding (ages 10 & up, indoor arena & trails); ponies; summer camp.
- Field of Dreams, 2791 Mountain View Dr., Bath, PA, 484-287-5559, Lessons; riding (indoor arena, outdoor rings, trails); summer camp.
- Fox Hunt Farm, 89 Fostertown Rd., Lumberton, NJ 08048, 609-261-2292, Lessons; boarding.
- Happy Hooves Stables, 329 Main St, Lumberton, NJ 08048, 609-654-1283, Birthday parties, (age 5 & up); July-mid-November.
- Labrador Hill Farm & Studio, 1665 Conrad Ave., Waterford, NJ, 856-768 9980, Daily; lessons (age 4 & up); riding (students only); therapeutic riding & equine-assisted therapy.
- Liberty Bell Farm, 117 Dutch Row Rd., Elmer, NJ, 856-358-2892 , Mon.-Sat., 4pm-8pm; lessons (ages 8 & up); riding (arenas); ponies; summer camp.
- Majoda Stables, 620 Garwood Rd., Mooreatown, NJ 08057, 856-231-7552, Lessons; private, group; Therapeutic riding.
- North View Farm, 2030 Cedar Lane Ext., Bordentown, NJ, 609-923-4330, March-Nov.; lessons (age 4 & up); riding (outdoor arena).
- Riding High Farm, 145 Rte. 526, Allentown, NJ, 609-259-3884, Lessons (age 6 & up); riding (indoor facility); summer camp; therapeutic horseback riding & hippotherapy.
- Saddlebrook Ridge Equestrian Center, 10 Saddlebrook Court, Shamong, NJ, 609-953-1600, Lessons; riding (indoor arena & trails).
- South Jersey Equestrian Center. LLC, 712 Barretts Run Rd., Shiloh, NJ 08353, 877-753-7268, Lessons; group; boarding; horse and pony camp. (Ages 5-16).
- Split Elm Equestrian Center, 553 Frankfurt Ave., Mays Landing, NJ 08330, 609-576-5508, Lessons; private, semi-private, group.
- Suffolk Stables, 1418 Old Indian Mils Rd., Shamong, NJ 08088, 609-346-7093, Lessons; private, semi-private; group; summer camp.
- Triple E Training & New View Equestrian Center, 335 Red Lion Rd., Southampton Township, NJ 08088, 609-661-9192, Lessons; private, semi-private, group; boarding; birthday parties.
- Woodege Stables and Equestrian School, 116A Borton's Landing Rd., Moorestown, NJ 08057, 856-235-5623, Lessons; summer camp.