The latest update for this article was written by Lindsay Podolak.
If your child can’t get enough of horses, why not consider registering for horseback riding lessons at one of New Jersey’s many facilities? Learning to horseback ride teaches kids to respect animals, conquer fears and promotes a love of the outdoors. Here are some stables that you can take advantage of in our state, many of which offer riding lessons and summer camps.
Echo Lake Stables
Location: 55 Blakely Lane, Newfoundland
Details: Echo Lake is known for its beautiful and scenic trails, stunning horses, friendly trail guides, clean facilities and fun birthday parties. Trail rides follow the paths of Native Americans from mountainsides to streams. Visit on a Friday or Saturday night and enjoy a night ride. You’ll take a 90-minute trail ride, indulge in a 90-minute barbecue, hear live entertainment and enjoy a hayride. Horseback riding lessons are given in a private ring where even seasoned riders can receive helpful riding tips.
Why I like it: Echo Lake Stables is open all year long for trail rides, making this a fun family adventure in any season.
More info: www.echolakestables.com or call 973-697-1257
Essex Equestrian Center
Location: 12-22 Woodland Avenue, West Orange
Details: EEC has over 35 horses and ponies and offers three types of lessons year-round in its Olympic-sized indoor arena. Kids can start private lessons at six years old, during which they’ll receive one-on-one instruction. A semi-private lesson is 45 minutes and the two attendees will learn from the instructor as well as each other. Group lessons include three or more riders who share similar skills and goals. The center also hosts children’s birthday parties and behind-the-scenes tours.
Why I like it: Hippotherapy, the use of horseback riding as a rehabilitative treatment, is offered by EEC for handicapped individuals.
More info: www.essexequestrian.com or call 973-731-4182
Hunter Brook Horse Farm
Location: 672 Fort Plains Road, Howell
Details: This scenic farm offers English riding instruction for everyone from beginners to advanced riders. Hunter Brook Horse Farm recommends that new riders start with a few individual lessons. When they’re ready, riders can join groups with others at the same skill level. They also host birthday parties featuring a petting zoo, mini riding lesson, an arts and crafts table and more.
Why I like it: While this venue does not offer trail riding, it does have week-long camps in both the summer and winter. Camps feature riding lessons, grooming sessions, instructions in bridling and saddling a horse, games, picnics and more.
More info: www.hunterbrookhorsefarm.com or call 732-319-0662
Location: 901 Valley Road, Watchung
Details: A private facility, Kafka Farms is located in the beautiful Watchung Hills. They specialize in both English and natural horsemanship, offering training in all disciplines. Kafka Farms offers private and group lessons for all skill levels, ranging from age 4 to adult. They also host a summer camp where riders take daily group lessons, play fun games on horseback and learn all about horse care.
Why I like it: Kafka Farms is a true family affair. Owner Harold Kafka is an experienced animal handler, his wife Debbie is the barn’s lead English riding trainer and children Rachel and Robbie assist with lessons at the farm.
More info: www.kafkafarms.com or call 908-405-8038
Legends Riding Stable
Location: 153 State Route 94, Vernon
Details: The stable has about 350 acres and miles of woods on its Sussex County property. Enjoy the public, guided horseback riding trails on beautiful woodlands as you ride one of the horses (they have many types and sizes of horses here). Experienced wranglers offer riding lessons on trails. Have kids who aren’t quite ready for the trails? Legend Riding Stables has a small pony for younger children and a bigger one for the older set.
Why I like it: Looking for a place to embark on a snowy trail ride? Legends remains open throughout the year, so you can head out on the horses in any weather.
More info: www.saddleupatlegends.com or call 973-827-8332
Lord Stirling Stable
Location: 256 South Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge
Details: Want to introduce kids to riding? Try lead line, which is offered daily. Kids who are old enough to sit up and hold the saddle without help can ride on a pony or small gentle horse. A stable worker shows the parent how to properly lead the horse/pony before handing it off. Parents then take the lead while their child rides. Lord Stirling hosts pony birthday parties, which include the use of two ponies. English-style riding lessons are available from beginner through advanced levels for nine to 17-year-olds during the summer.
Why I like it: Horse owners who wish to use the stable’s trails can purchase a $20 Trail Permit that is good for one calendar year. Non-Somerset County residents pay $30.
More info: www.somersetcountyparks.org or call 908-766-5955
Location: 134 North Grove Street, Berlin
Details: Miller Farms originally started out by offering horse trail rides. Now, it also features an annual Father’s Day monster truck show, a haunted hayride and Winter Wonderland. They have horseback riding each weekend of every month, with rides leaving at the top of the hour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. During horseback riding camp, participants take a daily riding lesson and trail ride. They learn about parts of the horse, bridle, saddle, equipment and more.
Why I like it: Little ones under the age of 7 can enjoy $10 pony rides, too!
More info: www.millerfarmsllc.com or call 856-728-3500
Seaton Hackney Stables
Location: 440 South Street, Morristown
Details: These stables are part of the Morris County Park Commission. Instructors specialize in all levels of riding in an array of disciplines including English, Western and cross country. Enroll your child in private and semi-private lessons where instructors work closely with students, adjusting and advancing sessions based on each rider’s needs. The stables house more than 35 horses that accommodate a variety of skill levels.
Why I like it: Seaton Hackney’s Equishare Program is a sensible alternative to horse-ownership in which riders are allowed to ride a specific horse on certain days of the week. As one’s riding ability increases, the Equishare Program is transferable to a different horse.
More info: www.seatonhackney.com or call 973-644-3355
Spring Valley Equestrian Center
Location: 56 Paulinskill Lake Road, Newton
Details: Located in Sussex County, this center has been offering English and Western horseback riding lessons since 1972. Trail ride lessons are available every day of the week. Ride along beautiful fields and trails while taking in the fantastic views of the Appalachian Trail Ridge to High Point. Over the summer, Spring Valley holds a horsemanship day camp. Full-day students participate in a horse show on the last day of the session. Half-day students end the week with a scenic hour-long trail ride.
Why I like it: If you’re a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop leader looking for an activity, scouts can earn a badge through a two-hour session that combines grooming, saddling and a riding lesson.
More info: www.springvalleyequestriancenter.com or call 973-383-3766
Location: 1160 Summit Lane, Mountainside
Details: Enjoy the stable’s 26 miles of bridle paths that weave through Watchung Reservation, a 2,000-acre forest preserve. The complex’s main barn houses nearly 100 county and privately-owned horses. Groups of 10 to 15 people can schedule a one-hour barn tour with a stable instructor. You’ll tour the facility and learn to properly care for horses. Sign up for troop-style horseback riding lessons, which feature a do-it-yourself technique. Experienced instructors give explanations and demonstrations but each trooper controls his own mount.
Why I like it: Watchung is another stable that offers lead lines for riders under the age of 9. See the website or call for dates and times.
More info: www.ucnj.org/parks-recreation or call 908-789-3665
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © steftach / Adobe Stock
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- Echo Lake Stables / Website
- Essex Equestrian / Website
- Hunterbrook Horse Farm / Facebook
- Kafka Farms / Website
- Legends Riding Stable / Website
- Somerset County Parks Commission / Website
- Miller Farms LLC / Facebook
- Seaton Hackney Stables / Website
- Spring Valley Equestrian Center / Website
- Union County New Jersey / Website