by Joan MacDonald
Ready for a ride? The Hudson Valley is home to many ranches, riding clubs and farms that will let you saddle up, polish off your equestrian skills, and enjoy some lovely scenery.
Expert horsemanship is not required to experience the joys of riding. Several area facilities let you hop on their horses for a supervised ride. Here are a few you may want to visit:
Ashokan Horseback Riding Club is a full service riding facility that offers supervised trail riding. Lessons take visitors from the ring down to the river and up the cliffs into the woods. By appointment only. 363 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge. 845-657-8021; ashokan.com/riding.
Bear Creek Landing, located in the Bear Creek Restaurant and Recreational Park, features 300 acres of scenic trails for riders of all skill levels. After the ride, visit the restaurant for American and Italian home-style cooking. Routes 214 and 23A, Hunter. 518-263-3839; bearcreekrestaurant.com
Bailiwick Ranch and Zoo offers year-round trail riding with wonderful mountain views, including a sunset ride. To add to the fun, there is a petting and exotic animal zoo with picnic areas and a paintball park. The ranch also gives horseback lessons and pony rides. 118 Castle Road off Route 32, Catskill. 518-678-5665; bailiwickranch.com
Coyote Ridge Stables provides trail riding with gorgeous views of the Hudson River. Rides guided by experienced staff are for age 7 and up. There are pony rides for pee-wees as well as English and Western lessons, and an indoor arena. 583 Lattintown Road, Marlboro. 845-236-1136 or 845-236-7556; coyoteridgestableny.com
Netherwood Acres includes 100 acres of lush green woodlands, with supervised trail rides and lessons, as well as weekly cross-country rides through wooded areas and fields. An annual five-hour Catskill mountain ride passes the spot where Rip Van Winkle took his nap. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. No credit cards. 883 Netherwood Road, Hyde Park. 845-266-3774; netherwoodacres.net
Payne Farms Too is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts looking for an “adventure fix.” The family owned working horse and dairy farm has trails with breathtaking views of the Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges. 125 Dubois Road, New Paltz. 845-255-0177; paynefarmtoo.com
Pine Grove Ranch lets you ride through 600 acres of mountainside trails in the lush, rambling Catskill Mountains. Visitors can buy a day pass, which includes lunch, pool, waterslides, rides and petting baby animals. There are pony and corral rides for young riders and trail rides for various skill levels, all supervised. Open year round at 30 Cherrytown Road, Kerhonkson. 800-346-4626; pinegroveranch.com
Rocking Horse Ranch Resort serves up the kind of Old West activities normally found in a Western-style dude ranch, all included in a vacation package. The supervised trail riding program starts at age 7. For little wranglers there’s a pony ride area. Riding instruction is available. 600 Route 44/55, Highland. 800-647-2624; rhranch.com
Stone Tavern Farm lets you ride trails privately or in groups. Children from 6 to 9 years old must have a guide. Take an hour-long trail down to the picnic area by the stream, where the lunch you ordered will await you, and then ride back to the farm. 2080 Upper Meeker Hollow Road, Roxbury. 607-326-3600; stonetavernfarm.com
Whether you want your kids to learn more about riding styles and horseback safety or are eager to improve your own equitation skills, there are plenty of fun opportunities for riding lessons in the Valley.
Angelstarr Farm specializes in beginner lessons but offers several types of programs for both adults and children. Lessons focus on grooming, tacking and riding but also how to effectively communicate with your horse. Milan. 845-453-3394; angelstarrfarm.com
Ashokan Horseback Riding Club takes beginners from the ring into the field, down to the river, then up the cliffs into the woods. Appointments are required. 363 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge. 845-657-8021; ashokan.com/riding
Duchess Equestrian Center caters to all ages from beginners to advanced and also teaches adult jumping in a bucolic country environment. The stable and arenas all have natural lighting cover. Open 7 days from 9am to 5pm. 35 Warren Way, High Falls. 845-559-5467; duchessfarm.com
Flying Change Farm specializes in beginners and building confidence in riders. Appointments are necessary. Boarding and private lessons are available. 235 Airport Road, Accord. 845-626-0020 or visit their Facebook page.
Green Heron Farm instructs every level of rider, beginners through advanced, including dressage, jumping and pleasure riding, both children and adults. 446 John Joy Road, Woodstock. 845-246-9427; greenheronfarm.com
G. Sagamore Stables gives lessons for beginners through advanced riders in English, Western and dressage, but specializes in people who are afraid of horses or have had a bad experience. Boarding is available as are single-day lessons. 2280 East Houck Mountain Road, East Branch. 607-865-8775 or visit their Facebook page.
