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One unknown author has defined riding as “the art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.” If that concept appeals to you, you’re in luck: New Jersey has more horses per square mile than any other state, according to the Encyclopedia of New Jersey (Rutgers University Press, 2004). It’s no wonder, then, that the horse was named the official state animal in 1977.
While much of that history lies in horseracing, the Garden State also boasts many private and public stables that offer riding lessons, recreational trail rides, and other opportunities for kids and parents alike to swing up into the saddle.
Where to Ride
“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle,” Winston Churchill said. So giddy up for lessons or guided trail rides. Here are some places to check:
- Echo Lake Stables, Newfoundland, 973-697-1257
- Essex Equestrian Center, West Orange, 973-731-4182
- Heritage Stables, Randolph, 973-328-3000
- Kierson Farm and Riding Academy, Flemington, 908-528-3307
- Legacy Riding Stables, Old Bridge, 732-727-3838
- Legends Riding Stable, Vernon, 973-827-8332
- Lord Stirling Stable, Basking Ridge, 908-766-5955
- River Edge Farm, Bedminster, 908-420-1274
- Seaton Hackney Stables, Morristown, 973-644-3355
- Snowbird Acres Farm, Long Valley, 908-876-4200
- Spring Valley Equestrian Center, Newton, 973-383-3766
- Washington Riding Stables, Sayreville, 732-545-6220
- Watchung Stables, Mountainside, 908-789-3665
Unguided trail rides are available at Silver Bit & Spur Farm, Whitehouse Station, 908-534-4010.
An hour’s trail ride costs $30 and up (depending on where you ride), and most public facilities have age and weight restrictions. Horses are assigned based on a rider’s experience and comfort level; many stables provide trail riders with a Western saddle, which has a so-called “horn” and is wider and more deeply seated than an English saddle. Reservations are required or recommended at some stables. Call the stables for prices and information about riding lessons.
Finally, at least two facilities in New Jersey use equine therapy to help kids with disabilities. Rocking Horse Rehab at the Essex Equestrian Center (973-731-8588) in West Orange, and Somerset Hills Handicapped Riding Center (908-439-9636) in Oldwick specialize in using horses to help children with physical, emotional, social, and cognitive challenges.
“Horses lend us the wings we lack,” according to another unknown author. So get out there with your kids and fly!
Click here for a list of horseback riding facilities in New Jersey.
Mary Ann McGann is a freelance writer from New Jersey.