Monthly Archives: November 2012

Create a lasting memory this Christmas

If you are looking for an unforgettable Christmas gift this festive season consider treating that special someone to a present that combines his or her passion for horses, with a once in a lifetime experience.

In The Saddle specialise in horseback holidays at destinations all across the globe, from European getaways and short breaks to equestrian escapades on the other side of the world. With a holiday to suit every rider’s abilities, taste and sense of adventure, booking an equestrian trip for a loved one offers a unique and inspiring gift that no horse lover could be disappointed with.

For the equine enthusiast who is conscious of their purse strings, the Campania Relaxed Ride in Italy provides breathtaking scenery, exhilarating riding and beautiful accommodation, all at a great price. Set on a delightful hilltop farm in I Moresani, south of Naples, the Campania Relaxed Ride combines early morning rides with relaxed afternoons by the pool and delicious Italian cuisine. Priced from £534 per person, the Campania Relaxed Ride offers the trip of a lifetime at an affordable price.


For the equestrian adventurer, Montana’s Bonanza Creek provides the perfect destination to embrace any rider’s inner Cowgirl or Cowboy! Experience ‘Big Sky’ country at Bonanza Creek and discover what life is like on a real working cattle ranch. Enjoy hearty meals, stay in beautiful log cabins and ride along wooded mountainsides, through vast meadows and past crystal clear lakes. Priced from £1250 per person, Bonanza Creek allows riders to experience the thrill of ranch life on beautiful, responsive horses.


For the horse rider who has everything, a trip to the Sacred Valley Ride in Peru would simply take their breath away. Nestled between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley Ride takes travellers through the spectacular landscape of the Andes, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, deep blue lagoons and ancient lost cities. The Peruvian Paso horses are known as the Cadillacs amongst horses, with their ‘paso llano gait’ that allows you to cover the ground in a comfortable four beat lateral pace. Priced from £2677 per person, a trip to the Sacred Valley Ride in Peru will prove unforgettable for all the right reasons.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olwen Law tells us about riding in the USA

If you are considering a riding holiday in the USA, make sure you read our blog to find out more about the various choices available!

MONTANA is one of my favourite places in the world and it was actually the first place I visited when researching worldwide riding holidays and setting up In The Saddle. With some brand new business cards in my pocket and a fairly vague business plan in my head, I flew to Montana in July 1995. That was before the ‘worldwideweb’ and so my pre-trip research had consisted of ploughing through tourist board listings of ranches and phoning them to say I would be in the area.

For me, riding in Montana is all about getting into the mountains; to areas off-limits to vehicles. I’ve never felt the need to ride fast; it’s the being there that’s important and often you ride on very narrow tracks and switchbacks up and down mountain sides. At other times you might ride through meadows where “the grass is a high as an elephant’s eye” or at least brushing your stirrups. Since most of Montana’s moisture is snow melt, it’s not until late June/early July and the ground has warmed that the grass is green and you see beautiful wild flowers like the crimson Indian Paintbrush or delicate tiny orchids. Most of the guest ranches are near to the Continental Divide, where the rivers either flow west to the Pacific or east onto the great plains. These are where you will see the most spectacular Montana views and wish you were a billionaire film star and could afford your own ranch to enjoy for the two or three months of the short Montana summer.


WYOMING has many guest ranches. It also has most of Yellowstone National Park and Cody, a town which hangs onto its wild west history with a re-enactment of a shootout in the high street every afternoon and later a rodeo every night. Butch Cassidy was a cowboy on a number of ranches in Wyoming and the famous Hole in the Wall gang took its name from a high escarpment in central Wyoming. There was a gap in the escarpment, which became the hole through which the gang would escape and hideout. In this area, in a town called Ten Sleep (so named by the Indians because it was a journey of ten sleeps from Yellowstone) lives a wonderful woman called Belinda Daugherty who guides riding expeditions for the experienced rider. You could just imagine Butch Cassidy and his gang appearing from behind any of the bluffs. You can also still ride to the saloon and tie up your horse outside with the ride back home later being one of the hairier of the week! Sleep in a cowboy tepee which is a largish tent with a central pole in the middle, pegged out at the corners.


