I admit up front—horseback riding is my favorite outdoor activity. I’ve loved horses since as a little girl, I took lessons and owned a Quarter horse. When my husband, John, and I took our family on vacations, we went horseback riding as often as possible.

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In recent months I’ve found a great place to ride without leaving the great state of Indiana!


Natural Valley Ranch in Brownsburg (6310 E County Road 350 N), is a laid-back ranch northwest of Indianapolis. My husband and I visited there this past Labor Day for a trail ride. The skies were cloudy and we thought it might rain during the morning ride. Instead, the clouds provided temperatures that were mid-70s and comfortable.

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Our guide, Kyla, was a local teen who had worked at the ranch for 5 years, first as a volunteer, then paid worker.

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I rode a Snowflake Appaloosa (a breed I had never heard of it but love it!) named Annie. John, my husband, rode a Quarter horse named Rapper. Having ridden horses throughout my life, I know well-trained horses when I see and ride them. Those were as well-trained as any I’ve had the pleasure to become acquainted with.


Our pace around the several acre ranch took us past  dozens of horses, some owned by the ranch and others there as boarders for other people.

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Kyla kept us to a steady walk but it was not boring as we entered and re-entered shady trails along the White Lick Creek and other parts of the ranch. Heavy recent rainfalls caused parts of the trail to be muddy. Our steeds plodded through with nary a complaint.

Kyla chatted companionably, talking about her own experiences with horses. She had begun volunteering at the ranch at age 12, then 3 years ago began working for Marie as trail guide. Last year, Kyla purchased her first horse, which she was riding that day. She had gotten him as a rescue horse, meaning he had been abused by a previous owner. Kyla has since provided him with loving care and attention. He looks well-fed as did all of the animals. She even taught him to barrel race for rodeos! We knew we were in the hands of a pro rider!

The hour went way too fast for my taste (I could have ridden all day!), but lunch plans awaited us. I will admit, I was thrilled with the 3-step platform they ask each customer to use when mounting and dismounting the horses. Knee problems would have made it an embarrassing challenge to perform these tasks without the steps.

By the end of the ride, we were relaxed and wishing we lived closer for more frequent visits (we live 2 hours away). I’m generous enough to recommend this place for birthday parties, girlfriend getaways, family reunions and other group events. I couldn't leave without showing my appreciation to Annie for a great ride with a kiss! I think she liked it!

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By the time we left Natural Valley, the barn yard was full of young families preparing to participate in the next ride of the day (they were held at 10a, 12p, 2p, 4p). I noticed happy looks on the little girls who waited for their horses to be saddled. It’s nice to know they will have horsey memories of their own someday, thanks to Natural Valley Ranch.