Are you looking for a therapeutic, yet stimulating, outdoor activity in or near Washington, DC? Horseback riding is the perfect way to take in DC’s beautiful natural surroundings, all without much effort on your part. It’s a great activity for all kinds of people, as it can cater to both adrenaline seekers and casual nature-lovers. Whether you want a leisurely trot or a fast-paced gallop, this list has the best places for horseback riding in Washington DC so you can get in the saddle right away.
We’ve included public trails, camps, and riding schools so no matter your experience level, you’ll be able to find something that fits your needs. If you’re new to horseback riding or a seasoned expert with your own horse, we’ve included an option for you!
Want more outdoor activities in Washington DC?
Horseback Riding in Washington DC: Public Trails
Rock Creek Park Horse Center
Best for: Public trail riding near the city
Distance from Washington, DC: 5.6 miles (18 minute drive)
Rock Creek is the city’s only public park with both a horse center and riding trails. It’s ideal for horseback riding enthusiasts who want to go riding on a regular basis, but don’t want to travel far from DC. The park provides guided trail rides to the public in addition to other services such as boarding, camps, and lessons for first-timers by experienced equestrians. It costs $62 per person for a one-hour trail ride, and pony rides are also available for kids. We recommend reserving your ride/lesson at least a month in advance, as spots can fill up fast.
Note: As of September 2022, public trail rides are currently on pause. Check the website for updated information.
Great Falls Park
Best for: Horse owners or experienced riders who want a hilly trail ride
Distance from Washington, DC: 19.6 miles (35 minute drive)
If you are looking for a pleasant horseback riding experience in a more natural environment, check out Great Falls Park. This public park features 10 miles of multi-use trails for you to go riding on, and it’s open from 7 a.m. until dark, so you can have a full day of horse fun. If you’re riding your own horse, you can go on the Old Carriage Road, Mine Run, Difficult Run, Ridge Trails, or the Matildaville trail. Keep in mind that riding isn’t allowed on the Falls overlooking the Potomac Canal Trail and River Trail. Parking is available for park horse trailers but be sure to come early on the weekend to reserve your spot.
Horseback Riding in Washington DC: Lessons/ Camps
Center Peace Farm:
Best for: Holistic horse healing, bonding with horses
Distance from Washington, DC: 13.1 miles (37 minutes)
Center Peace Farm is a unique spot to get horseback riding lessons, as it places a heavy focus on the connection between the rider and the horse. Lyndi Caruso is a passionate and highly experienced equestrian mentor who helps you develop a bond with the horses. She has 40+ years of experience training horses and judging at prestigious horse shows, so you’ll be learning from a very knowledgable teacher. The farm offers a variety of services, from equestrian coaching, to riding instruction, to horse shows/clinics. Center Peace is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.
Best for: Group lessons and summer camps
Distance from Washington, DC: 7.8 miles (31 minute drive)
Meadowbrook Stables has been in operation since 1934, making it one of the United States’ oldest functional urban equestrian facilities. Year-round group lessons and camps are offered to riders ranging from 6 years old to adults. They also offer need-based scholarships to a limited number of riders. Unfortunately, they don’t offer private lessons, trail rides or pony rides, so if you’re looking for more one-on-one attention, we suggest going to a different stable.
One cool perk of Meadowbrook is that they allow public visitors to meet horses in outside stalls, so even if you’re not signed up for a lesson or camp, you can still get some horse time. Opening hours are 3 pm to dusk Tuesday-Friday, making it a great place to go after work or school. It is also open on the weekends from 9 am to 4 pm.
Woodland Horse Center
Best for: After-school riding, summer camps for kids
Distance from Washington, DC: 16.6 miles (53 minute drive)
Woodlands Horse Center is a spacious 25-acre farm that offers horseback riding lessons, summer camps, and clinics. The place is super welcoming to horse-crazy kids who want to not only spend time with horses, but learn everything about them. They offer 2 camp options for kids of various ages and riding abilities, along with seasonal and day camps for ages 8 and above. Additionally, they have an after-school saddle club, which is an innovative aftercare program. While they love kids here, they still welcome adults with open arms! They have adult lessons for those ages 17 and up, so it’s never too late to learn how to ride.
Potomac Horse Center:
Best for: Therapeutic lessons, riders with special needs
Distance from Washington, DC: 20.5 miles (51 minute drive)
One of the highlights of Potomac Horse Centre is that they provide therapeutic horseback riding lessons and summer camp programs to kids and adults with special needs. These camps help riders enhance their physical and cognitive abilities under the guidance of highly certified instructors. Aside from therapeutic lessons, this 50-year-old prestigious equestrian center also offers a variety of other lesson types. They range from adult and children group lessons, to private and semi-private ones. It’s also a great place to board your horse, and you can choose from several different packages based on your horses needs. The Center is open every day of the week, so you can always get in some riding here.
Reddemeade Equestrian Center
Best For: Monthly riding membership
Distance from Washington, DC: 18.5 miles (56 minute drive)
If you want to ride horses on a regular basis or have a personal stable without the hassles of owning a horse, then Reddemeade Equestrian Center is the perfect place for horseback riding in Washington DC. It is a 30+ year old equestrian center that offers EquiShare, a membership plan for its riders. You can ride any of the well-trained horses at any time for a fixed price every month. They take care of the rest, from feeding, to vet appointments and training. It really is the best of both worlds! If you’re not interested in a monthly plan, they also provide individual and group lessons, summer camps, horse shows, and all other equestrian activities.
Mulford Riding School:
Best for: Learning the true principles of horsemanship
Distance from Washington, DC: 26.8 miles (45 minute drive)
Mulford riding school offers horse education, English horseback riding lessons, and summer camps for kids 5 and up. This school is focused on instilling true horsemanship in kids while also making it fun. They aim to teach riders how to properly ride, so they have the proper tools and knowledge going forward. According to Mulford, balance is the key to riding, so they help riders learn the right balancing techniques so they can feel comfortable on the horse. If you want to build your confidence with riding, this place is a great option!