My 13 year old daughter and I just spent 6 days at HCEL. She rides regulary, and I have not ridden since 1977. The fact that both of us had a fabulous experience says a lot about Dianne Lindig, her staff, her program and her facility. The Lodge is in the hills north of San Antonio, adjacent to a gigantic state park, and between the topography, wildflowers, big sky and understated, rustic elegance of the Lodge, it is hard to imagine a better setting for a total-immersion riding/learning experience. The accomodations (we stayed in a small but comfortable suite, which is half of a cabin) are charming, efficient, rustic and understated. If you are expecting the Four Seasons, with indulgent papmpering and extravangant touches, look elswhere. But if you like comfort and ease, and big bedroom windows that look out on blinding stars at night, these are your kind of digs. We elected to grocery-shop in town and cook most of our own meals in the small kitchen (our cabin had a picnic table outside that we used a lot), but the Lodge offers lunch and dinner in the main house for a an extra charge. I cannot comment on that since we didn't do it. We did enjoy a few meals in Bandera, as well as a fun and informative Frontier Museum visit.
Dianne and her staff are skilled, compassionate and dedicated to making sure that both rider and horse are safe and have a good experience. I had two lessons in the ring but the rest of my riding was on the trail. My daughter spent more time on formal instruction and made a lot of progress with Dianne's firm and encouraging direction. We also both pitched in getting the horses ready to go out, and cleaned up when they got in, and that enhanced my appreciation of them as creatures and of the sport.
I agree with all of the five-star reviews on this site, and I think the two folks who gave HCEL a thumbs-down were likely expecting something very different. The Lodge's website is, IMO, accurate and informative, and Dianne not only chatted with me on the phone several times in advance to answer questions, but was extremely gracious in answering my daughter's emailed questions as well. My wife and two other kids do not ride (so they went elsewhere for Spring break), but we will try to convince them to join us on a return visit, since even non-riders like me cannot resist the charms of such a well-run and welcoming place. I enthusiastically recommend Hill Country Equestrian Lodge.
- Also Known As:
- Hill Country Equestrian Hotel Bandera
- Hill Country Equestrian Lodge Bandera, Texas