By Lurdes Abruscato
It’s a little-known secret, but common knowledge among equine pros … the state of Maryland vies Kentucky for great horse country. Equestrian centers around Baltimore offer an array of superb lessons, trails, boarding, rescue farms, breeding programs and more. Here’s just a sampling of facilities.

Photo Credit: City Ranch Facebook page

City Ranch Inc.

3818 Chatham Rd.
Baltimore, Md. 21215
(410) 456-2195
Hours: 3- 8 p.m., lessons April 1-Oct. 31

Price: youth multi-week lessons – $250, adults – $350; mini workshops – $65/rider; private lessons – $65/hr.; parties – $150/hr., 2-hr. min.

You don’t see this in the heart of most metropolises: a 60-ft. round riding pen used for lessons and horsemanship workshops. Although City Ranch’s site is temporary as it works out zoning for a permanent spot, its city location is intentional. After the Preakness and Pimlico, anything horse-related fades from memory for Baltimore’s city dwellers, says manager Ahesahmahk Dahn. Until now.

City Ranch aims to improve equestrian accessibility and affordability among its urban population. It partners with city schools, and hosts the usual array of birthday parties. In the future, the organization hopes to expand to therapeutic offerings, trail riding, and maybe even a city polo team.

Photo Credit: Graham Equestrian Center

The Graham Equestrian Center

10301 Harford Rd.
Glen Arm, Md. 21057
(410) 663-4445
Hours: Trails – dawn to dusk
Price: Boarding: $400/mo.; educational programs vary

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This non-profit is not your typical lessons barn: While it offers a variety of educational programs and competitive trail challenges, it does not offer lessons and visitors typically bring their own horses. Participants who just want to watch a program can audit for a smaller fee.

GEC is a private boarding facility, with 20 acres of fenced pasture, a 22-stall barn, lighted outdoor arena and a 60-ft. pen. Its major annual event, the Day of the Horse, is scheduled for Sept. 10, and features demonstrations, vendors, silent auctions and kids’ activities.

Photo Credit: Joe Klamar/Getty Images

Misty Manor Riding Stable

7621 Ridge Rd.
Marriottsville, Md. 21104
(410) 781-4810
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., later for groups
Price: trail riding – $25/person/hr.; lessons vary based on type; boarding starts at $200/mo.+

Under 30 minutes west of Baltimore, this stable has an array of equestrian options, including access to more than 8,000 acres of trails through Patapsco State Park, western and English lessons, summer camps, boarding, horse sales and leasing, and an on-site tack shop.

The stable has an active rescue program, and channels funds to charitable causes, including local seniors. In addition to catering to riders’ needs, Misty Manor touts its many horse-care components, including equine dentistry, farriers and hoof care, as well as equine massage and acupressure.

Photo Credit: Hawks Hollow Farm

Hawks Hollow Farm

7615 Bradshaw Rd.
Kingsville, Md. 21087
(443) 414-8199
(410) 592-3428
Hours: 8 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Price: Lessons vary according to type/instructor specialty, private – $50; classes start at $15; horse leasing and boarding varies

This full and field care boarding facility, located 30 minutes from Baltimore, offers year-round riding instruction in all disciplines (English, western, dressage, hunter/jumper), courtesy of an indoor arena. The center promotes the practice of “natural horsemanship,” has instructors certified by the American Riding Instructors Association and Certified Horsemen Association, and has access to Gunpowder State Park’s trails.

Along with an array of lessons, summer camps, birthday parties, workshops and classes, the farm staffs two registered therapeutic riding instructors who also are equestrian Special Olympics coaches.

(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Days End Farm Horse Rescue

1372 Woodbine Rd.
Woodbine, Md. 21797
(301) 854-5037
(410) 442-1564
Hours: Tours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Price: This 501(c) 3 non-profit relies on volunteer/charitable contributions

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Love horses but can’t imagine saddling up? Less than 45 minutes afield of Baltimore, this farm has become a nationally recognized rescue and rehabilitation facility housing 50-70 previously neglected or abused horses. Visitors are encouraged to become active participants in the lives of rescued animals as volunteers, through a horse training program, or with food/supplies/monetary donations.

Participants also can take part in “foster” programs, visiting the horse and providing hands-on care or as a “sponsor,” whereby you take the horse to your own facility for ongoing care. Full-fledged adoption programs are available for approved candidates.

Lurdes Abruscato is a local freelance writer. She lives with her family in a small community surrounded by horse farms.