COLORADO for us means cattle work and Colorado Cattle Company. Many many Americans (and Europeans too) yearn to recreate the life of the cowboy. The re-release of City Slickers (the movie) as a collector’s edition DVD includes a 10 minute feature on Colorado Cattle Company in the extra features section titled “The Real City Slickers” which tells the story of a day in the life of a guest to the ranch. At this working ranch some 12 – 16 guests spend the days with cattle work and the job to be done will depend on the time of year. In spring the ranch will be busy with calving, branding and moving pairs to summer pastures. In autumn there are several cattle drives a week before cattle are shipped to winter feedyards. In the afternoon there is the opportunity for Cowboy School – learn the correct way to handle a rope from a horse and how to read and work cattle.

SOUTH DAKOTA’s Fortune Ranch offers the chance to be a part of the real thing because the rancher takes just one or two guests at a time who live as part of the family, riding alongside the family. This close experience wouldn’t suit everyone but for those who go, they get to see and work cattle in much the same way as their forefathers did with horse, rope and neighbour helping neighbour. About the main thing that has changed is that rarely now do cowboys camp out overnight. We’re always getting asked if we know of any cattle drives involving overnight camps, but cowboys just don’t it that way anymore. All prefer the comfort of their own bed and trailer the horses to and from the cattle each day. But that’s about the only aspect that’s not how you would imagine it to be if like me you grew up with Little Joe and Hoss Cartwright (and if you are curious Bonanza ran for 14 years between 1959 and 1973) and perhaps showing too many hours in front of afterschool TV, my first thoughts on visiting Fortune Ranch was that it was just like “Little House on the Prairie”.


ARIZONA in southern USA is much warmer than the northern Rocky States like Montana and Wyoming and so the guest ranches can be open all year round, although it’s mainly only the British who would visit in July and August when it’s really far too hot to enjoy any horse riding. Here we also find one of the most famous resort ranches in the USA. Tanque Verde Ranch has been taking “eastern dudes” since 1908. It has over 70 luxury rooms and nearly 200 horses. Riding is still the main activity although you can also play tennis, swim, go mountain biking or hiking or relax in a luxury spa. The ranch is undoubtedly very popular with families but suitable also for experienced riders who must pass a lope test before being allowed out on the fast rides.


CALIFORNIA is the home of Lari Shea, one of the most famous American endurance riders who won the Tevis Cup in 1989. She first moved to the north California coastal town of Mendocino in 1968 and since then has completed well over 6,000 miles in 50 and 100 mile endurance races, with top ten completions in 94 of 106 rides. Lari has offered her Redwood Coast Riding Vacations since 1985 and as such it was one of the first riding holidays on the international market. Getting there is an exciting drive over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and north through famous wineyards, then roads lined with majestic Redwoods until you reach the wild Pacific coastline. Lari has a wider selection of horses than you would typically find at a ranch and they include Arabians, Akhal-Teke, Appaloosa, Thoroughbred and Quarter horses. They are all super fit so it’s a fun fast ride galloping along the endless beaches and winding through forest tracks. Her currently competing horses are given to guests and when Lari is guiding throughout the day she shares her immense knowledge of getting horses fit for competition and successful completing an ER. She is keen to retire from the riding holiday business and so if you want to ride with her don’t delay; and if you want to take-over a successful riding holiday operation then she would be very keen to hear from you.

THE CHOICE
This is just a short summary of the wonderful riding opportunities in a few US states. Western riding should come very easily to endurance riders who are used to controlling and turning their horse with a slight change in their weight. And of course the typical ranch Quarter horse is so well trained that even a beginner can quickly feel in control. It’s clear that when choosing a vacation in the US you need to think carefully about what you are looking for. Is it scenery, fast riding, cowboy life? Being part of a larger fun group or visiting somewhere which takes only one or two guests? Accommodation can vary from beautifully furnished log cabins to a bunkhouse shared with five others. Horses have been key to the development of America and on a riding holiday you can experience a little of the way early settlers travelled and how the cowboys lived and worked.

Riding holidays in the USA can be booked through In The Saddle www.inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A day of inspiration for Sam and Carenza John at the Riding Holiday Show

On Saturday 3rd November 2012, Sam John and her daughter Carenza realised a dream and spent the afternoon sipping tea, eating scones and talking riding holidays at the iconic Ritz Hotel in London, with none other than 6-times-Olympic rider, Mary King!

Having won a competition in the October issue of Horse & Rider magazine courtesy of equestrian travel experts In The Saddle, Sam was in a state of disbelief when she heard the news that they had been picked. “My daughter Carenza didn’t believe me at first,” Sam said. “I called her as soon as she came out of school and she was screaming and nearly crying with excitement!”

