The Adelaide Hills has a passionate horse community and offers a variety of horse activities suitable for a range of ages and experiences, from riding schools of the highest calibre to pony rides and parties. Horse enthusiasts will tell you the best way to discover the region is in the saddle! Feel the clean country air on your face and enjoy the sounds and smells of nature – all at a pace slow enough to fully appreciate the pristine and diverse landscapes.
Four Oaks Farm at Littlehampton specialises in lessons for children and adult beginner riders. Horse care and management is also taught, with trail rides and parties available. Four Oaks offers a complete farm experience with programs for pre-schoolers and ‘Ponies Love Parties’ program where party guests enjoy pony rides, pony carriage rides, hand-feeding animals and other rides on fire engines and ‘old-school’ merry-go-rounds. Four Oaks Farm has become the first accredited member of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) which is the leading international non-profit association for professionals using equine therapy (horse therapy) to address mental health and human development needs.
Templewood Horse Riding Centre at Inglewood in the northern Adelaide Hills specialises in lessons for beginners and nervous riders. Operations are led by Trish and Michael Kalleske who have run Templewood for nearly 50 years and are accredited National Coaches. In addition to riding lessons they offer pleasure rides, saddle club and a program for tiny tots.
Megan Jones Riding School at Kirby Park Stud in Hahndorf specialises in competition coaching through to children and beginners with riding instructors led by South Australian Olympic Silver Medallist, Megan Jones. There are also school holiday programs and weekend saddle club, trail rides, birthday parties, corporate team building and horsemanship programs for children.
Academy of Dressage at Mount George near Bridgewater specialises in classical and modern dressage with International Riding Masters Barrie and Sarita Stratton. Barrie is an ‘A’ Level (Olympic) dressage judge. Also on offer are trick horse training and working equitation, which involves a range of activities including dressage movements and obstacle tests.
Step back in time and travel in style in a horse-drawn carriage - Classic Carriage Drives, located in Montacute, regularly offers rides through the picturesque Adelaide Hills and is also available for off-site hire.
For pony and other farm activities targeted at children see Family Fun.
Trail rides through their large and picturesque properties are offered by Megan Jones Riding School in Hahndorf, Templewood Horse Riding Centre in Inglewood and Four Oaks Farm in Littlehampton.
The Kidman Trail is a multi-use horse riding, cycling and walking trail that traverses 225 kilometres of roadsides, quiet farm routes, forest tracks and unmade road reserves from Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula to Kapunda in the Clare Valley. It winds its way through the Adelaide Hills from Kuitpo Forest in the south through Echunga, Macclesfield, Balhannah, Woodside, Charleston and Mount Torrens where it meets the Barossa. The Kidman Trail provides a sustainable, safe and scenic trail that highlights the natural beauty, cultural history and major points of interest along the Mount Lofty Ranges. It utilises existing tracks and trails through Forest Reserves and other accessible public land, quiet roads and unmade road reserves with trail markers indicating the route. The trail is proudly named after Sir Sidney Kidman, a prominent local pastoralist and horse breeder.
The Tom Roberts Horse Trail Network is designed for horse riding and is also utilised by walkers and cyclists. This natural terrain multi-use trail network broadly spans from Cherry Gardens in the north, to Kangarilla in the south and Woodcroft in the west. Established through on-road linkages, road verges and unmade road reserves the network of trails features Adelaide Hills locations such as Cherry Gardens, Coromandel East, Clarendon, Scott Creek and Kangarilla.
The 17-kilometre Amy Gillett Pathway is designed for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. The bitumen track follows an old railway corridor running from Oakbank to Mount Torrens. Named in honour of champion Australian cyclist Amy Gillett the track is mostly flat, with four loop trails taking in other points of interest.
Belair National Park features a series of shared use trails that are used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders including the Tom Roberts Trail.
The Adelaide Trail Horse Riders Club regularly run trail riding events in the Adelaide Hills including 'come and try' events.
Oakbank Week at Oakbank Racing Club is the world's largest picnic racing carnival, attracting more than 60,000 people during the Easter period. As a picnic race meeting, racegoers are able to bring their own food and drinks onto the course (at no cost) and enjoy a picnic by their car at various locations around the course. Alternatively, racegoers may choose to enjoy the numerous facilities that are available throughout the course.
The Community of Macclesfield in the southern Adelaide Hills holds the Macclesfield Picnic and Horse Show on the first Sunday of January. Competitors come from far and wide to participate in multiple disciplines of equestrian. The event which has been running for well over a hundred years features Hacks, Harness, Novelties, Show Jumping, Hunters and Hurdles, Kids Corral, and Local Rider Events.
The Horses in Action event is held in conjunction with the annual Mount Barker District Royal Show each March and features Hacks and Galloways, Andalusians, Side Saddle, Encouragement, Open Led, and Novelties. Country shows are always a great way to get a taste of country life and you can find a list of them here.
Other events are run by Equestrian South Australia, Adelaide Polo Club in Woodside and Adelaide Polocrosse Club in Lobethal.
The Adelaide Polo Club is located in the Adelaide Hills and is one of Australia's leading and most competitive polo clubs. Established in 1879, the club was originally located in the centre of Adelaide at the Old Victoria Park racecourse but is now based at Woodside among rolling hills and big gums.
Horse SA is a good source of information.