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Riding in style

Kinni Valley Riding Academy near River Falls, Wis., offers everything imaginable on a horse.

Kinni Valley Riding Academy

1171 30th Avenue | River Falls, WI

Life on a farm and life on a horse was about the only way of life in the river valley 100 years ago. These days, that's obviously changed, but there's still a place to go for us suburbanites who want to get a fix of days gone by.

Kinni Valley Riding Academy near River Falls, Wis., offers everything imaginable on a horse. There are trail riding clinics, riding lessons, day camps and special programs for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Let's say, though, that you want to leave the kids at home and take your spouse on a horse-riding date through the woods and over the river. Kinni Valley is your spot. For $80, the two of you can get on a horse, get a lesson and go on a trial ride. If you've never been on a horse, that's no problem. If you are an experienced rider, that's fine, too.

"Our horses are all retired showhorses, so when you learn what to do, they will listen to you," owner Carolyn Lowe Laurel said. "That's fascinating for people. You don't have to worry if you are an inexperienced rider, either. You don't just go on a trail ride - you have a riding lesson with it so you learn how to control the horses.

"We're able to cater to the riders that come in your group. We have horses that are safe for you and your family if you haven't ridden, and we have horses that listen to you if you have."

Lowe Laurel said that what makes her academy different is that if you book a trip for your family of four ($160), you'll get an hour on the trail with just the four of you and the instructor. Your group, she said, won't be lumped into another one with people you don't know.

"That is the really exciting thing that makes us so different," Lowe Laurel said.

The trails weave through the 150-acre farm. Wildlife is everywhere, and riders get to take their horses right through an amazing trout stream, the Kinnickinnic River, a few times.

"If you think of Wisconsin, you think of eagles, of beautiful wildlife and scenery and the Kinnickinnic - this is an opportunity to see all of that in one place," Lowe Laurel said.

For parents looking for something unique to offer their children for birthday parties, Kinni Valley has long offered them at the farm. Recently the business has begun having themed parties, where girls can have a My Pretty Pony party and boys have a Knight in Shining Armor party.

The family-owned business has been in operation for more than 50 years now.