A horse and rider can evoke images of the Old West, when cowboys ruled the range, and many people enjoy the idea of heading into open countryside on horseback. The Central Florida region, with Orlando at its hub, has plenty of locations where visitors can enjoy equestrian activities. These range from private dude ranches, which welcome guests, to public state parks and trails.
A number of Florida State Parks (floridastateparks.org) lie in the central region of the state, with some of these having trails that horseback riders can use. Examples of this include Lake Louisa State Park in Lake County. This park has approximately 16 miles of marked equestrian trails, plus a tent campground with a four-horse paddock. Horseback riders visiting the Wekiwa Springs State Park in Orange County can enjoy the 8-mile-long Tram Bed Horse Trail, which has been in existence for about 100 years.
Equestrian Trails and Greenways
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (dep.state.fl.us) has developed a network of trails and greenways across the state. These pass through, and connect together countryside areas, providing attractive routes for hikers and cyclists. Some of the trails also accommodate horseback riders. In the Central Florida area, this includes the 4-mile-long Cross Seminole Trail, which runs between Winter Springs and Oviedo. The West Orange Trail is approximately 19 miles long, with the route passing close to Orlando, Apopka and Winter Gardens.
For the person who does not own a horse, a ranch can provide the opportunity to experience the cowboy lifestyle and try some riding. Options include the Rock Springs Riding Ranch (rsrranch.com), located at Sorrento in Lake County. Visitors can experience some trail riding in the countryside around the ranch, with a riding orientation on arrival that matches each rider with a suitable mount. The Westgate River Ranch (wgriverranch.com) covers an area of about 1700 acres in Polk County. Guests can take horse riding lessons while there, as well as enjoy some riding on the ranch trails.
Other Horse Riding Facilities
Forever Florida (foreverflorida.com) owns a 4,700 acre conservation area close to St. Cloud, Osceola County, with visitors offered the opportunity to tour the area on horse riding safaris. Options available range from one-and-a-half-hour trail riding excursions, to two and three-day overnight safaris at the facilities campground. The Horse World Riding Stables (horseworldstables.com), located at Kissimmee in Osceola County, offers horse riding lessons for adults and children. The Stables also has guided trail riding for all skill levels, with options available for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders.
- Florida State Parks: Lake Louisa State Park
- Florida State Parks: Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Explore Florida's Greenways and Trails
- RSR Ranch: Rock Springs Riding Ranch
- WG River Ranch: Westgate RIver Ranch Overview
- Horse World Stables: Horse World Riding Stables
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