Have you taken your kids in a pony ride yet? One of my fondest memories as a very little child was riding ponies at Bay Beach in Green Bay. I always loved riding the ponies and I realized recently that my kids have never ridden a horse or a pony. That’s why I decided to look for places for pony rides in Los Angeles and also pony rides in Long Beach.
Although we chose to visit a Long Beach location, the idea actually came to us after we visited Griffith Park. My kids went to Griffith Park to ride on the trains and while they were there, they spotted pony rides too. Although Griffith is definitely an option, there are so many other choices. There are a lot of options for horse and pony rides in Los Angeles and our surrounding areas, so I thought it would be helpful to put together a resource for parents in LA who want their kids to experience a pony ride.
What is a Pony?
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a horse and a pony is? I’ve always wondered and when i asked the girl handlers at the pony place they didn’t know. So if you’re curious, this is the difference. There are a few different factors that differentiate ponies from horses. But the biggest differentiator is height.
All horses are known as equines and they are measured in units called hands. One hand is approximately 4 inches, which is the average width of a human’s hand. A pony must be under 14.2 hands (approximately 4 feet, 10 inches) whereas horses will be above 14.2 hands. Did you know that a horse and a pony could even come from the same parents? It really comes down to height.
Places for Pony Rides in Los Angeles
As I mentioned above, Griffith Park is a place a lot of people go for pony rides. I haven’t personally been there, so I can’t speak to the experience. However, there is so many fun things to do at Griffith, including the train rides and the observatory, so it wouldn’t hurt to go and check it out.
Another option if you’re in the south bay is to check out Palos Verdes Stables. They offer riding lessons, both English and Western, different children’s programs in the summer, and other riding and boarding facilities all year. If you’re near Sun Valley, there is a place called Reptacular Ranch that offers ranch tours, a petting zoo, pony rides, and more. They also offer birthday party options. Farm Friends offers a mobile petting zoo and pony ride option, which is perfect for birthday parties or special events.
Places for Pony Rides in Long Beach
We visited the Lakewood Equestrian Center. I definitely would recommend this location because they offer both trail ride and short circle ride options. If you do want to try Lakewood Equestrian Center trail rides, just note that you do need a reservation in advance. Just like Griffith park, Lakewood also offers a petting zoo. When I was looking for more options in Long Beach, I found Rancho Rio Riding Club, which also is associated with the Lakewood Center location. I can see why Lakewood is a great option. It was so fun to be out on the trail and also to see all of the gorgeous horses at the facility. We saw an Arabian who they said was being saddle trained that week. It was really beautiful to see all the horses.
What to Expect
Depending on where you go, the type of pony ride might be different. At some places, the ponies simply walk in a circle. For example, the place we visited, there was the option to do the standard pony ride, which included around 10 walks in a circle. The price point was quite low, only $7. This seems like a great option for very little kids. I think a toddler would be thrilled simply with this short ride. They still get to be on a pony and up close to the animal, which is a great introductory option.
The option we chose is definitely better for older kids. There was an 80-pound weight limit for the ponies, so make sure you check that before you visit. I know the ponies at Griffith go up to a 110-pound weight limit, for example. But the reason I loved the experience we chose is that my kids had about 15 minutes up close and personal with their ponies where they got to groom them and brush them. Then, then had about a 25-minute trail ride. The handlers led the horses the entire time, so my kids were always very safe. I loved the trail riding option because we were able to walk alongside the kids as they rode the horses. It was so fun to watch their excitement and get to experience the ride with them, in a way.
What to Bring on Pony Rides for Kids
You don’t need any special equipment to ride ponies. At least at the location we attended, they did not require helmets because the handlers were with the horses the entire time. They held onto their reigns so my kids were never without constant adult supervision. Also, their saddles had seat belts so they were strapped in. I would suggest you consider having your child wear pants and sneakers (or cowboy boots) simply to keep the dust and dirt and horsehair away from their skin. My kids wore shorts and it was totally fine. I just made them bathe when we got home. The only thing I wish I had brought was water and sunscreen. It was quite warm on the trail as we were walking.
If you’re looking for other stories about things to do in Los Angeles, click here. Or if you have a broader interest in California or travel stories, click those links! If you’ve found a place for pony rides in Los Angeles that you think I should add to this list, please leave me a comment!