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We all know that the Chipping Norton set like to be seen on their huge horses strutting across the Cotswolds, but what about the rest of us and where can you go if you can’t call on a celeb to borrow their hunter?

The Cotswolds boasts a very strong horse riding culture, with miles and miles of public bridleways and an extensive range of equestrian disciplines to partake in. With acres of stunning countryside to explore, you could say that horse riding is a way of life for many people living in this area; you’ll certainly see plenty of riders out and about during any visit, so what about giving it a go? You don’t have to be an accomplished rider to get the best out of the Cotswolds and there are plenty of places where you can jump on a horse, even if you are a novice you can simply enjoy the landscape and outdoors on horseback, or more serious riders can attend one of the many events held each year.

There are many hidden gems within this area that can only be reached and viewed when on horseback, and winter is a wonderful time to discover them. The best way to enjoy a horse ride in the Cotswolds is to visit one of the many riding schools; here are our favourites:

South Cerney Riding School

Situated in the village of Cerney Wick, about half way between Swindon and Cirencester, and towards the southern side of the Cotswolds this popular riding school offers many facilities, including stabling, tack room and a school for beginners. With horses that are suitable for all ages and standards, you can learn at your own pace whilst taking in the glorious countryside, take part in hacks, or participate in gymkhana games and picnic rides. The countryside here is very open and relatively flat, but it is very rural!

Cotswolds Water Park

Some country parks seem to hibernate in the winter, with little activity and not much to offer visitors. Cotswolds Water Park is different, combining 150 lakes of differing sizes built on wetlands, there is always wildlife to spot, a new place to explore, sporting events to take part in and much more. As for horse riding, what better way track around the park using the designated bridle paths and lanes? And there are also riding stables nearby that offer tuition, livery and help with disabled riders.

Cotswolds Riding

Situated in the pretty village of Stanton, (located near Broadway and in the northern Cotswolds) this riding school owns over 50 horses and ponies that are suitable for the beginner or the experienced rider. You can have private lessons or join a group, and hacks will take you all over the hills in this area on the miles and miles of bridle ways that stay off the main roads. There are also cross-country challenges, which include jumps, and the more civilised ‘pub rides’ where you can enjoy a spot of lunch.

Cotswold Trail Riding Ongers Farm

This family run riding stables is based just outside the village of Brookthorpe in Gloucestershire and caters for all ages and riding abilities. There are organised hacks through pastures and over the wonderful Cotswolds countryside, taking in the stunning scenery of the Severn Vale. Ongers Farm also offers lessons, hacks that last from between one hour to all day, seven days a week, designated pub rides and even birthday parties.

Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre

The villages of Bourton on the Water and Upper and Lower Slaughter provide the picturesque backdrop for this friendly establishment. Here you’ll get expert advice and tuition and a great range of well-tempered horses for everyone. A registered member of the Pony Club, there are many events and activities especially designed for children. And the popular ‘tourist hacks’ and ‘hen parties’ are ideal for those who have never even been on a horse before.

Self-Catering Cotswold Cottages

Planning a horse-riding holiday in the Cotswolds? Manor Cottages are a locally based, family business who specialise in Holiday Cottages and Self Catering Accommodation across the Cotswold area. With over 270 holiday properties, we are the largest supplier across the region and generated over 30,000 visitors to the Cotswolds in 2013.

For more information, contact us by calling 01993 824 252. You can view our full range of properties in the Cotswolds by browsing our website.