If you’ve never been horseback riding you should go.
If you’re ever in Indiana, you should go horseback riding at Schooner Valley Riding Stables.
A short hour and a half drive Southwest of Indianapolis in Nashville, IN, Schooner Valley Stables is an absolute gem. A far cry from the staunch, void-of-personality experiences that most other riding businesses provide, the guides of Schooner Valley Stables are fun, engaging and happy to accommodate guests.
Expect a laid back approach from the minute you pull into the charming driveway leading back behind the house to a makeshift parking lot that affords you a view of the barn – and of course, the horses. Chestnut, bay, black, pinto, gray and everything in between, the personalities of these magnificent creatures are just as varied as their coats. The guides will pair horses with people based on the riders experience and confidence and the horses temperament and personality.
Suitable for someone who has never been on a horse all the way up to experienced riders, Schooner Valley Stables provides something I have not seen at other stables across the country: two different rides are available based on skill level. The beginner is just what it sounds like – first time riders or for those who haven’t been on a horse in a while, this ride builds your confidence with walking and trotting. The advanced ride will give you an opportunity to canter – something you don’t see at most stables. Almost every other riding stable you go to will offer the nose-to-tail experience with slow, easy walking. It’s fun and a nice way to take in the scenery but not in any way a challenge (for you or the horse) and it gets tiresome quickly. Schooner Valley Guides take an assessment of the group to see how everyone is feeling about their abilities – assuming everyone is feeling confident there are several sections that the horse will trot – think of it as a jog for the horse. If you booked a run ride or you’re in a small group and feeling confident, you’ll get a chance to let the horse canter – a flat out run which is an experience you’re not soon to forget.
It’s the staff that particularly sets itself head and shoulders above other establishments. Luke, the owner and operator, is a warm, hands-on kind of guy with a personality who has never met a stranger. At 6’7″ you can’t miss him and he’s more than happy to share information about his horses and how the stable stays running in a smooth fashion. Guides Anna and Brian along with volunteer Panda are shining in their own right; they may not be from Texas but they’re certainly cowboys (and girls) in their own right. It’s easy to see how passionate they are about the horses and riding and they are more than happy to share their wealth of knowledge with those who are interested. Expect to feel like part of the family from the moment you introduce yourself.
What started out as a scheduled 11am-noon trail ride turned into an all day adventure that I never could have dreamed of. Over three hours worth of riding interspersed with hands-0n stable experience – removing horseshoes, spreading hay, putting away saddles, oiling stirrups and, of course, scooping poop. I’ve never felt so welcomed by strangers in my entire life.
Next time you’re in Indiana and itching for an experience you can’t get anywhere else, schedule a ride at Schooner Valley Riding Stables. I promise you’ll make some unforgettable memories.