Horse riding travel guide

Horse riding vacations vary hugely. You can choose to ride across the endless Mongolian steppe for nine hours a day, dining with nomads and sleeping under huge skies; or head to Spain, saddling up for a couple of hours before kicking back in the Jacuzzi of a comfortable, country hotel. Trot through the African bush with the Big Five for company, or travel back in time with a trek in traditional Transylvania.
However, there are always a few essentials. You need to love horse riding and experience helps; there are a few trips for beginners, but the essence of a horse riding vacation is adventure, and no novice rider will canter from one side of a mountain to another. It helps to be sociable too – you’ll be indulging in a shared love with like-minded people, so their company should be a pleasure, not a pain. Lastly, the horses come first. No matter how tired you are at the end of a long ride, their comfort, food and water take priority; once they’re happy and rested, so will you be too.
Read on in our horse riding vacations travel guide.

Is a horse riding vacation for you?


Responsible Travel recommends

Go on a horse riding
vacation if…


… you’re interested in its historical and cultural significance. Your local guide will have stories to tell, myths to share and hidden paths to reveal.

… you’re not afraid to embrace environments. Mongolia’s wilderness and sense of freedom won’t disappoint – but there are (mercifully) no mod cons or boutique hotels, so prepare to get back to basics.

… you want to pair your horse riding with another activity. You can team a few hours trekking with learning Spanish, or even volunteering on a horse rehabilitation programme.

… you’re looking to do something completely different with your hobby. A horse riding vacation is often as much about the journey and the nuances of local culture that you stumble across enroute as it is about the actual riding.

Don’t go on a horse riding vacation if…


… you’ve never ridden a horse. “In the main, riding vacations are for riding enthusiasts. You can find taster courses in Europe, but our vacations are all about the journey, so you’ve got to be able to ride competently. In Mongolia, for instance, there are a couple of days where we don’t have a back up vehicle as we can only get to where we’re going on horseback, so you are very much dependent on your riding ability.” – Lulu Perry, Wild Frontiers

… you like a plan. Although you’ll be given an itinerary, a good tip is to push it to the back of your mind. Horse riding vacations rip up that rulebook in the most liberating of ways and are very much about chance encounters, secret trails and taking your time to appreciate the beauty of the landscape your exploring.

… you’re more of a lone cowboy. “Group comradery is a big element of horse riding vacations. Everyone has a common interest in the riding and the horses, so everyone gets along very well. The friends that I’ve made along the way – from all ages and backgrounds – are phenomenal” – Lulu Perry, Wild Frontiers

Best time to go horse riding


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

The best time to go on a horse riding vacation is will be affected largely by the climate. In Mongolia, winters are bitingly cold – the lowest recorded temperature was -57°C! – so spring and summer are much better times to trot under the country’s enormous blue skies. South Africa is a great call for winter riding vacations (June-September) because temperatures hover in the 20s with chilly nights - offer optimum game viewing starts from April/May onwards. Europe is a pretty consistent bet all year round, although you’ll make the most of natural landscapes during spring and autumn.
Photo credits: [Topbox, Jordan: Abdellatif B]

Written by: Polly Humprhis
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