The day began by a visit to the Riding Holiday Show at the Royal Overseas League in London, where Mary was giving an exclusive presentation to guests at the show. “I found the Riding Holiday Show so interesting,” says Sam. “I didn’t realise there were so many places you could ride and how professional and organised the exhibitors would be with their film clips, photographs and fantastic knowledge.”

“Neither Carenza or I have been on a riding holiday,” Sam admits. “We were both really interested in the Spanish holidays as we think this would be a great place to start with riding holidays and I have since asked for more information. I was really surprised at how reasonable the prices were and how interesting and varied the itineraries are for the places we looked at.”

After talking travel for several hours Sam and Carenza, along with just two other guests, got to spend the afternoon with Mary.

There is nothing like sitting next to one of the most famous event riders in the world to leave you stuck for words, however Mary’s relaxed nature soon put Sam and Carenza at ease. “I found it scary at first,” Carenza admits. “Especially when Mary asked me to sit by her in the Ritz and we had to decide what kind of tea we wanted! She was such a nice chatty lady though and insisted on pouring my tea all afternoon and made sure I ate plenty of sandwiches and cakes! I didn’t expect her to be so keen to hear about my own riding but she was and then she talked to us about embryo transplants – a strange conversation to have over afternoon tea but it was fascinating!”

“The whole day was a fantastic experience and one I will remember forever,” Carenza tells us. “Mary kindly signed a book for me and wrote a lovely personal message wishing me well with my riding and thanking me for a lovely afternoon at the Ritz.”

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A journey to Jordan

In The Saddle client, Rebecca, talks about embarking on The Footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia ride in Jordan

Words can’t fully describe how amazing this experience was…

The visit to Petra at the start of the trip allowed us to meet our group and then take in the history of the country with a very knowledgeable guide. Petra is epic, and we spent around 8 hours inside, looking at all of the monuments, enjoying lunch and having a cheeky donkey ride when our legs got tired. For horse lovers, I would recommend the donkey rides that have adults looking after them rather than children, who tend to hit their donkeys with a stick a bit too much for my liking (around 10-15 JD is the usual price). I would not recommend the horse carts as some of the going is very rough and uneven, and we all felt a bit sorry for the horses negotiating this with some larger build tourists sat on top. Comfortable shoes are a necessity for this aspect of the trip, and taking the 800 steps to see the Monastery and the views of the mountains from so high up is definitely worth it. The majority of the workers inside Petra now live in the purpose built village outside of the UNESCO site, and they are all very friendly and offer you tea and to show you what they are selling. The language spoken most within is English, which is helpful to have a common language.

The next day we took the car to the Wadi Rum, where the stables are situated. The company, Jordan Tracks, is very well organised and all of the connections between the various hotels/destinations are well managed and punctual. One of the drivers is a relative of the owner of the company, and he ensures that the journeys are very comfortable and points out landmarks along the way. Upon arrival at the stables, we met our guide and the support staff. After a short chat about our experience of riding and what horses we like (over tea, naturally), we met our horses and began the trek…

I had a fantastic horse called Shareef, he was definitely the fastest and most forward going horse that I have ever ridden. We had a small group of 5 guests and then Salem our guide, and this felt like the perfect number; we were able to ride together in a group and have a lot of long canters and gallops. We also had the opportunity to gallop on our own and have races a number of times, with Salem taking a lot of photos and videos for us. At the start of the week, the horses were extremely fresh and I would advise taking gloves as some of the reins are lacking a bit of grip. I found Shareef pulled a bit at the start of the week, when we took in some controlled canters to allow us to get the feel of the horses. Later in the week, we let them off the rein and went full tilt for a lot of stretches. I think this may have been due to the small group and the fact that there were some very experienced riders in it (I have been riding on and off for 24 years and would certainly not consider myself the best rider of this group, that’s how good some of the girls were!), that Salem felt comfortable with us letting the horses have their heads. The feeling of galloping with the wind in your hair, laughing with your new found friends as they gallop beside you, and wondering whether or not the horses will ever run out of steam has got to be my favourite part of the trip. The horses will always pull up, so slightly nervous riders need not be too concerned; they listen to you but do like to be free at times.



