Monthly Archives: January 2013

Five of the best… Winter Wonderland Trips

If you are one of the people who loves winter and embraces the snow then did you know there are plenty of places where you can ride through breathtaking winter wonderlands, and take in spectacular snowy views from the back of a horse? Read our pick of some of the best ‘snow chasing’ trips you can take on horseback…

The land of ice and fire
It may seem an obvious choice, but Iceland lives up to its name in the winter months and provides a snowy haven for winter wanderers! Situated just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is an enormous, unspoilt, natural landscape dominated by volcanoes, geysers, young mountains and glaciers and exploring it by horseback is truly memorable.

Experience views from snow capped mountains and volcanoes, to lunar landscapes and waterfalls, whilst riding the wonderful native Icelandic horses. Iceland is one of the most amazing places to ride horses, and the most fun. Tolting across the wilderness on an Icelandic horse is a unique experience, and one that every rider should experience at least once in their lifetime! Their willing attitude and strength provides riders with tremendous fun and the tolt is a fast gait that is comfortable and enables the horse to cover great distances.

A Swedish adventure
If you want guaranteed snow and crisp white views, Sweden is a fabulous place to visit during the winter months. Often referred to as Europe’s last remaining wilderness, Swedish Lapland in northern Sweden is a vast landscape of towering alpine peaks and endless vistas of pine forest, Polar plains, meadows and glaciers. And what better way to explore this magical kingdom than from the back of a sturdy Icelandic horse?

on ice
On a trip to Sweden you can expect to see native wildlife including reindeer and moose, and if you are lucky, the famous Northern Lights. There are plenty of activities for riders, and non-riding guests, mixed up with cultural visits to learn more about the Saami nomadic culture. Combine riding through forests and open grassland with ice fishing, reindeer herding and sledding – to name but a few of the alternative activities available.

Sweden offers a snow-filled adventure for people that love the great outdoors and when you are not flying around the country on sleds or snowmobiles, you can experience the wonderful peace and tranquility of being in the wilderness covered in a blanket of snow!

sun riding
Escape to a winter wonderland
If you want to step back in time, then a trip to Romania will indulge the nostalgic amongst you! For many people in rural areas of this beautiful country, the main mode of transport is still horse and cart, and with no gates to open, or bridle paths and tarmac roads to restrict you, exploring the seemingly endless meadows, forest tracks and mountain rides will treat your senses!

Exploring the wild Carpathian Mountains is not for the faint hearted so you should be a confident rider – the terrain can be steep, and there are areas for some fast paced canters. It is also the only place in Europe, west of Russia, where widespread populations of wolves, bears and lynx roam.

When you embark on the Winter Ride based from Equus Silvania, during January and February, there is a very strong chance that you will experience horseback riding through the snow. Ride up the forests and see wonderful views across to snow-capped peaks in the distance, enjoy delicious warming lunches in the guesthouse and relax in front of a roaring fire in the evenings to unwind.

See the snow in Big Sky Country
If you have ever seen a Western film and felt a pang for the wide-open spaces, this is the destination for you! Surrounded by wild mountain ranges, open grassy plains and riverine forest, seeing Montana by horseback in winter is breathtaking!

Rocking Z in winter
Exploring Montana from the back of a horse means you can seek out the areas off-limits to vehicles giving an unbridled feeling of freedom and connection to the great outdoors. From crystal clear alpine lakes, to picture perfect meadows and foothills, everywhere you look in Montana is a feast for your eyes and spending time in this thought provoking country will take you far away from the wintery woes at home!

Montana offers many variations of horseback riding, from trail riding and cattle work, to natural horsemanship. Warning though, spending time in the evocative vast landscape that the legendary Monty Roberts grew up can lead to day dreaming about becoming a millionaire film star and owning a small chunk of this captivating countryside.

winter at Rocking Z
See snow-capped mountains in South America
Some parts of the world never escape from snow. A trip to Torres del Paine in the extreme south of Chile during the early months of the year may be technically during their summer, however the cool, refreshing mountain air is the perfect way to enliven the senses as you ascend up snow capped mountain trails.

With several riding options in this area, Torres del Paine will certainly appeal to the adventurous as you trek through the National Park, experiencing towering snow capped peaks, glacial rivers, azure lakes and huge glaciers!

Perfect for travellers wanting to mix up their experience with some fast paced riding and more steady trails to peruse the local surroundings, the riding in Chile is diverse. The rugged, wild beauty of the National Park is so unique that much of it is protected and riding through it is a privilege that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. For a once in a lifetime winter experience, Chile offers something spectacular.

