What are the best horse riding tours in the New Forest that focus on local ecology?

11 June 2024

If you're an equine enthusiast with a keen interest in ecology, you'll find a wealth of unforgettable experiences in the New Forest. This unique region boasts a wealth of verdant woodlands, picturesque parklands, and a wealth of wildlife. The national park's expansive network of bridleways offers a host of opportunities for adventurous horse riding tours that offer more than just a simple ride through the forest. In this article, we'll explore some of the best horseback tours in the New Forest, where the aim is not only to have a fantastic riding experience but also to learn about and interact with the local ecology.

##1. New Forest Safari Horseback Tours

One of the best ways to discover the rich wildlife of the New Forest is through a safari horseback tour. These tours blend the thrill of a safari with the tranquility of a horse ride, allowing you to get up close and personal with the park's diverse fauna in a way that's respectful and non-intrusive.

These tours usually last a full day and cost about 150 USD, and include a knowledgeable tour guide who will provide information about the various species you encounter. You'll be riding through various habitats, including heathlands, wetlands, and ancient woodlands, and might find species like roe deer, badgers, and the famous New Forest ponies.

##2. Beach Riding Tours with an Ecological Focus

For a truly unique experience, consider a beach riding tour. This tour takes you from the depths of the New Forest to the nearby beaches, offering a diverse range of landscapes to explore on horseback.

Beyond the thrill of galloping along the sand and surf, these tours incorporate elements of marine ecology, with guides explaining the importance of coastal ecosystems, the creatures found there, and the impact of human activities on these areas. Such a tour typically lasts half a day and is priced around 90 USD.

##3. Night-time Wildlife Spotting Rides

Experiencing the New Forest after hours is a thrilling experience that should not be missed. Night-time wildlife spotting rides take you on a nocturnal journey through the forest, under the guidance of experienced ecologists and horse riders.

These tours allow riders to witness a completely different side of the park, with the possibility of spotting nocturnal creatures like owls, bats, and foxes. The guides will also discuss the adaptations that allow these creatures to thrive in the dark. The price for such a nocturnal adventure starts at 75 USD.

##4. Tours Focusing on the New Forest Ponies

The New Forest wouldn't be the same without its iconic ponies, and several riding tours focus specifically on these beautiful creatures. On these tours, you'll learn about the ponies' important role in the ecology of the forest, their history, and the conservation efforts to protect them.

In addition to riding, these tours often include a visit to local stables or farms where the ponies are bred and cared for. Such a tour lasts half a day and costs around 80 USD.

##5. Personalised Ecological Riding Experiences

For a more personalised experience, consider booking a private tour. These can be tailored to your specific interests, whether that’s birdwatching, plant identification, or learning about the forest's historical and cultural heritage.

Private tours offer a flexible itinerary and the undivided attention of your guide, allowing you to delve into the ecological aspects that interest you most. The cost for a private tour usually starts at 200 USD a day, depending on the specifics of your chosen experience.

Whether you're a seasoned rider or a beginner, a nature lover or a thrill-seeker, the New Forest offers a host of horse riding tours that cater to a wide range of interests and abilities. So why not saddle up and embark on an unforgettable journey through one of the UK's most beautiful and ecologically diverse regions?

##6. Horse Safari in the Heart of the Forest National Park

There is arguably no better way to experience the New Forest National Park than a horse safari. This tour harmonizes the classic elements of a safari with the tranquility of horseback riding, allowing you to explore the park's fauna in a respectful and non-intrusive manner.

The horse safari begins with a gentle ride through the picturesque woodlands, gradually making its way to the heart of the park. The tour guide, a seasoned ecologist, will be your companion throughout the journey, providing detailed insights into the local wildlife, plant species, and the fascinating history of the park.

The highlight of the safari is the encounter with the renowned New Forest ponies. You'll get to learn about their intriguing social behaviors, their importance in the park's ecosystem, and the ongoing efforts to conserve these beautiful creatures.

The tour concludes with a leisurely ride back to the starting point, as you savor the mesmerizing sunset over the woodland. The horse safari can be tailored to fit your interest and riding skills and typically costs 150 EUR. The tour lasts approximately four hours, providing you with an unforgettable experience of the New Forest National Park.

##7. Scenery Focused Horseback Riding

For those seeking a serene, scenery-focused horseback riding experience in the New Forest, this is the tour for you. The route meanders through a variety of landscapes, offering breathtaking views of verdant woodlands, open heathlands, and tranquil water bodies, providing ample opportunity to appreciate the park's scenic splendor.

Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide with a profound understanding of the local ecology, you will learn about the diverse plant and animal species that inhabit the park. The guide will share valuable insights into how the park's environment shapes the behavior of the wildlife, and how various conservation measures are being implemented to protect this unique ecosystem.

This horseback tour, priced at 120 GBP, offers a slower pace allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the park and its inhabitants. This is more than just a horse ride; it's an enriching journey through one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse regions in the UK.


The New Forest offers a host of exceptional horse riding tours, each designed to provide a unique, immersive experience of the park’s rich ecology. Whether you are drawn by the allure of a wildlife-focused horse safari or the tranquil beauty of a scenery focused horseback ride, the New Forest National Park promises an unforgettable experience.

With experienced guides, a wide array of fauna and flora to explore, and the opportunity to learn about and contribute to conservation efforts, these tours offer more than just a ride through the forest. They offer a chance to connect with nature in a profound way, to understand the delicate balance of ecosystems, and to appreciate the natural world in all its beauty and complexity.

So, whether you're a seasoned rider or a beginner, there's a perfect horse riding experience waiting for you in the New Forest. Book your tour today and prepare to discover the wonders of one of the UK's most cherished national parks.

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