Destinations for horse lovers
By Jan Ross
Equine friends at the Kentucky Horse Park (Courtesy The Kentucky Horse Park)
There is something about horses that many kids just love. Their beauty and gentleness, combined with the excitement of mounting up to actually ride them on an adventure, is a combination that will make kids excited about any destination which involves horses. Several locations, resorts, and ranches offer a variety of horseback riding experiences, so here are a few to get your started planning your next trip to some of these family-friendly destinations for a horse centered getaway.
Long known as the horse capital of the world, the Bluegrass Region will charm you with its lush, green fields filled with beautiful horses surrounded by iconic white plank fences. Many of the area’s horse farms offer tours, and a drive along Paris Pike or one of the other country roads outside the city will reward you with plenty of horse sightings.
For a hands-on, kid-friendly horse experience, head to the Kentucky Horse Park. Admission to the park includes visits to the museums, a horse-drawn tour and equine presentations throughout the day. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful scenery, then take a 35-minute trail ride, suitable for first-time riders. Kids must be at least 7 years old to enjoy this experience, but the park also offers pony rides around a paddock for kids 2 – 12 years old.
For a great kid-friendly hotel, arrange a stay at the Embassy Suites Lexington. Located a short drive from the park, the hotel offers a great complimentary breakfast complete with an omelet bar, and suites with a separate living room, which are perfect for families.
Assateague Island, Maryland
Assateague horses (Flickr: Mrs. Gemstone)
Any kid who has read “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry knows all about the wild horses on the island of Assateague and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Legends say that the horses were left on the island by a shipwreck. However they arrived, they are a flourishing herd of 300 beautiful horses that can be appreciated only at a distance as they are still wild animals. The best way to view the horses is by taking one of the many boat tours of the island, as the boats can get very close to the animals without disturbing them. For kayak lovers, kayaking is also a great way to experience the island and the wild horses.
For the perfect family vacation, book a stay at the Marigot Beach Suites, which are ocean front condos with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, washer and dryer, and full kitchens.
Forrest Hills Resort, Dahlonega, Georgia
Horseback rides at Forrest Hills Mountain Resort (Courtesy Forrest Hills Mountain Resort)
This lovely resort is the perfect place to visit charming Dahlonega with kids. With a variety of hotel rooms, cabins and lodges, a complimentary breakfast, a nice in-ground pool, hiking trails, and horseback riding, the resort makes a great family getaway. Gold City Corral and Carriage Company on the property offers one-hour trail rides for kids 8 and up, with beginner rider lessons prior to the ride. Two-hour trail rides are also available, and they even offer a half day experience that includes lunch. Nearby Dahlonega is only a 20 minute drive and offers a gold mine museum, gold mine tours, and wonderful little shops and restaurants.
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, Chandler, Arizona
Koli Equestrian Center at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa (Courtesy Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa)
This gorgeous, kid-friendly resort is located in the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix and features the architecture, design,and art that celebrates the local Native American culture. With a golf course, spa, four pools, tennis courts and jogging trails, several restaurants, and the Koli Equestrian Center, it truly has something for every family member. Horseback riding at the equestrian center is suitable for both beginners and advanced riders who are at least 6 years old, and they offer both private and group trail rides. Both include experiencing the beautiful Arizona landscape of the Gila River Indian Reservation.
Clear Creek Guest Ranch, Burnsville, North Carolina
Clear Creek Guest Ranch (Courtesy Clear Creek Guest Ranch)
Located in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, this ranch is the perfect place to visit North Carolina with kids. Their all-inclusive rates include accommodations in very nice cabins, three home cooked meals a day, all ranch activities, and horseback riding twice a day. Riding orientation and instruction are provided, and during the summer months, each week concludes with a rodeo featuring fun activities for the whole family.
Jan Ross contributed this to MiniTime. She writes for a variety of venues, both print and online, and often travels with her photographer husband.