Hi, it’s Shirley Sue with another adventure to share. One of the best parts of any camping expedition is a campfire story. On my last family camping trip, I learned that my great-great-great grandparents had their own horse and buggy! What an adventurous way to get around. I am so jealous. Thankfully, there are many horse-powered adventures waiting in York Durham Headwaters, no need for time travel to those horse and buggy days (though, I’d be up for that adventure too!). Here are seven equestrian stops, spanning the spectrum of adventure from polo to trail riding to yoga! Of course, there are more equestrian escapes in YDH you can check out.
Saddle up, grab hold of the reins, and get ready to giddy up, here comes some great family fun!
Photo By: WaterStone Estate & Farms
WaterStone is known as a wonderful wedding venue. In fact, I was a flower girl at a wedding there, but I may have snuck away to ride some horses. Okay, so I definitely rode down the aisle on a horse and upstaged the bride, but that’s another story. Let’s talk about the horseback riding, not the weddings at WaterStone.
Just a short drive from Newmarket, Waterstone Estate & Farms is a full-service equestrian centre, in a stunning 100-acre country setting. Their riding school has safe, well-trained horses, certified instructors, and coaches. They offer lessons for riders of all levels, seven days a week, all year long. My family loves to go on the group rides.
I participated in the WaterStone Summer Riding Camp and I learned how to drive a horse and buggy (just like my great-great-great grandparents!). I wish I could ride the buggy to school! For a beautiful property, huge airy indoor arena, and lovely horses, WaterStone is a must.
Photo By: Cedar Valley Polo Club
For my (allowance) money, no sport rivals the action in polo! We are so lucky to have polo right in our own backyard with The Cedar Valley Polo Club! They are a family oriented club that has safe, fun polo. Just north of Toronto, the club is located where the 404 Highway ends in Mount Albert. This isn’t a private club; beginners and visitors are always welcome to take part in riding and polo lessons.
I love polo because I get to play with my friends. My parents love it because it teaches kids important skills like balance and coordination, teamwork and focus. Any sport where you spend time around horses and get to play with friends is #1 in my books.
Photo By: Equine Erin
Horses are great teachers! Equine Erin certainly proves that. It started with a personal passion for horses from owner Bridget Ryan and has grown into a place focused on equine facilitated learning. They offer workshops and educational clinics. Located on a small farm just outside the Village of Erin, their workshops cover a huge variety of topics, including: saddle-fitting, healthy horses, yoga workshops, and creative writing inspired by horses. With the amount of horse inspired stories I have written, I would have aced that workshop!
If you are looking for a meaningful experience and to learn something new about horses, this is the perfect place. For awareness, education, engagement, and self-development, in an equestrian environment, sign up for a workshop with Equine Erin.
Photo By: Hilltop Equestrian
Hilltop Equestrian is the perfect name for this stop on our tour; it’s beautifully situated on the crest of a hill. Just ten minutes from Uxbridge and 20 minutes from Newmarket, Hilltop is an escape from concrete roads to dirt trails. The scenic rolling countryside, outside the hamlet of Sandford, is best enjoyed with a trail ride on horseback.
Not only do they have trail rides, they offer lessons too. They have dependable, reliable, safe, and well-trained horses for both lessons and showing options. You can contact them to set up a tour. Hilltop Equestrian’s focus is on providing excellent instruction in a fun, family-oriented atmosphere. All ages and abilities of riders are welcome to take lessons. So, if you want to improve your skills with lessons or just want to make the day trip for a trail ride, this is the place for you.
Photo By: Belle Wood Equestrian Centre
Just a short drive from Whitby or Ajax, Belle Wood offers horseback riding lessons, horse boarding, educational clinics, and horseback riding camps. Situated on 56 scenic acres, in the quiet Hamlet of Greenwood, they have large paddocks and acres of trail riding.
Belle Wood is more than a riding school and boarding facility, it has created a real family atmosphere. It’s a warm and welcoming place, where all ages and skill levels can be found. Whether you are a seasoned pro looking to get back into riding or getting on a horse for the first time, Belle Wood is a great option for lessons.
Photo By: Kuzenko Stables
A true country experience is waiting, only minutes from the city. Yeehaw! Kuzenko Stables provides fun for the whole family, located just east of Oshawa. Their western trail rides take you through scenic trails, away from the stress of the outside world.
They’re the only western trail riding facility in the Durham Region. Trail rides last about 40-45 minutes and make a perfect family activity. New to riding? No problem. Their trails are calm and gentle, ready for riders of any skill level. If I had to describe the trail ride in one word it would be: AWESOME!!! On my last trail ride I saw wild turkey with some little babies. So cute. Now, I just need to convince my parents to have my birthday party there!
Photo By: Sweetwater Stables
Sweetwater Boarding Stable is known for exceptional care of their horses, knowledgeable staff, and a non-competitive atmosphere. Located near the town of Blackstock, they’re minutes from Port Perry, Bowmanville, and Lindsay.
It is truly an inclusive space, where you can ride English, Western, or if you are brand new to riding. If you would like to be part of a friendly, casual barn, then Sweetwater Stable is the perfect fit. I love the trail riding here. With a 200-acre farm, they have numerous trails that allow for direct access to horse-friendly conservation trails.
If you’d like to ride for an hour or so, there are four groomed trails that begin near their barn and meander across the farm, through pine and maple woods and past picturesque ponds and meadows. Want to make it a full day of riding? Their farm trails lead out from their back gate and viola! – you’re ready to explore 1,334 acres of horse friendly conservation area. The best part: you can ride the trails year-round!
Photo By: Caledon Equestrian Park
So, we have toured York Durham Headwaters, horseback riding all along the way. Now, let’s sit back and watch world-class riders up close! Marvel at the talent on display. It is amazing to see rider and horse working in perfect harmony. If you are a fan of show jumping or dressage, come watch the best in the world!
The Caledon Equestrian Park hosts Olympic and National Equestrian competitions throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The park is located just 45 minutes north of Toronto, in the beautiful hills of Caledon. They were the equestrian home for the 2015 Pan-Am Games. Make sure to check out the striking sights beyond the stadium, where the lovely panorama of the Niagara Escarpment unfolds.
So there it is, a spectrum of activities for horse lovers. You can play polo, go on a trail ride, sharpen your skills with lessons, or do some yoga! Giddy up and take the reins in York Durham Headwaters. There’s an equestrian adventure right in your own backyard or just a short day trip away!