Western riding in the New Forest

A delightful Saturday afternoon riding western-style around the New Forest, spotting wild ponies and pretending to be in Brokeback Mountain. Tally ho!


Meet Lily, the lovely piebald who was my steed last weekend. She and I went exploring the New Forest with Burley Villa’s Western riding school, and got on well very together.

Burley Villa is nestled right in the middle of the stunning New Forest, which is one of my favourite places ever, so things were off to a very good start. It’s very cute, too, complete with a mini ranch house and corral decorated with stetsons and US flags.

After hauling myself up into my super-comfy western saddle we set off on our trek, meandering along quiet forest tracks and past rolling open grasslands in the sunshine. Lily and her friends were very chilled out and the pace was gentle – this ride would be perfect if you’re more of a beginner. I normally gallop about like a crazed being on my horse at home, but it was lovely to amble along and take in the surroundings.

We followed a dappled forest path and headed back to the ranch, riding past the heath’s resident wild ponies and donkeys. I’m pretty sure I’m John Wayne now.

Activity Superstore offers a half day western horse ride with lunch for two, £139, which includes a trek and a chicken-and-steak barebeque. Yum!


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