The camps were very comfortable each night; we had a “shower” tent every day (some hot water in buckets to be able to rinse the sand off and wash your hair a couple of times) and the tents were very warm. We had a sleep talker in the group, which woke the camp and the horses one night, but they provided a spare tent for the girl sharing with the sleep talker to ensure that they were both able to sleep more comfortably for the rest of the week at no extra cost.

Salman was our cook, and his character and food are legendary! He pertains not to speak English but we all felt he knew a lot more than he let on. Every day the food was well prepared and enjoyable. It is vegetarian at dinner time and then meat with rice or potatoes and vegetables at tea time, there is also always fresh bread available to snack on. One afternoon we met our guide’s family in their traditional Bedouin tent, and had tea with them and were able to experience their way of life looking after camels, sheep and a donkey. Their neighbour’s little boy also came down for tea and enjoyed looking at our photos on a digital camera, as well as posing for us. They made us feel very welcome and at home. Most evenings by the campfire we seemed to pick up Bedouin waifs and strays! A particular favourite was “Saba the camel man” who likes to talk about his camels and perform the infamous camel dance. Saleem, the owner of the company, visited every night also, which was a lovely gesture as I do not know many Western companies where the owner would have that much hands on experience with their guests. He played a traditional guitar for us most nights and the rest of them would sing songs for us whilst we clapped. I felt very at ease within their company and spent many happy hours after a long day in the saddle relaxing by the fire.

It was a joy to sleep out in the desert and hear the horse’s soft movements during the night. For those that have never experienced a night sky away from any artificial light or pollution, it is truly awesome. The night is black, and it stretches as far as you can see, broken only by the shadows of the mountains around us. The stars come out in force, and you can see them all. You can even see wisps of what we believed were the Milky Way or the atmosphere; it really is that clear. One night we all lay back to watch as the stars put on a show for us and we saw about nine or ten shooting stars, one after the other. 
We looked after our own horse each day; grooming and saddling them. I was unsure of the particular martingale that was being used, and Farej (the camp jack of all trades, assisting with cooking, setting up the camp and the horses) kindly helped me with this and showed me how to attach it all properly. All of our group were very happy with the horses that we were allocated, nobody needed to swap or had any complaints; we were all very well suited. I found Shareef quite an independent horse, but when he felt like it, he could be very affectionate and posed handsomely for many photos (well, his name does mean noble in English).

Salem and Saleem were excellent hosts; telling us of the Bedouin way of life and pointing out landmarks along the way. They are very proud of their horses and the company and rightly so. We were made to feel welcome and we felt that they wanted to make the experience the best that it could be, not just so we could enjoy it, but because they seemed to be enjoying our company and the trek just as much as we were.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to the horses. The long ride back to the stables felt sad, as we all knew that we had turned in our direction due to the sun shining on us from a different angle. The horses also knew that they were going home, and were quite excitable again, surely to get back and tell their friends at the stables of their six day adventure! The huge sand dunes, red and white sand mixing, giant rock formations, natural bridges and wells were all sights that I had never seen before, and probably never will again, and to be able to see all of this from horseback was perfect for me.

I could not have asked for anything more from this trip. When I booked with In the Saddle (after a lot of helpful correspondence from Tracy and Cathy, thank you!), I wanted to have an adventure. I set out with this in mind; I wanted to do something and see places that I would not normally do or see, to clear my head and experience a totally different way of life. (Do not expect on phone or Wi-Fi signal and take a good book to read during the long lunch breaks) I did not read a lot about The Wadi Rum before I visited, as I wanted to experience it with no expectations. It was all that I wanted and more. I can only say a huge thanks to all at Jordan Tracks and In the Saddle for organising such a trek, adieu to all of my new friends and to Shareef my (mostly!) trusty steed, I wish I didn’t have to leave you behind…!

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abbie Wood blogs about her visit to Okapuka in Namibia

At In The Saddle, we are often asked about what makes a perfect riding safari. There are many ingredients that can make a good safari great, but we think the top priorities include top quality horses, variety of game, excellent guiding and fabulous riding. At Okapuka you will find these in abundance.


Soon after your arrival, you’ll be taken down to the ranch’s impressive stables. Almost immediately it becomes apparent just how much passion Ingeborg and Sacha have for the horses. Each stable is light and airy, with a spacious section at the back of the stable separated by an archway where the horses can go for some peace and quiet, a snooze or to eat. These are some lucky horses!

