Horseback Riding Lessons

Parent Q&A

  • Affordable quality horse riding lessons?

    (2 replies)

    So my 7 year old had an amazing week at Kenilworth Stables Horse Camp this summer.  We would LOVE to continue but the cost and frequency of lesson requirements are not at all in line with what we can afford.  My gut tells me that a quality riding program that takes good care of its horses is just going to be crazy expensive.  But hoping I'm wrong.  I checked around online and checked if our local park district (Berkeley, Alameda County, East Bay Parks...) offered lessons and they do not.  My daughter would love to continue.  Any advice?  We can go as far as the Redwood Rd area of Oakland or north to Sobrante but of course would love something close too.  I know!  So much to ask...

    You should try Skyline - directly across from Kenilworth.  We ride there and love it.  The people are amazing and they have amazing school horses for beginners, plus, they don't have the twice weekly commitment that Kenilworth does so its more affordable.  Hope this helps!

    North Peak! Deb Henry is an amazing instructor and she runs a friendly, high quality program for young riders. It's a bit of a drive but so worth it!

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  • Horseback riding lessons for an 8 and a 12 year old

    (2 replies)

    I would like to find a patient horseback riding instructor for my two kids. My 8-year-old is a beginner and my 12-year-old has a couple of years of experience, but I'd prefer to get them joint (semi-private) lessons. Hoping for someone patient and good with kids, either in the Oakland or Berkeley Hills or Orinda.

    North Peak in Walnut Creek. It's a drive from the Berkeley/Oakland area, but so worth it! Deb Henry runs a great program with several teachers, the kids are friendly and the facilities are top notch!

    If they're interested in learning English style riding and potentially  jumping, you might want to try Kenilworth Stables in the Oakland Hills. I know they have lesson horses and other riders near your daughter's ages. There are many great trainers in the Bay Area, but ones with kid safe horses available for lessons are going to be harder to find.

    As a side note, you'll likely be required to do private lessons with your younger daughter at least until she has the basics down and this should be true for any reputable barn you decide to go to. Good luck!

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Riding Lessons for Kids Riding Lessons for Adults
Related Pages

Riding Lessons for Kids

Western Horse riding lessons for almost 8yo girl

Sept 2011

Hello, My daughter really wants to take Western riding lessons. She has taken one set of English lessons and one set of Western lessons. She really liked the Western lessons better and wants to continue with Western lessons. We do not have a horse. I would prefer to keep the lessons close to the Berkeley Oakland area if possible but we can go farther. daughter loves horses

Try asking at Redwood Hills Pony Club. They do English riding, and my daughter went there for many years and really enjoyed herself. They have a whole program of learning about the horse, and ratings. You may have to get on a waiting list, but might go ahead and do so as it may take time to get in and she may become interested in English Saddles because of jumping. Western saddle has a pummel to grab onto and for an insecure rider may be one of the reasons for preferring it. The Berkeley Wildcat Canyon Ranch Youth Program taught inner-city children to care for the horses and ride, but I understand the program lost its funding as a result of a dispute with neighbors and closed. There are other stables in the area. Horsie mom

My 4 and 6 year olds have been taking horseback riding lessons with Nola Giddings in El Sobrante. I'm not sure what style of riding is taught but she is really amazing with children and my kids LOVE her and riding. You can call her here: 510-703-7765 or email me with more questions. cath

Horse back riding for middle schooler

May 2010

I'm looking for a teacher/stable for horseback riding lessons for middle schooler. I am trying to find a place that will also teach my kid a bit about horses--how to work with them and how to care or them. Any good stables around here? alan

Bottomley Equestrian Center in Briones is a wonderful place to ride. Corinne, the owner, teaches dressage with an emphasis on horsemanship. Her classes are amazing. My child is a lot younger than yours but we have stayed to watch the older kids. I am extremely impressed with what these kids can do. It's not cheap but well worth the cost. Julie

Redwood Ranch a great place for kids to learn about horses. They have horse back riding lessons year round. They even have a covered area so that lessons can be given during the rainy season. They have also have a summer camp program. Here is their website. Joy

