Hudson Valley Rail Trail Rides and Horse Riding Lessons, Upstate NY

Take a trail ride or horse riding lesson at any of these Hudson Valley stables


Who hasn’t watched an old Western and wanted to be the cowboy (or cowgirl) tearing through the open range on a trusted steed? While you can’t travel back in time, you can recreate the experience by taking a trail ride or riding lessons at several stables throughout the Valley.

Juckas Stables, Bullville
Juckas Stables in Orange County has been in business for 46 years. Owner Karen Juckas describes the atmosphere as informal at the stable, which is situated on 117 acres and is home to 18 horses. Rather than wearing jodhpurs, “I tell people to show up in their jeans,” she says, “since we only teach Western.” This riding style has been passed down from the cowboy days, as opposed to its counterpart, English style, which originated from European sport riding. Western saddles are larger than English ones — making it easier on the horse during a long day of cattle herding — and have a horn in the front. Riders hold both reins in one hand, allowing the other to hold the saddle horn.

There is no need to be intimidated by riding. Says Juckas, “It’s safe, and it’s fun.”  Lessons are offered as well as trail rides through scenic woods and past ponds at a walking, trotting, or cantering pace. Riders love it when they pass deer, with whom the horses are friendly, since they are neighbors. “My horses live outside; that’s where they lived before people came along and built barns,” Juckas explains. Equestrians ages seven to 12 can learn riding as well as all aspects of horse care in three- or five-day camps ($150-$225). And for Juckas, the best part of all is teaching “the children of kids who started riding with me 46 years ago.” 845-361-1429;

Ashokan Riding Club, Olivebridge
In business for 15 years, this stable gives beginners lessons in a 10-acre ring before advancing to a trail ride that goes along a river and up onto wooded cliffs. Participants are also taught proper care techniques to foster the bond between horse and rider. Call for pricing. 845-657-8021;

Crosswinds Equestrian Center, Lagrangeville
Home of the Marist College Equestrian Team, this stable has two indoor rings and one lighted outdoor ring for training and lessons. Kids ages eight and up can attend a Summer Camp program ($450 per week, multiweek discounts available) where they learn equestrian etiquette. The Young Riders half-day camp for kids ages five-seven is available for $400. 845-223-7433;

Hollowbrook Riding Academy, Putnam Valley
This stable gives trail rides in nearby Fahnestock State Park to those who can prove that you’re an experienced rider. Specializing in timid riders, the staff spends time getting people and horses comfortable with each other before teaching more advanced techniques. Parents will love the reduced prices in honor of the stable’s 16th anniversary: A 10-lesson package can now be purchased for the original 1996 price of $350. 845-526-8357;

Netherwood Acres, Hyde Park
Popular for showing and eventing, this English-style stable offers two-hour trail rides on Sundays through 100 acres of woodlands and fields, some even with jumping obstacles. You can also spend the whole weekend in the saddle with the getaway package: Brush up on your equestrian skills on Saturdays with a lesson in the morning and an afternoon cross-country ride, then meet up with the weekly ride on Sunday. Another big hit is the five-hour annual Catskill Mountain ride; trails wind past the place where locals say Rip Van Winkle took his nap. Call for pricing. 845-266-3774;

Bailiwick Ranch and Discovery Zoo, Catskill
Yes, you read it right: zoo. This ranch doubles as a home to exotic animals like tigers, lemurs, and kangaroos. Trail ride options range in length from a half-hour to a full day. Romantic riders can treat their significant other to the two-hour sunset ride (offered May through September). Pony rides are also available for youngsters. Reservations required. $45-$245. 518-678-5665;

Coyote Ridge Stables, Marlboro
Who said you have to go to Texas to see a rodeo? Coyote Ridge has recently received approval to conduct rodeos right here at home. But if you’re not interested in bucking broncos, trail rides are available to the public for $35. Open weekends and holidays most of the year, on July 4 the stable opens its gates seven days a week for the season. Individual lessons cost $40 per hour; savvy shoppers can purchase packages of four lessons and receive the fifth free. 845-236-1136;

» Go to the Hudson Valley Travel Guide
» Go to the Hudson Valley Sports & Recreation Guide

» Return to Summer Fun 2012


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