If you are looking for a fun and unique outing, then saddle up and head to Natural Valley Ranch in Brownsburg! Whether you are a novice or experienced equestrian, there is something for everyone at this family-owned and operated ranch, and you don’t have to venture far from civilization to find it.
Located just west of Ind. 267 at 6310 E. County Road 350 North, the ranch is open nearly every day of the year, weather permitting. They have a stable of beautiful horses that are available for 30- and 60-minute guided trail rides and so much more.
Here are the top 10 things you need to know before visiting Natural Valley Ranch.
Unlike a lot of horseback riding facilities that follow the same exact path every day, at Natural Valley Ranch you are shown how to hold and guide the reins for the horse you are riding.
This means every visit to the ranch is a different experience. A 30-minute trail ride is $25 a person, and 60-minute ride costs $40.
I will talk more below about first-time or inexperienced riders, but let's just say that being the driver isn't as scary as it might sound for a variety of reasons. So, don't let that keep you from trying this amazing experience.
You must make an appointment online to ride the trails. Click here for more information or to schedule your time.
If you’ve never ridden a horse, that is not a problem at Natural Valley Ranch. The trained staff are friendly and do a great job of making first-time riders feel right at home as they show them the ropes.
They specialize in helping inexperienced riders become comfortable very quickly, and even have specific horses with the right temperament to aid in the learning process. Some of the horses have been walking the trails for so long they can do it with little guidance from the rider if necessary.
If you want to learn even more, private riding lessons are also available at the ranch.
3. Appreciate the Natural Beauty While Riding
Since purchasing the land nearly 18 years ago, Marie Damler and her family transformed the ranch's 78 acres from a property that was once used as a junk yard into a beautiful, sprawling backwoods preserve.
The ranch features 50 acres of trails that stretch for several miles and include a creek, ravines and other beautiful vistas and natural surroundings providing a tranquil environment that makes it seem like you are miles from civilization.
4. Expect to Get Dirty
Given the natural setting and the fact that the ranch is a working farm and in a wooded area, there’s always the possibility of getting dirty.
Embrace the ranch life and expect to get a little dirt under your fingernails! And don’t wear your finest duds. It might be time to invest in some boots if you don't own any before going.
I also recommend long pants, particularly jeans, and any other attire that you don't mind getting dirty or muddy depending on the conditions the day you ride.
5. Guided Trail Rides For Anyone Ages 4 and Up
Children as young as 4 are welcome to take a guided trail, but just one person to a horse. Double riding is not permitted.
For anyone older or those who think they might have trouble getting on a horse, Natural Valley Ranch has a great wooden platform they use to make it easy for virtually anyone to saddle up.
Don't let any little excuse keep you from giving this activity a try. As we emerge from a pandemic, we should all invest in experiencing new things and checking fun activities off our bucket lists, especially this one in the great outdoors.
If you have never been on a horse before, the staff at Natural Valley recommend starting with their shortest 30-minute trail ride to get a feel for the experience. If you enjoy it, you can always come back for more.
6. Safety First
Helmets are required, and provided, for anyone under the age of 18, and everyone who rides is required to sign a waiver.
Since the mask mandate has been lifted in Indiana, masks or any other COVID restrictions are not enforced at the ranch, but as always try to be respectful to others while you're there.
Riders must wear closed shoes (front and back), preferably boots or sneakers, and as I said before long pants are recommended.
7. Overnight Accommodations Available
Whether you decide to hop on a horse or just want to linger in the Hendricks County countryside for an extended stay, you can spend the night in one of two beautiful rental properties at the ranch.
A cottage on the property comes a little cheaper but can sleep up to 16 and the gorgeous log cabin while more expensive can sleep even more and is well worth the cost with an amazing view of a lake and accommodations you just wouldn't expect on a working horse ranch.
Either option would make a great weekend getaway for a group of friends or family members or even for a gathering like a reunion or even a corporate retreat.
8. Don't Miss the Petting Zoo
Every day when the ranch is open, you can visit the petting zoo or enjoy a Pony Ride for just $5.
Get up close and personal with goats, pigs, bunnies and more. This is truly a no-frills experience, but isn't that what a working ranch should be?
Children will love it because they can get in the pins and up close with the animals, and it could even serve as an educational opportunity giving them a sense for what farm life and farm animals are like.
9. Plan a Group Event
Plan a one-of-a-kind birthday party at Natural Valley Ranch. The two-hour party includes pony or horse rides around their arena, cake, a custom T-shirt and more.
You can also schedule a field trip or bring your scout troop. In addition to the trail rides, the ranch offers a host of activities that can make for a memorable and educational experience.
10. Watch For Hank
In addition to nearly two dozen trail horses and the animals in the petting zoo, there are also free range chickens, ducks an assortment of cats and various other animals who roam the ranch.
But don’t leave Natural Valley Ranch without visiting Hank, a friendly pig that acts more like the family dog and is known to sit for a treat.
Hank was a bit tuckered out during my visit to the ranch, but it was clear that he rules the roost and is well loved by all who visit Natural Valley Ranch!