Monthly Archives: May 2013

Equestrianism meets conservation in Kenya

For people passionate about the great outdoors, a new horseback holiday in Kenya, available through In The Saddle, will provide holidaymakers with the rare opportunity to combine an exciting horse riding safari, with the chance to learn more about local conservation issues.

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Borana is a luxury lodge situated on the Laikipia Plateau in the foothills of Mt Kenya. With over 35,000 acres to explore there is a plethora of wildlife, spectacular views and the chance to indulge in some ‘you’ time whilst learning about the fundamental issues of conservation.

Borana is not, however, just a beautiful holiday destination. Pioneered by owners, the Dyer Family, Borana has established a deep-rooted commitment to preserving the wildlife, habitat and people that share the land as part of their dedication to securing the long-term future of Africa.

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A large proportion of all revenue generated at Borana goes towards sustaining the surroundings for projects such as Hide & Sheep Ltd, the Borana Forestry Project and the Education Support Programme. Guests pay a conservation fee per night and this means that while they enjoy a life-altering trip, they are also contributing to the future of this wonderful and magical part of the world.
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Borana
has introduced a seven-night adventure for equestrian travellers, known as Pole Pole Laikipia. Pole (pronounced Poley) is a Swahili word meaning slowly, and the trip encourages guests to take some time out to see the beauty of Africa by horseback and play a part of the unique conservation projects. Visitors will be given the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and local culture to gain understanding in the plights relating to regional conservation.

From the moment you step off the plane in Laikipia, you will enjoy a cultural and ecological adventure. Drive through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to view both endangered black and white rhino and Grevy’s zebra, listen intently to passionate conservation experts to learn how you can play a part in sustaining the fragile local eco-system and have the privilege to meet families in nearby villages to experience a very different way of life.

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Throughout the trip you can be sure to experience the perfect balance of luxury accommodation, exciting adventure, delicious home cooked meals and time to relax and take in the natural spectacles around you. From riding through trees full of rare little red patas monkeys and learning about raptor conservation to seeing the ever watchful reticulated giraffe whose numbers are on the incline thanks to the determination of the team at Borana.

Borana safari camp
Pole Pole Laikipia is just one of the itineraries available at Borana, allowing you to understand why preserving this magical kingdom is so vital while also challenging you to undertake a journey that will change perspectives forever.

For more information about the Pole Pole Laikipia trip with In The Saddle visit: www.inthesaddle.com or call 01299 272 997 to speak to equestrian travel experts today.

In The Saddle Pole Pole Laikipia horseback safari

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

Age is nothing but a number

Recently, 74 year old Stephen Theunissen returned from his sixth riding holiday with In The Saddle since his retirement in 2004 and we couldn’t wait to catch up with such an inspirational gentleman for our latest blog…

Stephen rode from the age of 6 or 7 years old up to his mid teens, when, in his own words, he got ‘distracted by motorized devices,’ as many young men do! However this foray into equestrianism had obviously already taken hold and in 1972, when he was in his early 30’s, he was motivated to take the hobby back up when his girlfriend at the time was a keen rider. “I didn’t actually marry her,” Stephen admits, “and my wife now really doesn’t like horses! However I was hooked and continued riding from then on.”

Steve
“At the time I was living near Windsor and used to ride at stables situated on the edge of the Great Park. I remember when I rode on Sundays we would often see Her Majesty driving her old 3 litre Rover to take what we assumed was a swift one with her mother after church!”

“I continued to ride casually and my eldest daughter took to horses,” Stephen tells us. “We had moved to Suffolk by this time and when she reached her early teens she persuaded me to buy my first horse. As I was over 50 years old at this time this action caused my father to call my older brother and ask him if I had lost my marbles!”

“By the time my daughter was 16 she had put on a growth spurt and was increasingly keen on Pony Club activities and competitions, so we bought a 16.2hh Irish Draught X who was a splendid jumper and cross country horse, but a little slow so he was never going to compete seriously at senior level. When my daughter was at boarding school and then university I used to exercise him and even went out with the East Anglia Bloodhounds when I could! In 2004, when I got round to retiring, it was looking after the old boy that kept me fit and healthy!”

Elephant at Limpopo open country
It was also at the point of retiring that Stephen indulged in a lifelong ambition to go on a horseback safari. “Initially I had a goal to go on at least one safari ride,” he admits. “So I went to Macatoo in the Okavango Delta and enjoyed myself greatly. I liked it so much in fact that I booked to go to the Tuli Block the next year to a destination that was then run by the couple who now own Limpopo Valley Safaris, Louise and Cor. “

Limpopo elephant waterhole from tree hide
“Here was real elephant country and that gave some very exciting riding,” explains Stephen. “Around the camp was 6000 volt electric fencing that the elderly matriarch elephants would push young males through to get the oranges on occasions! I remember there was a water pump system that supplied a pool just outside the camp which the elephants used to come and drink from during the day. Usually, by the time we returned home from our evening ride, they would be long gone but on one occasion I remember them being there into dusk. After waiting for some time we had to run into the camp via the back entrance to be welcomed by our Gin and Tonics at the stables! It was a little hairy but exciting nonetheless.”