Out in the paddocks it is a similar story, as sleek Arabians contentedly munch on their hay, enjoy a roll or mooch about with their paddock-mates. For those who are interested, Ingeborg and Sacha can tell you each horse’s age, breeding, likes and dislikes.

Under saddle, the horses are light in the mouth and well-schooled. Out on a ride you will appreciate their balance and responsiveness as you trot along sandy tracks, negotiate rocky terrain as you climb up into the mountains, or speed along through the bush as a fast canter. What I loved about the horses at Okapuka was that their spirit and individuality, instead of being quashed, has been relished. They might just shy at a blade of grass or a log that they have seen hundreds of times. These are not your average trail horses (and would look haughtily at you if you suggested otherwise!). They are well-bred, forward going, packed full of character and perfect for competent riders who enjoy a spirited horse.


The riding is varied. One day you might set off on a morning ride in search of game such as hartebeest, blesbok, giraffe, wildebeest, white rhino and sable. Pause to watch elegant giraffe nibble daintily at some lofty foliage or perhaps your canter will be interrupted as a family of warthog cross the path in front of you.


In the afternoon you might ride down to the lake for the chance to see the resident crocodile, before continuing your ride across the reserve. Later on, pause for a sundowner; enjoy a refreshing drink as you watch the sun slide down towards the horizon creating a wonderful African sunset of pinks, oranges and purples.

During a week-long stay there should be the chance for a picnic ride. After breakfast, set off across the savannah tracking game. Perhaps have a canter along a dry river bed, or challenge yourself with a canter of up to 10km! Stop for a delicious picnic lunch during the hottest hours of the day. A table is laid out for you in a picturesque spot, with ice-cold drinks ready and waiting for you. After a relaxing siesta, the horses are saddled once more and you’ll ride back to the lodge in time for a dip in the pool to cool off.


Accommodation is in Thatched Park rooms, which are a short walk from the main lodge. These rooms have an en-suite shower room and are furnished in tasteful African style. Each has a ceiling fan, fridge and telephone. Or you can choose to stay closer to the horses, in the spacious and modern Stable Rooms. Meals are taken in the restaurant at the main lodge, or if you prefer, at the bar. Quite often, game such as wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok gather on the lawns outside the lodge in the evening.

My time at Okapuka was action-packed; filled with good company, super riding, great game sightings and stunning scenery. Let Okapuka, Namibia and Ingeborg’s wonderful horses let you experience a riding safari you will never forget.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harriet Walker’s African Adventure: Embarking on the first mobile safari

Harriet Walker is swapping hunting and horses in Leicestershire for three months as a working pupil at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana. Follow her journey on www.horseandhound.co.uk as she jets off on her very own African adventure…

I have just returned from my first mobile safari, staying four nights in ‘the bush’ with some of our guests from In The Saddle, and having experienced true outdoor life – a bush bathroom and washing outside – I can honestly say it was fantastic!

I hear that the weather in the UK has been ‘typically British’ and I have to admit to seeing my first drop of African rain. However it is a far cry from what we have back home! In Botswana when it rains, it pours, but unlike the grey drizzle and damp that I am used to the rain lasts for a matter of minutes and returns to glorious sunshine straight afterwards. The great thing is that it refreshes the temperature, so all the animals come out – meaning that our guests get to see even more game than normal!


I was riding Foxy again to give him experience and show him what life is like on a safari, he was so good and took it all in his stride. The riding is really fun on safari, especially in the Tuli area of Botswana. You walk quite a bit so you can take in the sights and also negotiate some of the more challenging terrain, but equally there are some lovely places to go for long canters and jump logs and ditches if you wish.

One evening when I was on nightwatch, there were a pack of hyenas around 15 metres from the camp because a Zebra had died on the edge and they were making the most of the meal. I did find it a little daunting at first but out here it is just part of life.


While we were out on safari we also did a game drive, which was amazing. On horseback you try and avoid cats – for obvious reasons – but when you are in the car you can get closer. We saw nine cheetah and four lions, amongst other animals. There was a lioness with her three one-month-old cubs , they were so cute and looked like little puppies – playing and chasing each other. The cheetah were hunting wildebeest, so we got to see them stalking their prey and hiding in the bushes. It is so surreal to watch this all happen and think that this is just nature and really does happen every day!

I am thoroughly enjoying my trip, although I am feeling quite tired after the safari, the staff sleep outside under the stars, which is beautiful but you are naturally more alert, and getting up at 5am every morning to get the horses ready to leave by 6am, together with around 6 hours in the saddle means long days!


