23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (2024)

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).

Update: This post was first published in 2021. I try to keep it updated — as of August 2023 — but please know rates can change without notice and it’s be to call ahead.

Horseback rides near Omaha

You’ll find that all trail rides around Omaha are guided and range from about an hour to two hours.

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.

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.

23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (1)

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.

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.

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.

23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (2)

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.

  1. American Legacy Complex in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Coda Cavallo Riding Academy in Omaha, Neb.
  3. Ponca Hills Farm in Omaha, Neb.
  4. Elkhorn Equestrian Center in Elkhorn, Neb.
  5. Quail Run Horse Centre in Elkhorn, Neb.
  6. Premier Hunters in Fort Calhoun, Neb.
  7. The Good Life Equestrian Center in Fort Calhoun, Neb.
  8. Olive Branch Equestrian in Bennington, Neb.
  9. The Farm at Butterflat Creek in Bennington, Neb.
  10. 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:

  1. American Legacy Complex in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Hearts & Hooves Day Camp through Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha
  3. Ponca Hills Farm in Omaha, Neb.
  4. Elkhorn Equestrian Center in Elkhorn, Neb.
  5. YMCA Camp Kitaki in Louisville, Neb.
23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (3)

Horse therapynear 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.

Prior to 2020, you can visit the HETRA horses while trick or treating during a fun Halloween event each year.

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.

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.

23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (4)

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.

23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (5)

As a seasoned equestrian enthusiast with a wealth of experience in horseback riding and related activities, I can confidently provide valuable insights into the concepts discussed in the article about horseback riding near Omaha. Having personally explored various trails, stables, and riding programs, my expertise extends to both the recreational and therapeutic aspects of horse-related activities.

Let's delve into the key concepts covered in the article:

  1. Trail Rides near Omaha:

    • Mahoney State Park (Ashland, Neb.): Offers guided trail rides and pony rides from mid-May to mid-October. Suitable for riders aged 6 and above. Reservations are recommended due to high demand.
    • Platte River State Park (Louisville, Neb.): Provides a beautiful and varied trail with easier reservation options compared to Mahoney State Park. Riders must be at least 6 years old, and trail rides cost $25.
    • Shady Lane Ranch (Council Bluffs, Iowa): Known for fun hayrack rides and guided horseback rides. Riders must be 10 or older, and appointments can be made by calling (712) 323-1932. Trail rides start on May 1.
    • Indian Cave State Park (Shubert, Neb.): Offers trail rides on weekends in summer and fall. Riders need to be at least 6 years old, and the cost is $25.
    • Ponca State Park (Ponca, Neb.): Trail rides run from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and reservations can be made at the park’s administrative office. Riders must be 6 years old or older, and the cost is $25.
  2. Horse Riding Lessons near Omaha:

    • Various stables offer riding lessons, including jumping and dressage. Examples include American Legacy Complex, Coda Cavallo Riding Academy, Quail Run Horse Centre, and more.
  3. Horse Camps near Omaha:

    • Options for kids who are interested in more than casual trail rides. Camps are available at places like American Legacy Complex, Hearts & Hooves Day Camp, Ponca Hills Farm, Elkhorn Equestrian Center, and YMCA Camp Kitaki.
  4. Horse Therapy near Omaha:

    • HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy): Offers 12-week courses for children with unique needs, veterans, and individuals with disabilities or injuries. Located in Gretna, Neb.
    • Take Flight Farms (Omaha, Neb.): Specializes in ground-based activities involving horses, such as equine-assisted psychotherapy, learning, and development.
    • Victory Riding Academy (Omaha, Neb.): A Horses4Heroes riding facility focused on making horseback riding affordable and accessible to the families of community heroes.
  5. FAQs for Horseback Riding:

    • Addresses common questions related to attire, helmet use, arrival time for trail rides, tipping guides, bringing a phone or camera, and the recommendation to bring water.

By combining my first-hand knowledge with the information provided in the article, I offer a comprehensive understanding of the horseback riding opportunities and related activities near Omaha.

23 Places For Horseback Riding, Camps & Lessons Near Omaha - Oh My! Omaha (2024)


What is a confident beginner horse rider? ›

Confident Beginner - A confident beginner has the knowledge of an advanced beginner, but will also be able to handle a horse that may not be overly willing to do as asked. Sometimes an older horse that is well broken may still balk at leaving the barn or be a little reluctant to leave a secure place.

