One common misconception about London is that with it being such a vast sprawling metropolis, there’s little to no room for the quieter things in life.
Hyde Park Stables, which organises horse riding right in the centre of London, is proof that there is still plenty of scope for rural-based activities amongst the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s largest and most frantic cities.
The stables give adults and children the chance to ride a horse in a group or privately in London’s grand 350-acre Hyde Park throughout the year.
Horses and ponies are chosen for their safe temperament and cater for riders of all abilities, which means newcomers are welcome with no previous experience necessary. It is worth mentioning though that the more experience on horseback you have, the more freedom you will enjoy when riding.
Depending on their skill level, riders can choose between group horse riding, semi-private riding for couples and small groups or private one-to-one tuition.
The course around Hyde Park comprises five miles of bridleways, riding past the Serpentine lake, Speakers Corner, Marble Arch, the Albert Memorial, the Diana, Princess of Wales fountain and on to Rotten Row – the most famous equestrian venue in England.
There are also two outdoor riding arenas for more formal horse riding lessons, dressage and jumping for children.
Riders can book onto half-day camps, which consist of a lesson in the school, a ride in Hyde Park and a lecture addressing stable management and horse care at the stables.
Intensive courses can be arranged to cater for those who want to learn to ride a horse in a short space of time or to have a quick refresher course for a horse riding holiday.
Hyde Park Stables also caters for birthday and hen parties, with up to eight riding in any one hour and up to 16 rides on consecutive hours.
With all lessons and sessions, riding hats, boots and wet weather gear is provided free of charge, along with advice on appropriate clothing.
There are some stipulations before riders can head out on horseback though. They must weigh less than 13 stones (180 lb/80 kg) and the minimum age limit is four years. All rides must be accompanied too.
Although all reasonable precautions for your safety are taken, riders must accept that riding horses is a risk sport and you must inform Hyde Park Stables of any illness, previous injury or disability that may affect your riding ability. All rides must be paid for beforehand and there are no refunds for booked rides.
Many celebrities have enjoyed horse riding at Hyde Park Stables over the years, including Tom Selleck, Jackie Chan, Ray Liotta, Jodie Kidd, Griff Rhys-Jones, Dragon’s Den’s Deborah Meaden and British equestrian world champion and two-time European champion Lucinda Green MBE.
Bookings can be processed through the official Hyde Park Stables website or in person at their office at 63 Bathurst Mews (W2 2SB), which is located just a few hundred metres north of Hyde Park itself. The office is open between 7.30am and 6pm every day of the week.