Dorset is hailed as an area of exquisite natural beauty, having long been praised by the likes of Thomas Hardy for its rolling hills and miles of lush countryside. And within this verdant region there are almost 1,700 different bridleways, making horseback one of the best ways to explore during a stay at Summer Lodge or the Acorn Inn. Whether it’s your first time in the saddle, or you’re a seasoned rider, these local stables make horse riding in Dorset exceptionally rewarding.
Situated just eight miles away from each of the hotels, Faunbank Stables offers lessons for all ages and abilities (prices range from £15 to £30), with both an indoor and an outdoor arena, so that visitors can be sure the weather won’t cause any problems. These sessions can be taken as a group, as well as one-on-one instruction.
To get out into the countryside, riders also have the opportunity to set out from the stables on hacks through miles of interlinked bridleways. In addition to lessons and hacks, Faunback Stables also offer two-hour sessions combining pony rides with stable care, teaching participants how to look after the ponies. Affording more time to bond with the horses at the stables, this is the ideal option for budding riders.
The British Horse Society approved riding school Rosewall Equestrian, meanwhile, is half an hour away from Summer Lodge and the Acorn Inn, in an idyllic setting overlooking the valley and lakes outside Weymouth. Also catering for all abilities of riders, the riding school hosts one-hour hacks (£30) as well as lessons (from £17 to £40), while the stable’s Pony Club Centre places the focus on encouraging children to connect with horses as they’re introduced to riding.
By travelling a little further afield to Wareham (a 45-minute drive away), guests can reach Lulworth Equestrian Centre, which is another of Dorset’s British Horse Society approved stables. Offering lessons and rides (from £17 to £40) to suit the whole spectrum of riding abilities, from beginners to those who have been riding their entire lives, this stables welcomes everyone in. The cross-country course – encompassing jumps of different heights – presents more experienced riders with more of a challenge.
Off-road rides from this equestrian centre take in the area’s diverse landscape, from woodland and fields, to the coast, enabling riders to truly experience the Dorset countryside. And, if this isn’t enough excitement, guests can also coincide a visit with one of the horse shows or events hosted by the stables, when local star riders take to the arena.
Back at Summer Lodge and the Acorn Inn in Evershot, riders can look back on their exhilarating day on horseback, while savouring each restaurants’ exemplary cuisine. With local ingredients taking pride of place in each delicious course, it’s the ideal way to round-off a day of horse riding in Dorset.