I have a wonderful teacher just 15 minutes from Berkeley. Her name is Nola Giddings and she has gaited Peruvian Pasos that the children (and adults!) ride in their lessons. I have taken lessons from her for years and ended up owning one of her lovely horses myself. Her phone number is (510) 703-7765. Happy trails! Jenny

For children or adults wishing to learn to ride, one of the best instructors in the east bay is Mia Yellin. She is located in the Briones area. She is a gifted teacher who inspires her clients to be well rounded horse people. 925-228-6554

Nola Giddings 510.703.7765 in El Sobrante offers great riding lessons for both children and adults. My daughter has taken lessons from her for 6 years since she was 10. Nola has put in place a lifelong love of horses and riding.

Nola uses a very positive teaching style that encourages children. She uses very creative examples that teach children how to ride correctly and emphasizes safety. She adapts her wonderful teaching style to adults, as well. In addition, Nola provides wonderful opportunities for showing and participating in various events. These opportunities have built both skills and confidence in my daughter.

Nola breeds and trains Peruvian Pasos, gaited horses known for their smooth rides. Her horses are extremely well-mannered and gentle. She takes excellent care of her horses and it's clear that they trust her completely.

Nola gives both individual and private lessons in El Sobrante, just off the Hilltop exit on I80. She also offers trail rides on nearby trails on her horses. Her number again is 510.703.7765. pktak

9 yr. old Horseback Riding

April 2010

Please, does anyone know of horseback riding camps/lessons where kids do riding and horsecare? She wants to ride, not do crafts related to horses. The closer the stables are to Berkeley, the better. Thank you so much

Our daughter has done several sessions at Castle Rock Arabians over the years, probably starting at about 6 years. She enjoyed it lots. It is a bit of a drive, out to Walnut Creek, YVR, and then a right on Walnut Ave. out to the end just before Mt.Diablo State Park. Mostly they learn to care for the horses, groom them, etc. and have lessons in the ring and some trail riding depending on age. Not for the cash - strapped, it is great but about $800+ per week. Discount if more than one sibling is taking a session or one child is doing multiple sessions. kl

Contact the Redwood Hills Pony Club. My daughter went there for a number of years. It is affordable and goes beyond just learning to ride with a strong program of horse care, levels of achievement to master, and fun field trips. There is often a waiting list, so you may want to sign up ahead of time; even a year ahead wouldn't hurt. Some parent participation is expected.

My kid takes private lessons at a stables called Taylor Ranch up in El Sobrante. It's up in the hills at the end of Valley View, about 20-30 minutes from Berkeley, depending on where you live. Nothing fancy pants, just horses and people who like them (and a goat named Snowflake, and four hens, a rooster, + a brood of chicks).

Melinda Reed is a young woman who has taught lessons and ran camps for a few years. She's got a draft horse named Rock and a red mare, Mama Horse, that she uses for the kids. Draft horses are huge, but mellow, kind of like St. Bernards--much nicer and more predictable than most ponies, which is what my kid started on last year. He loves it because he's so high up.

Melinda charges $40 for an hour and a half, which includes learning horse care as well. Her information is: mreed_cowgirlatheart [at]

Western Horse-Back Riding Lessons

Dec 2008

My 15 year old son has been riding for about 7 years and we are now looking for a new dressage instructor. We don't own a horse, so we are looking for a place that can provide advanced instruction and an appropriate horse. We would like to stay fairly close to home - hopefully within an hour of Kensington. Thank you for any suggestions!

There is a dressage instructor at Castle Rock Arabians in Walnut Creek. I have taken private lessons there and my daughter has done several of their summer programs. Not a terrible schlepp from Berkeley area. kl

Western Horse-Back Riding Lessons

April 2008

My daughter loves being with and taking care of horses. She has been taking English lessons for years. However, she just cannot seem to get past some of her fears when she is actually on the horse. Her instructor thinks she might do better riding Western - no jumping, slower gait, bigger saddle, etc. Can anyone recommend a barn where she could hang around and help with the horse care, take lessons, and do some trail riding? horsey girl's mom

