The Saratoga Racetrack may be the most well-known place to see horses in CapNY, but it’s not the only option for getting up close and personal with a horse.
You can immerse yourself in the history of horses in the region or find a piece of the west in the east with these five family-friendly horse activities. Some of these activities are seasonal so check out their websites or call ahead before hitting the road.
History and Horses at the Racing Museum
Driving at 44 miles per hour on the Northway feels maddeningly slow. But on the racetrack, that’s top speed for the fastest thoroughbreds. Perched high on the horse’s back, whipping wind, crisp morning air and flying dirt brings tears to the eyes of the most fearless.
The jockeys won’t give you a turn in the saddle, but a simulator at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame lets you feel like you’re bounding down the track. The interactive galleries provide a taste of a day at the races from the paddock to the winner’s circle.
Cost: Ranges from free to $20
Behind the Scenes With Thoroughbreds
Ever wondered what the inside of a stable looks like? In late summer Saratoga County Cooperative Extension hosts a self-guided, drive-through tour of multiple horse farms throughout the county. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at Thoroughbred breeding facilities, riding and training barns. This tour is FREE, connect with them here!
Over in Greenfield Center (not far from Saratoga Springs), Old Friends at Cabin Creek, a home for retired racehorses, calls itself a living museum of horse racing. Visitors are invited to meet and play with the horses all summer long and weekends in the winter. One resident retired thoroughbred challenges foot runners to a sprint down the fence. This experience is free, donations accepted.
A third option for getting close to the action is the Backstretch Walking Tour at Saratoga Race Track. The 45-minute tour is great for kids. Guides cover history and highlights with loads of fascinating oddities about the track. The cost is $3 per person, or $10 per family, during racing season only.
Capital Region Rodeo
Slip into a pair of boots and grab a cowboy hat. Where the blacktop ends and the dirt road begins, the Painted Pony Championship Rodeo in Lake Luzerne brings the west alive each summer.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo runs every weekend from July through Labor Day with classic like steer wrestling, bareback riding, and roping plus Texas barbecue. Come fall they take the show on the road with Adirondack Stampede, which is held at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Painted Pony owner-breeders Shawn and Shana Graham have earned national championships for their livestock. The cost is $22/adult, $14/child.
Written by: Katie Navarra Bradley
Katie Navarra is a professional writer based in the Capital Region. She has written for Popular Science, The Motley Fool Blueprint, Western Horseman, Horse & Rider and others. She is also a life and executive career coach who helps clients find clarity and success in and out of the office. Learn more at katienavarra.com.