“ Springhill Farm, Selattyn,Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 7NZ. Tel:01691 718406 „
My girlfriend has always been keen on pony trekking, but her usual stables had closed down a while ago so she had not been in ages. Keen to get back on a horse, she found Springhill Riding Stables near Llangollen in North Wales which looked ideal.
The website is extremely helpful and gives plenty of information about the services that they offer. The stables cater for people who've never been on a horse before so it seemed an ideal way to introduce my two nieces, who are 13 and 9 to the joys of horse riding.
We booked a one hour introductory pony trekking session for £20 each (guess who had to pay?). There are longer sessions of two hours, and four hours which includes a pub lunch where you tie your horses up outside before going in to eat (sounds very 'Western-like' to me!).
The first challenge is finding the place. Upon booking, we were advised that under no circumstances should we trust a sat-nav! Comprehensive directions were given on the website, so it was back to 20th Century technology (map and route) to get there. With the directions followed carefully, we did manage to find the stables without trouble.
The final couple of miles are up a single track very steep road with few passing places, so nervous drivers should find someone else to do the driving.
The stables are located in the Ceiriog valley in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains and the scenery can only be described as breathtaking. The view from the stables looks across the valley towards a distant forest, with the Berwyn hills as a backdrop. As soon as we arrived, we knew that we'd chosen a great place to ride.
Upon arrival, we were met by some of the many staff at the stables, who showed us where to get our hats and boots, which are provided for riders if they don't have their own.
During the wait to get started, we were entertained by a couple of friendly cats and a loveable, attention seeking bulldog, so the kids had no chance to get bored.
We were then introduced to one of the horses whilst the owner of the stables showed us how to get on and off the horse and how to get it to move (at this point my 9 year old niece Lucy was looking a bit apprehensive, the horse towered over her).
We then moved into the stables where we were assigned horses. There is a large selection, so the stable staff can pick one to suit each rider. Lucy was the last to mount, and was relieved to be introduced to Casper, a gorgeous, sweet natured little pony. With a little help, she was on the horse and taking to it like a duck to water.
We moved out as a party, with two of the stable staff; one at the front, the other bringing up the rear and holding a rope tied to Casper, to ensure that Lucy was safe.
We proceeded at a very gentle pace from the stables, along country lanes and bridleways. The remoteness of the location ensured that there was no traffic and very few other people about.
The staff were extremely experienced and this showed when a dog startled Lucy's pony; with professional care, we were guided past the big dog without any fuss or incident.
Lucy's pony was a bit restless after that so one of the girls dismounted and led Casper and Lucy on foot for the rest of the ride.
The views were all that we could have hoped for with the lovely autumn sunshine beating down on the woods and fields of the scenic Ceiriog Valley. It was really relaxing walking along on horseback, in such natural surroundings, as humans had done for thousands of years.
After the full hour, although it seemed much quicker, our circular route ended up back at Springhill Farm Stables. The final challenge was to get off the horses, which everyone managed, before saying goodbye to the horses.
A quick check before driving home of everyone's opinion showed that our trek had been extremely popular and that everyone wanted to come again.
The whole Springhill Farm Stables experience was a complete pleasure. The lovely setting, gorgeous horses and really friendly, helpful, professional staff made even the complete beginners feel totally at ease.
For the next visit, we will probably pick the two hour trek which will take us further into the valley and up into the mountains.
Anyone interested in visiting can whet their appetite by viewing the excellent website at www.atspringhill.co.uk/. All of the different treks are described along with their prices. The stables also run trekking holidays through the Berwyn Mountains, too.
There are many photos showing the lovely scenery that visitors will ride through as well as the names and pictures of all the horses that you can ride (look out for Lucy's horse Casper).
I can heartily recommend Springhill Riding Stables for anyone interested in pony trekking in North Wales. It was a 70 mile round trip for us, but we all agreed that we will go again as soon as the weather warms up.