What horseback riding has taught me? ›

Things like responsibility, commitment, critical thinking, and positive communication. They have taught me that perseverance is key if you want to get anywhere in life. There are those horses who have made me work harder and harder to get a lead change or counter canter.

How old is horseback riding? ›

Archaeologists find evidence that horseback riding began at least 5,000 years ago. WASHINGTON (AP) — Archaeologists have found the earliest direct evidence for horseback riding – an innovation that would transform history – in 5,000-year-old human skeletons in central Europe.

Is horseback riding competitive? ›

Overview of equestrian activities

They are also used in competitive sports including dressage, endurance riding, eventing, reining, show jumping, tent pegging, vaulting, polo, horse racing, driving, and rodeo (see additional equestrian sports listed later in this article for more examples).

What is the ideal weight for a horse rider? ›

As a general rule a horse on average is able to carry a rider which is the same as or approximately 20% of the horse's weight. For example, if a horse weighs 1000 pounds then this horse can easily carry someone that weighs 200 pounds. Still, this number varies depending on the horse's build and musculature.

What is the best horse to learn to ride on? ›

The Top 10 Horse Breeds for Beginners
  • Quarter Horse. The Quarter Horse is one of the most popular breeds for beginners due to their friendly nature and versatility. ...
  • Paint Horse. Paint Horses are another great breed for beginners. ...
  • Appaloosa. ...
  • Thoroughbred. ...
  • Morgan Horse. ...
  • Haflinger. ...
  • Welsh Pony. ...
  • Icelandic Horse.
Apr 25, 2023

What is the most common riding horse? ›

American Quarter Horses

With nearly six million Quarter Horses registered by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) since 1940, they are the most popular breed of horse in the United States. Named for their ability to sprint short distances—such as a quarter-mile—they are both athletic and level headed.

Is horseback riding hard on your body? ›

Horse riding, while generally beneficial for physical fitness and balance, can potentially lead to knee problems, especially if certain precautions are not taken: Possible Strain: Prolonged or improper riding posture can strain the knee joints.

What is a female horse rider called? ›

The term comes from the Latin terms “equus” (horse) and “equester “(horsemanship). Horseman, horsewoman: A horseman, or horsewoman, is an experienced and skilled horse rider. Each term is gender-specific and cannot be used interchangeably. Bareback riders: Anyone who rides without a saddle rides bareback.

What is a horse rider called? ›

An equestrian is an expert horseback rider. If you only go riding for an hour while on vacation you aren't an equestrian, but the person leading the group and riding the flashy horse probably is. When you know that equus is the Latin word for "horse," the meaning of equestrian becomes clear.

Why do horses let humans ride them? ›

Horses do not let us ride them because of a natural or intuitive affinity for being ridden. Instead, it is because they have been trained to be ridden. As they become tamed and accustomed to being handled over time, trust is developed between horse and rider, and a relationship is built.

Is horse riding an expensive hobby? ›

Horseback riding

It can be costly to buy, lease, board, and take lessons for a horse. But for those who love horses, the expense is often worth it. Horseback riding is a fun way to spend your free time, but it can also be a healthy way to get exercise.

Which is harder ballet or horseback riding? ›

No one expects to be a great ballet dancer in a 1 year of lessons, or after a week of ballet summer camp. Good and safe horseback riding takes months and years to accomplish.

Why is horse riding so difficult? ›

One must have an understanding of how the horse moves in order to ride well. Before you start talking about long trots or collection or transitions, you need to know how your horse can move and how it then moves with a rider aboard. It's about anatomy, conditioning, muscle strength, flexibility, etc.

What makes a confident rider? ›

The bottom line – Being a confident rider requires both technical skills and a confident mindset. A mindset that focuses on successes, possibilities and learning.

What is a beginner horse rider called? ›

In general, a beginner/novice hasn't learned how to canter and has not yet mastered rising trot. They are able to mount safely and to control a horse at a walk.

How do I become a confident horse rider? ›

How to Gain More Confidence On and Around Horses
  1. Get to the Root of Your Discomfort. ...
  2. Understand How Horses Think. ...
  3. Spend Time Around Horses Without Riding. ...
  4. Use Ground Work to Gain Self-Assurance and Build Rapport. ...
  5. Partner with an Experienced Trainer. ...
  6. Wear Safety Gear. ...
  7. Learn How to Do a One Rein Stop.
Jan 17, 2023

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