For more information on winter riding holidays visit:

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beat the January blues

January is the month that everyone dreads, the ‘hangover’ from a fun-filled Christmas and New Year celebration, cold weather and seemingly endless dark evenings, not to mention getting back into work after a break. However, January is also the time to make plans and look forward to new adventures! We have picked out a few destinations to help you choose where to go depending on the month you want to travel…

January – March
If your priority is to get away as soon as possible then during the first quarter of the year, from January until March, one of the best destinations to travel to is South America. With good weather all year round, there are plenty of opportunities to embrace your adventurous side, from Argentina to Ecuador and Brazil to Costa Rica!

In particular Argentina is a wonderful place to visit during the early months of the year and this is where the legendary Across the Andes trip begins. This is the last season of this trip – which provides riders with a wondrous journey across one of the world’s greatest mountain ranges – so to experience the challenging terrain and mythical explorations you will need to act quickly.

Setting off from Estancia Huechahue in Argentina, you will get to see wonderful vistas and sleep beneath vast skies, enjoy long canters across the wide landscape and feel part of Argentina’s historical culture. As you cross the border and end your trip at Puente Barras in Chile you will notice the dramatic change in landscape, from wide-open mountainous land to lush green temperate rain forests. If you are looking to see South America’s flora and fauna at its most natural then this trip is one to embrace this year!

SABRAPMonte Negro 042

April – June
As the seasons change, April, May and June are the perfect months to plan a trip to Europe’s fourth largest country, Spain!

Horse riding is deeply ingrained in Spanish culture so there are a wealth of destinations for you to choose from – from the Southern province of Andalucia to the coastal hills of Catalonia, Spain also offers some of the best beach riding in the world and the chance to ride some of the famous native horses. The spring in Spain offers beautiful sunshine and pleasant heat without the humidity that you can get in the height of summer – making it perfect for a vacation early on in the year.


Situated south from the Granada, the Sierra Navada is the highest mountain range in Spain and exploring it by horseback provides breathtaking views, particularly during the Spring. See beautiful wild flowers stretching across valleys, ride through ravines and spot new season wildlife – the Sierra Nevada is an outdoors enthusiast’s paradise!

The riding follows ancient Moorish drovers’ paths through steep valleys filled with Mediterranean almond and walnut groves, up to high pastures irrigated by the snowmelt! Each day you embark on a new adventure, crossing challenging terrain, enjoying freshly made picnics surrounded by beautiful scenery and on to a different village inn where you will be welcomed with open arms and supplied with local food and wine – which after a day of riding, you will be ravenous for! The Sierra Nevada stimulates the senses and offers an idyllic location to hide from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!


July – September
This third quarter of the year, Kenya plays host to one of the most spectacular natural events in the world!

The Maasai Mara wildebeest migration crosses from Tanzania to Kenya during the late summer and this is something that can only be truly appreciated by witnessing it first hand! Kenya is a beautiful country to explore by horseback and, unlike many other safaris, is not on managed reserves – which means you benefit from interacting with the Maasai tribes people as well as seeing nature roam totally wild amongst the plains.

Kenya 06 ITS 045
The Maasai Mara is thought of as one of the most outstanding game reserves in the world – you can expect to see wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, giraffe and the giants of Africa – the elephant. The migration usually means vast quantities of plain game, and of course predators too making wildlife spotting an exciting exercise! There are several venues that give you the perfect platform to be part of this natural phenomenon, from mobile safaris to camp based trips.

Kenya is spectacular to visit throughout the year, however if you are looking for that once in a lifetime trip then July, August and September will exceed your expectations!


October – December
As we approach the end of the year there is still time to fit in one last jaunt before festivities consume you once again! During October, November and December experienced riders can embark on a spectacular exploration across the vast countryside of Tunisia, with the wide-open space of the desert and saltpans providing the perfect location for any speed demons!


With almost half of Tunisia being part of the Sahara Desert you can imagine the kind of vast open space that will greet you on this trip. The Desert and Mountain Oasis Ride is in the southern interior of Tunisia and is one of the fastest trail rides we have been on! Ride across wild wind blown desert landscapes to welcoming oasis towns that appear on the horizon, and see how the locals live in this arid desert location.

Riding the famous Barb Arabians that are as fit and as lean as lithe race-horses, you will get the chance to enjoy fast canters and gallops every day of this trip, mixed up with slower riding across some of the more challenging terrain – this ride is not for the nervous rider, however your bravery will be rewarded by some of the most exhilarating riding of your life!

Tunisia is the perfect way to end your year and offers an escape from reality, even just for a short while!


For more travel inspiration visit 

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

Chris Day tells us about her evocative trip to Israel

Chris Day embarked on an epic trail across Israel in November 2012. Here she shares her thoughts on this relatively unexplored country and how viewing it from horseback offered an interesting insight into some of the country’s culture and history…

As I left Tel Aviv airport building the sound of the birds hit me. There are two trees either side of the doors and they were full of little sparrows, all tweeting like mad! What a lovely welcome to this country!

