A riding holiday is different to your usual getaway, which means there are a few things that you should definitely not forget to pack in your suitcase. Your exact requirements will vary depending on the trip you are taking, and all good travel companies will provide you with a list tailored specifically to your holiday, however here are a few things to bear in mind wherever you will be riding…
Safety is paramount
Before you think about packing anything else you should ensure a riding hat is at the top of your list! We thoroughly recommend taking your own hat whenever you are riding abroad, and make sure it meets all the latest safety standards and has been correctly fitted to you. Many destinations do provide hats, however taking your own guarantees the fit and comfort, and let’s face it, who wants to wear a hat that has been on someone else’s head for many hours before? There are many well-ventilated, lightweight helmets and hats available on the market so ‘hat hair’ and a sweaty head don’t have to be a concern!
Best foot forward
This is probably the most important thing to remember, second to your riding hat! Equestrian footwear has been designed specifically with a stirrup friendly sole that enables you to keep your feet secure in the stirrups, yet also enable you to slip them out quickly and easily in the event of an accident. Trainers are not appropriate footwear to wear around horses, not only could they potentially get stuck in the stirrup, they also offer no ankle support and when on the ground, if a horse treads on your feet you will certainly know about it. The most popular choice is a short ankle length boot with a rubber sole and these double up perfectly as walking boots as well.
Choosing the correct footwear will provide you with support, comfort, and peace of mind that you are secure in the saddle. You may choose to wear tall boots, however consider the temperature if you are going somewhere warm and if you are riding through water don’t take your best leather tall boots as they are not likely to stay looking smart for long! A popular choice for travellers on a riding holiday are short boots and lightweight chaps because you get the lower leg stability and grip that you would from a tall boot, without the heaviness of long boots. Look for chaps made from breathable fabrics that don’t require ‘breaking in’ and will give you that second skin feel so you can forget you are even wearing them!
Clothe for comfort
The clothing you pack for a riding holiday needn’t be fashionable and trendy, it should however be comfortable! When you are spending many hours in the saddle this is a priority and while bringing perfectly colour co-ordinated, stylish items may look great at the beginning of the day, by the time you have ridden for a morning you will be pining for comfortable breeches and a soft cotton shirt!
We recommend riding in jodhpurs or breeches. Some people find denim comfortable however don’t choose a riding holiday to break in that new pair of skinny jeans though – you will probably regret it!
If you are travelling in a hot country then lightweight, breathable clothing is ideal. A long sleeved, loose fitting cotton shirt will not be restrictive, yet will protect you from the sun and provide a pleasant draught to help keep you cool. There are also many technical fabrics available in riding and sports clothing which can help protect you against UV rays, whilst also keeping you cool and dry. Some hot countries can get chilly in the evenings, especially places like Africa where you may be sitting around a campfire under the stars, so do take a jumper or jacket to offer protection when you need it.
If you are escaping to a cold country then layering up is key to staying warm. Consider investing in thermal base layers. In particular, items containing natural fibres such as merino wool offer excellent heat trapping properties. Wearing multiple lightweight layers will help trap air and still allow for flexibility, rather than one or two thicker items, which can leave you colder and with restricted movement. Choosing items that are breathable such as fleece will help regulate your temperature as you may find that at times you get warmer than others, for example, when you are going for a long canter or walking your horse down a mountain path. Good quality thermal socks and gloves are also recommended – there is nothing worse than cold feet and hands when riding and if you are not fully prepared this can spoil your enjoyment. For outerwear choose something that will protect you against the elements, many jackets are windproof and waterproof, particularly those including fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Try and take a jacket that has been designed for riding to ensure you have complete freedom of movement in the saddle. Equestrian wear is designed with vents and adjustment to allow you to maintain your position without the risk of draughts or discomfort.
A few suggested extras
Sun protection. You may think that this is only relevant when going to a hot location, however the sun can be very strong all year round in many parts of the world, particularly in snowy destinations. Remember to bring good quality sunglasses, sunscreen and if you are going to a warm country then a wide brimmed sun hat to protect your head and face when not in the saddle.
Lip Balm. Cracked and dry lips are not pleasant and can occur in any destination, at any time of year. Take a ‘chap stick’ style lip balm that you can easily reach when riding and walking so you can keep your lips moisturised and protected against the elements.
Camera. You will undoubtedly want to capture many of your travel moments on camera so don’t forget a small hand held camera that is easy to carry, and make sure you have plenty of spare batteries and an extra memory card!
Binoculars. On most trips there will be amazing views and vistas to take in so make sure you can see widely with a pair of binoculars.
Bum Bag. These are ideal for keeping your essentials close to hand while you are in the saddle and are less bulky and restrictive than a rucksack. Keep a small pack of tissues and wet wipes within the Bum Bag so you can clean up when out on trail rides.
At In The Saddle we provide every client with a detailed ‘what to pack’ list specific to their holiday. For more information about the holidays on offer and the destinations you can travel to visit www.inthesaddle.com