This post is in partnership with Nookside Stables. All opinions are my own. You can read my full Disclosure Policy here. Thank you to the Nookside Stables for hosting my family!
My family lives in Lancaster County and we are big-time animal lovers, so I was like YEEHAW when Nookside Stables reached out to me about a partnership. In fact, my first reaction was, ‘How have we not done this yet?’ Nookside is located in Manheim, PA, inside of Lancaster County.
They offer a variety of activities for kids and families. Read on to see what we did during our visit and be sure to get all the way to the end for a giveaway!
Nookside Stables primarily offers 2 options: Horseback Riding Adventures and Pony Ride Adventures. My kids are 8 and 11, and the Horseback Rides are reserved for those over the age of 10, so we went with the Pony Ride Adventure so we could all participate. I’m actually really glad we did this because it was more of a family experience for us – I got to ride, too!
You’ll want to reserve your day and time, or your saddle, as they call it, on the website. There is no payment due at the time of reservation. Just are just holding your spot so they can plan for your visit.
For the pony ride, we all got in a wagon at the check-in area and were pulled on a tractor ride up to the area where the horses are. And actually there are horses everywhere! This is a pretty sprawling area of pastures and there are animals everywhere you look which made my kids VERY happy!
Once we arrived at the barn, our guide prepared our horse. Here she is with my daughter! The horse’s name is Lisa and she was so sweet. I love that the kids really got to interact with the animals. I don’t know about your kids, but mine want to basically make friends with all furry creatures we meet, so I appreciated the hands-on time that they were allowed during our visit.
Once the horse was ready, we all got into the wagon and were taken on a lovely wagon ride! This was a pretty long ride, which was great. Sometimes these things end up being really short and disappointing, but this was a great length, and the path we went on was perfect for our horse. She was really booking it at one point which we all enjoyed. Giddyup, girly!
After the wagon ride we returned to the barn near the entrance where you check in and the kids met Symphony. She’s a pony and she is so beautiful! Our guide talked with the kids about how they care for her and showed them how to brush her. She also showed them how to clean her hooves. None of the horses at Nookside have horseshoes on their feet. They’re all ‘barefoot’ since they don’t have to walk or stand on pavement.
That kind of leads into the thing I truly loved the most about Nookside: All of these horses were previously owned and had other jobs. Lisa, the one that gave us our wagon ride, had been a plow horse owned by an Amish farmer. Some of them had been race horses that got minor injuries that prevented them from continuing. It’s like a retirement home for horses! I think that is so neat, that these older animals still have purpose but generally have a really relaxed, happy life. They have tons of room to roam, and you can see they are very well cared for and loved.
After we cleaned up Symphony, the kids each got to go for a ride around the ring with her. The guide led them, of course, but this was a really neat ride. Again, it was just the right length, but the best part was that they actually did a few little obstacles, like move in and out of cones, and walk over logs. It was done slowly so it was totally safe but it added an element of interest for the kids versus other rides we’ve tried where they are literally circling the perimeter of the ring over and over again.
Here’s one of the obstacles in the ring, and our awesome guide Brenna leading my son around.
My daughter even got a turn to ride the pony! I thought she was too old at age 11, but they allowed her to ride anyway. I’m not a very well-informed horse person (though I love them and think they’re beautiful!) so I didn’t realize this, but a pony and a horse are the same thing. They’re just called one or the other based on their height.
During our ride around the grounds, we passed the pasture where the miniature donkeys and sheep were grazing, so of course we had to go back to see them! Apparently the mini donkeys weren’t doing a very good job keeping the grass ‘mowed’ so they had to bring in the sheep. ha! I love that story! Talking with our guide was so educational (she’s in school for equestrian studies) and really fun. I like that we had the same person with us the entire time to share more info about the animals and Nookside in general.
This little sweetie was looking for a treat! The animals at Nookside are so friendly and CUTE!
We were given a few treats to share with these guys so the kids drew quite a crowd! They actually came to the fence to visit even without food. I think they are just loving animals that like the attention. And we were happy to oblige!
If all that cuteness isn’t enough, be sure to look in the barn for the kittens. Some of these are rescues from other farms too. (I mean, can I just live here?!) How sweet is this face? The kids picked them right up and babied them. I almost had to drag them out of the barn to go home. That little face is hard to walk away from.
When your experience is over, you can come back up to the Hayloft, which is the same place you check in, and get your ‘We Survived Nookside’ picture. We all signed the wall, too! Look for ‘@SeeMomClick loves Nookside!’ when you go!
This was such a fun experience for us. We went on a Saturday morning and it was HOT. I would definitely recommend trying for a morning ride. I think the animals are more energetic and alert then (insider tip from our guide!) and weekdays will be less busy, too. We would definitely do this again, and I’d kind of like to go back with just my daughter to do the Horseback Riding Adventure. It’s just such a fun place to have this experience and interact with the horses!
The generous folks at Nookside Stables are sponsoring a fun giveaway for See Mom Click readers! One of you will win 2 Horseback Riding Adventure tickets! These must be used on a weekday in the 2017 season. This giveaway is open to US residents (and please make sure you’re within driving distance of Nookside Stables so you can use your prize) ages 18+, and it will end at 11:59pm ET on August 9, 2017.