As we drove north to the lower Galilee, our guide Yair was happy to answer all our questions. He is very knowledgeable about the history of his country and very interesting to listen to. After stopping for dinner at an Arab restaurant, we arrived at Moshov Shorona, settled into our rooms, enjoyed a glass of wine and then headed to bed to prepare for the first day of riding.


After breakfast we went to the stables in Shedmoat Devora and became acquainted with our horses, I met my ride, who was a lovely bay Quarter Horse called Jameson. Together we rode onto the beautiful Sirin Heights, which was lush and green after recent rains had triggered new growth. The terrain was undulating and we had some lovely canters whilst taking in the wonderful views of Mount Tabor. After a delicious lunch we ascended up Mount Tabor to the Church of Transfiguration where we were met by far reaching views across the vast landscape.

From Mount Tabor we drove to Nazareth to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation (where the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary) and the Church of St Joseph, which is apparently on the site of Joseph’s house and workshop and where Jesus was raised.


This morning we rode into the Jordan Valley with Judah guiding us. The going was good and again we had some nice long canters. Our first view of the Sea of Galilee was awesome! Not just beautiful, but also highly evocative. Riding down into the valley we passed a grove of ancient acacia trees, reputedly 3 – 4,000 years old. This is the Yaela Grove, the site where Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, killed Sisera. We rode alongside the River Jordan, where our horses took a well-earned drink, to the site of the first ever kibbutz, Kibbutz Degania, and on to Yair’s brother’s farm.


Today we rode different horses from the stables at Kibbutz HaZorea with Uri as our guide. I had a lovely horse called ‘Dawn’ who gave me some great canters. We rode through woods and on hillsides through the Ramot Menashe National Park. The hills were covered in wild thyme, which gave off a wonderful scent as we rode. In the afternoon we visited Tel Mageddo – the site of Armageddon to you and me! A fascinating place which has been occupied since about 7,000 BC.

Tonight we stayed in cabins at Kibbutz Dalia; they are really nice with the luxury of a bath too! We had dinner with a local lady called Aviv, and her friend Eran. What a feast she prepared for us! It was lovely to spend time with them and they were very happy to answer all our questions about life on a kibbutz.


Today we were joined on the ride by Yair’s Arab friend Omar, and two other friends (Uri and Chaz). Yair brought his new Arab stallion, Dubai, and Omar and Uri also had their own horses. It was a lovely day and we rode for about 1 ½ hours to a picnic spot where we shared wine, coffee, almonds, fruit and croissant. Even though Omar doesn’t speak any English (other than ‘welcome’) we were a happy group. Chaz commented how good it was to be riding with four Jews, one Arab and two Christians!

We continued riding up Mt Carmel and had some nice canters where the ground allowed. We stopped in an olive grove just below the monastery and tied the horses to the trees in the shade. A friend of Yair’s arrived with table, chairs and warm food and salads. Lovely! After lunch we went up to look at the Carmelite Monastery. This is the site where the Prophet Elijah supposedly slaughtered the prophets of Baal.


Today was our non-riding day and we set off for Jerusalem at about 9am. When we arrived in the city we went straight to the Mt of Olives. What a view of Old Jerusalem, it was spectacular! We went to Gethsemane and visited the Russian Church of Mary Magdalene; the Byzantine Church (in a beautiful ancient grove of olive trees); Mary’s Tomb in the Greek Orthodox church, next to which is a grotto marking the spot where Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

From here we went into the old town itself, following the Via Delarosa, the route that Jesus walked to his crucifixion, carrying his cross. We visited the Dome of the Rock, which houses the sepulchre, and the Western Wall (‘wailing wall’). Finally we went up to a rooftop and had the most incredible views over the old town – it was quite an experience!

As we drove south from Jerusalem towards the Judea Desert we stopped at the site where David slew Goliath. There were ‘story telling’ stones along the route we walked and it was good to re-live this childhood tale again where it happened.


I had a new horse today, Neils, who was Jameson’s older brother. After about 1 ¾ hours we stopped on top of a hill, tied the horses to some rocks and then dropped over the edge to shelter in a niche in the cliff. Yair made coffee and again we ate cake, sausages, fruit and other delicacies. We climbed back to the horses and as we came off the top we saw a Bedouin shepherd on his donkey, with his sheep and dogs – a different way of life altogether. Then the heavens opened! Lightning was flashing all around us and it was spectacular.