My daughter has the best teacher/trainer ever! We had many less than favorable experiences with riding teacher and places, and that led my horse loving daughter to fear. Marie has made her a better, safe rider, has taught her all about horse grooming and care, natural horsemanship and how to truly have fun. She is patient, supportive and fun. Teaches western only. Call Marie Grisham at 510-304-1025. She is great and reasonable! Varda

Horse/Pony Riding Classes for 4-yr Old

June 2007

My 4-year old daughter is developing quite a fascination with horses (all things cowgirl, books, Breyer horses, barrel racing videos on YouTube . . . ). In our efforts to satisfy this, we took her to a pony-ride place where the ponies are on one of those carousel hookups. She loved the riding part, but only wanted to know 1) why there wasn't a bridle, and 2) why the ponies had to stay on the carousel. Does anyone do riding classes (horse or pony) for 4-year olds? We're specifically looking for classes, not a camp. I'd prefer western. We're in Oakland, and wouldn't want to travel too far. Thanks for any recommendations! anne

You can find places that will give riding lessons to 4 year olds, and a good resource for barns in the area is I would recommend waiting until she is a bit older (say 6 or 7), however, since most kids aren't ready physically or mentally to learn to ride at 4. I say this as a former riding instructor who also has a horse crazy daughter who is about to turn 5. We have horses at home so you can only imagine the pleas to add a pony to the herd. Until kids reach a certain age, physically they are somewhat top heavy and often lack the balance to manage their own body and control a horse.

A general rule of thumb is that they should be able to confidently ride a bike w/o training wheels before they start riding lessons. Mentally they need to be able to listen to a teacher and focus on a task for at least 30 minutes, and have enough resilience that they won't be too traumatized if they roll off the pony. Finally, make sure that you purchase your own helmet for her and make sure it is well-fitted and won't shift during lessons. Vista Madera tack store in Oakland or Western Saddlery in Pleasanton are good sources. Good luck! Vali

Instruction for girls aged 11 & 14

October 2006

I am looking for horseback riding instruction for a beginner and advanced beginner, both girls aged 11 & 14. We just want to stick with Western and would prefer someone in Oakland or nearby. We want someone who is reliable, responsible and warm and relates well to her students. Sadly, I know a number of parents of kids taking lessons and none feel like they can heartily recommend their instructor. I'm usually not that hard to please, but after being around a few instructors in the past with my older daughter, I am getting pretty selective, especially since the cost is not insigificant. Thanks

My daughter has been taking lessons from Bev Vreeland for three years. She is at Hayward Hills Equestrian Center. Her number is 925-963-6400. It takes us less then half an hour to get there from Alameda. She teaches English and Western. We think she's great. Betsy

Riding teacher for shy 10-year-old boy

Sept 2005

We took a family vacation to south western Utah. We went on a 1/2 day horseback trailride in Capital Reef National Monument. (WOW!!!) My 10 yo very anxious and shy son was very excited about this trip. The woman who led the ride and owned the ranch was FABULOUS with my son. To our great delight he took to riding like he'd be doing it his whole short life. He loved it, handled his horse beautifully and was beaming for days. So, now that we're home, getting back to school and routine I would like to find a stable and riding teacher for him. My son doesn't speak to new people (he has a social anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism...he speaks to kids, some adults, no new people, etc).He communicates non-verbally. This teacher would have to understand that and be able to work with my son under these conditions. I'm hoping also for convenience...we live in East Richmond, so Bkly, Tilden, San Pablo or Pinole area would be ideal. Thanks for any leads on this. PS If anyone goes to Capital Reef and wants a FABULOUS horseback trip, 1/2 day, full day, or multi day, Hondoo Tail Rides is the place to go. THe woman who owns it is Pat and she is a gem. June

I have a recommendation for you.

Betsy Arcellana at Chabot in Oakland ( - off 580 at Keller and Skyline) is a trainer who has worked with children who have a variety of developmental issues. In fact, she has been advocating for the son of one of the stable staff - who has selective mutism! so she really would ''get it'' about your son.

My son, who is almost 10, rode with Betsy on her pony Flash for most of this past year. He's grown out of it now, but he really enjoyed being with the horses, talking away to them etc. You can reach Betsy through the stables or by calling 510 568 6262.

hope that helps. njl

Horse stable where daughter can volunteer?

