Horseback riding can be a fun activity for kids and adults. And if you go to the right place as a beginner, you can easily learn to love it. Luckily, there are plenty of guided trail rides near Omaha that are suitable for beginner riders. There are also pony ride options for young children, too, so keep reading to the end if that interests you. The following horse stables are located within about an hour of Omaha (except for Ponca State Park).
Horseback rides near Omaha
You’ll find that all trail rides around Omaha are guided and range from about an hour to two hours.
1. Country Trails Stables
Where: Omaha, Neb. (it’s a private residence north of the city; here are the directions)
One of the closest stables to Omaha is Country Trails Stables, which offers two-hour guided trail rides for small groups (up to four adults). It’s $40 for a two-hour ride.
Rides are by appointment only. Call 402-451-2009.
2. Mahoney State Park
Where: Ashland, Neb.
Mahoney State Park offers both guided trail rides and pony rides. Rides are mid-May through mid-October. Kids need to be at least 6 years old, while pony rides are for ages 3 to 9. Horse rides are $25; pony rides are $7.
Being one of Nebraska’s most popular state parks, Mahoney draws a lot of visitors during its summer season. Horseback riding is one of the more popular options at the park, so reservations are often hard to come by. Get to the park office early in the morning the day you want to ride to reserve your ride.
3. Platte River State Park
Where: Louisville, Neb.
One of my favorite spots for rides is Plate River State. The trail is beautiful, varied, and the guides are pleasant. It’s also much easier to secure a reservation than Mahoney State Park.
Riders at state parks must be at least 6 years old. Trail rides are $25.
4. Shady Lane Ranch
Where: 17744 Shady Lane, Council Bluffs, Iowa
I’m most familiar with Shady Lane’s fun hayrack rides in the fall, but this gem of a farm also offers guided horseback rides. Rides are held hourly and last year it was $30 an hour. Riders must be 10 or older to ride alone.
You’ll want to call to make an appointment (712-323-1932). Trail rides begin for the season on May 1.
5. Indian Cave State Park
Where: Shubert, Neb.
I wouldn’t just plan a horseback ride at Indian Cave State Park and then head home, given the distance from Omaha. Explore the beautiful park! There are great hiking trails, some rather challenging, as well as a small living history area, and the park’s namesake, Indian Cave.
Rides are on the weekends in the summer and fall. Kids need to be at least 6 years old. Trail rides are $25.
6. Ponca State Park
Where: Ponca, Neb.
Ponca is another popular state park, with the added draw of beautiful river overlooks. Trail rides at Ponca State Park run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Reservations may be made at the park’s administrative office.
Riders must be 6 years old or older. Trail rides are $25.
Pony rides near Omaha
Pony rides are generally for children under 12. A wrangler will walk the pony as the child rides.
7. Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard
Where: Gretna, Neb.
Vala’s seasonal attraction is known for many activities (and so much good food!), and one of the rarely mentioned ones are the pony rides. These are an added cost to pumpkin patch admission ($7 per ride). Riders must be under 12.
8. Degroots Backyard Petting Farm
Where: Harlan, Iowa
This low-key petting farm is definitely off-the-beaten-path, but the perk of making the drive that it’s free (though donations are accepted).
There are pony rides offered for an additional fee, or donation.
9. Lincoln’s Children’s Zoo
Where: Lincoln, Neb.
Pony rides at the Lincoln zoo are seasonal, and are not open right now. They’re only $5, in addition to paying zoo admission, and great for little ones. Currently, the zoo requires reservations to visit.
Horse riding lessons near Omaha
If you’re looking for something beyond a one-day, guided trail ride, here’s a list of stables that offer riding lessons. Some of these stables offer lessons in jumping and dressage, too.
- 10. American Legacy Complex in Omaha, Neb.
- 11. Coda Cavallo Riding Academy in Omaha, Neb.
- 12. Ponca Hills Farm in Omaha, Neb.
- 13. Prairie Gem Stables in Omaha, Neb.
- 14. Elkhorn Equestrian Center in Elkhorn, Neb.
- 15. Quail Run Horse Centre in Elkhorn, Neb.
- 16. Premier Hunters in Fort Calhoun, Neb.
- 17. Wilson Riding in Fort Calhoun, Neb.
- 18. Olive Branch Equestrian in Bennington, Neb.
- 19. The Farm at Buttterflat Creek in Bennington, Neb.
- 20. Log Barn Stables in Plattsmouth, Neb.
Horse camps near Omaha
Do you have a kid who’s somewhere between wanting a casual guided trail ride and lessons? Check out horse camps. Here are a few in our area:
- 21. American Legacy Complex in Omaha, Neb.
- 22. Hearts & Hooves Day Camp through Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha
- 23. Ponca Hills Farm in Omaha, Neb. (sold out for 2021 summer camps)
- 24. Elkhorn Equestrian Center in Elkhorn, Neb.
- 25. YMCA Camp Kitaki in Louisville, Neb.
Horse therapy near Omaha
What’s horse therapy? It’s equine-assisted activities that are intended to improve physical and emotional development of adults and children.
Where: Gretna, Neb.
HETRA stands for Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy and is a nonprofit with wonderful programs for children with unique needs, veterans, and folks with disabilities or injuries.
Unlike the rides mentioned above, it’s not a one-off experience. Instead, HETRA programs are 12-week courses.
In the before times, you can visit the HETRA horses while trick or treating during a fun Halloween event each year.
27. Take Flight Farms
Where: Omaha, Neb.
Take Flight Farms specializes in ground-based activities involving horses, particularly equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-assisted learning, and equine-assisted development. This is different from riding therapy.
28. Victory Riding Academy
Where: Omaha, Neb.
Victory Riding Academy is a Horses4Heroesriding facility, with a mission to make horseback riding affordable for and accessible to the families of the heroes in the community including military personnel, police and correction officers, fire fighters, critical care/hospice nurses, special needs school teachers, and their family members.
FAQs for horseback riding
Q. What should I wear horseback riding?
A. You’ll want to dress comfortably with pants since most trail rides may go through wooded areas. While boots or hard soled shoes are optimal, I’ve been fine in tennis shoes. Flip flops are a big no.
Wear jeans or long pants. If you’re taking lessons, there may be more specific requirements on what to wear.
Q. Do you have to wear a helmet?
A. Kids should wear a helmet, and it’s recommended that adults do, too. Horseback riding is not without its dangers, since horses are living creatures with a mind of their own. I wear a helmet.
Pony rides are pretty tame and usually with a short duration, so helmets aren’t always offered for those.
Q. How early do I need to be at a trail ride?
A. Arrive about 10 to 20 minuets early so you can fill out the paper work and get adjusted into the saddle. Most guides also go through basic instructions, even for more experienced riders.
Q. Do I tip the trail guide?
A. Yes, you can. If the guide has been particularly helpful or friendly, I always tip.
Q. Can I bring my phone or camera?
A. Yes, but bring it at your own risk. Many times, I’ve ridden with guides who carried a camera and happily snapped photos of my group. They’ve also been kind enough to take photos with my camera, too. Just ask.
Q. Should I bring water?
A. They recommend bringing water, though I’ve not figured out a good way to carry a water bottle besides bringing a backpack. Nebraska summer are pretty hot and humid, so if you don’t carry a water bottle with you, have one ready for after the ride.