My main job when we are out with guests is to school and get horses used to going on safari but I also help waitress during meals, clean tack, and generally look after the horses. One of the things that still makes me smile every time is that West, our guide, cracks the bull whip just before we arrive at camp to alert the staff ahead who have set up camp, and three grooms will be standing waiting to take the guests’ horses the second we arrive.

The Tuli Safari is one of the most thrilling and exciting adventures I have ever been on and I can’t wait for the next one!

As published on www.horseandhound.co.uk on 25th October 2012

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The Riding Holiday show brings equestrian travel to London

On Saturday 3rd November, at the Royal Overseas League in London, equestrian travel experts In The Saddle played hosts to the UK’s only exhibition dedicated solely to horse riding holidays, the Riding Holiday Show. Having run the show in previous years, the 2012 show proved to be the busiest event yet with people coming from all over the world to discuss their shared love of horseback adventures.


The weather was beautiful in London, which certainly helped put visitors in the right frame of mind to be inspired. With holiday representatives from across the globe demonstrating passion and dedication to their destinations, visitors were treated to local delicacies, native tipples and a small taste of what to expect on their trips.


From the moment the doors opened at 11am, until the close of play at 6pm, the two floors at the Royal Overseas League were buzzing with multi-cultural conversations, from Mongolians and Tibetans to Americans and Europeans.


In addition to the holiday representatives, the show caused much excitement with the arrival of 6-times-Olympian Mary King and the British Dressage Chef D’Equipe, Major Richard Waygood MBE. Both told inspiring tales of horseback travel, competing at the highest level and realising Olympic dreams.


In The Saddle’s Director, Olwen Law, was overjoyed with the response to the 2012 Riding Holiday Show. “Over the years the event has grown,” she says. “In fact it started off as a simple cocktail party and has now turned into a quite significant event!”

“The aim of the show is to give past, current and potential clients the chance to speak directly to the guides and really learn about the places they wish to see,” she goes on to say. “Many of our regular customers thoroughly enjoy meeting up with guides they have spent time with on past holidays, as well as bumping into guests they have met on their travels, and planning their next exploration. Meanwhile for those who have never been on a riding holiday before it gives them the chance to ask questions in a relaxed environment to help them with the sometimes daunting decision of where to go first!”


“There is no other show like the Riding Holiday Show,” Olwen admits. “Once again the team behind the scenes did us proud. It takes a lot of organisation and it is testament to our staff and helpers that the show ran so smoothly. Guides, clients and our presenters all remarked on the turnout at the show and we were so pleased to see so many new faces keen to embark on the magic of an equestrian adventure.”


If you missed out on the Riding Holiday Show, but would still like to learn more about the trips available, visit: www.inthesaddle.com

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Abbie Woods tells us about her trip to The Desert Homestead in Namibia

In April this year, Abbie Woods was lucky enough to be offered the chance to visit Namibia. Here she tells us all about this magical trip…

Mention this country to anyone who has seen it for themselves and you are sure to be regaled with stories of a land of great beauty and diversity. Namibia’s astounding landscapes are far from subtle. From the towering rust-coloured dunes of Sossusvlei and the rugged mountain ranges of the central plateau, to the Kalahari with its ancient deep-red sands and the tropical forests and woodland savannahs of Kavango and Caprivi, Namibia’s topography and scenery offer astounding diversity in just one country. However short or long your stay, wherever you go, this country has to be seen to be believed. Let me try to make a start…..

The Desert Homestead
Close your eyes and imagine wide open grassy plains, only interrupted by the occasional jagged-topped mountain. Plains so vast that areas ahead and to the side of you change colour like a chameleon from soft sandy hues, to vibrant shimmery yellows as the clouds move overhead.

In this idyllic spot sits The Desert Homestead, a lodge offering fantastic riding over endless plains, rugged mountains, sandy dunes and dry river beds. Here you will experience a heady combination of a wonderful riding holiday, excellent food, relaxing dips in the pool, alfresco dining and breathtaking sunsets over the surrounding mountain ranges.

This is an area home to desert-adapted springbok, ostrich, oryx and hyena. You may be lucky enough to spot southern pale chanting goshawks or perhaps a dune lark, but you will almost certainly see social weaver birds and their incredible nests.

