Author: Staff Writer
When in Texas…
Horseback riding is one of the things that makes Texas what it is. There are many different locations to experience this wonderful activity in the Dallas/ Fort Worth metroplex. Trail rides usually last one or two hours, Riding lessons are offered too at most places. Many venues that offer horseback riding have a variety of horses and can match you with one that fits your level or ability.
Horseback Riding in Dallas and Surrounding Areas
Below are recommendations for our five favorite places for horseback riding in the DFW area.
10001 Benbrook Blvd.
Ft. Worth, Tx 76126
At family-owned and operated Benbrook Stables, guests can enjoy an unforgettable horseback riding experience. The horses at Benbrook Stables are patient, gentle, and beautiful, making them ideal for both beginners and advanced riders. Experience the scenic lake trails, gorgeous vistas, or beautiful shaded creek crossings. Benbrook Stables offers a wide variety of activities and instruction in addition to trail tours. Voted “Best Trail Ride” in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 and 2023!
Widowmaker Trail Rides
2301 Cedar Springs Road, #200
Dallas, TX 75201
Despite the somewhat scary name, Widowmaker Trail Rides offers well-trained horses that for the most part are very gentle. Rides last two hours, and you can choose from a few different trails. The most popular is the Walnut Grove Trail on Lake Grapevine. Most of their rides are on this trail, but riders can go to different areas with dense woods, creeks, meadows, hills, and lakes.
3700 Hogge Road
Parker, Texas 75002
Experience some real Texas-sized fun riding the Trails of Southfork Ranch. One-hour trail rides are offered seven days a week throughout the year, weather permitting. Southfork Ranch allows offers lessons and horseback riding camps. While you’re there, you can tour the original mansion featured in the hit TV show, “Dallas”, and also learn how to care for livestock.
Marshall Creek Ranch
Southlake, TX 76092
Chisholm Trail Rides
Rockwall, TX 75032
Fort Worth Stockyards Stables And Horseback Riding
Fort Worth, TX 76164
Ride on the original Chisholm Trail and experience a bit of Texas history. This route was used by cowboys to drive herds north to the railroads in the heyday of the cowboy and wild west era. Enjoy your ride along the Trinity River, and see the Forth Worth skyline.The trails are open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Fort Worth Stockyards Stables offers both 30 minute and one-hour rides. Arena rides are also available.
What Do People Love About Horseback Riding?
People love horseback riding for various reasons, and it holds a special place in the hearts of many enthusiasts. One reason is that horseback riding allows people to connect with nature and experience the world from a different perspective. Riding through scenic trails and open fields provides a unique sense of freedom and tranquility, which can be highly therapeutic. It’s a great stress reliever and a way to escape from everyday worries. For those primarily interested in fitness, horseback riding is a physical activity that engages various muscle groups and improves balance and coordination. It’s a fun way to stay active and fit. And let’s not forget that many love horseback riding because horses offer unconditional love and acceptance to their riders. It’s a unique and cherished bond. Finally, horseback riding enthusiasts enjoy a sense of community among riders. Sharing a passion for horses and riding creates lasting friendships and a supportive network. Whether it’s the joy of being around horses, the thrill of riding, or the peacefulness of nature, horseback riding has a way of capturing the hearts of those who venture into this wonderful equestrian world.
How Do I Start Horseback Riding?
Perhaps you are interested in horseback riding but have no experience. The best place to start is to find a caring riding school. Look for an instructor who is understanding, supportive, and encouraging. Above all, make sure they truly care about your safety and progress.
It’s not unusual to feel a bit intimidated about where to start. It’s a wonderful journey though, as long as you understand that learning to ride is like mastering any other skill. It takes time and practice. So don’t be hard on yourself, you’ll improve with every lesson. Everyone starts somewhere, so enjoy the learning process and celebrate every small achievement!
How Do I Overcome My Fear or Nervousness While Riding?
Overcoming fear or nervousness when riding is a common challenge that many riders face. There are a variety of ways experts suggest to overcome these feelings.
First, we can stress enough the importance of working with a qualified instructor. A knowledgeable and supportive riding instructor can make a significant difference in overcoming fear. They can assess your riding skills, provide proper guidance, and tailor lessons to your comfort level. It’s also important to start with a Trustworthy Horse. Riding a calm and well-trained horse can help boost your confidence and provide a sense of security.
