Horse riding holidays can be a great way of mixing relaxation with adventure as well as enjoying horse riding in different countries. There are many horse riding holiday destinations located all over the UK as well as a great many in other countries. So whether you want to go trail riding in Wales or take a horse back safari in Africa, you are sure to find the riding holiday you are looking for. There are however, several important considerations to be taken into account when making a decision regarding your holiday destination:
- As with choosing any holiday, decide exactly what you want to do beforehand and select your destination accordingly.
- Before booking, find out as much as possible about the surrounding areas, the facilities on offer, the standard of instruction and the type of horses available.
- When booking, ensure your potential host knows what you expect and how experienced you are. Do NOT overstate your riding experience or you may arrive to find there are no suitable horses available.
- Take your own riding hat to the current safety standard, plus suitable boots and clothes for riding - some establishments have strict dress codes to ensure your safety and comfort. Remember to ask before booking!
- Find out what other activities are available - sightseeing, other sports etc. and what dress, equipment you might need to take.
- Ensure you are insured - horse riding is not a risk-less sport and proper precautions should always be taken, if you are injured or become ill, you don't want to be left stranded.
Instructional horse riding breaks: One thing that even Olympic-class riders will happily admit, is that there's always room for improvement. An instructional horse riding break is ideal for those looking to improve their skill. Based at equitation centres, they vary from intensive 'learn to ride' courses to those that specialise in a particular discipline such as dressage or jumping. It's best to look for a centre that has some official recommendation. In the UK, the British Horse Society has a list of approved centers which will have well qualified instructors and a variety of well-schooled horsemasters.
Trekking holidays: Trekking or trail-riding varies depending on the standard of riding in the group and the terrain of the destination. There will be a holiday suitable for all standards but to truly enjoy a trail-riding holiday, beginners will benefit from having some lessons at home first. Some companies will ride out from a single base while others will transport your luggage for you and stop at a different accommodation each night. Accommodation varies dramatically and will often be reflected in the price. Holiday companies offer a range of accommodation from shared bunk rooms to the full luxury of a hotel or private mansion house. Expeditions: This is a trail-riding holiday taken to the extreme and a very appealling prospect for experienced riders offering true adventure as you travel across dramatic scenery, often camping. For the ultimate challenge, consider a charity expedition and tackle some fundraising too.
Horse Safari: For those who want to get a clearer view of wildlife, a horse safari offers an alternative to traditional safaris where game viewing is from a four-wheel vehicle. Mainly in south and north African countries where the most varied game can be found, safaris generally involve camping with camps moved several times during the holiday. But horse safaris are not just about viewing wildlife. In a broader sense the term means exploration and it is widely used in India to describe holidays that travel through remote regions and deserts, with the options of swapping your horse for a camel. Horse safaris are also available in Europe and in New Zealand and Australia where there is less wildlife but the scenery is wild and dramatic.
Ranch holiday: True ranching holidays take place in the wild expanses of America with Arizona, Montana, Utah and Mexico being typical destinations. Often called 'dude ranches', these outback cattle stations offer the city weary traveller an experience as far away from the city as they can dream of. Think 'Blazing Saddles' and you've got a clear idea of what a true ranching holiday is about. Learn from experienced cowhands how to work the cattle and take part in a round up or cattle drive. On this site, just as 'safari' sometimes means any equestrian exploration, ranch is used to describe holidays outside America which offer riding from a base.