Back at camp we had a nice warming lunch of shakshouka (eggs poached in a tomato and pepper sauce), with humus and pitta of course. By the time we had finished lunch the skies had cleared and we set off on a walk through the desert to see the sunset. We walked to a high point between two canyons, where we could see an amazing waterfall (Tze’elim falls) at the Tzfira Pool, which was filled by flash floods from the recent rains. Apparently Yair has never seen water in this river before and the flow will only last for about six hours or so! It was an amazing sight!


The morning brought with it a mist in the valley, which hugged the tent. Very atmospheric! We rode out by 09:00 and the mist soon cleared to give some spectacular views as we looked down into the Tselim Canyon. The desert was very stony and so we walked pretty much all the way, with the very occasional canter when the tracks allowed. I found it surprising how quickly we seemed to cover distances in the desert, even when we were only walking!


We sadly handed our horses over to Judah, said our farewells, and made our way to Messada, a rugged natural fortress, fortified by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. It was an incredible site and again Yair was an interesting guide and explained the history well. The history of the site was amazing and evocative.

After leaving Messada we drove to the Dead Sea, south of Messada. We had a quick lunch in the hotel café and then changed into our costumes. It wasn’t too cold on the beach, but the sea was chilly – ok once you were in though. And what a strange experience! You really do float in the shallowest of water. Swimming is incredibly difficult and you end up doing more of a doggy paddle!

After our dip in the sea we headed north to Tel Aviv, along the shore of the Dead Sea, looking at Jordan on the opposite bank, on arrival we had a nice dinner, said farewell to Yair and sat for a while in the hotel bar, recounting our wonderful adventures in Israel.

What an amazing week – the scenery was spectacular and the riding great, but most of all, our wonderful guide Yair helped us understand and appreciate the amazing history of this country, every step of the way.

For more information about riding in Israel please visit



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

Harriet Walker’s African Adventure: The last safari

As Christmas approached we came to the end of Harriet Walker’s African Adventure. Read her last blog, first published on, as she finishes her time at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana

I have just come back from my last safari; a three day trip into the bush. It was a beautiful reminder of how beautiful this country is – although for me I wasn’t feeling 100% having suffered some kind of allergic reaction that resulted in a very swollen face! On my last game drive we saw a pregnant lioness, which was such a stunning sight. All the guides know the area and wildlife so well that they know what animals belong to which families, so you get a real inside knowledge into their existence. I quite like knowing that despite the animals being wild there are still people that would notice if one of them wasn’t there!

There is nothing like nature to remind you that you are powerless in its hands! On a recent Lodge to Lodge ride one of the camps had an African Bee Hive and they apparently go crazy for fresh cut grass so started stinging the horses. All but one horse broke free and returned to the stables safely – it is amazing that despite it being 25km away as the crow flies, they all naturally knew to come back to the main base. Unfortunately one horse, Rhodes, stayed with the grooms and got stung so badly he passed away. We had a vet out here at the time that was doing a few days safari in exchange for treating all of the horse’s backs and doing their teeth – so she helped ice bandage legs and treat stings and did all she could for Rhodes but sadly he didn’t make it which was very sad, especially as he was such a popular horse with our guests.

One of the things I love about Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris is that the horses really are the priority and Louise is so particular about their care and management. Whether it be bringing out a trainer to help teach the staff how to ride them more effectively, or a vet to keep them in peak health – this all adds to the guest’s experience and ensures the horses are in the best condition. This is the reason that companies like In The Saddle are so happy to work with them – because they meet all their criteria, not just for an exceptional trip, but for the good of the animals as well.

We always have a cook on site and unfortunately she was unwell towards the end of my stay which meant that I had to step up to the culinary challenge of cooking afternoon tea and dinner for the guests! I absolutely loved it and it is right up my street, especially as I am going to University in September to study Food Science. I have never cooked South African style food before so it was great to learn! One dish in particular I really enjoyed was called Bobotie – it is a curry dish with raisins and lots of spices and a layer of eggs on top! So not only have I learnt a lot about Africa but I got the chance to embrace my inner domestic goddess too!

The experience at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris has been amazing. I got to go on 5 game drives in all and see all the wildlife I could imagine, I also got to school beautiful horses, including Foxy who will always stay close to my heart, and I didn’t want to leave! Having seen other safaris happening whilst I was there on the reserve I can honestly say that seeing this part of the world by horseback is the best way to do it if you can ride. You get to see animals and scenery from a whole different perspective. You also get to go on game drives as well so you really do get the best of both worlds!

I have also made a friend for life in Kate who is here teaching the local children (including Cor and Louise’s) at Limpopo Valley Horse Safari’s own primary school. She is doing a fantastic job out there to give the kids a head start in their education – we have already arranged to meet up when she returns to England in January. Louise and Cor have been fantastic hosts, I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to experience the equestrian world in such a different way!

Read the original blog on Horse & Hound.

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

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