Horses and Hounds Stables offers hunter, jumper, and equitation and dressage lessons in large indoor and outdoor arenas that feature dust-free footing. The beautiful 100-acre farm is located at 1470 Albany Post Road, Gardiner. 845-895-9376; horsesandhoundsstable.com
Lucky C Stables gives lessons in English instruction, evenings and weekends, in a group or private setting. The stables also offer an extensive show schedule and summer camp. Yankee Folly Road, New Paltz. 845-255-3220 or 845-389-7222; luckycstables.com
MLC Farms teaches riding to students of all ages and offers training for hunters and jumpers. Open all year long with indoor and outdoor trails, as well as little tot rides for riders under 5 years old. 295 Kennels Road, Millbrook. 845-489-3925; mlcfarm.com
NWF/Nichols Field Riding Club emphasizes barn safety and sensitivity to horses. The farm teaches riding skills to serve all purposes: pleasure, dressage, jumper, cross-country, and carriage driving lessons. Equine assisted learning. 98 Sherman Rd, Kerhonkson. 845-616-3608; nicholsfieldridingclub.com
Old Dalton Farm helps riders maximize their skills and riding goals. The farm’s wide range of quality horses accommodates varying levels and disciplines including hunt seat equitation, and jumping. Students also learn horse care and stable responsibilities. 32 Fordington Drive, Poughquag. 845-656-4320; olddaltonfarm.com
Rivendell Riding Academy is dedicated to quality instruction on experienced, well-trained ponies and horses. The facilities are geared toward progressive hands-on learning including the proper method for feeding carrots and cleaning tack. 2591 Salt Point Turnpike, Clinton Corners. 845-266-3334; rideatrivendell.com
Payne Farms Too gives riding lessons for all ages amid the breathtaking views of the Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges. 125 Dubois Road, New Paltz. 845-255-0177; paynefarmtoo.com
Southern Dutchess Equestrian Center offers both private and semiprivate riding lessons for students at all levels, disciplines and ages, in a relaxed, fun-filled safe environment. 187 Robinson Lane, Wappingers Falls. 845-226-1256; southerndutchess.com
Southlands Foundation has a long history of teaching safe and sound horsemanship to children and adults. Lessons including equitation, showing, hunters, trail riding, fox hunting, jumpers, cross-country, and dressage. Beginner through advanced. 5771 Route 9G, Rhinebeck. 845-876-4862; southlands.org
Stone Tavern Farm gives Western and English lessons for children, ages 6 and up, and adults. Pony rides for the wee ones. Helmets are provided. 2080 Upper Meeker Hollow Road, Roxbury. Reservations necessary. 607-326-3600; stonetavernfarm.com
Twin Spruce Farm offers a full range of lessons, plenty of stalls, as well as two heated indoor arenas, and available turnout. The farm is located in the foothills of the Catskills, with views of both Mohonk and the Shawangunk Mountains. The focus is on natural horsemanship and helping beginners as well as experienced riders develop a deep understanding of the fundamentals. Kids can hold birthday parties. 306 Route 2, Accord. For reservations, call 845-242-0251 or 845-687-6499. Visit facebook.com/TSF.NY or twinsprucefarm.com
Western Riding Stables is located in the foothills of the ruggedly beautiful Berkshire Mountains and has over 100 miles of trails with plenty of wildlife. Before starting out everyone gets a crash course in Western riding style with basic safety lessons. 228 Shawchuk Road, Millerton. 518-789-4848; westernridingstables.com
If you’re looking to spend quality time with your own horse there are several trails, public and private, that you can ride on. When visiting a park, it’s a smart idea to call in advance to be sure the trails are fully usable, as various weather conditions can restrict access.
Rail and multi-use trails:
The Hudson Valley Rail Trail is a 3.7-mile rail trail that stretches from Highland toward New Paltz. Once a rail line, this area has been converted into a multi-use trail. 845-691-2066; hudsonvalleyrailtrail.net
Another great option is the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a 23.7-mile rail trail running along the former Wallkill Valley Railroad rail corridor from Gardiner through New Paltz. gorailtrail.org
At Minnewaska State Park Preserve, horse owners can enjoy all-season trails within the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge, enjoying stunning views of waterfalls, sky lakes, and cliff-edges. 5281 Route 44/55, Kerhonkson. 845-255-0752; nysparks.state.ny.us
At Mohonk Preserve you’ll enjoy cool, forested trails and sweeping views from open fields down to the valley below. Riding along 19th-century carriage roads, you’ll feel you’ve stepped back in time... and into nature. 845-255-0919; mohonkpreserve.org
Mohonk Mountain House features a grand 266-room Victorian castle, as well as thousands of acres of pristine forest and winding trails. 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz. 845-255-1000; mohonk.com
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park is a 14,000-acre park in Putnam and Dutchess counties with a multi-use trail for horseback and bicycle riding. The wide trail runs three miles from the park campgrounds to Peekskill Hollow Road. 1498 Route 301, Carmel. 845-225-7207
Two private trails do offer access to the public on certain conditions:
Whethersfield Estate in Amenia features a 7-acre wooded area looped by a carriage drive. The 20 miles of trails running through fields, woods and hills are maintained for use of carriages and horses. The estate, gardens and stables are open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from June through September. To ride, you need to give a week’s notice and sign a release once a year. Repeat visitors can just come by. 845-373-8037 or write to Wethersfield, 214 Pugsley Hill Road, Amenia, NY 12501
The Landsman Kill Trail Association has cleared and maintains about 80 miles of safe and scenic, horse friendly trails in the Northern Dutchess area, but only club members can use these trails. However, the association does hold four events a year where trails are open to nonmembers for a fee. The events include a luncheon after the ride. Check lkta.org for event dates.