July 2003

My daughter has fallen in loves with horses this summer at her camp. Does anyone have recommendations for a place that she could go weekends and ride/help exercise/help groom/help clean/ etc.? Years ago we had a neighbor who stabled her horse somewhere and there were some horses that were rather neglected by their owners, and they needed extra attention that the stable crew could not provide. Any suggestions as to where she can get horse time? for not too much money? as a volunteer?

When my daughter was around 12 she also got bitten badly by the horse bug. She had attended ''horse camp'' for a couple of summers at Tilden Park (by the pony rides) and had gotten to know the woman who ran the pony rides. I don't know if it's the same person there now or not. My daughter offered to come up on the weekends to help and they were very happy to have her. This was about 5 years ago, so I don't know whether something like this would still be possible, but you might check it out. Judy

You didn't say where you lived but there is a low key and VERY inexpensive horse stable place in El Sobrante. We have been there and it is $25.00 per hour to ride around. My daughters also groom, saddle and lead. Patty is very nice. It is VERY ''rustic''. Their phone no is (510)223-7249. anon

Horseback rising lessons for 9-year-old

June 2003

I am looking for recommendations for horse riding lessons for a nine year old with some experience already. We are in Oakland and are willing to travel some for a really good teacher. She has been riding English. We are concerned about safety and a positive learning environment. The only suggestion on the site is for Bottomley and we found them a bit more geared towards the competition than we like. Sharon

Try Briones - there's a riding stable there that gives English lessons. susievav

I have a friend who takes lessons in Marin. The stable is called Miwok Livery and she raves about it. They have classes and camps for children. The URL is . Hope that helps. Mollie Hart

Skyline Stables, Redwood Road, Oakland (has a pony club) FoxRidge Stables, Redwood Road Oakland (may have a summer camp) Rancho del Lago, Rancho del Lago Road, Martinez (off Bear Creek Road about 1 mile from Bottomley. has summer camp for kids, has a pony club) Half Halt Farms, Rancho del Lago Road, Martinez (see above) Poplar Place Stables, Bear Creek Road (next to Bottomley, has a pony club) Nancy

I took english riding lessons at Black Point Farm in Martinez, which is down the street from Bottomley. I learned a lot about horses, grooming, etc. I even had to put the bit in the horses mouth, which for me was a bit much at first, but got used to it. I was there for 6 years, but stopped because it became to expensive. It's been since 1996, so not sure if they're still around. The smaller children were taught on ponies. The place had a very nice and homey feel. Nothing fancy, but the horses are well taken care of and healthy. What I liked about the place was that the owner had a variety of horses and you could ride a different one or the same one each lesson. The owner is Carole Dwinnelle. I was taught by her daughter Beth, who is very nice, patient and very good with horses. She grew up around horses and use to compete so that made the experience much better. I'd like to know if they are still in business. I would love to take my daughter there. Cheryl

Relaxed horse riding lessons for 4-year-old

Oct 2002

I am looking for friendly, relaxed horse riding lessons for my 4 year old around the Walnut Creek area. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Hi, I keep my horse at the Eagle's Nest Ranch in Castro Valley. There is a wonderful trainer there that is great with young kids. Her name is Beverley Vreeland. Their number is: (510) 538-8249- office (bev-direct line) 886-6851 Good luck, Michelle Stern

Riding lessons near San Ramon

My daughter's birthday is coming up in April, and she wants horseback riding lessons more than anything. Can anyone recommend a place where she would not only learn to ride, but have a very positive, confidence-building experience? We live in San Ramon and would prefer something in our area, but would be willing to go a bit further - especially if lessons could be on the weekend ;-) Thanks in advance! Wendy

My daughter has been taking riding lessons at Bottomley Farm in Martinez for four years. She started when she was six. Bottomley Farm is a serious riding stable, but it's also turned out to be a pretty friendly community of people.

Bottomley Farm stresses care of its horses, so part of a riding lesson is grooming the horse both before and after the lesson and cleaning the tack you use. So though a private lesson is only a half of an hour, it's takes 15 to 30 minutes to get the horse ready and about the same amount of time after the lesson to clean everything up. If your daughter continues with lesson, at some point she'll be able to join a group. Then for the same price, she'll be able to take an hour lesson with a group of one to three other riders at the same level of ability. The cost of a lesson is $40.

