For many people the last thing they think of when visiting a new city is horse riding. After all, there are plenty of sights to see, food to eat, beers, to drink, and new experiences to be savored.
Then there are the equestrians.
These are the ones for whom a new city might not even make it onto an itinerary if there aren’t ample opportunities to saddle up. Whether it’s a hack through a park, a horse trek through nearby forests and mountains, or an intensive riding lesson, these travelers are unique.
So unique, in fact, that they may travel with their own riding boots and helmet.
If you’re a horse lover or are traveling with someone who is, these are some of the best places to ride a horse in the beautiful city of London.
1. Hyde Park
Located on 350 acres in the center of London, Hyde Park was created by Henry the VIII as a private hunting reserve. This park has had a long history since those times and is now most famous for the Speakers’ Corner, known for its many political and social demonstrations. While this park is a must see for anyone visiting London, equestrians will be particularly thrilled to be here.
Today Hyde Park is very popular with equestrians in London, many of whom ride with the Hyde Park Stables. Catering to riders of all skill levels, Hyde Park Stables offers five miles of bridle trails as well as enclosed rings for training purposes. You can choose private, semi private, or group rides and Hyde Park Stables will provide riding clothing and protective gear free of charge.
2. Wimbledon Common
Located to the southwest of the city and covering more than 1,100 acres, Wimbledon Common is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city with its many meadows, streams, and open spaces. And the best way to do that is on the back of a horse.
Wimbledon Village Stables offers riding adventures for all skill levels on its more than 16 miles of bridle paths. As it is a private riding club, members are given hacking priority on weekends but the weekdays are open to the public. These stables even offer short riding holidays. Typically consisting of two to three days, riders can hack or take lessons in the morning, then have the afternoon to explore the city.
3. Trent Park
Once a part of Middlesex University and now open to the public, Trent Park is located to the south of London, and borders the beautiful countryside. These 340 hectares were once the private hunting grounds of Henry the IV, and its many trails wind through forests and across small rivers.
Trent Park Equestrian Centre offers lessons and hacking for riders of all abilities. They do, however, ask that riders wishing to hack out demonstrate their ability at a walk, trot, and canter before doing so. While this might seem a bit much, it’s required, especially if you want to take part in one of their legendary pub hacks where you’ll visit several local pubs on horseback, and who wouldn’t want to do that?
4. Take in a Polo Match
If the non-riders in your group have gotten a bit jealous of your saddle time, why not go see a polo match? This sport is incredibly popular in England and there are many polo clubs holding matches all over the city. This is also a great opportunity to entertain your new London friends in a raucous and exciting atmosphere.
Ham Polo Club is one of the city’s oldest and best. They hold matches every Sunday, weather permitting, and the public is welcome. They do hold a strict dress code which means that no shorts are allowed for women or men, but part of the fun of polo is dressing your best and cheering on your favorite ponies.
Traveling is always an experience, but having the chance to do some of your favorite things while traveling makes it even better. If you’re a rider who hates the idea of giving up your favorite sport while you travel then look no further than London’s ample equestrian opportunities.