Dig in deep and revive that Saddle Club phase. Whether you're hiding a few Gymkhana medals under your belt or don't know your stirrup from your saddle, there's a horse riding institute to suit any level of experience in Brisbane and its surrounds. You can get friends together and try your luck at riding into a sunset, or go solo like the man from Snowy River — all you need is a pair of jodhpurs, some RMs, and maybe a Telfast or two.
One of Australia's most beautiful strips of surf and sand, Rainbow Beach is as pristine a place as any to saddle up and go for a ride. Andrew and Kirsty McCarthy run Rainbow Beach Horse Rides, one of those picturesque little ventures that seems like never-ending fun and the dream of small businesses. With a team of certified trail guides and some of the prettiest and quietest horses this side of the equator, Rainbow Beach Horse Rides is the perfect little adventure for when you've got a free, hot summer's day.
If there's one thing better than a nice relaxing trail ride, it's a nice relaxing trail ride that involves a stopover at a pub or winery. Slickers Horse Riding at Ocean View (45 minutes drive from Brisbane) offers a variety of different day trips and activities on horseback, such as pub and winery tours, farm stays, moonlight rides and birthday parties. The pub ride kicks off at 10am, with riders travelling down the mountainside to the Crown Hotel for a couple of drinks and big pub meal. The winery ride stops of at Ocean View Estates Winery for a tasting of some great local wines and a cheese board. Good luck staying in the saddle after your third or fourth glass.
The phrase 'cowboy up' refers to that point in time where things are feeling a little tough, and all you can do is dust yourself off and keep trying. And that's what Cowboy Up Trail Riding is all about: a relaxing ride to give you the chance to 'cowboy up' for the rest of your day, week or month. Situated about 20 minutes outside Crows Nest (or a two-hour drive from Brisbane), this trail riding club offers docile horses, comfortable western saddles and the chance to ride through rollings hills that lay ground to magnificent views of mountains and farmlands. Chances are you'll also see a wallaby, deer or native bird or two. If you're looking to up your horse riding game, Cowboy Up also offer cattle musters, office parties, whip cracking lessons and a monthly moonlight ride.
Okay, so you might have to dig deep into your pockets for this one (around $100 per person) but we can give you some solid assurance that it's worth every buck. Horse Riding Queensland are the kingpins of our state horse riding scene — we assume there is a scene — which means they've got sound expertise and know-how to set up the perfect environment for beginners. Situated in Alberton, only a half an hour drive from Brisbane, Horse Riding Queensland is close enough to the city to be a convenient half-day trip, but also shows off beautiful paddocks and Australian bushland without a main road in sight.
If you're looking for a great combo of rainforest and beachside trail riding, then Mary Valley Adventure Trails can deliver. As a minimum, $120 gets you a half-day ride (around three hours) — but if you're after something more serious, they've also got full day and multi-day rides on offer. You'll get to ride through the beautiful Gold Coast hinterland and witness spectacular views all from up in the saddle. If you're looking to stay a little longer in the area, they can happily recommend accommodation. Added bonus: they also offer trail rides for children and sell gift vouchers if you're stuck for a Chrissy gift.
Good luck up there in the saddle, and remember: be a Lisa, not Veronica.