Outdoor hobbies can be hard to indulge when you’re living in the middle of the city. Horse riding in particular – indeed, anything to do with horses – is difficult to undertake amidst rush hour traffic! For those animal lovers out there with a soft spot for a pony or two, however, there are options. In and amongst Cardiff are activities and opportunities as good as any from across the Welsh country. From family days out with guided rides for the kids to pony trekking through hills and valleys, horses can and do exist among modern-day lives. Interested in making them a part of yours? We’ve rounded up five ways in which you can do just that.
1. Cardiff Riding School: Horses from A-Z
Whether you’re a total beginner interested in giving riding a first go or a seasoned veteran with a horse of their own, the Cardiff Riding School has sessions available for everybody. Located within a reasonable driving distance of the city itself, over forty horses and ponies are just ready and waiting to get you up on a saddle and trotting around the pen. This is horse riding at its best, customisable to your own wants and comfort. Kids four years old and up are welcome too, and there are private sessions available for disabled riders with particular needs. If you have a love of horses but can’t afford a permanent fixture; if you’re a Cardiff resident or just in town for the week, this is just the place to go for an up close and personal experience. Perfect for a first date, family outing or personal treat.
There are numerous centres like this dotted around the outskirts. If one or another doesn’t suit your needs, a little research is all it takes.
2. A Day at Chepstow Racecourse
A love of horses doesn’t necessarily mean a need to climb on the back of one! These tall, fast animals have many uses and many strengths, and nowhere is that better exemplified than from the stalls of a race course. Big event or small, there’s nothing quite like the thunder of charging hooves to wake you up in the morning. If you’re down for a day at the races and heading out from Cardiff, don’t worry! You won’t have to travel very far. One of Wales’ most popular venues, in reach of the city and other local areas, is Chepstow. Host of the country’s most prestigious race, the Coral Welsh Grand National, there are numerous other events and audience opportunities spread throughout the year, to boot. Placing bets and wagers at horse races is one of Cardiff’s most popular pastimes, even more so than the rest of Britain. If you’ve been to Chepstow once or twice, it’s not hard to understand why.
3. Warhorse on Stage, Better than Ever
The tie between man and horse has a long and messy history. Equestrian culture has been both noble and bloody, loving and harsh over the years. Warhorse, an award-winning stage place based on the book of the same name, is just one quick look at one short period of that time: the First World War. Playing at the Donald Gordon Theatre in Cardiff, audience members see battle through the eyes of a young man, a farm boy, whose horse is requisitioned by force. Moving, powerful and with impressive displays of mechanical puppetry, this is one show horse lovers should not miss – and now that it’s out of the West End and playing in the Welsh capital, it’s easier than ever to see.
4. Cefn Mably Farm Park for Humans Big and Small
Animal lovers come in all shapes, all sizes and all ages – if you’re looking for a way to indulge the family whilst on a trip to ride or a good environment in which to introduce kids to horses for the first time, Cefn Mably Farm Park is just the place for you. A combined farm and soft play area, there’s something here for people both little and large. Open daily from ten till five, their base in the countryside between Cardiff and Newport is easily accessible with a private car park for visitors. It could a birthday party, a Saturday trip or a half-term event. Whatever the occasion, pony rides and petting are available in spades.
5. Take to the Hills with Pony Trekking by St Brides
There are guided rides in safe environments and there are beginner’s sessions like the ones at Cardiff Riding School. If you’re looking for a wilder time with horses, however, there is another option. It might take you a little further out than the other activities on our list but it’s certainly worth the travel time if you’re interested. Pony trekking is exactly what it sounds like – a cross-country tour on your very own steed. The St Brides Major Riding & Trekking Centre will take you out, guide you through it and let the imagination run wild. For a long time, horses were one of the holiest forms of transport available to people other than their feet. Get a glimpse of the past and soaring views of the countryside, with multiple routes and timings available.
The Thursday Coffee Morning Ride is perfect for busy parents while the Champagne Trail is a strict eighteen and over-only event and The Teddy Bear Picnic Ride is perfect for kids. Whatever your style, whatever your interests, a love for horses goes a long way. So, get out and about, see Cardiff and its country in all its glory, and get up close and personal with the animals while you’re at it.