Those who have had the pleasure of taking a trail ride know that there are few things that can compare to exploring nature by horseback. There's something enticing about a horse's gentle rocking gait, the melodic clip-clop of its sure-footed hooves and the higher vantage point the animal provides. Other horse lovers prefer the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with working as a team to master horsemanship, jumping and other challenges in traditional equestrian competitions. Whether your family is looking for a simple trail ride, classic equestrian training or a more rugged cowboy experience, you can find it all at these St. Louis-area stables.
Pere Marquette Stables Experience one of the area's most popular state parks by horseback at Pere Marquette Stables in Grafton, Illinois, where riders can spot wildlife on a 45-minute, 2.5-mile ride through Pere Marquette State Park, May through October. Trail rides are $35 per person and guests must be at least 8 years old. Rides are offered Wednesdays through Mondays. Reservations are recommended but not required. Pere Marquette Stables is located at 15780 State Hwy. 100 West, Grafton, IL, 62037. Call 618-786-2156 for more information.
Lake St. Louis Stables Choose from boarding, training and dressage lessons at Lake St. Louis Stables. Horses and ponies for all experience levels are available. Lake St. Louis Stables is located at 1253 North Henke Rd., Lake St. Louis, MO 63367.
Kennedy Farms Equestrian Center Young riders can go from the beginners level to national competitor at Kennedy Farms Equestrian Center in Chesterfield. Kennedy Farms' academy offers classes from the beginners' level to advanced, specializing in hunters and jumpers. Kennedy Farms also offers summer camp and Pony Pals, an introductory course for kids ages 4-8. Kennedy Farms is located at 1122 Deep Forest Dr., Chesterfield, MO, 63005. Call 636-532-7274 for more information.
GALLOP Equestrian Center GALLOP's focus is on providing an affordable, family-friendly environment for riders of all levels. GALLOP offers classes, camps, vaulting and even special packages for scout troops. GALLOP Equestrian Center is located at 1680 Duello Rd., Lake Saint Louis, MO, 63367. Call 314-277-8390 for more information.
Great Griffin Farm The tagline is "enjoy, learn and compete" at Great Griffin Farm. For the serious rider, this barn offers a variety of unique programs such as an equestrian team and a working student program. Great Griffin Farm is located at 903 Schwede Rd., Wentzville, MO 63385.
Equine-Assisted Therapy In addition to teaching respect for animals and nature, horseback riding has been linked to physical and psychosocial benefits. Equine-Assisted Therapy, located in Wildwood and Town and Country, has created a fun program designed to maximize these benefits for differently abled riders. The stable also offers Silver Saddles and a veterans' program. Equine-Assisted Therapy is located at 3369 Hwy. 109, Wildwood, MO, 63038, and 13525 Clayton Road, Town and Country, MO, 63141. Call 314-971-0605 for more information.
Irish Fox Stables West of St. Louis, Irish Fox Stables is a full-service hunter/jumper barn offering academy lesson programs, with consistent showing opportunities. Irish Fox Stables is loated at 10302 Highway DD, Wentzville, MO 63385.
The National Equestrian Center If your family prefers to observe the beauty of equestrian sports rather than to participate, visit The National Equestrian Center in Lake Saint Louis. This indoor/outdoor arena hosts a variety of shows and competitions throughout the year, including rodeos, barrel racing, dressage, show jumping, Arabian horse shows and more. The National Equestrian Center is located at 6880 Lake Saint Louis Blvd., Lake Saint Louis, MO, 63367. Call 636-561-8080 for more information.
A Cowpoke Getaway For a real treat, rustle up your young cowpokes for a weekend getaway at Innsbrook or Trout Lodge resorts. Innsbrook, located near Wright City about an hour west of downtown St. Louis, offers trail rides and horse-drawn carriage rides. The resort also offers indoor and outdoor arenas, horses and 20 miles of trails.
At YMCA Trout Lodge, located near Potosi, visitors can live the cowboy life on a Horse Overnight. Saddle up for a two-hour ride to a lakeside bluff, then return to the ranch for a cookout, campfire songs and s'mores. Wake up to a dutch-oven breakfast, followed by a short trail ride and a buffet lunch. Horse Overnight excursions are $99 per person; guests must be 10 and up.
Best Bets articles represent the views and the research completed by St. Louis Sprout & About journalists and are not driven by advertising or requests by vendors or venues. Best Bets do not imply an endorsement of a business or activity.
Editorial Assistant Tyne Benesek contributed to this article.