Discover Park Lane Stables in Teddington

Apr 9, 2014 by

Have you ever fancied treating yourself or your kids to a horse-ride, but been too nervous or afraid of the costs? If so, we have a great suggestion for you to try out this spring!

Park Lane Stables is a family run horse riding school in Teddington that offers affordable and commitment-free riding lessons for kids and adults in the lovely setting of Bushy Park.

Far from being daunting, intimidating or cliquey, Park Lane have set out intentionally to be “the friendliest stables in London”. They welcome everyone from complete beginners to experienced riders and even children as young as 2 can enjoy a beginner’s ride.

Last November my toddler and I decided to take them up on it and had a go at a beginner’s lesson together. Here’s what we experienced…
 


 

Beginner’s horse ride with Park Lane Stables

a Twickermum review

 
I have to confess that I felt some trepidation when I arrived for my first ever riding lesson. There’s nothing like being 41 and realising that you’re even more of a novice than your animal-mad 2-year old, who’s at least had the odd ride on a Shetland pony.

We were booked in for a 30-minute trial lesson on a Saturday afternoon, which involves a small group being led on a gentle horseback walk around Bushy Park. When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was the friendly and bustling atmosphere as we signed in and got fitted with riding hats and fluorescent gilets.

The instructors took great care to ensure that my son was secure and comfy on his horse. He was given a lovely dappled boy called Teddy (who was 14.2 hands, for those of you who understand such things). Next I was shown how to mount my own horse – a beautiful, tall, white, Russian boy called Prodney.

Once we were all settled on our horses, and had worked out how to sit, we began a gentle walk towards Bushy Park. Each horse was led by one of the young guides from the Pony Club, who kept a constant eye on both horse and rider, offering hints on riding posture where needed. Meanwhile the class instructor walked alongside the group, looking after anyone who needed help.

As soon as we set off to the park in single file, my son had a brief wibble because he’d lost sight of me, but he cheered up once he turned around and realised that I was sitting on the horse directly behind him. He was also kept happy throughout the ride by the friendly handler who made a continuous effort to chat to him and engage his interest.

Upon entering the park, our first activity was to learn how to use the reins to guide the horses left and right, by weaving in and out of a row of trees. During this exercise we had a moment of minor drama when a rogue firework went off unexpectedly close to the park and my horse went a bit skittery. But the handler immediately calmed him and we were back on an even footing within seconds.

Once we’d all become used to the walking pace, the instructor suggested a short burst of trotting. This was WAY bouncier than I imagined and I have to confess that the ground began to look ever so far away. But it turns out it’s all about relaxing and my handler gave me helpful tips on how to flex my legs in time with the bouncing.

Meanwhile, my toddler was also trotting along on his horse in front of me. Being the youngest in the group, I noticed that he was now flanked on either side by a pair of handlers and the lead instructor was also keeping pace alongside, with everyone ready to revert Teddy to a walking pace at the first sign from my son. (As it turned out he managed a few yards of trotting before wailing like a banshee and reverting to walking.)

The rest of the half-hour went ever so quickly. We did a small circuit of the park, with occasional switches between trotting and walking, to get us all used to the pace. When we arrived back at the stable, my son and I had a brief moment to pose together on my horse before saying goodbye.

Our verdict?

We had really good fun and my son talked about his riding experience for days afterwards. It was amazing how much more confident I felt at the end of the half-hour than at the beginning and think the same was true for him, too.

What really impressed me about the stable was how kind, attentive and friendly the staff were with beginners and small children. There was never a moment of concern that my son was unsafe, afraid or not being looked after. Neither did they make me feel like an idiot when I was being an extreme wet flannel on my own horse!

I can definitely see us booking this again as a seasonal treat and I’ve heard likewise from other local mums, whose kids loved the experience and now badger them to do it again a few times a year. For those who find themselves bitten by the riding bug, you can progress over time to riding without a handler and enjoy hour-long rides, group hacks and even full pony club membership. See below for some ideas.

 


 

What’s on offer at Park Lane Stables?

 

  • Trial riding lessons & 30-minute lead-outs (for complete beginners)
    These 30-minute lessons are suitable for all ages and have a maximum group size of 8. You’ll learn how to mount the horse and enjoy a gentle walk in Bushy Park. Each horse is led on foot by an experienced handler and beginners are given 1-1 attention throughout.
    Price: from £15 for a 30-minute escorted lesson
     
  • Hour-long lead-out lessons (for beginners)
    These are for beginners who’d like a longer ride but still need the reassurance of help from the ground. Once again your horse will be led by a competent handler under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
    Price: from £40 for an hour-long escorted lesson
     
  • Hour-long group lessons (for varied levels)
    These group lessons are ideal to progress to if you’ve ridden enough times to be confident without an individual handler. Each group is still accompanied by an instructor and the lesson is suitable for everyone from relative beginners to more advanced riders.
    Price: from £30 for an hour-long group lesson
     
  • Seasonal hacks and organised rides (for varied levels)
    These group rides are accompanied by an instructor and suitable for beginners or experienced riders. Regular hacks take place in Bushy Park and there are river rides and pub rides in the summer and Boxing Day rides in winter.
    Price: from £40 for an hour-long hack.
     
  • Special offers
    The stable’s website lists regular discounts for block bookings, mid-week rides and special half-term offers. Park Lane Stables is also a member of the TLC Family organisation that runs special offers for local children and families. These range from a 10% discount to occasional promotions such as ‘ride for a tenner’.
     
  • Seasonal events
    Special fun activities are organised throughout the year. Some upcoming examples this holiday include an Easter Bonnet Parade on 17th April and an Easter Egg Hunt on 20th April. These are open to all with no experience necessary, but do book ahead to secure a place.
     
  • Kids’ parties and other special occasions
    For a party with a difference, children can meet and groom the horses before enjoying a birthday ride in Bushy Park and a party room with cake & food. Or you can arrange for a special pony ‘guest’ to attend your next children’s birthday party

    The stables can also be hired for other occasions and you can book special occasion hacks for events such as hen and stag parties. Just call for a chat, to discuss your ideas.
     

  • Gift Vouchers
    Vouchers can be purchased for anything from £5 upwards, with no expiration date.
     
  • Pony Club
    Serious enthusiasts under the age of 21 can join the Pony Club. Here children can learn about horses and pony care as well as improving their riding and working towards a variety of badges and achievements.
     
  • Riding in Hampton
    Lessons are now also available in the arena at Old Farm in Hampton. This is an opportunity for everyone to improve their riding and even learn new skills. Pony Club sessions are also running from Hampton as well as Teddington. (Old Farm is situated in Oak Avenue, Hampton, TW12 3QD)
     

Find out more:

 

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