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Love Horses? Head to Orlando for a Unique Ride

Saddle up and experience central Florida from horseback

The Vacationeer
A brown horse and her young foal run through a green pasture together

Unless you follow the thoroughbred racing circuit or actively train for the sport, casual equestrians may not know that central Florida is horse country. Orlando, Florida, offers winding trails through unique ecosystems and countless horse ranches and barns. With so many options, you can find a stable that suits you — whether to learn new skills or take a relaxing horseback ride on vacation.

Go the Guided Route

A young horse stands in a pasture near Orlando, Florida, with live oak and Spanish moss  

Hidden Palms Ranch is the ideal destination for beginner riders and families. This ranch offers guided, slow trail rides for groups of five or fewer through the Marl Bed Flats on the north side of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area. The deliberately slow pace allows for peaceful trots through the live oak hammocks dripping with Spanish moss and plenty of bird-watching. Children under nine learn to groom and handle one of the ranch's seven horses in a one-on-one experience.

Likewise, Rock Springs Run Trail Rides is terrific for budding equestrians and travel crews to bond via horseback ride. While a little farther away from the center of Orlando, the horseback riding outfitter can accommodate large groups, with 52 horses of all different breeds and origins (many rescued, donated or purchased at auction). Ride at Rock Springs Run State Reserve, where the landscape varies from sand pine scrub to pine flatwoods.

Try Something New on a Scenic Trail

A horse near the camera and six other horses behind in a pasture in Ocala, Florida 

All Hitched Up features rides ranging from advanced to adventurous for those experienced with trail riding. At St. Cloud's Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve, trot over the land and into the water. But don't fret if anyone in your group can't handle a canter or a splash. Guides cater each ride to your experience level, and barn-side rides or private lessons are also available.

See a different side of the Kissimmee Valley at Lazy H Ranch. The ranch owners are long-time Florida residents and are passionate about their horses. Trot along scenic Lake Tohopekaliga through hundred-year-old oak trees. The trails also offer bird-watching opportunities, so keep the group’s eyes peeled for bald eagles, ospreys, cormorants, herons and egrets. Sunset rides are also recommended for group photo opportunities.

Dare to Care at These Orlando Horse Stables

Two brown and white horses and a white foal graze in a pasture in Ocala, Florida 

If you appreciate giving back, consider booking a one-hour tour or private session with Horse Riding Orlando. This nonprofit’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home neglected horses. The funds you spend on your Horse Riding Orlando ramble through the Twin Oaks Conservation Area will benefit rescued horses.

Freedom Ride is also worth checking out. This nonprofit specializes in therapeutic horseback riding lessons — called “hippotherapy" — for children, adults and veterans with various disabilities. In addition to more than a dozen donated horses and ponies, this accredited facility features certified instructors and trained volunteers who assist clients. If you're interested in registering for your next vacation, remember that there is generally a waiting list and a needs assessment.

Whether you're traveling as part of a family of serious equestrians or want to spend some time away from the bustle of theme parks, horseback riding in Orlando is a wonderful addition to any trip. Begin planning your vacation today, and check out one of Hilton Grand Vacations resorts in the area.

Read “Venture Outdoors in Orlando: Where to Scout for Flora, Fauna and Fun Things To Do” for more things to do outdoor in Orlando.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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