Horseback Riding in The Hudson Valley
All my life I was completely obsessed with horses. When I was a child, growing up in England, all I wanted was a rocking horse. I never got one.
Stop. This is not going to be the whiny story of my sad inner child, fed only with hand-me-down toys. It is, in fact, a story of realized dreams.
When a rocking horse wasn’t forthcoming, I downgraded my expectations somewhat and asked for a hobby horse. You remember those; a stick with a stuffed animal horse head on the end? I never got one of those either.
Fortunately I have a Dad who loved to ride and found a way to combine his Daddy duties with his favorite pastime. I was often the only (very tiny) child on a wild adult ride, galloping behind on my small borrowed pony, trying to keep up with all the rather ‘jolly’ galloping adults. I frequently rolled off, popped off, or got dumped off my roly-poly little guy. I loved it. Christopher and I sometimes walked quite a distance before we caught up with the big leggy adult mounts. We were happy.
Fast forward to my adult years; I made horses part of my life in any way I could, I worked in barns, happily shoveling whatever I had to. I spent many days in the bone-chilling Long Island cold, just as many in the blistering inland Florida heat, and even some in the dust of California with the animals I love. I’ve been part of many different equestrian communities, competed in various disciplines, and ridden thousands of miles.
But then life took over, as it does for so many people, and I was pulled further and further away from the barn. I took a break. I developed one career and then another and then a few more side pursuits. A few months ago, a friend of mine invited me to meet her horse, which she kept in Hyde Park, in Dutchess County. I hesitated, afraid I would become a sentimental lump, or worse still, get ‘the bug’ that would lead me to spend more money than I wanted to think about.
Three months later...I had two horses. It happened. It happens!
A Hudson Valley Equestrian
Finally here, in the Hudson Valley, I have found complete perfection; the most diverse, welcoming, relaxed and friendly equestrian community I have ever been a part of, coupled with the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen (at least west of the Atlantic Ocean).
What I didn’t know the whole time I’ve been living here - a part of the community, a business owner, driving the backroads of the region daily to visit homes - was that the moment that bug bit me again and I found myself wearing horse goggles (so much healthier than beer goggles), was that I would suddenly find tucked away in almost every town from Goshen to Saugerties, from Durham to Rhinebeck, from Amenia to Ashland, in every county, around every corner, horses! And with them the barrel racers, fox hunters*, jumpers, dressage riders, reiners, and endurance riders who come with them, boarding them together, riding together, and wringing out the towel of life on their horses in this spectacularly beautiful place!
Today, I went on my fifth hunter pace of the fall season and ran in to no less than ten people I know from other facets of my life: a local business owner with whom I have been doing business for years, a student from the gym where I’m a fitness instructor, an old friend, someone who used to work with us selling Real Estate in the Hudson Valley, someone who used to be a regular customer at a restaurant I owned, and on and on. Every one of them welcomed me to the crowd.
I’ve rediscovered a way to enjoy the countryside. The same countryside I've been encouraging our clients to enjoy for years. Today that countryside was nothing less than breathtaking; all fall leaves, mist and bracing air! Farmers shut down their combine harvesters to let the competing horses pass, hikers waved as we trotted past, families with their children came out for the day to see the horses and the amazing mix of western riders, eventers, foxhunters* and pleasure riders who took part in the event. We enjoyed lunch, told stories, even sipped a little brandy here and there. The event today was in Hyde Park, NY. The five events I’ve been to this season have all been less than 90 minutes from where I keep my horses in New Paltz, NY.
Learn To Ride Horses in The Hudson Valley
Sometimes people think of equestrians as a stuffy bunch who are disinclined to let outsiders in. I assure you that’s not the case - horse people are not dance moms! Many of the people I rode with today, ranging in age from 12 to 83, started riding as adults and learned here in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley and the Catskills are filled with wonderful family-owned farms and barns. Lessons from instructors who are accustomed to working with beginners is a large part of their culture. Not knowing anything about anything equestrian is ok! If you’re very experienced there’s a place for you here as well. In the early 2000's, HITS (Horse Shows in the Sun) brought their series of shows to Saugerties, NY in Ulster County and serious equestrians of all kinds followed.
Hudson Valley Equestrian Real Estate
If you’re thinking of making horseback riding part of your Hudson Valley lifestyle, you likely have some unique concerns. Maybe you want to find a piece of real estate that has a home for your horses and room to ride. Maybe you need a barn large enough, and with enough stalls to house your horses and board a few others. Perhaps you like riding mountain terrain and want a piece of land in the Catskills that’s adjacent to public land where you’ll be allowed to ride up into the mountains. Explaining the ins-and-outs of all this to your Real Estate agent is important, but if you’d like to talk to someone who speaks horse shorthand please reach out to me. I’ll translate from equestrian, into real estate and connect you with an agent and some properties that will give you a home amidst this awesome community of horse lovers.
If you’re just exploring the community, below are some barns and organizations that I have personal experience with.
Rombout Hunt Club
Millbrook Hunt Club
Goldens Bridge Hounds
Landsmankill Trail Association
Millbrook Pony Club
Panorama Farms, Tivoli NY
Kindred Spirit Horsemanship, New Paltz, NY
Horse Shows in the Sun, Saugerties NY
Hidden Meadow Farm, Durham NY
Candida Ellis - Managing Director