No doubt, your experienced guide will tell you all about the smelly shepherd tree and the intriguing fairy circles. But this is an area (and a country) worth visiting for more than just its resident wildlife. The geology is astounding, the light magnificent and the cultures intriguing.

Ride out in the early morning before the warmth of the day really sets in. Return to the lodge for a refreshing swim in the pool and to have lunch, then set out on horseback again in the afternoon. As the heat of the day begins to dip, pause for a sundowner as you watch the changing light shift the long savannah grasses into a magical expanse of dancing gold and silver fronds.

The itinerary is flexible and will be tailored to the wishes of the groups, but the sleep-out camps are a delight not to be missed. There is something magical about settling down around the camp-fire with a gin and tonic and then eating a delicious meal under the inky-blackness of the Namibian night sky.


Click here to find out more about travelling to The Desert Homestead in Namibia.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding safaris, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Explore Africa with Major Richard Waygood MBE

Equestrian travel experts, In The Saddle have organised an exclusive opportunity for a small selection of guests to join a horseback safari in April 2013 to Macatoo, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, with Major Richard Waygood M.B.E.


Major Richard Waygood joined the Household Cavalry at the age of 16 and over the years worked his way up to the highly respected post of Riding Master. As an exceptionally talented equestrian, Richard rode and competed on a private basis for Her Majesty, The Queen for a period of 15 years and was awarded an M.B.E in 2009 for his outstanding services to both the military and the civilian equestrian world. During the last decade he has accomplished many equestrian accolades including the BHS award of Merit, and in 2012 he led the British Dressage team, as Chef d’Equipe, to famously win three Olympic medals at London 2012, two of which were Gold.


Over the years Richard has embraced virtually every equestrian adventure, in fact a recent magazine article suggested ‘30 things on horseback to do before you die’, of which Richard had completed virtually all of them. However, one place in the world that he has not been is the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

“Once you have been to Africa it gets under your skin,” Richard states. “I have never been to the Okavango Delta before but have been told that it is absolutely mind blowing! Of all the things I have ever done on a horse, including jumping at Badminton, riding on the frozen lake in ST Moritz, and experiencing the thrill of a steeplechase, they all pale into insignificance compared to going on a horseback safari. It is so much more than a holiday, it is a true adventure!”


Macatoo offers the experience of a lifetime in the magical Okavango Delta, combining the chance to explore one of Africa’s prime wildlife areas with camping in luxury, tented accommodation. Rise early and catch the beautiful open space at dawn, enjoy long canters with zebra or giraffe, track elephant and buffalo across the open plains and relax and unwind in one of the world’s most spectacular locations.


In The Saddle is offering this unique chance to experience the awe-inspiring trip alongside a legendary horseman from 6th – 13th April 2013. Listen to inspirational tales from Richard whilst riding across Africa’s spectacular scenery and enjoy hearing about his lifetime achievements over convivial dinners and a beautiful campfire. For more information about joining this memorable trip call 01299 272 997 or visit: www.inthesaddle.com

Richard will also be joining In The Saddle at the Riding Holiday Show on 3rd November at the Royal Overseas League in London to discuss and share his equestrian adventures with guests and likeminded travellers.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The final countdown to the Riding Holiday Show 2012

On Saturday 3rd November, the Royal Overseas League near Piccadilly in London will host the UK’s only exhibition dedicated solely to equestrian travel. Brought to guests by horseback holiday experts, In The Saddle, the show promises an action packed day full of information about inspirational equine adventures all across the globe.

With over 37 different riding outfitters coming to the Riding Holiday Show, attendees will feel like they have travelled around the world and back, with representatives visiting from Tunisia, Argentina, France, Italy, America and Africa – to list just a handful! To see the full list of exhibitors click here.


Visitors will all be entered into a range of exclusive competitions, including the chance to win a £5,000 Safari at Motswiri in Botswana for two, a short break at Los Alamos in Spain for two, and goodies from Ariat, Just Chaps, The Safari Store and Cotswold Outdoor! In addition, goody bags will be given to every person who walks through the door containing exclusive show vouchers to help you save money when purchasing all your riding holiday packing essentials!

As if this wasn’t enough, throughout the day there will be a full schedule of presentations from all manner of equestrians, including Olympic medallist Mary King, Cor Carlesen from Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris, Anna Wirth from Rocking Z Ranch in Montana and Major Richard Waygood MBE! Click here for a full timetable of presentations and to plan your trip to the Riding Holiday Show 2012.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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