The Retirement Home for Horses in Alachua County: an excellent low-cost, kid-friendly activity

The Retirement Home for Horses!

This is one of my 3-year old son’s absolute favorite weekend activities. I have lost count of the number of times we have visited this place! Retirement Home for Horses is an equine sanctuary located on Mill Creek Farm, a 335 acre property consisting of rolling pastures and plenty of room for the horses to run free. The sanctuary was founded in 1984 by the Gregory family, who still run the sanctuary today. They provide respite for horses of all different backgrounds; whether the horse has retired from government service, been rescued by a humane society, or had been removed from unsafe living conditions. The horses at the sanctuary are given excellent care and allowed to live the rest of their lives in peace.

Visiting the Sanctuary

The sanctuary is open to the public ONLY on Saturdays, from 11-3. Admittedly, this can be a difficult time crunch when you’re dealing with little kids who nap. However, it is a relatively quick activity and we can usually squeeze it in before lunch if we plan well! As a visitor, you will have the opportunity to stroll the grounds, which have paved pathways throughout, and visit with a number of the rescued horses. You are also encouraged to feed them carrots! Entry to the sanctuary is free, however donations are appreciated. If you purchase carrots at the entrance to feed the horses, they are $6 for a 5 lb bag.

Kid-friendly, low key fun

When my son and I visit, we usually buy a bag of carrots at the front, then wander around to several different horse paddocks, looking at trees, flowers and leaves as we go. My son has a favorite horse, named Inky. We make our way to Inky’s paddock and spend about 20-30 minutes there, talking about the horses, feeding them carrots-and sometimes we even get to see them getting a bath or being brushed, which my son loves! After this, we wander back to the front entrance, emptying our bag of carrots along the way to any horses who are still hungry. Sometimes we run into one of the resident cats, which always makes my son happy (I am going to have to get this kid a cat one day). We usually purchase a bottle of water or maybe a souvenir at the front entrance before heading home. The entire experience is very enriching for him and only takes about an hour, although you could certainly make it a longer trip if you wanted to. This is also a great option if you have multiple kids, as it’s easy to push the stroller along the paved pathways, and a relatively safe place to let your other children be free range as long as they don’t stray too far. I highly recommend this activity to anyone who is looking for a peaceful way to spend a Saturday afternoon while helping out a good cause.

For more information:

There is a comprehensive website with more information on the history of the Retirement Home for Horses, as well as a listing of several of the horses, explanation on how they care for the animals, and how you can contribute by sponsoring a horse or becoming a volunteer! Visit the link below to help support this special North Central Florida gem. Maybe we will see you there!