Long gone are the days when PE lessons consisted of cold afternoons playing hockey on a muddy pitch. Here are the best schools for horse lovers in the UK

As a traditional sport, horse riding not only promises a whole host of benefits for physical fitness but can also help improve cognitive ability and hone skills such as problem-solving and strategising. Equestrian departments often encourage children to learn all the aspects of horsemanship, teaching the invaluable lesson of responsibility. Aside from a child aspiring to become an Olympic equestrian, cultivating a love of horses can come with many rewards as riding can be a fantastic motivational tool for nursing enthusiasm and developing ambition.

Here is Absolutely Education’s list of the top UK equestrian schools that any horse-obsessed child would sell their soul to attend. 

Stonar School, Wiltshire

Best schools for horse lovers Stonar School

Stonar will likely be the first school that comes to mind when talking about schools with stabling. Having recently transitioned from a girls-only school to being fully coeducational, Stonar is a great option for any child who is passionate about riding.

Instructed under the expert eye of Darrell Scaife, students have access to some of the best training in the UK. Darrell’s knowledgeable team sets the standard high with expert instruction – their philosophy is that whatever a rider wishes to achieve, they must primarily learn the fundamentals, a correct position and have a well-trained, happy horse. Being fiercely competitive, Stonar students have plenty of opportunities to compete at internal and external events, regularly producing victories on a national scale.  

The facilities at Stonar are set on an 80-acre campus in the stunning West Wiltshire countryside. Students are welcome to bring their own pony with them on livery, or alternatively they can loan one of the specially selected school ponies. The livery and equestrian facilities at Stonar are second to none, comprising of 65 stables, indoor and outdoor schools and a cross-country schooling course designed by international course designer David Evans.


Abbotsholm School, Staffordshire

Best schools for horse lovers

Abbotsholm is the perfect choice for students who are passionate about the countryside and all activities rural life has to offer. With its own 70-acre working farm, equestrian centre and country estate, pupils from pre-prep through to Sixth Form have the opportunity to participate in an extensive programme of sports, outdoor education, agriculture and equine activities at this coeducational boarding school.

The equestrian centre is nestled in the heart of the school grounds (it is not uncommon to find pupils passing by the stables between lessons to give the horses a quick pat and a treat). Boasting plenty of livery spaces, children are encouraged to bring their own pony to board at Abbotsholm. For those who do not have their own, the equestrian centre has plenty of school ponies for students to ride. The school ponies are carefully selected by the expert team and are regularly schooled by staff to ensure they are trained correctly to the aids. Lessons and coaching is designed to cater for a range of students and abilities from complete beginners and those who wish to ride purely for pleasure to the more serious competitor. 

With a generous all-weather arena and its own Pony Club, Abbotsholm provides its students with a well-rounded intoduction to all equine activities.


Kilgraston School, Perthshire

Best schools for horse lovers Kilgraston Equestrian Centre

Set in the idyllic backdrop of rural Perthshire, Kilgraston is the only school in Scotland with equestrian facilities on campus, giving girls the opportunity to ride regularly on-site as an extra-curricular activity. 

Whether aspiring to ride for the school team or having never ridden before, Kilgraston offers equestrian opportunities for riders of any level, providing a string of 25 horses and ponies to suit all abilities.  Under the expert eye of Rachael MacLean, lessons take place daily after school and at weekends in their generous 60 x 40m floodlit arena. Rachael is a BHS registered instructor, UKCC Level 2 equestrian instructor and has been coaching riding for over 13 years. At Kilgraston the emphasis is on progression, variety and fun, aiming to boost confidence in the more nervous riders and pushing the more experienced riders to progress further.

Firmly believing in quality, not quantity, lesson numbers are restricted to ensure a high level of tuition and riding school ponies are hand-picked for their excellent temperaments. All levels are catered for, from beginners to competitive riders, with sessions tailored according to the abilities of each pupil.


Millfield School, Somerset

Best schools for horse lovers

With facilities that would rival any Olympic park, Millfield does not cut corners on investing in its equestrian students. Offering vastly varying opportunities from Polo to Eventing, Millfield is arguably one of the best coeducational schools for equestrian excellence. 

Children and their ponies can enjoy access to a long list of facilities including a 64m x 44m indoor school, a 70m x 50m outdoor school, stabling for 53 horses, a six horse walker, three warm water wash bays and staff resident on site, providing 24 hour care. That’s not to mention the impressive cross-country course, designed by Adrian Ditcham (2012 London Olympic Course Designer), which is updated each year in preparation for the annual affiliated British Eventing competition, attracting over 600 nationwide competitors. With almost 30 full time staff, including 12 qualified coaches and a host of outside contacts, students have the chance to gain knowledge from professionals at the top of the industry. 

Coaching at Millfield is varied and encourages students to push their sporting potential. Alongside accessing tuition from the 12 BHS qualified permanent instructors, pupils often attend lessons from discipline specific guest trainers. As a school that is known for producing professional athletes, students can expect to receive plenty of practice in their chosen discipline.


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