Practicing Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques is a good idea if nervous. Learning to control your breathing and practicing relaxation techniques can help you manage anxiety while riding. Deep breaths can calm your nervous system and reduce tension. Additionally, you might try visualizing yourself riding confidently and successfully before getting in the saddle. Positive visualization can help improve your mindset and performance.
Take small steps and set realistic goals. And don’t forget to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small it may seem! And remember, fear is natural and can be managed with the right approach and support. Be kind to yourself, stay persistent, and celebrate your progress as you work towards becoming a more confident rider.
Are There Age or Weight Restrictions for Horseback Riding?
Age and weight restrictions for horseback riding can vary depending on the stable, riding school, or equestrian center’s policies, as well as local regulations.
Generally, riding schools have a minimum age requirement for participants. Typically, children should be at least 5 or 6 years old to start riding lessons. However, some places may offer introductory “lead-line” rides for younger children with an adult leading the horse.
Weight limits for horseback riding are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of both the rider and the horse. The weight capacity can vary based on the size and build of the horse. Common weight limits are around 200 to 220 pounds. However, these numbers can differ, so it’s best to ask at the specific stable or riding school where you plan to ride.
It’s important to adhere to these restrictions to maintain the welfare of the horses and ensure a safe experience for riders. If you’re unsure about whether you meet the age or weight requirements, contact the facility in advance and discuss your situation with them. Moreover, it’s worth noting that horseback riding is a physically demanding activity, and regardless of age or weight, riders should be reasonably fit and able to follow safety instructions for their well-being and the horse’s welfare.
Can I Ride If I Have Allergies or Certain Medical Conditions?
Whether or not you can ride a horse with allergies or certain medical conditions depends on the severity of your condition and the advice of your healthcare provider.
With mild allergies to horses, such as hay fever or skin irritation, riding is often still possible with appropriate precautions. You can take antihistamines before riding or wear protective clothing to minimize direct contact with allergens. However, if you have severe allergic reactions or asthma triggered by horses, it may not be safe to ride.
If you have respiratory conditions like severe asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), being around horses and inhaling dust and allergens from the stable may exacerbate your symptoms. In such cases, riding may not be advisable.
Riding can be a beneficial therapy for those with physical disabilities, however, it’s essential to discuss your specific condition with both your healthcare provider riding instructor. They can assess whether riding is safe and suitable for your situation.
What Equipment Do I Need to Ride a Horse?
To start horseback riding, you’ll need some essential equipment to ensure your safety and comfort. When you’re just starting, some riding schools provide certain equipment, such as helmets and saddles. However, it’s always best to check in advance and consider investing in your riding gear over time to ensure the right fit and personal comfort. Safety should be a priority, so always choose high-quality and well-maintained equipment for horseback riding. Here’s a list of the basic equipment you’ll need:
A properly fitted ASTM/SEI-certified riding helmet is crucial for protecting your head in case of a fall or accident. Never ride without a helmet.
Invest in sturdy, closed-toe riding boots with a low heel. These boots provide proper support and prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrups.
Wear comfortable, close-fitting riding pants like breeches or jodhpurs. These pants allow you to move freely and prevent chafing from the saddle.
These gloves protect your hands from friction and provide a better grip on the reins.
A long-sleeved shirt or a riding jacket can help protect your skin from saddle rubs and sun exposure.
Safety Vest (Optional)
Especially for beginners or if you’re engaging in more adventurous riding activities, a safety vest can offer extra protection for your torso.
Riding Whips or Crops (Optional)
These aids can be useful for guiding the horse and providing light cues.
If you own a horse or plan to lease one, you’ll need a properly fitted saddle. However, most riding schools provide saddles for their students.
Placed between the saddle and the horse’s back, a saddle pad provides cushioning and helps distribute pressure evenly.
The bridle includes the headstall, bit, and reins. It allows you to communicate with the horse while riding.
Girth or Cinch
This strap keeps the saddle in place on the horse’s back.
Attached to the saddle, stirrups provide support for your feet and help maintain balance while riding.
What Should I Wear For Horseback Riding?
