Horseback Riding with Malibu Riders: A Fun and Unique Date Idea

Updated on Jun 12, 2023

I recently had a friend visiting from out of town who wanted to go horseback riding in the LA area.  I had never ridden a horse before, but I was willing to give it a try. Well, I am glad I did, because it was an awesome experience and I had a blast!  Here’s some info on what it involves and how to make the most of your horseback riding experience!

Where to Go

The two areas that we looked at for horseback riding were Griffith Park and Malibu.  Both areas have lots of trails to choose from and a variety of price ranges. I live on the West Side, so I picked Malibu Riders. Their online reviews are absolutely stellar and the prices are reasonable.

If you are interested in horseback riding in Griffith Park, especially on a date, check out Good Pony, which offers sunset rides.

Making Reservations

Check the Malibu Riders website for available times. Rides range from one to two hours in length. We chose a one-hour ride and thought that was a great length. One and a half hours would be good too, but I think two hours is a bit too long.

Prices range from $100 to $200, but check their website for the most up-to-date prices.

Malibu Riders has a variety of trails to choose from, including Malibu Creek, Paramount Ranch, and Zuma. We chose the Paramount Ranch trail.

What to Bring

The day we went was very hot.  If you want, you can bring a baseball cap and wear it under your riding helmet (which itself doesn’t provide much shade).  Sunscreen is also a good idea.

You should wear long pants (jeans are a good choice), and closed-toed shoes (sneakers are fine).

Getting to the Paramount Ranch Trail

From Santa Monica, we drove up Pacific Coast Highway and made a right on Malibu Canyon Road, then left on Mulholland Hwy.  Make a right on Cornell, then a left at the sign for Paramount Ranch.

If you are coming from the Valley, their website provides directions.

They recommend arriving 45 minutes early, but we got there way early.  At first, we were a bit baffled, as there seemed to be no stables nearby and no building for Malibu Riders in the area; just a dirt parking lot.  I asked the park ranger and found out that they would show up with a truck with all of the horses.  Sure enough, a truck arrived with the horses!

Malibu Riders truck
Malibu Riders truck

So, just be aware that you won’t be meeting at a stable.  It is a mobile operation.

Riding a Horse for the First Time

Our guide was named Ashley. It took some time to saddle up the horses, but by the top of the hour, we were ready to go, right on schedule.

There were six riders, half of which had lots of riding experience, and half with none like me.  Ashley explained how to turn the horses and stop, and before long we were on our way!

Riding a horse
Riding on the trail was very relaxed and easy

For the most part, the horses “drive” themselves, simply following the trail and the horse in front of them.  So, don’t fret if you’ve never ridden a horse before! It’s easy! Occasionally, you have to pull the reigns up when they wander off to eat some grass, but overall, riding was very easy and fun!  I would describe it as a cross between riding a slow motorcycle and walking a big dog (I used to have a Golden Retriever).  I really enjoyed the experience!

My friend, who is an experienced horse rider, remarked that the horses were in good condition and that this was a quality operation.

The Trail

We went on the Paramount Ranch trail, which, at the time, went through the old Western movie sets used in lots of movies and TV shows (for example, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”).  Later on, we explored the set on foot. Unfortunately, these sets burned down in the last major Malibu fires.

Paramount Ranch
Paramount Ranch

However, the other Malibu trails are plenty scenic and offer great views!

We followed the trail up some gentle hills.  There was some tree cover, but much of the trail was out in the open.

We went in the summer, so much of the grass was brown or yellow. It probably would be ideal to go after the “rainy” season (if there is such a thing in Southern California) when there is a lot more greenery.  But even in summer, the trail was nice. My friend said the trail was one of the best horseback riding trails she’d been on.

Paramount Ranch Trail
Paramount Ranch Trail

At one point in the ride, Ashley stopped all of the horses and took photos of all of the riders with their cameras, which was cool.  So, you’ll be able to get that selfie!

At the end, the horses drank some water, then we got off.  Ashley had cold bottled water for everyone, which was a very welcome touch!

What to Do Afterward

The Malibu Riders website recommends The Old Place as a nearby fantastic restaurant.  Had I known about it, I would have gone there.  Next to The Old Place is a winery called Cornell Winery.  Both of these places seem like a great way to end a ride.

Another option is the amazing Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch, but that requires reservations.  I’ll be writing about this place in the future, but here’s a photo:

Malibu Cafe
Malibu Cafe

In our case, we drove back down to PCH, made a right, and had friend clams at Neptune’s Net, a biker hangout about ten miles up the coast.  It was so good!

The Down Low

Having never been on a horse before, I really enjoyed the experience!  It was not difficult at all. My friend, who is an accomplished rider, really enjoyed the ride and the trail as well.  Our guide, Ashley was really friendly and professional.  I would highly recommend horseback riding and Malibu Riders in Agoura Hills as a great date idea for both experienced and novice riders!

What was your horseback riding experience like?  Please leave a comment below! – Brian

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Susan Turpen
Susan Turpen
8 years ago

Can I bring my own horses to ride?

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