Almost half of London is made up of green spaces, making it a great place to take advantage of outdoor activities like horse riding. There are around 3,000 parks in the capital, eight of which are looked after by The Royal Parks charity and owned by the Crown – horse riding remains an active hobby of the the Royal Family in England. Here’s where you might find them trotting around the capital.
This family-run riding school in Finchley has been open 25 years and is perfectly positioned across 34 acres of land, overlooking Totteridge Valley. Though many adults ride here, the centre is particularly well equipped for children, offering ‘tiny tot’ rides for those as young as three-years-old. They also offer ‘pony days’ for children under 10, which helps them get used to the animals before they begin taking lessons, which are available too. The most special thing on offer is their birthday party package, which invites a minimum of eight children to come to the school and spend two hours with their friends, being guided on horseback.
At around 10 miles in diameter, Richmond Park is a true slice of countryside within the borders of Greater London. Horse riders flock from six different stables to ride among the park’s abundance of grassy plains, ancient oak trees and large herds of deer, which were brought in as hunting game for King Henry VIII. In winter months, less daring would-be equestrians can opt to view the park from the comfort of a six-person, horse-drawn carriage.
Nestled in the heart of the city, Hyde Park Stables offers one of the most central spots to go horse riding in London. They are open seven days a week, all year round and cater to everyone, so you don’t need to have ridden before to join in the fun. If you’re looking to learn properly, you can have private or group lessons, which take place in one of the park’s two riding arenas. For those who are simply looking for a new way to explore the park, the stables offer guided tours with their mounted escorts. With five miles of bridle ways to canter along, there is plenty of terrain for the more experienced rider.
Hack through the countryside | Courtesy of Wimbledon Village Stables
This multi-award winning riding school will allow you to escape the towering office blocks of London for a journey through the exquisite countryside. It seems an odd notion to go on a hack in the middle of London but Wimbledon Village Stables has found its way around this, tucking the stables away with easy access to the countryside. An adult-only stable, the horses are available to ride, well-schooled, and are instructed by experts that offer you miles of riding for all abilities. Whether you’re keen for a group session or want a more one-to-one approach with a private lesson, what better way to spend those London days? You can also tone up at the stables with the new Equicise, a fun way to send your time in Wimbledon using an interactive equine simulator. WVS provides more events and activities besides riding, including lecture demonstrations, guest speakers, horse dressage competitions, charity balls, and BBQs – everything a horsey-fanatic could dream of.
For those ready to take their riding to the next level, Ham Polo Club is the only one of its kind in London. Though membership is required for those wishing to play in tournaments, anyone who wants to take up the sport can begin by booking lessons. Whether you learn privately or as part of a group, the school offers the highest standard of coaching with their qualified instructors and is suitable for total beginners. Social memberships are also available for spectators and enthusiasts of the sport, who can also pay per visit on Sunday match days.
Boasting 5-star livery services, expert riding tuition and excellent equestrian facilities, Lee Valley Riding Centre offers horse-owners the full package. Though the centre is open to beginners, and has a variety of lesson types to chose from, it really is perfect for those who take their riding seriously. As a registered British Horse Society examinations centre, training courses in stable management and riding are taught by resident instructors on Tuesday nights. Dressage tuition is also available. The facilities include an indoor and two outdoor arenas, which are free to use for livery customers, walking and cross country tracks, as well as secure and luxury stables to keep the ponies pampered.
In the heart of North London, this animal education centre offers local children the opportunity to learn about farm life through a range of creative activities. The farm opened in the 1970s and since then its volunteers and supporters have provided rural learnings to the community. Pony rides at the farm take place on Saturdays and Sundays and cost just £2 per ride. Champion, Murphy and Jester, the farm’s horses, will happily show children over the age of four around the track, and are experts in giving therapeutic rides for children with special needs. The Pony Club at the farm provides lessons for those who wish to learn more about equestrian care.