Where to ride horses in the Chicagoland area?

I used to be an avid rider back in the mists of time and at one point was even quite good. Sadly I’ve let that slip but I’d like to get back into doing it.

I was wondering if any Dopers know of good places to ride around the Chicagoland area (say within 50 miles of downtown Chicago)? Obviously I can just look this up but I have a requirement that I can’t find in a simple search. I’d like to find a place that lets you go out on your own and does not insist that you be accompanied by a guide. Most places I have looked at so far require that a guide accompany you. I prefer a nice, relaxing ride on my own or with a good friend without a third party or (worse in my view) a gaggle of other riders along for the ride. I have been to places that allow this in Arizona and Iowa but those are a little far to go. Although it has been awhile since I’ve ridden I am confident I can convince the owners I’m not a complete moron on a horse. I don’t want to race or jump…just a simple ride.

Hey whack-a-mole, you should ask on www.chronicleforums.com, it’s a very busy horse message board run by the Chronicle of the Horse (moderated, no pop-ups, kinda the SDMB of the horse world.) I know there is a large Chicago contingent. Post your question in the 'Off Course" forum.

However, I have to say, with liability being the way it is, I have my doubts that you will find anyplace that will allow you to go out unaccompanied. JMHO, and I might be wrong.

Whack-a-mole - call the Happy Trails Stables in Wauconda.


Yes, Happy Trails. Watch out, though. A few of the horses will stop dead at the point where running is allowed. The last time I went my partner was given an absolute snail of a horse. I would ride ahead then come back. My horse apparently thought that meant we were heading to the barns and kicked up quite a fuss about turning around again. Repeatedly.

Also ,there is a carousel at Navy Pier. The beasts are very well behaved and rarely bite.

My gf’s daughter rides at Freedom Woods and she confirms that Happy Trails is the only trail ride in the area. All the others have shut down in the last couple years due to skyrocketing insurance costs :frowning: