– January 2011

20 Vacation Spots For Kids Who Love Horses- Lydie Thomas

Horses are animals that have captured the hearts of children and adults for generations, and for anyone who loves horses, there is nothing more heavenly than spending a whole week in the company of these mighty yet gentle animals. Even if you’ve never had any experience horseback riding, a visit to a good dude ranch will be sure to make a rider out of you. They’ll take you patiently through the very beginning steps all the way through advance galloping rides. The perfect age to begin learning to horseback ride is about 6 or 7 years old. Many ranches will also offer childcare services for younger kids during riding hours.

But if a Dude Ranch vacation isn’t quite in your budget, this list also includes some horse-themed vacations that won’t break the bank, but will bring lots of joy to any one who loves horses. I have to confess that I’ve always been a little weary of of horses myself, but after putting together this list, I am now thinking of taking my family on a horse-themed vacation too.

So check out some of these wonderful ranches and equine facilities and plan to visit one of them soon.
1. Wilson Ranches Retreat Bed and Breakfast

16555 Butte Creek Road
Fossil, Oregon
Peaceful vacation: here we come. This is a 9,000 acres working cattle ranch and this will definitely be a change from your everyday life (unless you are a cow boy). You can go on horseback rides or decide to go move cattle. The horseback rides can last up to 5 hours, your choice. They even offer sunset horseback ride to view the Cascade Mountain and the sunset over Mt Hood. Special rates for family of 4 or more. Children have to be 6 to ride the horses.

2. Wild Horse Sanctuary

Wilson Hill Road
Shingletown, California
As the name indicates, wild horses live here in a safe environment. However in the summer, you can enjoy a 2 or 3 day week-ends pack trips and even 4 day cattle drive. During the fall, you can enjoy the real work in the farm with a 4 to 6 day cattle roundup and drive. It is a very different experience and it is good to know that the money raised with the rides help sustain the wild horses. Expensive but rustic. You can also see wild horses without riding on Saturday and Wednesdays all year long from 10 am to 4 pm (free).

3. Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

2116 Greenhorn Ranch Rd
Quincy, California
With miles of horseback riding trails adapted to each level, families are going to really enjoy their vacation at this dude ranch. Many activities are planned to fill the day of the little cow-boys and cow-girls. Children need to be 6 to ride the horses. Kids younger than 6 can enjoy the kiddie corral while mom and dad and the older sibling enjoy some horseback riding on their own.

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4. Ridgewood Ranch

16200 North Highway 101
Willits, California
Watch a documentary or the movie about Seabiscuit and then come to Ridgewood Ranch, home of the famous horse. You will not get to ride horses but you will learn how one horse can capture the heart of a nation.

5. Rankin Ranch

23500 Walker Basin Road
Caliente, California
No cell service and no television. And horses… Already the perfect start of a family vacation. Families can enjoy horseback riding through the mountain and meadow cattle country. During summer, children can enjoy a supervised children’s program with activities planned during the day. Children have to be 6 to ride the horses.

6. Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch

1555 Alamo Pintado Road
Solvang, California
This is an ideal stop if you have toddlers. They will get to tour the property and get up and close to the miniature horses. Tours are available only by appointment so make sure you call before showing up.

7. Circle Bar B Guest Ranch and Stable

1800 Refugio Rd.
Goleta, California
A perfect mix of a quiet and horse rides. Stay in one of their rustic (but with modern amenities) cabins and cottages and enjoy horseback rides ith beautiful views of California chaparral country and the Channel Islands. Children have to be 7 to ride the horses. And rides can be as short as 1.5 hours but can also last half a day.

8. McGarry Ranches

6140 West 5000 South
Rexburg, Idaho
If you decide to stay at the McGarry Ranch, you will be spend your vacation working but you will go back home happy, fulfilled, and with memories to last for a lifetime. 2,000 herds of cattle do not get moving alone so you will be complete part of the ranch experience. You can participate at the level you want, you can just go along for the ride or you can learn how to rope and work the cattle. Minimum age to ride is 8.

9. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

1413 Upper Gold Creek
Sandpoint, Idaho
Kids of families who stay at the ranch during the summer can enjoy a very fun program. Children have to be between the age of 8 and 18. They will learn how to ride, take care of the horse and the equipment. They will have the time of their life and will never want to leave.

10. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

15000 North Secret Springs Drive
Marana, Arizona
You can enjoy daily or sunset horseback and trail rides at the White Stallion Ranch by the hotel. Hotel guests enjoy special rates that can vary from $30 to $54 depending on the rides. Children 8 and older can go on fast rides, mountain rides and all day rides. 5 years and older have access to slow rides. All guests need to go on a slow ride before going on a more advanced ride.

11. Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Seedhouse Road
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Vista Verde owns more than 90 horses so you are sure to find your favorite amongst them. They offer everything from private instruction to morning or afternoon trail rides and even evening dinner ride. They help you pick the best trail according to the level of everybody involved. If the whole family is experienced, they can even leave for the whole day with a picnic lunch. Children have to be 6 to ride the horses.

12. Black Mountain Ranch

4000 Conger Mesa Road
Mc Coy, Colorado
Black Mountain is a guest working ranch so expect a lot of action. A weeklong package will include on top of lodging and meal, horseback riding, cattle drive, overnight trip, whitewater rafting, fishing, archery, rodeo and much more. You can do as little or as much as you want. Admire the Rockies and just enjoy nature! Minimum riding age is 6 and they offer pony rides for younger kids.

13. Ghost Hotel

HC77 Box 11
Abiquiu, New Mexico
Enjoy exploring Georgia O’Keeffe backyard from the back of the horse. You will go where O’Keeffe got her inspiration and you can finish the day with a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe. You need to have a previous riding experience to go on the trail rides. Private rides accommodate any level. Reservation is mandatory: 505.685.433, ext. 0

14. Cowboy Campout

21978 Bays Chapel Road
Richards, Texas
The barn has been converted into a bunkhouse and that’s where you will be staying. It is rustic and authentic. The family will be treated with horseback riding, movies under the stars as well as chuck wagon dinners and much more. This is the perfect place to escape with your family for the week-end. 5 years old and up may be guided on a horse in the paddock area with parental supervision. Children 7 and up can ride on property only after a lesson.

15. Kentucky Horse Park

4089 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, Kentucky
This is a must visit if you are in Kentucky. You will enjoy the visit of the Museum of the Horse, the Sattlebred Museum, a horse drawn tour and equine presentations. Famous horses Cigar and FunnyCide live on premises and children will get to see and maybe pat them. You can camp in the Horse Park.

16. Coldwater Ranch

Eminence, Missouri
You have to check their Cowboy Rough-out ride. adventure includes a guide, horse, tack, meals and a tent with a sleeping bag. You will take a trail that will take you across streams, up and down hills and you may even catch a glimpse of wild horses. You can even take a break and swim in the river. The day finishes with a ride back to the stables, food by the campfire and a night sleeping in the tent close to the barn. Any age is acceptable to participate.

17. Rockin’ P Public Riding Ranch

217 McNaughton Park Road
Pekin, Illinois
Enjoy a nice one or two hours ride allowing the family to enjoy a bonding experience. Reservations are required. Children need to be 8 to ride the horses. Budget.

18. The Outerbanks Area

Outer Banks
Corolla, North Carolina
If you like horses but are not too fond of riding them, you can also observe them in the outerbanks. they are wild and majestic and have no master.

19. Dutch Creek Trails

793 Rubin Walker Rd.
Vilas, North Carolina
You will meet Keith the cowboy poet and his friendly staff who will make sure you have a wonderful horseback riding experience. The ride last one hour and they will pick the trail that will most fit your taste and your level of experience.

20. Rocking Horse Ranch

600 Route 44/55
With a GPS use 600 US 44 Highland, New York
The horse activities are included in their vacation package so this is the perfect opportunity for the whole family to enjoy some horseback riding together. Riding starts at 7 year old. Younger kids can ride ponies. When you take a break from horseback riding, plenty of activities are waiting for you: indoor and outdoor pools, ski and snow fun if you are visiting during the winter. The perfect family vacation!