Every summer, dog-lovers crowd beaches and parks with their furry friends. But there’s another way to enjoy the warm weather and animals—horseback riding.
Make It Better scoured the Chicago suburbs (admittedly in a car, not on horseback) for the best stables. Each of the spots offer lessons for those who have never mounted a horse before, as well as for riders experienced enough to jump fences. So whatever your level, get ready to hop in the saddle.
Extra Perk: Freedom Woods offers hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. “Therapeutic riding teaches a person with disabilities how to ride a horse,” says manager Betsy Strojanoff. “Hippotherapy uses the horse as a tool to help a person with disabilities improve muscle tone, balance and so on. It’s like physical or occupational therapy, using the horse as a tool.”
Just for kids: Stojanoff believes children should know how to ride horses and also how to care for them. During the summer, horse-lovers as young as 8 can attend a daily camp that teaches them about barn management, horse health and nutrition, horse care and riding skills.
Costs: Private lessons start at $45. Semi-private lessons start at $40. One-hour group lessons cost $60.
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Double J Riding Club
Extra Perk: If you’re looking to throw a unique birthday party, wedding, reunion or bridal shower, owner Cindy Johnson will help you organize and cater the event. “It would even be a great place to hold a book club meeting,” she says. “You could ride, eat lunch and then talk about the book.”
Just for kids: Children between the ages of 6 and 15 are welcome to attend weekly 4-day summer camp sessions where they ride, learn about horse care and make equine-related crafts. Johnson also offers a 2.5-hour Tiny Riders Day Camp for toddlers and their mothers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Costs: Group rates start at $40 for 45 minutes. Private lessons start at $50 for 30 minutes. Group lessons are also offered according to riding level.
Fields and Fences
Extra Perk: Have you ever wanted to compete in a horse show? This is the place for you—even if you’re just starting out. “We host 18 jumper or dressage horse shows each year from USEF-rated shows to schooling shows for beginners,” says owner Anita A. Schadeck.
Just for kids: Fields and Fences offers day camps for both beginner and advanced riders in the summer and during winter break.
Costs: Private lessons run $45 for 30 minutes.
Danada Equestrian Center
Extra Perk: Due to liability insurance costs, most stables in the area only offer lessons in arenas. But at Danada, riders can venture out onto trails in forest preserves (once they meet a few prerequisites). If you really want to relax, check out their 30-minute hay rides and sleigh rides.
Just for kids: Children as young as age 10 can sign up for summer camps that include stable chores. Campers can’t ride, however, unless they are 12 years or older.
Costs: A 6-pack of trail rides cost $240 for non-DuPage County residents. Semi-private lessons in the arena start at $30. One-on-one lessons cost $40.