7 horsey days out in Suffolk
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Before the summer holidays draw to a close, why not get up close and personal with some four-legged friends thanks to a number of horse-based activities available across the region?
Whether you’re looking for some fast-paced horse-trotting action, or a more subdued day out in a field, there’s plenty on offer for the whole family this season.
National Horse Racing Museum, Newmarket
Located in the birthplace of horseracing, Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum is set across five acres and will teach you everything you need to know about the iconic sport.
Visitors can glance at stunning works of horse-based art, contemporary sculptures, and find out all there is to know about equine science thanks to a number of interactive and audiovisual displays. The history of the sport is covered across a range of exhibits, with some of the pastime’s most iconic figures on display - including the skeleton of 18th century thoroughbred racehorse Pot8os.
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You can also meet former racehorses in the stables, and find out how they’re retrained as riding horses thanks to the knowledgeable staff who will walk and talk you through their routine. In terms of refreshments, visitors can stop off at either The Tack Room restaurant, or the bakery located in King’s Yard.
The museum is open 10am until 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, and also on bank holiday Mondays. Tickets are £15 for adults, and children under-16 go for free.
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Valley Farm Equestrian Centre, Wickham Market
This Suffolk equestrian centre is set across 82 acres of picturesque meadows and woodlands, and offers visitors a number of fun, horse-based activities.
Take it slow as you make your way through one of the site’s trails on horseback, or alternatively why not take a class at the centre’s riding school. A variety of sports and disciplines are taught - including sidesaddle, vaulting, horseball, Western riding, polo, dressage, and even stable management.
Stop for a quick bite to eat at The Camargue Café which overlooks the water meadows, and is home to a wide variety of local wildlife including owls, herons, egrets, swans, and geese.
Visitors can also extend their stay by staying overnight in the centre’s holiday lodge, campsite or caravan site.
Bentley Riding School, Ipswich
Founded in 1987 by former International Rider and member of the British Showjumping Team Mannie Beaven, Bentley Riding School offers a number of days out and activities for horse enthusiasts of all ages.
Every Saturday morning and afternoon, under-12s can hop on the saddle and take part in Pony Club. At £40 per person, your youngster can learn how to ride horses through lessons tailored to their ability, alongside stable management, and finding out how to care for equines.
On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, little ones can enjoy pony rides and have a go at grooming thanks to the school’s Tiny Tots riding club.
For any grown-ups who wish to have a go, there are half an hour and one-hour private lessons and group lessons which start from £30.
The Suffolk Punch Trust, Hollesley
If you wish to learn more about the county’s equine pride and joy, then The Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley is your one-stop-shop.
Visitors are encouraged to wander the site freely, while tractor trailer rides are available between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, and a guided foot tour takes place at 2.30pm. There are plenty of photo opportunities, and the site’s experienced tour guides will be on hand to answer all of your Punch-related questions.
Entry is free to the on-site heritage museum, and kids can also enjoy the brand-new outdoor play area. Head to the on-site café, which serves a range of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, all-day breakfasts, cakes, scones and more.
The trust is open six days a week until September 13, and is closed every Tuesday for cleaning. The visitor centre is open between 10am and 5pm. First entry to the farm is 10.30am, and last entry is 3pm.
Jimmy’s Farm, Ipswich
Home to a wide variety of animal breeds, Jimmy’s Farm has a number of donkeys and a pony that you can get up close and personal to this summer.
For £45 per person, you can help the farm’s keepers groom Lily, Peggy and Indie the horses, and Jazz the Shetland pony. A maximum of four people are permitted per half an hour slot, and you must be aged eight and over to take part in this horse and donkey experience.
Pakefield Riding School
If you’ve ever wanted to feel the wind in your hair while on horseback, then head to the north Suffolk coast.
Pakefield Riding School offers a number of equine courses and sessions, including its popular beach rides. Available for all abilities, you and your horse can walk, trot and canter along the sandy stretches of beach all-year round. Sessions are £40 for one hour, or £65 for an hour and a half.
Alternatively, the school also offers children’s pony parties, rides for those who are disabled, and private lessons in lunge, dressage, and stable management.
Bardwell Manor Equestrian Centre, Bardwell
Situated just outside of Bury St Edmunds, this horseriding centre offers lessons for all ages and abilities. Run by husband-and-wife duo Karl and Sharon Dawson, they have 25 horses and ponies to choose from, and two full-time qualified instructors on hand to show you the ropes.
There is an indoor training school on-site, so lessons can take place in all weathers, as well as an outdoor horse ménage, and a grass jumping paddock.