San Luis Obispo is in the heart of California’s idyllic countryside. Soft rolling hills and a foggy ceiling make this stretch of the central coast feel calm and serene. Every time I drive through SLO, I daydream of riding a horse along those pastoral hills. That’s why I was so excited to do just that at the iconic Madonna Inn! Here is why you should add horseback riding at the Madonna Inn to your California bucket list.
Madonna Inn Trail Rides
Just two and a half hours from Fresno, horseback riding at the Madonna Inn is the perfect day trip for Central Californians. Staying at the boutique hotel could easily turn this day trip into a fun weekend getaway. As day guests, this was still the perfect city escape and a welcome breath from the Central Valley heat.
We checked in for our ride at the main reservation counter and then drove through the picketed driveway to the stable. Our guide Chanel greeted us, went over the waivers, and then introduced us to our horses that were already tacked and waiting. When it came time for the main event, Chanel hand-selected a horse for each rider based on height and experience. My husband did not have a lot of confidence around horses. However, this experience put him completely at ease. His flea-bitten grey mare, Wrangler, hardly needed any guidance making this his favorite horseback riding experience to date.
Our ride was everything that I pictured it to be and more. The central coast sky set the mood as we wound our way up the rolling, golden hills. As we climbed higher we could see other horses dotting the pastures, and we got an incredible view of the Madonna Inn as well as the rest of the Madonna property.
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Madonna Inn Trailride FAQs
Nope! The Madonna Inn provides an expert guide who will help you with everything, be that mounting and dismounting, adjusting stirrups, or helping your horse catch up to the group if they snack a little too much on the trail. Plus, all of the horses are incredibly gentle and accustomed to this routine ride.
Jeans and closed-toe shoes are a must. My husband brought a full-frame camera with a neck strap and I found it easy to bring my phone in my front pocket for pictures. We left everything else in the car safely on the Madonna Inn property. Lastly, don’t forget a tip for your guide!
Every trail horse at the Madonna Inn is treated like family and they are all sound and well taken care of. In their off time, the horses have a large pasture on an adjacent hill. The Madonna family also breeds quarter horses so the care for these creatures runs in the family-owned business.
For even more footage you can preview the full trail ride on my Instagram highlights! And if you’ve been horseback riding at the Madonna Inn, I’d love to know which horse you rode. I posted mine there too!
For this post, I partnered with Madonna Inn Trail Rides for a discounted experience. However, you can count on me to be a good steward of this opportunity. All thoughts and opinions are completely honest and completely my own.