Limpopo view from the shower room
“The other thing that stands out from my trip to the Tuli Block was seeing lions from horseback,” Stephen divulges. “We were told that as long as we were 60 metres away from them we were quite safe, and luckily there was dried up river between us and them which would have taken some effort to venture across. We stood for some time and then quietly made our way to a a line of bushes and then had one of the longest canters I have ever had! It was on that trip that I got to canter with giraffe – who have the most amazing movement – and saw the Great Grey Green Greasy Limpopo River, which was actually dried up at the time – but made for very nice riding!”

Rascal at Limpopo
“The next trip I planned to do was Jordan but unforeseen circumstances meant that had to be cancelled so I went on the Dolphin Trail in Portugal instead,” explains Stephen. “It was very different riding amongst the Cork Oaks and along beaches on Lusitano horses, but interesting and fun in its way. Then I went to Okapuka in Namibia where we rode Arab horses. A very nice lady who bred them ran it and she had this amazing rough and ready turnout paddock that was 1300 hectares in size! When the foals were weaned they were left to run free for a 2/3years. The fences were high enough to stop the horses getting out, but low enough that giraffe , ostriches and antelopes could get in. This meant that the young horses became entirely habituated to the animals and by the time they had a saddle on their back they were at ease with the wildlife.”

Ant's Nest the hunt
“After that I asked the team at In The Saddle what I should do next, and it was recommended to me that I go to Ant’s Nest for the annual round up and census,” Stephen says. “It was a great suggestion! The first day we searched for buffalo that were due to be sold to a private game reserve. Off we rode in a group of about 22 of us staff and guests on horseback and guided by a helicopter to help us find them. We located the buffalo in a thicket and the vet went in to dart them with a rifle and sure enough four darted buffalo came out, two of them towards me. My horse at the time decided to back his silly self into a thorn bush instead of walking quietly away, which to my dismay was all captured on a video! Once caught the sedated buffalo were loaded onto a flat bed trailer and we watched from a safe distance hoping the vet had got his calculations right and they weren’t going to wake up!”

The catch
“During my trip to Ant’s Nest we went out on giraffe and antelope capturing expeditions in vehicles and spent four days counting animals. .The evening rides were very civilised , at the end of the ride we would reach a clearing where there were chairs and cold( alcoholic) drinks laid out. We then untacked the horses who were allowed to wander back to the stables by themselves! We eventually followed by Land Cruiser.”

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“I also distinctly remember the Ant’s Nest bred rhinos, which were located near to the house so they could keep an eye on them due to the threat of poachers.” Stephen goes on to say, “I remember a pair rhino walking towards a group of us on one occasion and an elderly black Labrador barked ,sat down and sent the rhinos on their way! They obviously knew who was boss! I would recommend anyone who loves animals to join this trip to Ant’s Nest – it was spectacular!”

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“I have just returned from the Green Island Trail on the Azores,” Stephen tells us. “I had an excellent time and enjoyed some fast riding and beautiful country the only problem was fighting the temptation to over-indulge in the excellent food! I was in great company, with four English ladies and two Germans, I being the solitary male! I have always found that the people on these trips have other interests and experiences as well so always enjoy myself socially. On every holiday I have been on the people have been interesting – one of the German women on this trip was on her 20th riding holiday!”

Vivaldi looking for his evening carrot in the dining room at Azores
“So now at the age of 74, the question is where next?” Stephen asks. “My only regret is not taking up riding holidays earlier in my life, but now I have the perfect occupation for a healthy pensioner to take part in – I can’t think of a better way to spend my time!”

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Heard it on the grapevine in May…

With our In The Saddle clients jetting off all around the world we often receive details of amazing sights, exciting trips and fabulous hints for other travellers. We hope that these fabulous snippets of real experiences and useful advice will give you valuable insight into some of the trips available, and help you make the decision of ‘where next’ that little bit simpler…

Sheena Barnett recently travelled across the very eastern part of Spain on the Mediterranean Trails ride. Full of diversity, this region offers the chance to see medieval fishing villages, rocky coves, pine covered hills and long sandy beaches – all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Pyrenees. “This was my fourth riding holiday with In The Saddle and definitely the best,” Sheena said. “We crossed deep rivers and cantered for miles on a deserted beach and weaved between pine trees at a crazily fast canter. We had wonderful picnics under the trees followed by lazy siestas and delicious three course meals with lashings of wine in the evenings. If you like beautifully behaved forward going horses and long hours in the saddle with varied terrain and challenging riding then this is the holiday for you.”

Med trails
As one of our best selling holidays, we weren’t surprised to hear what a wonderful time some recent clients had when visiting Los Alamos in Spain. Riding out whilst viewing the beaches of Cape Trafalgar, across to the coast of Africa, this trip offers the tranquility needed to escape from everyday life, together with some of the best beach riding in Europe! “The holiday superseded our expectations,” commented Janine Sharpless. “Fellow guests became friends. To top it off the locals had a Feria (Fair), which our hosts took us too – what a bonus!”

