With the fall season upon us, now is one of the best times to take advantage of the beautiful scenery that our area has to offer by getting on a horse and riding through some of Virginia’s most breathtaking trails.
You don’t even need to own your own horse, as Fairfax offers a number of stables that offer trail rides, as well as places that offer private lessons, horsemanship training and therapeutic riding.
So, whether you are looking to ride English, western, bareback, for competition, for exercise or just plain old fun, gallop ahead to check out these local equine companies.
9905 Old Colchester Road
Lorton, VA 22079
For 53 years, Tamarack Stables has been offering riding lessons, trail rides, camp and pony parties in the rolling hills of Virginia’s historic Mason Neck area.
“We have a wide selection of horses to ride and our trail rides can be scheduled at any time,” said Tim Majewski, who owns the stables with his wife Cheryl. “Fall is the busiest time and best time to ride because the weather is great and there are no bugs. Families can spend good quality time together and enjoy the scenery and relaxation of riding together.”
Its horseback rides go through the beautiful wooded trails along Pohick Creek with access to the Bureau of Land Management Meadowood property. Experienced riders will get the chance to gallop and trot, while beginners can just enjoy a slow pace of a ride.
“All our trails are geared to the riding level of the person coming out,” Majewski said. “We have about eight hours of trail riding without having to ride the same one twice and most have access to water, taking you along the creek.”
Tamarack Stables also offers a riding school, with 150 to 200 students taking private lessons each week.
Colonial Trail Riders
Colonial Trail Riders offers a unique riding adventure for those who want to take their equestrian hobby a bit further.
“We’re a trail riding club and we have memberships for adults who have some experience,” said Carlin Brundage, owner of the stables where the Trail Riders take part. “This works well for people who come from other parts of the country and want to continue to horseback ride or maybe had a horse when they were younger and want to get back to riding.”
Situated in Great Falls, Brundage said the area boasts miles of riding trails, even though there has been a lot of land development.
“We ride trails along the Potomac River Valley, just a short ride from our stables,” he said. “We have a dedicated easement along Seneca Road that leads down to a system of river and park trails that are quite extensive. George Washington rode many of the trails still in use today.”
Colonial Trail Riders formed in 2009 and, in addition to the club, will take out the part-time rider for a tour of the trails as schedule permits.
Monthly memberships are $350 and members can ride more than once a week if the schedule permits.
“This is a tradition in the Great Falls area that should be carried on,” Brundage said. “Every penny we make goes towards the care and feeding of horses.”
Bull Run Stables
6001 Bull Run Post Office Road
Centreville, VA 20120
For those looking for lessons, a great place to go is Bull Run Stables in Centreville, as they specialize in the fundamentals of horsemanship, including grooming, tacking and caring for a horse, beginner through advanced dressage skills, and limited boarding.
Situated on more than 40 acres, Bull Run Stables comprises a very large outdoor lighted arena, a modern 20-horse stable and an attractive lighted 17,000-foot indoor arena with a misting system, allowing riding to be done on dust-free footing of creek sand and rubber.
“These facilities permit teaching during virtually all conditions and year-round,” said Tom Richardson, who owns the stables with his wife Joan. “We teach English riding with a concentration on dressage. We also occasionally offer trail riding, but only to our experienced students.”
The program, which is targeted for those 8 and older, isn’t limited to only riding for an hour. Students will learn the grooming and tacking of horses, which they are required do, as well as safety with horses.
“We also have a drill team, which rides to music,” Richardson said. “It is a challenging, yet enjoyable experience which promotes team work and a feeling of having accomplished something special on horses decorated with colorful leg wraps and ribbons in manes and tails.”
The stables also offer horse riding camps during the summer.
231 Seneca Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
According to Loretta Arey, a certified teacher by the American Riding Instructors Association, although many people ride in Northern Virginia, too few know what it means to be a true horseman. That’s why she created the 20/20 Horsemanship Program, which teaches the finer points of horse riding and ownership.
“We do lessons and trail rides for students,” Arey said. “What makes us different is that we have an approach that uses natural horsemanship with a balanced seat riding. We look at curb behavior, how horses read body language, and look at much more than just learning how to ride a horse.”
Students typically spend 20 to 30 minutes learning about leadership, respect and communication, which includes demonstrations and hands on experience. Then the riding can begin.
“My residence is on Seneca Road, so we go out on trails that are a short walk down the street,” she said. “It’s a wonderful location and great place to ride.”
1033 Bellview Road
McLean, VA 22102
Shadybrook Stables is a family owned and operated equestrian facility, which has been offering horseback riding lessons for more than 40 years.
Owned by Helen and Darryl Moss, the stables specializes in English riding lessons for beginners through advanced level students and offers lighted indoor and outdoor rings for riding.
Shadybrook offers half-hour group lessons, as well as one-hour classes for advanced riders. Riders who have never had English riding lessons are encouraged to take the introductory beginner series, which teaches riders how to safely lead the horse, mount the horse, adjust their tack, steer and stop, walk as a group and learn to post to the trot.
The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
The NVTRP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with disabilities, youth-at-risk and veterans through horseback riding, seven days a week in Clifton.
According to the organization, horseback riding has been shown to be one of the most beneficial forms of recreation for people with all types of disabilities, and its volunteers teach lessons that include riding skills, exercises, trail or field rides, games and vaulting, as well as horse care and grooming.
You can also saddle up your horse and walk, trot or canter along one of the many wooded equestrian trails in Fairfax County Parks.
Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon offers beginning horseback riding lessons at its equestrian facilities for show and practice. Its indoor arena has an indoor riding arena with a sand-base floor and spectator seating for 800. In addition to open riding, the center is used for horse shows that feature some of the area’s top horses and riders.
Two outdoor riding rings with all-weather footing and more than three miles of cross-country trails are available to riders as well.
Other parks for riding include Clarks Crossing in Vienna, which offers nearly 3.2 miles of trails through the park for horseback riding; Colvin Run Stream Valley, which consists of approximately 3 miles of natural surface/stonedust trails between Hunter Mill Road and Leesburg Pike; Difficult Run Stream Valley in Herndon, which offers 14 miles of mostly natural surface trail along the Difficult Run Creek between Miller Heights Road and Georgetown Pike; and Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, which offers a 1-mile natural surface trail.
Plans are also underway for an equestrian facility at Laurel Hill Park, the former Lorton Prison site presently owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority. According to the nonprofit Fairfax4Horses, the park’s scenic vistas, access to trails and history of agriculture and animal husbandry makes for a perfect riding location.