So I’ve long been obsessed with horses.
As a kid, we’re talking pony rides at events, trail riding on family vacations, the Saddle Club, and My Little Pony. Forget Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, give me a horse plushie any day. As an adult, I am embarrassed to admit that I chose Wells Fargo as my bank because they have horses in their ads (and a very cute horse plushie). Basically, I am as horse crazy as an urban/suburban gal can get.
Now that I’m older (and more importantly, have my own source of discretionary income to spend) I try as often as I can to go riding short of buying my own horse (not THAT much discretionary income just yet).
So to celebrate this wonderful obsession of mine, I thought I’d do a round-up of bay area horseback riding locales:
Garrod Farms Stables: [Saratoga] This is a nice big stable. Very fine and right next to a vineyard. They offer trail riding up the mountains where you can see spectacular views–even a bit of San Francisco on a clear day. They offer western and english style for $30-$35 per group lesson. Each lesson is an hour, and they’ll have the horses all saddled up for you so you get to ride the full hour. Very casual atmosphere though I thought the instructor did more talking than instructing sometimes. Still, this was the very first time I got to play groups games while on horseback and went out for drinks with classmates for the holidays. I actually felt like I could bond with my classmates and teacher. And dude, they even offer vaulting lessons!!!! (think gymnastics on a horse’s back!!)
Sea Horse Ranch: [Half Moon Bay] I only do their early bird special. $45 for a two hour ride on trail and beach. I’m not talking about nose to butt trail rides either as they often have groups of 30-40 people riding at the same time. Once you’re on the beach, you’ll get to canter/lope as you please. One of my favorite places to ride on the weekend, and I have a favorite horse (Grumpy!!!). Lots of new riders and tourists with a few more experienced folks sprinkled in. I wrote a way long post on Yelp here.
Hampton Place Stables: [San Jose] Very tiny and hard to find but a wonderful place for rescue horses to go. They take in horses that have been mentally and physically abused and rehabilitate them. I don’t have too much else to say about them because I only managed to volunteer once before we moved out of San Jose. I spent the afternoon grooming horses there. I noticed lessons going on so if you live in San Jose, check these guys out. I doubt their lesson fee is too expensive, and your money will go to a great cause.
3K9 Ranch: [Sunol] I’m currently taking western lessons here, and I wholeheartedly recommend this place to anyone who wants to learn to become a better rider. This is a small establishment and is privately owned by a family who lives on site. This means for the price of a group lesson elsewhere, you get a private lesson on horses that the owners ride competitively at local competitions. No lifeless school horses here. Lessons are $40 for an hour and a half, and if you have time, you can stay longer too!! I got to drive an atv dummy cow, learn how to rope, and herd cattle too. The only downside for some people is that he is not always available every week for lessons. For me, this just means I get to go ride at Sea Horse Ranch so it works for me.
Did I miss anything? Here’s a great website that’ll give you a list of all the possible places you could ever hope to ride at in the bay area.
Photo Credit: From Garrod Farms Website