When going horseback riding, it’s important to wear appropriate clothing that ensures your comfort, safety, and freedom of movement. The above equipment section provides details on riding shirts, boots, pants, gloves, and more, but here are some additional tips that might be helpful.
1. Choose comfortable undergarments that won’t cause any discomfort while riding.
2. If you’re riding in sunny weather, apply sunscreen to protect your skin, and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face from the sun.
3. Dress in layers if the weather is variable. You can add or remove clothing to stay comfortable as temperatures change.
4. Remove or avoid wearing loose jewelry, as it can get caught in equipment or pose a safety risk.
5. If you have long hair, tie it back securely to prevent it from getting tangled or interfering with your helmet.
Remember that safety is paramount in horseback riding. Always follow the guidelines and recommendations of your riding instructor or the stable you’re riding at. Additionally, if you plan to continue riding regularly, consider investing in your own riding gear, such as a helmet, boots, and breeches, for a more comfortable and personalized riding experience.
How often should I take horseback riding lessons?
When it comes to how often you should take horseback riding lessons as a beginner, there are a few things to consider. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your unique journey into the equestrian world. Here are some friendly suggestions:
Take It at Your Own Pace: Don’t feel pressured to follow a strict schedule. Take lessons at a pace that feels comfortable for you and fits into your life.
Start with Weekly Lessons: If you can, try to start with weekly lessons. Regular practice can help you build confidence and progress steadily.
Flexibility is Okay: Life can get busy, and that’s okay! If you can’t commit to weekly lessons, bi-weekly or once-a-month sessions are still great for staying engaged with riding.
Listen to Your Heart (and Your Instructor): Trust your instincts and listen to your riding instructor’s advice. They have your best interests at heart and can tailor the lessons to suit your needs.
Balance Riding with Practice: If you can’t ride as often as you’d like, try to practice what you’ve learned during your lessons whenever you can. It’s a great way to reinforce your skills.
What are some common riding mistakes to avoid?
As a beginner in horseback riding, it’s natural to make some mistakes. Knowing common pitfalls can help you avoid them and progress more smoothly in your riding journey. Here are some common beginner-riding mistakes to watch out for:
Gripping with Legs
Beginners often grip tightly with their legs, which can lead to tension and discomfort for both the rider and the horse. Instead, aim for a relaxed and balanced leg position.
Leaning too far forward can disrupt your balance and put unnecessary pressure on the horse’s back. Maintain an upright posture and sit deep in the saddle.
Pulling on the Reins
Overusing the reins or pulling too hard can confuse the horse and lead to resistance. Learn to use gentle and clear rein aids for communication.
Tensing Your Arms
Keeping your arms tense can interfere with your ability to follow the horse’s movements. Keep your arms relaxed and allow them to move naturally with the horse.
Neglecting Core Strength
Good riding requires core strength to maintain balance and stability. Work on developing your core muscles to improve your riding posture.
Avoid looking down at the horse or your hands. Keep your eyes up and focused on where you want to go.
Relying Solely on Stirrups
Beginners sometimes rely too heavily on stirrups for balance. Practice riding without stirrups to improve your seat and balance.
Riding Too Fast
Trying to go too fast before mastering basic skills can be risky. Focus on building a solid foundation before attempting more challenging gaits or maneuvers.
Ignoring Safety Protocols
Always follow safety rules and guidelines when handling horses and riding. This includes wearing appropriate safety gear and understanding safety procedures at the stable.
Neglecting Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Take the time to properly warm up your horse before a ride and cool them down afterward. This helps prevent injuries and ensures the horse’s well-being.
Not Listening to the Horse
Pay attention to your horse’s signals and reactions. Understanding their feedback will improve your communication and partnership.
Riding takes time and practice. Don’t rush your progress; focus on mastering one skill before moving on to the next.
Remember, making mistakes is a part of learning. The key is to be patient with yourself and to learn from each experience. With time, practice, and the guidance of a qualified instructor, you’ll grow as a rider and develop a strong foundation for a fulfilling horseback riding journey.
Is Horseback Riding for You?
If you decide to give it a shot, enjoy the journey! Horseback riding is an amazing experience. Whether you ride once a week or once a month, savor each moment in the saddle with these magnificent animals. Just remember to take your time, be kind to yourself and embrace the beauty of nature. Happy riding!