Saddle Up for Horseback Riding Adventures in Sarasota
Sarasota County may be known for its pristine beaches and cultural attractions, but it also offers an equally enchanting experience - horseback riding.
For those seeking a different perspective on this beautiful coastal region, exploring it on horseback is a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you're a seasoned rider exploring the trails, a novice fine-tuning your riding skills or just an equestrian enthusiast catching a polo match, Sarasota County offers equestrian experiences for riders and horse lovers alike.
So saddle up and immerse yourself in the beauty of this coastal paradise from a whole new perspective. Here, we'll guide you through the top places to go horseback riding in this picturesque part of Florida.
State & County Parks
Myakka River State Park
While not an equestrian operator per se, Myakka River State Park is a gem for horseback riding enthusiasts. The park boasts several miles of equestrian trails, allowing you to explore its breathtaking landscapes on horseback. The park's diverse terrain, from pine flatwoods to wetlands, provides a variety of experiences for riders. Riders can bring their own horses or arrange to ride with local equestrian groups.
Nearby, Myakka River Trail Rides offers horseback riding on its own private trails in Myakka City. Relax and enjoy the quiet, shaded trails on the property on top of a trusted trail horse. Groups will be taken by the guide in a large area with oak trees, wildlife, water and will travel through the grassy field to explore. This trail ride is a slow walk, so suitable for riders who have never been on a horse or rode just a few times.
Nature and horse lovers unite at the Carlton Reserve. Located in Venice, this Sarasota County park features miles of well-maintained, equestrian-friendly trails. Riders can explore the park's diverse habitats, including pine flatwoods and wetlands, all while enjoying the peaceful serenity that comes with horseback riding. As you ride along these trails, you'll likely encounter native wildlife such as deer, wild turkeys and a variety of bird species.
Deer Prairie Creek Preserve
Deer Prairie Creek Preserve North, a part of the larger Preserve, is a hidden gem for horseback riding in Sarasota County. Located near North Port, this preserve is a pristine natural area that offers a network of equestrian trails that may be shared with bikers, meandering through a mix of habitats. As you ride through the preserve, you'll have the opportunity to observe Florida's unique flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, bobcats, and a variety of bird species. The trails vary in difficulty, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels.
Walton Ranch Preserve
Offering a taste of unspoiled, natural Old Florida, this North Port preserve invites horseback riders to experience over 19 miles of primitive trails, marshes, pine flatwoods, hardwood hammocks and ranchland. The trails are great for birding and wildlife viewing, and be sure to keep an eye out for the cattle grazing nearby. Pack a lunch picnic and enjoy some bites and beverages at the picnic tables during your afternoon ride.
Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park
Located in North Port is a hidden gem for horseback riding enthusiasts seeking a serene and natural riding experience. Myakkahatchee features equestrian-friendly trails that wind through a variety of ecosystems, including pine flatwoods, freshwater marshes and oak hammocks. The park's proximity to the Creek provides a scenic backdrop for your ride, and you might even catch a glimpse of river otters, wading birds and other wildlife. While the park doesn't offer horse rentals, it's an excellent place to bring your own horse for a peaceful day of riding.
Equestrian Centers, Events & Lessons
Sarasota Polo Club
Not only a hub for thrilling polo matches and equestrian events, Sarasota Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch is also a premier destination for equine enthusiasts and riders of all levels. Renowned for its exciting polo matches, its season takes place from December to April. Spectators can enjoy the fast-paced and dynamic sport of polo while basking in the Florida sun. But for those eager to get in the saddle themselves, the Sarasota Polo Club offers polo lessons which include the use of a horse, tack, polo helmet, mallets and balls. Experienced instructors guide riders through the fundamentals of polo, from riding techniques to mallet swings. Even if you've never ridden a horse before, these lessons provide a fantastic introduction to the sport.
TerraNova Equestrian Center
For another premier equestrian facility in southwest Florida, head out east to horse country, aka Myakka City's TerraNova Equestrian Center. Featuring world-class competitions in a picturesque, family-fun setting, this is the place to pursue your passion for equestrian sports and start to build your dream estate and barn. Training and competition is available at every level and if you'd prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch, there is a calendar of hunter-jumper and dressage events that takes place from October to April.
Fox Lea Farm
Fox Lea Farm is a renowned equestrian center and horse show facility in Venice. While the Farm primarily hosts equestrian competitions and events, they also offer camper/RV space and reservations who’d like to stay on the beautiful show grounds and take advantage of being close to all the action, including the 40+ year-round equine events.
Local Tour Guides
Gulf Coast Ponies
For the more adventurous riders, consider an off-road, off-trail adventure with Gulf Coast Ponies! The scenic ride takes you off the beaten path into the hammocks and straight into Old Florida. Many of these areas have not been ventured into for many years. This ride is only available if conditions allow.
Additionally, you can book a campout with the company, which includes a ride on the day you arrive at the camp, a dinner cookout and then another ride the next day. There are many different locations available to camp at.
Epic Equine Experiences
This local tour operator not only takes travelers on hoof on beautifully guided trail rides, but also includes packed lunches or dinners with menus to choose from for that mid-ride meal. Experience Epic Equine’s premier Triangle Ranch, a privately owned conservation easement that features 3 1/2 miles of the breathtaking Myakka River and oak hammocks. Or, book a tour through the area parks mentioned, such as Myakka River State Park, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, Carlon Reserve and Big Slough Preserve.
For the state and county parks, please remember to check each of the park's regulations and be sure to bring your own horse as there are no rental services on-site. As a reminder, the state law requires all riders to carry proof of current negative Coggins results.