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Published January 12th 2017
(by Four Oaks Farm)
From Waterfall Gully and Himeji Garden to the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, it's easy to escape into nature in Adelaide. Although hiking and cycling are fun, riding through serene forest trails on horseback must be on most people's bucket lists. To ride into the sunset, you don't need to be a rugged horse whisperer, a starving jockey or a masked crime fighter. Once you've fled from the city's traffic jams, you'll find horses throughout South Australia, cared for by experienced guides eager to give you a leg up into the saddle.
Once you've signed up for a horse riding experience, you'll be closely guided for maximum safety and enjoyment but it's worthwhile preparing with these tips:
safety is the top priority at these clubs, both for the people and the horses. While it's normal to feel slight nerves during your first ride, go slowly, ask questions and you'll soon be enjoying it
dress appropriately – you'll be given a helmet but you should wear long pants and closed shoes
although you're seated, the ride will be more enjoyable, reducing back and leg soreness, if you're in good health
when you arrive at the stable, slowly lift the back of your hand toward your horse's head, inviting it to sniff – it's a nice introduction before you attach the saddle and step up
ensure the horse knows you're there, especially if you're walking behind it
in the saddle, keep your back straight, shoulders even, hands low and heels down
discuss the options for beginners, including packages with multiple sessions, private or group lessons and courses for adults and children
Some of the options for horse riding in Adelaide are:
Four Oaks Farm – At Downing Road, Littlehampton, 30 minutes drive into the Adelaide Hills, Four Oaks focuses on beginner and child riders with group and private lessons in an Olympic-sized arena. Trail rides, beginning at $90 for one hour, trot through bushland in the Adelaide Hills, with Mount Lofty on the horizon and sweet grapes growing in nearby vineyards. For a memorable children's birthday party, celebrate with a trail ride, as children as young as 4-years-old are hand-guided on ponies before making a wish, blowing out candles and eating colourful cake. Enjoy the full farming experience, hand-feeding and petting a menagerie including rabbits, ducks, goats, sheep, an alpaca and an emu. Aspiring firies can also take a ride in the farm's fire engine. Contact them on (08) 8388 6361 or at the website.
Kirby Park – Whether it's food, wine, culture or history, it's easy to find an 'excuse' to visit Hahndorf. Add another reason – riding lessons with a former Olympian and trail rides in the Adelaide Hills, alongside kangaroos and native birds. At 171 River Rd, an hour's ride starts at $90 for riders aged 7 or older. There are also children's parties, saddle club and corporate events available. Megan Jones, Adelaide-born and a silver medallist at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, manages the breeding program at the park. Stuck with a particular riding issue? Submit an online query, receiving a personal response from an Olympian! Contact Megan or the riding school using the online link.
Rusty's Riding Retreat – Take a day trip north-east into the Murraylands, stopping at Mount Pleasant for a riding lesson or trail ride through ancient gumtrees in the Sanderston Gorge. For the romantic, you can arrange a memorable ride with your partner, led (at a discreet distance) by a guide. Before beginning, you'll learn to handle your horse in a small paddock at the retreat on 97 Three Chain Road, Sanderston, before trotting off, with one hour rides beginning at $75. Lessons, beginning at 30 minutes for $30, are also available with an accredited instructor in a custom-built arena. Check their Facebook page for monthly specials.
Westwood Park – 40 minutes drive to Aldinga Beach, you'll receive coaching in horse riding and equestrian skills in a professional dressage arena while mastering horsecraft, perhaps tempting you to own a horse one day (Westwood has agistment/stable facilities). The horses are specially trained to handle the nervous or first-time rider, easing trembling hearts and inducing joyous grins. When you arrive, don't be surprised to see dromedaries – Westwood offers camel riding too. 45-minute private lessons start at $70.
On a longer holiday outside Adelaide, you can ride in Benson Park in Waikerie, beneath gliders sailing overhead and oranges growing in the town's orchards.
(by Kirby Park)
Where was your first horse ride? Please let us know with a comment.