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Horseback riding with La Finca NJ was an incredible experience and one we highly recommend. Homeschoolers, Scouts, and Families will love the 40+ acre farm and the trail ride through the property.
Like many children, my daughter, Emily, has been obsessed with horses since she was little. I don’t know what started this passion. Maybe the pony ride at the Middletown Grange Fair. Or maybe the draft horse rides at the Philadelphia Zoo. Either way, she has asked to go horseback riding regularly since she was about 2.
A few years ago, we found out about a 1-week horseback riding day camp a few towns over. Emily & her friend attended the camp together. What we didn’t know ahead of time was that the camp focused on show riding. English saddles and staying in certain positions while riding around an outdoor arena. Unfortunately, a lot of time was also spent being led on the horse. The kids weren’t given the opportunity to ride on their own, even in the arena. It wasn’t the type of program we had expected, and while I was disappointed, my then 10-year-old had a great time, and that’s what was important.
Fast forward to last spring, and my Girl Scout troop wanted to go horseback riding. Most of the girls had never been on horseback, so we went back to the farm where my daughter had attended day camp since it was local.
I had hoped, since all of the girls were about 13, that they would have been allowed to do some arena riding without being led around. Again, most of the riding time included someone guiding the horses and the girls weren’t really riding the way I had hoped.
For the cost, it wasn’t worth it. I felt like we had paid $50 per person for a glorified pony ride. The girls seemed okay with it, but I could tell they were disappointed (especially my daughter).
We left that evening knowing that we needed a better experience and I went in search of trail rides in our region where I could take my daughter out on the horses with a small group and a guide. The plan was to find somewhere we could actually ride the horses on our own.
Trail Riding in NJ
Even though I’m in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where we have lots of farmland, I was unable to find any horseback trail rides in our area. There are plenty of farms that offer horseback riding lessons, but those seem to focus on English saddle and show riding. Nope, we had already had that experience and wanted something more.
Upon looking across the bridge into New Jersey, we found La Finca NJ at Silver Bit & Spur Farm in Whitehouse Station.
After a few quick Facebook messages back and forth, Emily & I were booked to go on an hour-long trail ride around their 40+ acre farm for mid-May.
La Finca NJ at Silver Bit & Spur Farm
Emily & I had such an amazing time as Ray, the owner, took us on our trail ride. Emily got to ride Chica, and was in full control of her horse the entire time. Ray first took us into a small outdoor arena where we could get familiar with our horses. Chica and Emily hit it off immediately, as did Diamond and I. The horses were gentle, and very comfortable having even inexperienced riders on their backs.
The trail ride took us around the 40+ acre farm in the Sourland Mountain region of NJ. We saw a wide variety of plant life and so many deer! Even the babies were visible and seemed fascinated by us and unafraid. Our favorite part of the ride was getting to the stream, allowing the horses to take a break, and then walking them through the water and back onto the trail.
This was the horseback riding experience we had both desperately wanted.
In fact, we had such a wonderful time that two weeks ago we brought a group of Girl Scouts with us for a autumn trail ride. Beautiful foliage, gentle horses, incredible staff, and the rain held off! It made for the perfect Saturday morning.
We are looking forward to going back, and we already have a date on the calendar to go back to La Finca with Scouts BSA in April. We are also following them on Instagram, and hoping to attend one of their upcoming events.
Tips for Your Visit to La Finca NJ
- Schedule your trail ride in advance. La Finca is open daily and offers private trail rides, but you can not just show up expecting them to accommodate you.
- Keep your group small. Ray and Jen told me they can typically accommodate about 8 riders on the trail. If you have a larger group attending, plan on breaking the group up.
- Bring enough cash to cover the cost of your trail ride (as of October 2023 – $60 per person). Tips are welcome.
- Dress for the weather. We found it was a bit cooler in the woods on our trail ride than it was even at our car by the stables.
- If you are under 18 you must wear a helmet. Over 18 it is optional. If you are going to wear a helmet, style your hair so that the helmet will fit properly.
- You are on a working farm so expect dirt, dust, and dung. Closed-toe shoes are a must and watch your step.
- Horses have their own minds. It’s not like driving a car. They can sense if you are nervous or anxious. Just try to relax and have a great time on the trail!
When you schedule your trail ride, let Ray & Jen know we said hi and sent you their way. We hope you have an amazing time.