Back in the Saddle at Rock Creek
Park Home to 58 Horses
You’ve seen the monuments, the Capitol and the memorials. You’ve walked along the National Mall, visited the museums and ridden the Metro. Now why not get a different perspective of Washington, D.C., from atop a horse?
The Rock Creek Park Horse Center, located at 5100 Glover Rd. NW, is the District’s only full-service equestrian facility. The center is home to 58 horses and is open six days a week, offering trail rides, pony rides, boarding facilities, a summer day camp and both private and group lessons.
While horseback riding experience is not necessary, don’t think you can just saunter up to the barn and get on a horse at any time. Amber Power-Shickler, program manager at
the horse center, said she recommends that people call at least one week in advance to schedule trail rides. The hour-long rides cost $30 and are available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m.
Six people usually go out on each trail ride, two of those being a guide and a backup from the horse center. Those signed up for a ride are asked beforehand about their experience, if any, and then are paired with a horse. The horses that go out on trail rides most often are Chance, TJ, Ella, Ringo and Bennie Fluff. Each rider must wear a helmet and be at least 12 years old.
For children who might be too small to go on a trail ride, 15-minute pony rides are available on weekends by reservation for $20. The pony rides “give children under lesson age the thrill of riding,” according to the horse center brochure. While there is no age limit, pony riders must be at least 30 inches tall.
“Ponies tend to be more snippy and stubborn than horses,” Power-Shickler said, noting that sometimes children are put on smaller horses instead of ponies. “We have a range of sizes for a range of people.”
Riders generally follow a trail that goes along the creek. Power-Shickler said there are at least 25 miles of horse trails in Rock Creek Park. Those boarding horses at the horse center normally utilize the northern trails, some of which go all the way into Maryland.
If you have a horse or are thinking of buying a horse but need somewhere to board it, the horse center also has full-service box stall facilities available at $530 per month.
Private and group lessons are offered on weekdays, evenings and weekends for those 8 years old and up. Power-Shickler said those interested in group lessons should put themselves on the wait list as soon as possible.
The center has both indoor and outdoor riding rings, and the classes are organized by age and riding ability. New students must be evaluated before starting a class. Group lessons are $45 and private lessons are $80.
And with summer officially under way, children ages 8 to 14 can enroll in day camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. At $400 per one-week session, the campers learn to ride and care for horses, listen to lectures on safety and horsemanship, and participate in trail rides, picnics and games.