Where to Go Trail Riding

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Trail rides with a 4-year-old?

Sept 2009

So many ranches out there, but it's hard to find a horse ranch that does trail rides for 4 year olds. It seems like 6 is the minimum unless you just want to stay in the corral. Any recommendations? Is 4 really too young to go on a trail with a gentle pony? I am not a horse person myself, just the mother of a very horse-centric girl. cowgirl's mother

Because of liability, most horse rental companies won't rent that young. The child is just not strong enough to control the horse. I have seen many adults who rent on vacation and can't control the horse! Our two kids were up on horses at age 1 with us walking in front of them, leading the horse, and have since grown up to do trail rides in Montana (at age 6). The only place that accomodated us at the younger age was Drakesbad in Lassen National Park. They have meadow rides they developed for young children (mainly due to our son's interest and that they knew our family after decades of visiting there). My advice is to contact a local small stable (there are several off Marsh Creek Road in Clayton) and have her take some private lessons. Then, if she does well, you can try to find some places that will rent to her. During the summer, our daughter enjoyed Castle Rock Arabians in Walnut Creek and they also will do private or small group lessons. If you google family dude ranches, you can read descriptions and find someplace suitable. Go, cowgirls!! kl

Yes, 4 is too young for a trail ride! A gentle pony is part of the herd and will run if the other horses run. A four-year old will have no hope of controlling the pony in such a situation. Please stick to enclosed riding arenas and listen to the experts. anon

Horseback riding adventure for the family

May 2009

Our family - my husband and I and our two boys age 5 & (almost) 7 - would like to go on a low key, local horseback riding adventure. We live in El Cerrito. I've looked in the achieves but a lot of the recommendations are old. We have a friend throwing a birthday party for her 7y.o son at M stables in El Sobrante but we can't attend and so would like to go on our own adventure. Can't find anything about riding at M or anywhere else local. Maybe I'm missing something. We're not looking for summer camp or lesson -- just a day adventure somewhere reputable without breaking the bank. Lookin' for adventure

My family took a trail ride from Five Brooks near Olema in West Marin. I believe there are stables South of SF as well - Pacifica or Half Moon Bay. horsey mama

Try Sunol Regional Park (I forget the name of the stables there). Nice rides (family) through the park! *anon*

Five Brooks Stables in Pt Reyes is really nice, you can go for a couple of hours.

Horse pack trip with 9-year-old

Feb 2009

My 9-year-old daughter and I would love to do a 3-5 day horseback riding trip somewhere within driving distance. Last year I found information on what I remember as 4-day pack trips in the national forest somewhere near Tahoe (details could be off there!). I can't find information on those now, but if you know what I'm talking about, or about anything else that would fit the bill and not be resort-expensive, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks! nancy

A few years ago we went to Southern Utah. One of the things we did was a 1/2 day horseback ride at Capital Reef nat'l Park. The company was Hondoo Rivers and Trails. They are located in town outside the park and the ride was on the gorgeous land outside the park (because they are not ''park consessionairs''. They were WONDERFUL to do business with. We were 2 families of parents, teenagers and younger boy, either bare beginners or not ridden for a long time. They paired each of us with a horse perfectly compatible for our skill and personality (don't ask me how...they just did). We had a blast. They do full day, and back country trips. We had hoped to go back and do a several day pack trip but never got back there. There are plenty of places to stay in town...I don't think they put their guests up, but maybe they do. Worth checking out. Google, Hondoo Rivers and Trails. e-mail is: hondoo [at] color-country.net Good luck and have fun. anon

Whether you are a complete novice or an accomplished rider, I would recommend Hunewill Ranch in the Eastern Sierra, just outside of Bridgeport (www.hunewillranch.com). It is a family-owned and run working cattle ranch and offers some of the best riding that you will find. They have their own meadows and access to national forest lands. The wranglers are particularly good with kids--they are friendly, encouraging, good teachers, and accept no rule-breaking (like running the horse back to the barn). They offer a variety of packages--we did 5-day summer packages for 5 consecutive years when my daughter was between 10 and 14 and loved every minute. It is family-friendly with lots of activities for young and older. Dudette at heart

Trail riding for 13-year-old

Jan 2003

My 13 year old niece is coming to visit us in April. Her Mom (my sister) would like for her to be able to go horseback riding while she is out here. But here's the catch. They live in Upstate New York, where horseback riding is ubiquitous. What my sister wants her to have is a ''California'' horseback riding experience. On the beach; on a bluff overlooking the ocean; or through the redwoods, something like that. Can anyone recommend a place that offers this type of unique scenery and experience while horseback riding? Thanks in advance for your recommendations. marianne

I know they offer such classes in Redwood Park in Oakland, but I don't have any contact info. Call them or look up on the internet - they were recommended last summer. Maria

I recommend Chanslor Ranch on Hwy 1 just outside of Bodega Bay. It's a small B and B and they have horsebackriding on the beach, sand dunes, etc. We stayed there over New Year's and very much enjoyed it. You can go and ride horses whether you are staying at the ranch or not. Also, nice wetlands area for hiking. Pat

No redwoods or beach, but rolling foothills, great vistas and oak trees, I recommend Sunol Regional wilderness. In April she will have beautiful green hills and wildflowers. Sunol is part of the East Bay park district, www.ebparks.org The horses there are well taken care of. I've also heard good things about the Marin county places, but have not rented there, see: http://www.trailcenter.org/guides/stables/stables-pr.htm I have rented from the Half Moon Bay places and was appalled by the condition of the horses and equipment. I would not support those operations. Cynthia

for a real great beach ride, Ricochet Ridge in Ft Bragg is probably the best place - see http://www.horse-vacation.com/. Don't go to the stables at Half Moon Bay, they were atrocious when I went last time.

Here's a resource for finding places to trail ride in the Bay Area: http://www.trailcenter.org/guides/stables/stables.htm nancy