Horseback riding in and around Walton County


Rocky Bayou Stables

Rocky Bayou Stables offers a Trot-N-Tots class for children ages 3-8.  Other programs included are a beginners class from 8-10, birthday parties, camps, Boy/Girl Scout merit badge program, a home schooling program and private or group lessons. There is 3 arenas and 42 stables on 15 acres. Contact the stables for more information regarding instructor availability. 767 Forest Road Niceville (850) 729-8821 ————————————————————————————-

Locals and horses enjoy the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy Lanna Williams
Locals and horses enjoy the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy Lanna Williams

Local horsewoman recalls trail rides on South Walton beaches

Folks that have lived in South Walton for more than eight years, will probably remember the Brand “N Iron Corral on U.S. Hwy 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. One would often spot horsewoman, Lanna Williams, along with her young riders sauntering along the beaches and trails in the area. Williams remembers when a trail ride to the beach was a refreshing treat for both the riders and the horses. “The horses loved getting in the water,” Williams recalled.

Locals Heather Marse and Jimm Ferguson in front of the Brand ‘N Iron Western Store. Circa 1968
Locals Heather Marse and Jimmy Ferguson in front of the Brand ‘N Iron Western Store. Circa 1968

Since the 60s, Williams and her family ran the 8-acre Brand ‘N Iron Corral, offering pony rides, riding instruction, boarding and a western store. “We were the only place on U.S. Hwy 98 for miles,” Williams said. A popular place to come learn to ride, Williams noted her students enjoyed the sport so well, many continue to ride as adults. In 2002, Williams sold the property in South Walton moved the Brand ‘N Iron to its current location. It is now located on 80 acres, off of U.S. Hwy 331, just north of Rock Hill Road in DeFuniak Springs. Williams is actively involved in team penning competition. Team penning is a western equestrian sport that evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring, or transport.

Lanna Williams in team penning competition.
Lanna Williams in team penning competition.

It is a fast-paced sport that involves teamwork with three riders working in harmony to cut out numbered cattle and drive them to a pen while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back. Williams competes in the Dixie Region Team Penning (DRTPA). Williams continues to offer youth lessons and boarding on her ranch, along with her llama, goat, kitty, pups, guinea pigs, bunnies and 30 horses. For more information about the Brand ‘N Iron Corral, you can contact Lanna Williams at: 850.225.1241. ————————————————————————————-

Good old horsing around at Pleasant Ridge Arena

A youngster enjoys a ride at Pleasant Ridge Arena. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Kids of all ages enjoy horse back riding at Pleasant Ridge Arena  Pleasant Ridge Arena in DeFuniak Springs hold a neigh and bray fun show for children the third Saturday of every month. Hosted by owners Diana and Red Brannon, young children enjoyed stick races, horse back and carriage rides. The more seasoned riders compete in pole bending and barrel racing. Pleasant Ridge Arena is located at 1917 Pleasant Ridge Road in DeFuniak Springs. The facility hosts a variety of events throughout the year. To find out more, go to their website at Phone: (850) 892-5398


Walton area trails

Point Washington State Forest Mcquage Bayou Horse Trail As part of the Point Washington State Forest Longleaf Greenway, the Mcquage Bayou trailhead is located in South Walton on CR 283 (Bay Drive). Click here for a complete Fla. Equestrian Trail Guide


Sunshine Riding Trails offers rides in the Econfina Wildlife Management Area

Sunshine Riding Trails offers a day of equestrian fun. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Sunshine Riding Trails offers a day of equestrian fun. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Interested in taking a guided horse trail ride through Northwest Florida’s beautiful Econfina Wildlife Management Area? Head on over to the Sunshine Riding Trails, the great folks there will saddle you up for a day of enjoyable riding. Owned by Kathy and David Rich, Sunshine Riding Trails offers Tennessee Walkers and Paso Finos for most every age and skill level. They offer 1 2, 3, or 4-hour rides along the area’s beautiful equestrian trails. A day of sightseeing is in store as you meander through long leaf pine restoration areas, ponds, small creeks, and moss covered forests.

Riders will receive a bit of training before the ride to ensure you will be comfortable handling your horse. Be prepared to spoil your ride, as a pouch of carrots will be supplied keep your steed happy. Learn more at: Hours: Mon–Sat Trail Ride rates: 1 hour: $35.00 2 hour: $50.00 3 hour: $75.00 4 hour: $100.00 (includes lunch) Overnight camping trips: $175.00 per person Rates are per person adult or child Call for reservations at: Toll Free: (888) 335-8530 or (850) 773-1900 2273 Rolling Pines Road Chipley, FL 32428-3658 ————————————————————————————-

A look into the equestrian experience in the Walton County area

Nala Van Valen, on horseback, enjoys the noodle therapy at Grace Rides. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Equine therapy working wonders at Grace Rides

Sherry Hall is on a mission to help special people with unique challenges. As director of Grace Rides, an equine-assisted therapy facility in Niceville, she makes that happen in a big way, five days a week. Hall is founder of Grace Rides, a non-profit faith based organization formed in 2009. The facility provides safe and effective equine therapy and horsemanship training for students of all ages with emotional, physical, cognitive and developmental challenges. “Riding opens up a new world of experiences for people of all ages. It is a great vehicle for encouraging otherwise boring things like exercise and rehab work because we all have such a great time together around the horses. Our equine volunteers are the unique facilitators of this therapy, and our volunteers help each person feel special, important and valued,” director Sherry Hall said. The path to Grace Rides was a natural one for Hall who grew up on a farm in Marianna. Her mother was a special education teacher, and Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and clinical psychology. Click here to continue