Horse Riding in Hampshire
The beautiful and varied Hampshire countryside has a lot to offer the keen horse-rider in the way of trails and picturesque locations to explore be it rolling hills and heaths, downland or forest. Find your own space in one of the many country parks with riding trails or follow some local cross country bridleways.
Manor Farm Country Park
Bordering the upper reaches of the River Hamble, Manor Farm Country Park has an extensive network of permissive riding routes travelling through picturesque riverside and woodland areas making for easy exploration of this rich and varied piece of Hampshire’s countryside. Riding is strictly by permit only. Annual riding permits are available from Manor Farm reception. Horse-box parking is available within the country park. Public amenities are located at the visitor centre, where there is also a restaurant.
tel 01489 787055.
South Downs Way
Labelled Britain’s Best Bridleway, starting in Winchester the South Downs Way travels 100 miles (161 kilometres) to Eastbourne, providing the perfect setting to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Each section of the South Downs Way has its own particular characteristics and chances for exploration. The Hampshire section is typified by hillside woods and mixed farming, look out for bluebells in spring and pheasants in autumn, it also passes through some of the county’s more quaint villages, particularly along the Meon Valley. Near Petersfield, the route links with the horse-riding trails at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
No permit is required for this route. Note that the path has temporarily been re-routed in two places through Hampshire, signage is in place. For information on horseriding in the South Downs and South Downs Way Long Distance Route.
Meon Valley Trail
This permissive bridleway, following the line of the old Meon Valley railway, crosses the county for approximately 11 miles (17.7 kilometres) from West Meon to Wickham. The majority of the trail is bordered by woodland however when the trees open out the views over rolling hills, river valleys and quaint villages are unreservedly spectacular. Furthermore, the trail is crossed by the South Downs Way and borders a section of the Forest of Bere giving perfect opportunity to extend your day out.
No permit is required for this route. The path is multi-use, frequented by walkers and cyclists so care should be taken at all times. Horse-box parking is available at Wickham. There is a height restriction at the West Meon car park.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Sitting within the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Queen Elizabeth Country Park is of great value for conservation. Designated for its landscape importance the area comprises dramatic downland and beautiful woodland, much of the country park is additionally designated for its conservation value to protect the wild orchids that thrive here and the wildlife supported in the woodland environment. Visit the country park, aptly described as a naturalist’s paradise, and enjoy the permissive riding trail (6 miles / 9.7 kilometres) which will take you through the forest before joining with the South Downs Way.
No permit is required. Horse-box parking is available within the country park.
This coastal stretch is the perfect place to go to get out into the countryside. Titchfield Haven is entirely undeveloped and a rich habitat for birds, particularly waders, and other wildlife, whilst the banks of the river support a striking variety of flowers making an attractive backdrop in season. With a network of permissive riding routes travelling through open farmland on one side of the valley and woodland on the other, there is plenty of opportunity for you and your mount to escape the city and enjoy a day in the countryside.
The riding routes are permit only. Contact Titchfield Haven for more information. There are two small car parks at Thatchers Copse and in Hook Lane.
Forest of Bere
West Walk as the largest remaining fragment of the former Forest of Bere is an important woodland area for Hampshire. Create a link with history as you ride through the old royal hunting forest, now a haven of peace for the visitor and wildlife. There are a total of 7 miles (11.5 kilometres) of bridleway in the forest to enjoy. Further riding can be found at Creech Woods, a much smaller remnant of the Forest of Bere, which has 3 miles (4.7 kilometres) of off-road permissive riding. The bridleways in Havant Thicket, also a part of the ancient Forest of Bere, link to other local paths giving a variety and choice of circular routes with a total of around 6 miles (10 kilometres) to cover.
Riding is by permit only, contact the South East England Forest District on 01420 23666 for further information. Car parks at West walk, Woodend and Upperford Copse.
Alice Holt Woodland Park
Explore the unique character of Alice Holt on horse-back and escape into some of Hampshire’s fine countryside. Canter along beautiful trails through the tranquil oak wood, home to many woodpeckers.
Riding is by permit only, contact the South East England Forest District on 01420 23666 for further information. The visitor information centre has car parking and public amenities. Further information at Alice Holt Woodland Park.
Itchen Valley Country Park
Located on the banks of the River Itchen, the county park boasts a rich variety of landscape ranging from wetland through woodland to hay meadow. Which supports an equally rich variety of wildlife including foxes, badgers and roe deer.
Riding is by permit only. Contact Itchen Valley Country Park for further information. Car parking is available within the Park and there are public amenities at the Visitor Centre.
The Ox Drove Way
This 25 mile (40 km) circular route, with the opportunity for shortcuts, provides a good introduction to the rich and varied Hampshire countryside as it travels through downland and woodland in the east of the county.
No permit is required for this route.Horse-box parking is available at Abbotstone Down and Itchen Wood.
Horseriding on roads advice
- Be aware of the Highway Code
- Avoid main or busy roads
- Remain in control of your horse keeping rein contact
- Look behind regularly and look and listen for hazards which may alarm the horse
- Wear high visibility clothing / fluorescent and reflective ankle bands and stirrup lights. This will increase your chance of being seen by at least 30 metres.
- Give drivers consideration as many drivers may not understand a horse rider’s perspective on road use
- Never ride more than two abreast on roads and single file where the road narrows or near bends
- Slow down when you see a horse and rider and give them plenty of room, and never sound your horn or rev your engine near horses.
- Horses are large, powerful animals and a collision with one could cause considerable risk to the motor vehicle and its occupants, as well as to the horse and rider.
- Watch out for horses being led or ridden on the road, taking extra care at left-hand bends and on narrow country roads.