With the warmer weather, it's a good time to put on your boots (sneakers will do) and hoist yourself into the saddle.
Some of the more beautiful spots on Long Island can be seen on horseback, and there are still a handful of places where horses can take you onto wooded trails, open pasture and even a sandy beach.
In Montauk, there's the tranquillity of taking a trail ride along ancient American Indian lands onto the beach along Block Island Sound.
"They can see the lighthouse from down on the beach," says Deep Hollow Ranch co-owner Cate Keogh. "They feel like they're somewhere else."
Others enjoy the country feeling of riding through the forest at places like Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon, where the trails wind through the trees. "It's a flat trail through woods," says Vinny Russo of the Babylon Riding Center, which organizes rides there. "A 12 to 18-foot-wide path under a canopy of trees."
Most trail-riding centers welcome beginners, but some have age restrictions. Call before you go to make reservations. Group tour rates apply to those who come together or when the ranch forms a group through individual reservations.
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, 633 Eagle Ave., West Hempstead
INFO 516-486-9673, mynyec.com
COST $55 per hour
The center has nine miles of dedicated bridal paths on the 775-acre property around Hempstead Lake. "The paths are surrounded by five lakes and a beautiful golf course," owner Alex Jacobson says.
All trail rides are with experienced guides who give a quick lesson and go over safety. Trails are well maintained and have "good footing" for both the horses and riders, Jacobson says. Riders must be at least 13 years of age.
WHEN | WHERE Daily, 9 a.m. until one hour before dark, 1500 Peconic Ave., NorthBabylon
INFO 631-587-7778, babylonridingcenter.com
COST $50 per hour
This riding center specializes in beginner trail-riders, Russo says. Groups are kept small (usually no more than six people) and experienced guides lead the way.
Inexperienced riders get a quick lesson on how to properly handle a horse. Russo says that if anyone gets spooked and is afraid to go on the trail, they will take them to ride in the ring.
But for those who do ride, expect a well-groomed, nearly eight-mile wooded trail that skirts Southards Pond. Says Russo, "It's gorgeous."
WHEN | WHERE Noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or by appointment, 499 Winding Rd., Old Bethpage
INFO 516-531-8007, oldbethpageequestriancenter.com
COST $50 with group, $70 private ride
Ride on the grounds of Bethpage State Park, including trails in the wooded areas along the famous Black Course, site of several U.S. Open golf events.
Trail rides are 45 minutes to an hour long, and for ages 12 and older for group rides, and 7 and older for private rides.
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Sweet Hollow Road, Huntington
INFO 631-351-9168, sweethills.com
Take an hourlong ride along the 900 acres of West Hills County Park on guided trails.
"It's beautiful and scenic," says Michelle Julien, manager of the riding center. "It's a great family thing to do."
For ages 7 and older.
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. (or sundown) daily, 1929 Montauk Hwy., Montauk
INFO 631-668-2744, deephollowranch.com
COST $85 for 90 minutes includes the beach ride, $45-$75 for shorter rides or trail rides.
Considered to be the oldest working ranch in the United States, Deep Hollow offers long and leisurely rides along the wooded trails over the dunes and on the beach, with Oyster Pond on the right and Block Island Sound to the left.
The ranch also has half-hour and hour rides that stay on the wooded trails and historic back pasture, where "there's a lot of Native American history around us," says Keogh.