Pretty much everyone’s kid goes through a “horse phase,” though for most, this is a fleeting fad akin to, say, the garbage truck phase. Some kids, however, never grow out of these phases, which is a very good thing because our world would be a lot smellier without sanitation workers. And a lot less joyful without horses.
Mary, my oldest daughter, has been into horses since she was a toddler. As she’s grown, her love of animals has only expanded, now including everything from dogs and dolphins to lizards and birds. Horses still rank high on her list, however, and as a parent I’m always looking for ways to foster her curiosity and interests.
Happily, Cincinnati is an easy day trip to the Horse Capital of the World, but you don’t have to drive to Lexington to get your horse fix. In beautiful Butler County, Nation Road Horse Rental offers a variety of family-friendly equine expeditions, and there’s no better time to visit than autumn, when the fall foliage in Ohio is vibrant and abundant.
For younger kids, Nation Road offers parent-assisted pony rides. These rides take younger kids on a smaller loop around the farm’s grounds and are a gentle and accessible option for families. All kids are required to wear a helmet, and the staff is very helpful in getting kids safely and securely positioned on their animals. Older families can opt for a guide-led ride through this idyllic family farm, an impossibly charming place sure to have you dreaming of retiring to Butler County.
As an animal lover myself, something that’s important to me is supporting places and experiences that promote responsible animal ownership; there are lots of attractions that offer pony rides, but the conditions in which these animals work and live are often less than ideal. This family-run farm in Butler County, however, is the real deal. Owned and operated by Judy Sheard, this farm has been in her husband William’s family for four generations, and it’s clear the couple takes a lot of pride in the land. There’s an original, one-room schoolhouse on the grounds that William’s grandfather attended. The horses—many of which are rescues—are the happiest and friendliest you’ll ever meet. They are all highly trained, well cared-for, and very personable.
A visit to Nation Road Horse Rental is a delightful experience that will make your family fall head over heels for horses—and beautiful Butler County. Just be warned: if your kids weren’t asking for a horse before, they will be after visiting Nation Road. Luckily, there’s always the next ride.
Nation Road Horse Rental, 6484 Morning Sun Rd., Oxford. Rides are by appointment only. Please call (513) 255-5752 for availability and to reserve a ride time.