It’s the year of the horse, so there’s no better time to hop in the saddle and discover Kansai on four legs. Now giddy-up!
Winston Churchill once said “There is nothing better for the inside of a human than the outside of a horse,” and I agree!
From 11 years old, I started clocking up hours at the stables – mucking out, sweeping the yard and taking long rides in the woods. Sometimes I still crave the smell of manure and fresh woodchips, and the warmth of a furry neck, so I take a break from city life to interact with this intelligent, majestic creature.
Luckily in Kansai there are quite a few horse riding options, and there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s a one-off lesson you’re looking for or a new weekly hobby, from beginner level to competition stage.
Here are some of the best places to horse-ride in Kansai:
Harmony Farm (Awaji-Shi)
Awaji Island is a beautiful haven away from the bustling cities of Kobe and Osaka. The school here is for the more experienced rider as trekking is the most tempting highlight. You can choose from an array of breathtaking scenes for your trek, including flower fields, rolling hills, forests and the open ocean. There are also some exhilarating one-off adventures like a ‘sea swim’ or a ‘moonlit ride’, depending on the season.
Prices start at around ¥4,200 for non-members for a 30-minute lesson on a weekday, but expect to pay upwards of ¥10,000 for the more adventurous rides. The school can also provide transport from the highway bus stop, so what’s stopping you?
La Grace Golf Club and Horse Riding Club (Wakayama)
Stuck for ideas for your next big bash? Why not mix things up with a ridingthemed party? The club offers a BBQ and riding experience from around ¥3,500 per person. The focus here is definitely more on the party side of things, so horseaverse guests won’t be left in the cold. It’s a great option for children, who can be lead around the arena in view, while the grown-ups relax with a cold beer and a burger looking out over the luscious scenery. It’s a little difficult to get to if you don’t have a car, but well worth the trip if you do!
Crane Riding School (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hyogo and Shiga)
A large, professional horse riding organisation with riding schools all over Kansai, Crane offers numerous options for both adults and children, as well as ‘couple’ and ‘first lesson’ deals. Lessons start from around ¥3,500 for 30 minutes, and gift certificates are also available for that perfect present.
Ora Horse (Hanahakukinenkoen tsurumiryokuchi, Kyoto)
This riding school is über childfriendly. Not only does it offer beginner courses for children, there’s also an interaction opportunity for smaller children aged 4 and above. The school has an indoor and an outdoor ménage, plus shower and changing room facilities for riders to use. Prices start at around ¥700 for the interactive experience.