Get back in the saddle, take the reins, and celebrate the fun to be found on horseback, all over the state. Wisconsin’s parks and forests are full of fantastic trails. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, you can take your pick of horse shows, and get caught up in the excitement of the competition.
Guided Rides and Lessons
Don’t have your own horse, but would like to go for a ride? Here are a few fun options:
- In addition to their go-karts and bumper boats, Elmer’s Fun Park in St. Germain offers river trail rides on saddle horses.
- Grassy Creek Ranch Trail Rides in Boulder Junction begin with a warm-up and lesson, before heading out into the lush Northern Highland State Forest.
- At Chism Trail Ranch in Merrill, you can bring your own horse, rent a ranch horse for a lesson and guided ride, and camp out or stay in the ranch house.
- Canyon Creek Stables in Lake Delton will pack a lot into a one-hour trail ride, including a 200-foot tunnel, a waterfall, and Wild West-style ghost town.
Horseback Riding Trails
Have a horse? You both deserve a getaway – so get out there together and explore a new trail. Here are some choice Wisconsin trails for horseback riding:
- The Village of Caledonia has a unique network of equestrian trails through varied landscapes including woods and prairie, looked after by dedicated riders who came together to form the Caledonia Conservancy.
- Tranquil Minooka Park in Waukesha counts bridle trails among its attractions. If you’re driving there, note that there are vehicle fees: $5 on a weekend or holiday, and $3 on a weekday.
- The beautiful White River State Trail includes a two-mile stretch open to horses between Springfield and Lyons.
- Wild Rock Horse Trails wind through Clark County Forest, with options of easy or difficult terrain. It has a day use area, and 25 campsites for overnighting. Passes are available online.
- Taylor County Horse Camp features 12 miles of marked trails recently opened within Taylor County Forest lands.
- Both the Northern and Southern Units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest have miles of trails through amazing glacier-carved landscapes, and campgrounds where you and your horse can both get some Z’s after a day’s adventures.
If you’re heading out on State Trails, remember that you’ll need a State Trail Pass, and – if you bring your horse by trailer – a vehicle admission sticker. You can buy these when you get there, or in advance.
Wisconsin’s Horse Shows
From May to October each year, clubs and fairgrounds across the state host horse shows where you can watch riders and horses show off their skills, from barrel racing to dressage, known as “horse ballet.” The Wisconsin State Fair in August features classic 4-H competitions and more, while the Waukesha County Expo Center has one of the best horse complexes in the Midwest, with a busy calendar during show season. For a more theatrical experience, the Vegas-style spectacle of Delavan’s Dancing Horses Theater runs year round.