Mrs Pawley was impressed with the quality of horses and of course the riding, “The horses were extremely well trained and looked after,” she says. “They were forward and responsive yet calm and collected. It amazed me that they would stand calmly waiting for instructions from the lead guide before a long gallop and not get fizzy but when the time came to go they were spectacular. I will never forget the horses or the experiences that I was able to have. A true inspirational holiday, did not want it to end.”

And of course meal times are a priority when you have spent all day in the saddle, as Jo Atkins confirms. “Every meal was superb,” she states. “We were treated like royalty when out – nothing was too much trouble and the ‘wobbly chocolate’ (Hot chocolate and Baileys) lead to wonderfully relaxed strolls home!”

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Meanwhile on the breathtakingly beautiful Island of São Miguel in the Azores, Janice Hill was embarking on the Green Island Trail which offers six days of exploration around the lush green volcanic countryside viewing glistening blue lakes, black cliffs, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs. “I think the amount of riding was just right – any more might have been too much but equally I go on a riding holiday to do lots of riding so did not want too much time just to chill out,” Janice explains. “Plenty of canters although most of them were uphill rather than on the flat – very fit horses – the ones I know at home wouldn’t have managed the number of uphill canters. The food was incredibly good, the picnics were fab too and they took us out Thursday evening to a lovely restaurant in Ponta Delgada all included in the price.”

Azores - Cete Cidades
For something “out of this world” as Sarah Le Fevre described it as, Tour Israel shows you some of the most breathtaking sights of this relatively undiscovered country. Explore from Nazareth, through the hills of Galilee to the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee. “Spectacular location and some of the best vegetarian food I have ever eaten,” says Sarah. “All the Arab food – which is the overwhelming majority of food on this trip was utterly excellent. Great care and thought has gone into the trips planning: there is downtime as well as riding time and other sight/experience time. The Tzefira Pool, Masada and the sun rising in the Judean Desert will stay with me for a very, very long time.”

Israel
Brazil isn’t the first place you think of when picturing a riding holiday but Tracey Campbell is pleased to have discovered two of the most beautiful rides in the world. Canyons and Waterfalls provides trail riding through spectacular mountain scenery in Rio do Sul, while the Bahia Beach Ride is known for its golden sands and emerald seas, so provides travellers with possibly the best beach riding on the planet! “I was lucky enough to do both rides,” Tracey told us. “I was amazed at how much I enjoyed Brazil, the place has a good vibe. Paulo and the other guides all do an excellent job and because of the expanse of the place in most areas it is not necessary to ride in a long line. I will definitely return to Brazil to do the other rides. The people of Brazil are very friendly and welcoming.”

Brazil

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Riding Holidays, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You have to be in it to win it: Jennie Phillips blogs about her trip to Los Alamos

Having attended the Riding Holiday Show in November 2012, reading Jennie Phillips’ story will certainly inspire you to enter any competitions that come your way! You really never know if it could be you…

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Having pondered the prospect of a riding holiday for some time, in 2012 Jennie Phillips decided that she was going to investigate what was on offer and attended the Riding Holiday Show on the recommendation of a friend. “We travelled to London and when we arrived we got a raffle ticket to enter us in a draw for lots of different prizes. I didn’t think any more of it and enjoyed a lovely day looking a t the various destinations on offer. One particular venue stood out for me and that was Los Alamos in Spain, so we took information away to consider and that was that!”

“Not that long after I received an email saying I had won a prize at the show,” Jennie goes on to say. “To be honest I didn’t believe it was real and left it in my inbox for a few days. On reading it further I realised it was genuine and was absolutely delighted. The prize was a weekend break for two people at Los Alamos in Spain, the very trip we had been looking at anyway!”

Jennie and her friend decided to extend the short break to a weeklong stay and pay the difference. “The whole trip was brilliant,” she says. “ There are thousands of acres of sandy forest tracks available to ride on, as well as the beautiful beach fronts! The horses were really fit and up for it, while still being well behaved and safe. We rode for about four hours each day and the hosts could not have been more friendly or helpful! We could see why people return time after time to Los Alamos, in fact there was another lady staying at the same time as us who was returning for her tenth time! She had even bought her horse from them and taken it back to England!”

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“The riding was really exciting,” Jennie states. “The beach was brilliant and Jose, the guide, knows the horses so well that he can offer great instruction without you feeling as if you are in a riding school. I would class myself as an intermediate rider, I have ridden all my life and competed in eventing and dressage at a low level, and the riding was perfect for me! There were some really exhilarating moments, one time we galloped through a big lake – it was unexpected but fantastic!”

“I can’t say enough for the people at Los Alamos,” Jennie explains. “The food was really good, it was relaxed and had everything you could want to eat and drink, the family run set-up was brilliant and they even took photos of you on the beach that you could buy and take away as a memory of the trip!”

“I definitely have the bug for riding holidays now,” Jennie says. “While I would love to have the chance to go back to Los Alamos, I would also like to try something new, perhaps France or Italy next, or maybe even Ireland! I had such a good experience through In The Saddle that I can’t wait to get out there and see more!”

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Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Riding Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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