Knowing I would have a free day in London on a recent work trip, I decided I wanted to ride in Hyde Park – the birthplace, one could say, of recreational horseback riding, and a beautiful way to view London’s largest Royal Park!
There are a surprising number of options for riding in or near London, which gives tribute to the strong British love of horses. While researching, I even found opportunities for riding around Windsor Castle, an hour away – but seeing as this was the day of the Royal Wedding, I knew Windsor was out. I also had work commitments in the afternoon and so even though some other parks also offer riding, I needed to be able to walk or take the tube back to my hotel easily after the activity. So, after reading reviews I settled on Ross Nye Stables, as they were well priced, offered private rides, and allowed canters/trots once they evaluated your skill level.
I emailed Ross Nye Stables and the appointment was quickly set up. I was originally booked for 11am, and later was able to change it to 9am, which I enjoyed as the park was a lot quieter in the morning (and it was also unseasonably warm that morning), so I would encourage you to try to ride as early as possible as most of the other park participants are only joggers, other riders, or Queen’s Cavalry! The later you go in the day, the more foot traffic there will be, so it’s lovely to have a very quiet time in the park before the rest of the world really wakes up.
As I was on a business trip with limited suitcase space, I appreciated that Ross Nye had a large selection of boots and helmets for me to borrow. I brought my own breeches and half-chaps (and was glad I did.)
I woke up early that day and had time to walk through Hyde Park from my hotel (about 30 minutes) but if not, Paddington Tube Station is very close, as well as Lancaster Gate station. If you’ve never been to London, and you want to look up walking directions, always use Ross Nye as the location – if you ask your hotel how far away is Hyde Park and they tell you 15 minutes, they could mean the South end of the park, while Ross Nye is at the North end, and it could be another 2 miles to get to the stables!
I used my GPS on the phone although I did end up walking in a bit of a circle, but I was able to find the stables after a few minutes. It’s incredible to go down an alley and all of a sudden there are stables right in the middle of a city! You walk past an open door and a horse just appears. The Ross Nye Stables are right next to Hyde Park Stables, so if you’re slightly lost and see “Hyde Park Stables”, stay in the same mews (alley) or just ask them where Ross Nye is – my initial mistake was walking past the sign for Hyde Park Stables and not just going deeper into the alley to look.
Before arriving, I had emailed the stables as requested with my weight, height, and riding experience. They did ask me my riding experience again when I arrived, although perhaps this was to make conversation. I was paired with a staff member called Helena. My horse was a marvelous Irish Cobb called Justin, with a big ugly lovely face (you know the kind I mean!)
After adjusting my stirrups, we set off. The stables are right outside of Hyde Park, so you do have to walk in traffic for a few minutes to cross into the park. This was a new experience for me, being alongside taxis and double-decker buses! The horses didn’t even twitch, and the cars didn’t seem surprised at all. If you’re a beginner or inexperienced, it’s likely that they would put your horse on a lead for this (and possibly keep you on a lead the whole time – if you’re a complete beginner, they are not going to let you start yanking the horse every which way – this is a quality establishment that wants to do what’s safest for their horses and riders.)
Within a few minutes we had entered the massive Hyde Park. The park is crisscrossed with sandy horse trails (I believe over 5 miles of trails!) – if you weren’t a rider, you wouldn’t realize what they are, but once you see them it’s amazing the amount of horse trails throughout the park. We saw several other riders out that morning – equestrianism is alive and well in England!
Please bear in mind this isn’t a hands-on lesson although perhaps they would give you feedback if you asked them to, and Helena was kind enough to give me some tips to relax after our first canter.
A few times we passed horsemen of the Royal Household exercising their horses, which was a thrill! And during regular times (not during the Royal Wedding!) there is an outdoor arena that you can see the Royal Cavalry doing their military exercises.
We crisscrossed the park on the little sand trails – passing the Serpentine Lake, the Diana Memorial Fountain, and Speaker’s Corner, as well as famous Rotton Row where London’s elite use to ride to be seen in their carriages and fine mounts. We had a lovely canter here! Our horses were steady, calm, yet still forward and very engaged and responsive to aids.
After an hour we headed back to the stables, where I paid for my ride, and returned to my hotel, very pleased with my experience and very happy that I had invested the time and money to find a great riding facility in London. I’d love to return and do it again!
If You Go:
Ross Nye Stables
8, Bathurst Mews
London, England W2 2SB
Phone number: 0207 262 3791
Where to go horse riding in London: Ross Nye Stables review and photography by Trip Curator Anna Harrison. You can find more of her work on Instagram @travelobservations. This post on horseback riding in Hyde Park in Central London was not sponsored or endorsed by Ross Nye Stables. All photos belong to the writer.