Jun 2011 | | Comments
Every summer, dog lovers crowd beaches and parks with their furry friends. But there’s another way to enjoy the warm weather and animals—horseback riding.
Make It Better scoured the Chicago suburbs (admittedly in a car, not on horseback) for the best stables. Each of the spots below offer lessons for those who have never mounted a horse before, as well as for riders experienced enough to jump fences. So whatever your level, get ready to hop in the saddle.
Extra Perk: Freedom Woods offers hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. “Therapeutic riding teaches a person with disabilities how to ride a horse,” says Manager Betsy Strojanoff. “Hippotherapy uses the horse as a tool to help a person with disabilities improve muscle tone, balance, and so on. It's like physical or occupational therapy, using the horse as a tool.”
Just for kids: Stojanoff believes children should know how to ride horses and also how to care for them. During the summer, horse lovers as young as 8 can attend a daily camp that teaches them about barn management, horse health and nutrition, horse care and riding skills.
Costs: Private lessons start at $45. Semi-private lessons start at $40. One-hour group lessons cost $60.
Double J Riding Club
Extra Perk: If you’re looking to throw a unique birthday party, wedding, reunion or bridal shower, owner Cindy Johnson will help you organize and cater the event. “It would even be a great place to hold a book club meeting,” she says. “You could ride, eat lunch and then talk about the book.”
Just for kids: Children between the ages of 6 and 15 are welcome to attend weekly 4-day summer camp sessions where they ride, learn about horse care, and make equine-related crafts. Johnson also offers a 2.5-hour Tiny Riders Day Camp for toddlers and their mothers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Costs: Group rates start at $40 for 45 minutes. Private lessons start at $50 for 30 minutes. Group lessons are also offered according to riding level.
Fields and Fences
Extra Perk: Have you ever wanted to compete in a horse show? This is the place for you, even if you’re just starting out. “We host 18 jumper or dressage horse shows each year from USEF-rated shows to schooling shows for beginners,” says owner Anita A. Schadeck.
Just for kids: Fields and Fences offers day camps for both beginner and advanced riders in the summer and during winter break.
Costs: Private lessons run $45 for 30 minutes.
Danada Equestrian Center
Extra Perk: Due to liability insurance costs, most stables in the area only offer lessons in arenas. But at Danada, riders can venture out onto trails in forest preserves (once they meet a few prerequisites). If you really want to relax, check out their 30-minute hay rides and sleigh rides.
Just for kids: Children as young as 10 can sign up for summer camps that include stable chores. Campers can’t ride, however, unless they are 12 years old or older.
Costs: A 6-pack of trail rides cost $240 for non-DuPage County residents. Semi-private lessons in the arena start at $30. One-on-one lessons cost $40.
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