Bottomley Farm also offers one-week day camps in the summer. Beginners are welcome to sign up for these. They are from 9 to 4 and expensive (I think $300 per week this year.) The children get to ride twice a day and spend the rest of the time learning about horses, what they eat, what diseases they get, how to take care of them, parts of the saddle and bridle, etc. There is a little horse show for the parents on the last afternoon of the camp. The phone number for Bottomley Farm is (925) 228-3766. Janet

Riding Lessons for Adults

Want to help groom horses

August 2010

I'm just back from a 5 day horse retreat in Montana, where I learned some basics of horse back riding. I'm just a beginner, but I'd like to find a way to continue my contact with horses. I can't afford to take more than occasional lessons, but am most interested in finding someplace where I can groom or otherwise help take care of a horse on a weekly basis. How do I go about finding such a situation? I live in the Oakland hills.

Good for you for pursuing your horse interest! I recently returned to riding after a 20+ year break and I'm loving it! Here are some resources for you:

1. is the go-to website for the bay area horse community. There is a list of people who provide lessons in your area. You could also post for exactly what you are looking for.

2. Once you have gained some basic skills, leasing or sponsoring a horse is a good low-cost way to continue riding. Some horse owners include monthly lessons as a condition of the lease. Craigslist 'community' section and both are good resources for leasing.

3. This is a little outside of what you requested, but I've found R-Ranch in Napa to be a great way to have horse time for my whole family. For about 1k per year, you get access to a 1,000+ acre ranch with 40 well-trained western horses for trail rides, a huge pool and cabins to stay in.

Feel free to email me off-list if you have any more questions. Happy trails to you! Katia

Riding lessons to get adult up to speed

October 2006

Hi, I'm looking for updates to recommendations for adult horseback riding lessons. I am in Oakland and would like someone in the East Bay (Grizzly Peak thru Skyline preferred). I have been sporadically riding since I was a little kid, from bareback to western to english but not competitively. I would like to spend a few months getting my muscles back in shape and then move towards a sponsorship and trail riding. Emphasis on good form (english, western), confidence building, strength and control. My timeline is to start in March or so of next year. Thanks for the tips LR
Good place for kids and adults in El Sobrante for horse back riding lessons. The owners have a noble mission for saving horses from destruction-retired racing horses and others. Good luck, David

There are 3 places in the Oakland hills that have riding lessons: Anthony Chabot Stables on Skyline near Keller Skyline Ranch on Skyline at Redwood Rd Foxridge Stables on Skyline at Redwood Rd. You might also try Grizzley Peak Stables in the Berkely Hills. If you want to go farther there are many places in Briones Valley along Bear Creek Rd. I recommend Rancho Del Lago, which is out there. I believe you can find phone numbers for all these places in the yellow pages under riding academies. You might also look on the bay are equestrian site

For the person seeking horseback riding lessons, I would like to recommend my instructor/trainer Mia Yellin. Mia teaches english style riding in Briones Canyon. She has lots of experience teaching children, novice adults, and adults returning to riding after many years (like me). She has two wonderful gentle school horses. If interested, give her a call at 925-228-6554.

Lessons and/or hourly rentals for adult?

March 2002

Does anyone know of a good place for an adult to take horseback riding lessons? Or of a place that rents horses by the hour without a guide? Somewhere in the East Bay would be preferable, since we live in Berkeley. Thanks a lot! Gen

Hi, I have my own horse, but began by taking lessons at Eagle's Nest Ranch in Castro Valley. The best trainer there for riding is named Beverly Vreeland. She is kind and encouraging. Their contact information is: Eagles nest ranch (510) 538-8249- Ranch office Bev's direct number: 886-6851 Best of luck. Michelle

One of the best sources of horse related info for the Bay Area is at: They have a listing of trainers and barns in the East Bay at: Recommendations are hard to provide without more info on the type of riding that the adult is interested in... english, western, etc. Hope this helps. BergaHoo