Imagine going for an exhilarating ride in the park or across some heathland, with the breeze in your hair and fresh air in your lungs. You’re getting an excellent all-body workout, mental relaxation and a shot of mood-boosting endorphins. That’s horse riding in a nutshell. For those who’ve signed up to the gym but never gone back after the first session, this sport offers a fantastic exercise regime that just might keep you in the saddle. Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or just want to hang out with horses, if we’ve set the ball *ahem* trotting, then here are seven of the best places for horse riding in London:
1. Stag Lodge Stables
Established over 300 years ago, Stag Lodge Stables give you access to 4,500 acres of glorious green space in which to stretch your horse’s legs. They run two Stag Lodges situated on the fringes of Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common. Here, you’ll learn to take care of horses, get into the groove of a riding regime, or just enjoy a beautiful view from your atop your steed. You can travel the length of the park and then get pitstop refreshments at the coffee shops at either gate.
The stables have over 70 horses ranging from 16-hand hunters to diminutive Shetland ponies, all chosen for their pleasing nature and suitability for riders of all ages. Lessons are available for everyone from absolute beginners to old hands looking to unwind the equine way.
Your kids want to get in the saddle too? No problem! The many options include the popular Pony Week Courses held every school half-term and holiday. Youngsters will learn stable management along with riding skills such as how to balance and maintain different positions on the horse.
You’ll find Stag Lodge Stables’ Stag Lodge 1 at Robin Hood Gate, Richmond Park, London, SW15 3RS – travel by train or underground to Putney, then catch the 85 bus towards Robin Hood Gate. Stag Lodge 2 is at 197 Robin Hood Way, London, SW20 0AA – travel by train or tube to Putney, then catch the 265 bus to Tolworth and alight at Colliers Wood Football Club stop.
2. Ross Nye Stables
Treading the cobbles of Bathurst Mews in Central London, you wouldn’t imagine that behind blue-painted doors live well-bred horses waiting to be ridden. Founded in 1965, Ross Nye Stables offer horse riding in London on the five miles of track and two outdoor arenas in Hyde Park.
Ross Nye, the late owner, believed that the riding helps you grow physically, psychologically and emotionally. To allow everyone to benefit from being in equine company, the stables have extremely calm-natured horses. They spend months in the countryside each year so that they can return to the city thoroughly refreshed and ready to get back into the saddle (so to speak).
Spend a day at the stables’ Pony Club and you will have an extended family to look after. The staff are friendly and welcoming and soon become another good reason for you to return to this horsey haven. If it’s on your way to work, you can trot in from 7 am for a ride or to spend some quality time with your ‘neigh-bours’ (see what we did there?). You can also host private parties or other social events here.
You’ll find Ross Nye Stables at 8 Bathurst Mews, London, W2 2SB. Nearest stations are Lancaster Gate and Paddington.
3. Dulwich Riding School
Founded in 1961, Dulwich Riding School has a respected heritage and is very popular among new and experienced riders – so popular, in fact, that there’s a waiting list.
The staff are driven by their passion for upholding the legacy and standards of the school. This shows in their dedication towards everyone who canters in and the abundance of certifications received by the school. They are also even approved by the Association of British Riding Schools – posh right?
The school is primarily known as a place to hone your riding skills. So if you’re a veteran horseperson looking to expand your horizons, you can check into this place for certification. Many of their students have passed the British Horse Society and Pony Club examinations. At the same time, many have learned eventing, dressage, endurance riding and judging, and have even started their own schools. A lot of stuntmen even began their careers with Jim Bellman, the school’s founder.
You’ll find Dulwich Riding School at Dulwich Common, Dulwich, London, SE21 7EX. Nearest stations are West Dulwich and Forest Hill.
4. Wimbledon Village Stables
Fancy a ride away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Saddle up with Wimbledon Village Stables and enjoy over 3,000 acres of grassland, woodland and heath. While putting your horse through its paces, keep an eye out for the wildlife that inhabits Wimbledon Common. Watch out for deer and maybe even Wombles as you canter on by.
The stables itself is an award-winning riding club open to adults only. Their 25 well-schooled horses and ponies make great riding companions, and there’s also a life-size interactive horse dressage simulator, Equicise. It helps those who want to improve their form or who just want to experience the sport indoors.
They also organise many charity events, like the Annual Charity Ball in spring, the Summer Show, and the Sponsored Ride in October. This might not be the place for beginners but it serves everyone else very well if they have a horse-related activity in mind.
You’ll find Wimbledon Village Stables at 24 a/b High Street, Wimbledon, London, SW19 5DX. Nearest station is Wimbledon.
5. Ealing Riding School
Welcoming experts, aspiring riders, visitors and horse lovers of all ages and levels, the Ealing Riding School is where horses and humans thrive together. Everyone from kids with special needs to adults who want to look like they were born in the saddle come to this place to polish their style. Even people who just want to learn how to take care of horses or learn the tricks of stable management are welcome here.
Located in the residential area of Gunnersbury Avenue, the school has its own stable, stable meadow, tack room, classrooms and kitchen garden. The pony club and parties, the dressage and summer shows, and the opportunity to take care of the horses are open to all enthusiasts. And with a stable of 28 good-natured and lively horses, you’re sure to end up forging a bond with at least one of them – we guarantee it.
You’ll find Ealing Riding School at 17-19 Gunnersbury Avenue, Ealing, London, W5 3XD. Nearest stations are Ealing Common, Ealing Broadway and Acton Town.
6. The London Equestrian Centre
For over three decades, The London Equestrian Centre has been welcoming riders aged three years and up. Your kids can come here and enjoy short 15-minute rides in the Tiny Tots slots while you ride along, taking in views of the Totteridge Valley from the stables’ own 34 acres.
This is a perfect venue for birthday parties or Pony Days during the school holidays. Here, kids can learn how to groom and take care of a horse. The staff are welcoming and ensure everyone has a safe ride on their well-trained horses. Once you’ve dismounted, why not enjoy some fodder and a drink at the on-site Gee Gee’s café?
You’ll find The London Equestrian Centre at Lullington Garth, Woodside Park, London, N12 7BP. Nearest station is Mill East.
7. Hyde Park Stables
Hyde Park Stables have been offering horse riding in Central London for almost 200 years. They embrace everyone, whatever their equestrian experience. With Hyde Park at your disposal, you can come with your friends or family and go trotting around Serpentine Lake – it’s really quite the experience.
The well-maintained facilities in the park were used as a London Olympics venue in 2012, and there are two arenas on the North and South Carriage Drives. The northern route is near the wildflower meadows, while the southern one is next to the children’s park. Whether you want to nurture your expertise or just enjoy a ride in the picturesque locale, Hyde Park Stables do not disappoint. They’re open seven days a week for rides and lessons, with savings to be made on block bookings.
You’ll find Hyde Park Stables at 63 Bathurst Mews, London, W2 2SB. Nearest stations are Lancaster Gate and Paddington.
Whether you’re looking for an energetic escape from city life, or just want to spend some time in equine company, these are the 7 best options for horse riding in London.