Do you have a little horse lover residing with you? Have they begged you for a pony? And they’re not talking about My Little Ponies. It may be time to introduce your pint sized equestrian to a real horse and take riding lessons. So, rustle up your riding boots and read on to find out where your kid can experience their first ride, improve saddle skills or show off their expert riding style in Des Moines.
Barnum Equestrian Center at Wesley Woods
10896 Nixon Street, Indianola, IA 50125-7301 • (866) 684-7753 • wwhorses.org
Barnum Equestrian Center offers both Western and English riding lessons in their indoor and outdoor arenas. The cost per lesson is $20 and lasts 45 minutes. Not only do students learn riding skills they also learn to care for the horses by grooming and saddling their steads at the beginning of each lesson. Lessons are offered weekdays 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
If you’re not quite ready to enroll your child in riding lessons, but would like to expose them to horses, the Center also offers trail rides. Trail rides are offered to groups of up to 12 riders and are an hour and a half long. Participants must be in third grade and up, will go through safety orientation and will need to demonstrate their competency in the arena before they can head out on the trail.
In addition to riding lessons and trail rides, Barnum Equestrian Center also provides a therapeutic riding program. This program is available for ages four years and up and is open to people with a wide variety of disabilities and conditions. Riders are eligible if their participation poses no extraordinary threat to the safety of themselves, the staff, or the horse. A release form signed by a physician/clinician is used as a guideline to determine eligibility.
Equestrian Day Camp at Camp Fire Heart of Iowa, Camp Hantesa
1450 Oriole Road, Boone, IA 50036 • (515) 432-1417 • www.campfireiowa.org
Camp Fire Heart of Iowa, Camp Hantesa in Boone offers Equestrian Day Camp for kids in fourth to tenth grade. Camp runs from the beginning of June through the end of August and includes mornings spent at the barn and afternoons swimming. The camp costs $175 per week for Des Moines Drops.
During the morning sessions, campers learn horse science, English riding, and barn maintenance. Beginner to advanced riders are welcome with instruction and horse assignment based on their riding experience. All campers are required to wear long pants, boots, and helmets, which are provided by Camp Hantesa. Boots are available to participants on a limited basis.
Not quite ready to commit to Equestrian camp? Try a pony ride. Which is an optional camp program add-on for $20.
Irish Run Farms
3800 Water Works Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 277-1880 • irishrunfarms.com
Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, the goal at Irish Run Farms is to make every child comfortable on horseback and to instill a lifelong love and respect for animals. They offer English riding lessons to beginner and skilled riders alike.
You may take lessons on your own horse, or if you don’t have one, Irish Run can provide one of their best school horses to you. Private riding lessons last 45 minutes and cost $50 per session or $220 for a package of five. Group riding lessons last one hour and cost $35 per session or $170 for a package of five.
Irish Run Farms also offers Pony Club. Which is an educational program that teaches riding skills, horse-care fundamentals, and team participation with sportsmanship. The Farm provides club members horses to ride and the program exposes youth to English riding, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in an equestrian club.
Got your very own horse that doesn’t quite fit into your urban or suburban lawn? Irish Run Farms will board your animal at their facility.
Jester Park Equestrian Center
11171 NW 103 Court, Granger, IA 50109 • (515) 999-2818 • www.polkcountyiowa.gov/equestriancenter
Jester Park Equestrian Center is operated by Polk County Conservation with a mission to educate people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds about horses, natural resources and themselves. They meet their mission by offering a wide range of activities and programs including, pony rides, English and Western riding lessons, wagon rides and therapeutic horsemanship.
Pony Rides are available to children ages two and up in a safe indoor environment. Twenty minute rides cost $15 per child and you will need to call or email the Center to schedule a ride. They offer several birthday party packages for young horse enthusiasts starting at $15 per child. Themes offered are cowgirl/boy, fairy princess, knights and down on the farm and the party package includes conference room rental and pony rides for the kiddos.
In addition to their many programs Jester Park Equestrian Center offers, the Tiny Tot Riding Program for five to seven year old riders. The Tiny Tot program is meant to prepare students to enter their standard lesson program with a basic understanding of how to groom, tack, and ride a horse as well as to have an idea of what their long term horse goals are.
Valley Park Stables
2901 Seniomsed Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 277-4198 • valleyparkstables.com
Valley Park Stables is located in Raccoon Valley, just 5 minutes from downtown Des Moines. Rider classifications here include beginners through advanced and English riding style lessons are offered to five year olds and up. 30 minute private lessons cost $40 each or $185 for five. Hour long group lessons cost $35 each or $160 for five.
If your child loves horses, but is too timid to ride, Valley Park Stables hosts a number of shows from April through October. Take your child to a show to see if riding lessons are something they would like to explore further. Valley Parks has a show calendar on their website. You may also want to give them a call to find out more information before heading out to the Stables.
Valley Park Stables are offering day long summer camps for the first time this year. Horse camp is open to kids ages six to 14 and is geared toward the beginner and intermediate rider. Camp runs from 9:00 am until 2:30 pm, activities include riding lessons, barn chores, horsemanship, crafts, games and rainy day activities. Helmets, long pants and appropriate footwear are required.
Where did you ride a horse for the first time?