If you are a beginner rider, or have only ridden a handful of times then deciding to go on a riding holiday can be quite daunting! However it is also a fantastic way to improve your confidence and get more experience in the saddle away from the hustle and bustle of every day life!
Seeing a country by horseback is a privilege and well worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone for! We have picked out our favourite five destinations that are perfectly set up to cater for novice or beginner riders, so now is the time to saddle up and embrace your inner equestrian…
Where? The Azores are a stunning archipelago of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean, almost midway between Portugal and North America. São Miguel is the largest island measuring a grand total of 81kms in length and 15kms wide, however the hilly terrain means there are plenty of trails and seemingly endless paths to explore. Situated on Volcanic rock, the Azores deliver breathtaking sights and spectacular views as you ride through vast craters, past glistening blue lakes, along black cliffs and amongst hot springs and geysers. Surrounded by lush green rolling hills, spectacular flora and rugged mountains, São Miguel is the perfect way to kick off your horse riding adventure!
The riding. Based at Quinta da Terça, a beautiful farm in the south of the island close to the main town of Ponta Delgada, not only can you expect fantastic riding, but the food is a highlight on this trip with delicious fresh fruit and vegetables a plenty! Basing yourself at the Quinta you can learn to ride with the help of qualified instructors on beautiful, well-trained schoolmasters, which makes the whole experience both educational and enjoyable. During the week you will have ten hours of riding lessons in both the arena and out on trails and your trip culminates on the last day with a spectacular full day ride out to Sete Cidades. To us there is nothing better than being happily tired and feeling like you have accomplished something after a full day out in the saddle!
Where? Castellare di Tonda is a beautiful countryside resort and spa set in the heart of Italy’s Tuscan hills, offering magical scenery, world-renowned wine, artistic legacy and the perfect place to explore by foot or horseback. The style of riding is Western, so sitting back and enjoying a relaxed pace through the Chianti valleys at Castellare di Tonda provides anyone who is hungry for culture and adventure with the perfect getaway. As you would expect in Italy, the food is exquisite and the famous Chianti wine plentiful – it is also the perfect destination for non-riding partners with activities including golf, tennis, cycling, fishing, hiking, cookery classes and the calming Wellness Centre to help you unwind.
The riding. The landscapes are varied to provide beginner and inexperienced riders with a sedate pace, or more challenging terrain if they wish to test their equestrian skills. You can expect to experience rural Italy at it’s best; ride through shady Mediterranean forests, rolling grain fields, vineyards and olive groves, discover medieval castles, abandoned churches and stop for a real Italian gelato. Sure-footed, gentle horses will take you on a magical trip around the wonderful landscape, and there is a kids club making it perfect for a whole family affair! We believe that for people looking for a European getaway that incorporates all of life’s luxuries, Castellare di Tonda is a force to be reckoned with!
Where? Montana is known as Big Sky Country and at Sweet Grass, situated in its own private valley at the base of the Crazy Mountains, you can see why! You can ride almost limitlessly over a landscape that ranges from high alpine lakes and meadows to foothills and out into the rolling countryside! This working cattle ranch gives guests a taste of true Montana life and throughout the year you can experience different local delights, from the annual Big Timber Rodeo in June, cattle driving in July, clear skies in August to the golden beauty of fall in September.
The riding. There is a real family feel at Sweet Grass and children of all ages are welcome. Meals are taken all together and you can expect plenty of lean ranch-raised beef and local delicacies. With over forty horses on the ranch there is an equine to suit all riders, from beginners to advanced, and the relaxed pace means that those who haven’t ridden previously, or who are novice riders, can enjoy leisurely half or full day rides on well behaved horses. When you aren’t riding there is plenty to occupy you, from fishing, swimming in the creek, hiking and wonderful photography opportunities, making this trip ideal for those who want to mix up riding with other outdoor activities. Riding in Montana is an experience not to be missed, the freedom and vastness of this country will take your breath away and we feel that anyone who is interested in horses should have the chance to enjoy it!
Spectacular South Africa
Where? South Africa is well known for wildlife and open plains, and at Ants Lodge, situated in a private game reserve in the Waterberg, you will be privileged enough to see nature at its most beautiful. Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill are two luxurious lodges each set in their own private game reserve with no dangerous game and a selection of very well trained horses making it perfect for children and beginner riders who want to get close to the animals and experience a horseback safari without the worries of not being an established equestrian. The reserves both have a variety of game including rhino, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, zebra and many more, making it a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise!
The riding. The beauty of Ants Lodge is that it caters for all riders and even non-riders, from those wanting an adrenalin filled experience, to people who have never ridden before. The horses are all well-schooled, willing, sure footed and brave to ensure your riding experience is a pleasurable one, and there are steady ponies for children if you are thinking of bringing the whole family. A riding safari gets you closer than you ever dreamt of to the animals because they don’t see horses as a threat, so in our opinion seeing South Africa by horseback is the only way to visit!
Where? Ireland is famous for its equestrian adventures, whether it is hunting, beach riding, trail riding or competing! Castle Leslie lies in Co. Monaghan, within easy reach of Dublin or Belfast, and is one of the few remaining Irish estates still owned and run by its founding family. Here you can explore bridleways, learn the basics or riding, improve on your existing skills or simply blow the cobwebs away on their cross country course.
The riding. Castle Leslie caters for every level of rider, from those who have never sat on a horse before, to competitive riders needing to brush up on their skills. For beginners lessons start on the mechanical horse, which is a fantastic way of understanding the basics and learning technique without the pressure of riding a real horse. Once established you will venture out to the beautiful arena on a well trained schoolmaster and also have the opportunity to hack over the estate to take in the rugged Irish scenery and enjoy some fresh country air! If you are looking to learn to ride we can’t think of anywhere that would set your skills up better!
If you are feeling inspired to take up the reins then visit www.inthesaddle.com to view our complete range of holidays, or call us on +44 (0)1299 272 997 today to discuss your requirements!