Pony Playgroup

the parent and toddler group in the countryside


Brought To You By East Devon Riding Academy

Pony Playgroup at East Devon Riding Academy is our unique and pioneering parent and toddler group set in beautiful Devon countryside.  It provides access to nature, animals and lots of fun activities to help children discover new experiences, be active and content . Outdoor kids are happy kids!

About Pony Playgroup

We begun offering families a different type of toddler group back in 2011. Following lots of research, we found there were the usual indoor playgroups available but none set in the countryside with access to ponies and other animals. Furthermore, with most riding schools only allowing children over the age of 4 (often older), we realised that many young children were missing out on a connection to ponies. Safe, confidence building introductions to animals are so important and with our purpose built facilities, engaging activities, experienced staff and happy, friendly animals we have the perfect environment to support families in introducing their young children to the world of horses. From these early sessions, Pony Playgroup grew and now encompasses not only ponies but many other factors that contribute to fulfilled, healthy children.

We begun offering the opportunity for children to join us for the morning back in 2011. Our many years of experience in the industry helped us to define our Pony Mornings so we could offer children enjoyable, active and educational activities whilst providing parents with value for money and the peace of mind that we would strive to keep their children happy, engaged and most importantly, safe. Our reputation for hosting high quality Pony Mornings rapidly grew, we started with just two for the whole summer holidays and we now run two for every week of every school holiday and half term. Each year we welcome new children but we also have many returning customers, several who are local and some who just visit us once a year when they are on holiday. Some of the children who attend our pony mornings are regular riders and some have never ridden before- all are welcome as we split the group according to experience if necessary.

Want to book Pony Playgroup?


What Makes Our Pony Playgroup Special?

It's not one thing that makes our countryside playgroup sessions enjoyable for both the children and parents, it's our unique formula, a combination of exclusive factors that help families have a stress free morning. We provide active, engaging activities and we have many years experience working with young children and animals. Our wealth of resources and beautiful, peaceful location with a view across the valley to the sea help families to take pleasure from their time with us. It's not just the children that enjoy grooming ponies, parents and guardians are welcome to get involved too, it's really relaxing!  

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We had a great time, thank you. Looking forward to coming back. X

Firstly, we understand children. We teach 1000’s of them every year! Our teaching methods follow an active learning approach, which keeps children involved by learning through doing, rather than the traditional but less effective way of just telling them what to do. All of our sessions are delivered through age appropriate activities, which enable children to succeed and learn whilst they are having fun. We guide the Pony Morning where appropriate, however we also encourage the children to be part of the decision making and empower them to have the freedom to discover and explore.

More reasons why our Pony Playgroup is popular....

We are a rare riding school that offers horse riding for young children, it's a specialist area that requires an experienced instructor and special ponies. Our expertise has been widely recognised, in 2017 we featured in Horse and Hound magazine and were recommended by them as a place for under 5's to learn to ride. Pony Playgroup offers optional individual riding sessions at a special reduced rate. What other benefits do we offer?...


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    Whilst we try to spend plenty of time outside, we do have indoor and undercover facilities if required so we can carry on whatever the weather.
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    We operate an easy online booking system, so you can see the dates available and book sessions to suit you. There is no requirement to sign up for a whole term, some of our families attend every session but others who travel a long way to visit us find it suits them to come along once a month. The choice is yours.
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    No specialist clothing is required and we provide riding hats. We are happy to advise you of the most suitable clothes.
Secondly, we understand horses. We spend 1000’s of hours with them every year! The welfare of our animals is a huge passion of ours and we work very hard to look after our horses to a very high standard. This ensures that their health and well being is optimised and they are happy in their jobs, as after all, a happy horse is a safer horse. Our teaching methods do not involve bullying or forceful communication, such as encouraging children to kick or whip animals to make them do what they want. Instead the children are taught humane, respectful handling and riding techniques which keeps them safer and protects the horses from physical and psychological harm. Children absolutely love our kind methods and the harmony and success that they bring.
Thirdly, we understand what parents want. As parents ourselves, we appreciate that safety is a top priority and we structure our activities to minimise the risks involved with being around animals. We offer close supervision, well planned activities and high quality instruction with well maintained, purpose built facilities. We know that you want your children to enjoy their time with us, so we try our best to make this happen and give them a positive experience with lasting, happy memories. Our high standards, ethical horsemanship, fantastic resources and excellent supervision also give superb value for money.
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Trip Advisor Review

Our two year old and three and a half year old shared a fantastic experience introducing them to being around a horse and riding it through age-appropriate and fun activities. Amazingly calm and gentle pony, fabulous teacher great with kids and lovely, calm setting. Also very ethical with care of horses and how they work. We're not a 'horsey' family but we all loved it!

Who Is Pony Playgroup For?

Children come along with their mum, dad, grandparents, guardian or childminder. 

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    There is no set lower age limit, we just advise that children are walking. The activities are suitable for children up to the age of 4.
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    There is a sibling discount. Accompanying non mobile babies happy to stay in a sling or pushchair for the session are free. Adults are also free!
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    Any family interested in animals, the countryside and an active childhood. Although some of our families have horses at home, no experience of horses is required.    

Please talk to us if your child has special needs to see if our Pony Playgroup is suitable, we will do our best to help you. 

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Facebook Review

Eva loved pony playgroup this morning thanks for making it so fun and interesting for her. I also enjoyed seeing the cute ponies!! Eva especially loved Sunny and also helping to make their beds. Thanks East Devon Riding Academy we will definitely come and visit again soon.


Want to book Pony Playgroup?


Pony Playgroup makes the perfect family activity. It helps you to keep your children exercising in the fresh air and outdoor kids are happy kids! We have several local children attend and even some that travel a long way just to visit us but if you are on holiday in nearby Sidmouth, Exmouth, Lyme Regis, Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Seaton, Beer, Branscombe, Ottery St Mary, Exeter, Charmouth or Bridport then we are here to help you too! We are situated in East Devon, very close to West Dorset in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are very close to The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. 

Private Horse Riding Lessons for 2, 3 and 4 Year Olds

Individual horse riding lessons for toddlers are also available outside of Pony Playgroup. Depending on the needs of the individual child, sessions can include dismounted activities as well as riding. 

Pony Playgroup and horse riding lessons for two, three and four year olds are run throughout the year. Booking is required. Pony Playgroup can be booked directly below, for lessons please contact Natalie via email info@ridingacademy.co.uk or call 07771 903220 for a time/date before proceeding with payment below.


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