By Annabelle Villanueva
Honking at carriages on Michigan Avenue and wagering at off-track betting parlors are the closest most city folk come to bonding with horses. Yet the summer’s filled with options for equine fanciers in the great outdoors, especially if they’re game for trekking past the 312/773 area codes to one of several stables and trail rides listed in the Yellow Pages. Another notable alternative is at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds (31st Street, a quarter-mile west of York Road, Oakbrook, 630.990.2394), where weekly national and international polo tournaments are contested on Sundays from June 8 to September 14; admission is $8 and kids get in free. This year’s highlights include the June 22 and 29 “Diamond Jubilee Cup” celebrating the Oak Brook Polo Club’s 75th year, and the season’s international opener between Jamaica and the USA .(“It’s always fun when the Jamaicans come to town,” says polo director Karen Martino.) Spectators whipped up in a polo frenzy can head to the Naperville Polo Club (23700 119th Street, Plainfield, 815.436.9500) for individual lessons.
As for Chicago proper, the only riding stable within city limits is Old Town’s The Noble Horse (1410 North Orleans, 773.266.7878), homebase for those carriage horses trotting around downtown. Plus, the stable offers lessons in Western saddle riding, English-style dressage and jumping in beginner to advanced levels, as well as boarding for horse owners. Private lessons start at $25 per half-hour and group lessons cost $24 an hour, but children may join a special student work program, where they toil in the stables in exchange for $4.25 -per-hour wages that go toward riding lessons. The Noble Horse also periodically rotates sending its horses out to Old Triumph Ranch in Will County, which offers a bed-and-breakfast and guest house packages with trail and hay rides. Read the rest of this entry »