Bulgaria horse riding vacation, Orpheus Trail

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

There is no more environmentally-friendly means of transport than the horse: they are quiet and gentle on the environment and a natural part of the habitat – especially so because we use indigenous breeds – horses for courses. We search for in-country stables that support their local breed, where feasible. Joining a ride and using the local breed puts income directly into the right hands to achieve this aim.

The horse that we use is known today as the “East Bulgarian” or the Shagya is a relative new-comer to the equine world. Local horses were crossed with Arabs and Thoroughbreds to produce the East Bulgarian which was recognised in 1951 with the opening of its own stud book.

The East Bulgarian, is between 15 hh to 16 hh (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm) and generally comes in bay tones. They are known for a quiet disposition and good conformation: fine head, straight profile and muscular neck. They have strong shoulders, a full and deep chest, a straight, long back and muscular legs. All this means that your riding vacation in Bulgaria will get off to a good start.

We only work with stables that have been personally visited and the standard of welfare for their horses that is acceptable to the British horse society. Hence you can be assured that the horses are well cared for.

How do we select our partner stables ? we do indeed have an Assessment Document that runs to a dozen-plus pages. But actually it’s usually a pretty immediate task and your nose leads the way! A ramshackle stable building with uneven flagstones doesn’t necessarily mean bad husbandry; it means a restricted budget. What counts more is how the place smells! There is no excuse for that whiff of ammonia and there is a direct relationship between the smell of a stable and the quality of horse husbandry.

The transport - the horse - used on this vacation is by its very nature a low carbon method of transport. Taking you along at a pace which encourages direct appreciation of the environment. We do use transport to and from the airports but aim to transport people together so that both environmental and financial costs are kept down.

Our suppliers are committed to the minimizing the environmental impact they have. The Bulgarians are very proud of the natural world. You will find on the trail that waste is managed. All waste is removed from picnic areas and as much is composted as possible. The traditions of composting, growing your own vegetables and keeping hens has continued to this day in Bulgaria.

The Impacts of this Trip

Money is spent locally: shopping, fresh veg, horses and the hundred-and-one other things we need, are all procured at grassroots level, not via an ex-pat agency. The hotels that are used are all small family run hotels ensuring local employment and money going into the local economy. The produce used is all fresh, locally produced, food is produced in a traditional manner in much of Bulgaria. One evening our dinner is freshly caught local fish - you cant get many much less air miles than that.

A large part of this trip is about becoming familiar with the Bulgarian tradition and spirit. You will be riding in a mountainous, forested country that is a cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian influences. It has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes, and crafts and culture. The Bulgarian people have long known that the human voice is much more expressive in song than in conversation. In their tradition, they have taken the art of singing to the top of its artistic expression. The perfection which is at the core of traditional Bulgarian folklore is the outcome of efforts dating back some thousand years ago and it has passed on from generation to generation through the centuries. One of the most archaic and rare phenomena associated with polyphonic folk singing in Bulgaria is the peculiar local style of the villages of Dolen and Satovcha situated near the town of Goze Delchev (in southwestern Bulgaria). This type of so-called “high” singing is distinguished by its originality and uniqueness.

These “shouts” sound surprising and bring a feeling of strange and unstable musical mode. In pre-modern times, these songs were performed in different rituals and work situations in the villages of Dolen and Satovcha such as weddings, births and harvest times. We will witness a show of their singing. We hope that our appreciation and financial contribution helps to keep this ancient tradition going. This singing has infact gained popularity in the last decade and is incorporated into the modern music of the region.

We also visit an ethno centere a show case for local arts and crafts produced by local artisans.

As with all our trips we provide our travelers with a field manual before they travel which is an introduction to the area they will be traveling in, the horses they will ride and the places they will stay in. We also provide reminders to travel responsibly such as to be conscious of waste and plastic consumption.
At home our office is situated in an eco build which produces some of its own electricity, and has a rain water harvesting. We practice recycling of office materials. We also encourage our employees to make use of the public transport and bicycle facilities.


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