There is nothing quite like horse riding – the fresh air, the glorious sunlight, the open landscape, and the calming presence of the horse. Not only is it a great way to exercise for those who aren’t interested in joining a gym, a scenic trail ride is also a fantastic experience.
Whether you’re looking to learn how to ride properly or you’re looking to tick horse riding off your bucket list, you may be looking for somewhere near Canberra to saddle up and go horse riding. Lucky for you, the gorgeous landscape of our Bush Capital lends itself perfectly to equestrian sports with rolling hills, pockets of wilderness in the middle of suburbia, and winding trails. You won’t be surprised to learn that we have quite a few riding schools for you to choose from.
It’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for with a riding school, as well as how to tell apart the good from the great. In this article, we’ll give you a quick guide to what makes a great riding school, as well as a handy guide to the best schools and equestrian centres in Canberra.
What makes a great horse riding school and equestrian centre?
Not sure what you are looking for when scouting out the best horse-riding destinations in Canberra? We’ve got you covered. Here are the traits we suggest keeping an eye out for:
- Great facilities and location. A high-quality riding school and equestrian centre takes pride in its facilities, and takes advantage of its surroundings. Look for a school and centre with properly maintained, hygienic stables and arenas, as well as scenic trails and outdoor spaces.
- All levels welcome. Riding a horse is one of those experiences that everyone deserves to have at some point, whether they grew up with horses or have never stepped foot in a stable. Great schools and centres have programs available for complete novices, whether you’re looking for full on lessons or a one-off ride.
- Gentle, well cared-for horses. Horses can be dangerous when not properly trained, but a happy horse is a safe one! Great riding schools and equestrian centres make sure that their horses are receiving the best care available, from food to facilities and veterinary care. They’ll also train the horses properly so that they are used to beginner riders, ensuring the safest and best experience for everyone.
- Experienced staff and instructors. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned rider, it’s important that you are being guided by someone experienced and confident. The staff at the school should be experienced in helping riders of all levels have the best time possible.
- Fair and transparent prices. There’s a lot that goes into the running and maintenance of a great school and equestrian centre, and the price of lessons and rides should reflect this. While horse riding can be an expensive venture, schools and centres should be open about their price points. This gives you the option to shop around for a facility that is within your budget.
The best horse riding schools and equestrian centres in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.
Situated just 20km from Canberra’s CBD, Gooromon Park Riding Centre is a family owned and operated business that has delivered top quality horse riding activities and lessons since 2000. Gooromon Park Riding Centre is home to a range of healthy, loved, and well-mannered horses, varying from 12hh to 16.2hh – there’s a horse suitable for all body types. The staff at Gooromon Park Riding Centre are experienced and passionate and are more than happy to help riders of all levels make the most of their time in the saddle. As Canberra’s only accredited Australian Horse Riding Centre (AHRC) offering, you know you are riding with some of the best instructors in the industry.
As 'Local Guide' Jeff Stiff writes on Google, "Excellent place to go and try horse riding. The staff are very good with kids and those not too sure of horses."
Located near Stromlo Leisure Centre, the National Equestrian Centre is an equestrian sporting complex set on 1500 acres of beautiful rural landscape just 15 minutes from the centre of town. The Centre offers individual and group instruction with qualified instructors, as well as recreational activities and competitions in all disciplines. With both indoor and outdoor facilities, the National Equestrian Centre also offers agistment services for your horses.
As Stephanie Irvine writes on Google, "Absolutely love it here! been riding here for 5 years and it’s the beat part of my week. The horses and coaches are extremely friendly and kind, highly recommend!!"
Run by Grant and Heather Hughes, Forest Park Riding and Equitation School is a favourite among Canberra’s equestrian community. Offering a welcoming, nurturing environment, beginners and seasoned riders alike will enjoy the spectacular scenery and expertly cared-for horses. Offering both horse-riding lessons (available for all ages) and scenic trail rides, Forest Park Riding and Equitation School is the perfect place to tick horse riding off your bucket list or learn a skill for life.
As Google reviewer Nahmeet Sing writes, "Best horse riding place. Very friendly and helpful staff. I would like to thank all of them for making my trail one of the best experiences in my life. Highly recommended."
Googong Equestrian is a riding school based in Queanbeyan. With passionate and qualified trainers, students are able to learn either on their own horses, or on one of the school's horses from their small team of reliable mounts to suit for a range of riders. Students can expect high quality education on correct and safe riding skills, as well as a sound understanding of how to handle a horse safely both from the ground and the saddle.
As Facebook user Kristine Batchelor writes in their review, "Ruth has amazing talent for calming anxious children, and getting them to reach their potential. Ruth and her team personally match horses to each child's personality, and encourage a love of horses all round."
Stromlo Equestrian Centre, also known as Bibaringa, is an agistment centre in Canberra that has been operating since 1999. Not only is Bibaringa a great choice for horse owners looking to board their horses in Canberra, the Centre also offers lessons and holiday programs for riders of all levels. Their lessons and programs for small children and disabled people are particularly popular.
On Google, Holly Russell writes, "Lessons are great and the horses here are so cute and sweet! There are lessons available for people with disabilities and young children. For anyone curious or wanting lessons or a trail ride, I recommend coming here. You won't regret it."
Horse riding can be an excellent way to exercise without visiting a gym – if you’re looking for more options, check out our articles on the best martial arts and best dance schools in Canberra for some helpful guides. Or maybe you’re on the hunt for some fun activities to do with friends and family – check out our guides to the best school holiday programs, the best activities for teens and the best gift experiences in Canberra for some more ideas.
Your experience with horse riding schools and equestrian centres in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you visited any of these riding schools? We’d love to know how it went. Share your experience in the comments area below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum age limit for horse riding?
Horse riding schools and equestrian schools will have their own limits for how young someone can be to start learning to ride, but the general rule is a child should be at least 7 years old.
Can I do a trial class before joining a riding school?
Many schools will offer packages for horse riding lessons, allowing you to sign up for just one lesson, or a whole term. This gives you the opportunity to vet the school, instructors and horses before signing up for ongoing lessons.
Is horse riding dangerous?
Horse riding is definitely one of the more dangerous sports you can do. After all, you are working with a large and very powerful animal. However, horses at riding schools are very well trained to riders of all levels, and are therefore very safe to ride. What's more, you will be riding under the supervision of trained and qualified instructors in completely safe and controlled conditions.
Do riding schools offer school holiday programs?
Yes! Many schools and equestrian centres offer school holiday programs for kids, which can include trail rides, horse care lessons, riding lessons and equestrian games. These programs can be a great way to introduce your child to horse riding before signing up for lessons.
Do I have to bring professional riding clothes to a horse riding lesson?
Many schools will have equipment such as helmets, boots and crops available for you to use for free each time you visit, meaning you don't have to drop lots of money on those items. However, you will need to get your hands on your own jodhpurs and polos.