Monthly Archives: March 2018

Why I fell in love with Los Alamos…

Imogen Brown from In The Saddle tells us about her trip to Los Alamos in October 2017. Here, she highlights the best bits of her trip from the friendly hosts to the exhilarating beach riding.

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Being our best-selling European destination, I had high hopes for my visit to Los Alamos in October. I am pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. From the moment I arrived at the airport and met Andrew (one of our hosts for the week) I instantly felt relaxed. And when I arrived at the villa I was greeted by Rhiannon who had prepared a delicious lunch of Spanish omelette, local meats, cheeses and bread.

Your hosts Andrew and Rhiannon.

The Los Alamos villa very quicky feels like home. With the open plan dining room, lounge and kitchen you can easily help yourself to a drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and recline into one of their comfy sofas. Alternatively, there are plenty of places within the gardens or by the pool where you can read a book or catch some sunshine.

The lounge and dining area of Los Alamos.

As well as this homely atmosphere the most important thing, as with any riding holiday, is the horses. I can’t remember the last time I went to a riding centre and wanted to bring all of the horses I managed to ride home. Rachel (our horse manager) is a marvel at matching horse and rider and this special talent really gives you as a rider a sense of confidence when mounting up on the first morning.

Each of the horses at Los Alamos is fit and forward going and within the herd there is a fabulous mixture of horses including pure-bred Andalusians, Arabs, Thoroughbreds and cross breeds. From confidence giving steady horses to more challenging horses for an experienced rider they really have a horse for everyone.

One of the lovely Andalusian Horses they have at Los Alamos, Pitu.

Throughout the week I rode three fabulous Andalusians each with their own personality. Pitu, Taverna and Hercules made my week truly special and if I could have fitted them in my suitcase I would have brought them all home.

Hercules, one of my horses during my stay.

All of the horses are well-schooled, forward going and polite. These horses are a credit to Los Alamos and are one of the main reasons people return year on year. These fabulous horses, matched with the gorgeous surroundings that you get to explore with them makes for a truly special experience. Whether it is meandering through the natural park, cantering on the beach or galloping up the many firebreaks you never know what you are going to find around the next corner.

Shady forest trails protect you from the sun.

The guides at Los Alamos – Rachel, Jose and Roberto – know their horses and the area you are riding so well that you instantly feel comfortable and relaxed. How they remember all of the routes and trails around the forest is beyond me! It feels like they know where every twist, turn, rock and tree root can be found and the surefooted horses know which lines to take to keep you and themselves on track.

Rachel, Jose and Roberto, your guides at Los Alamos.

Twice a week you get to experience the thrill of cantering down the beaches of Cape Trafalgar on your mighty steed with the wind in your hair. There really is no feeling like it and I don’t think you could have wiped the grin off my face those mornings if you’d tried! You ride to match the tides and so during my stay this meant mounting up and leaving the yard early in the morning as the sky changed from jet black to inky blue and the sun started to peak above the horizon.

There is nothing better than riding in the surf at sunrise.

Meandering through the forest with a short canter to blow away the cobwebs, we hit the beach and the horses all perked up. After a short blast to get used to your horse on the beach, it was down to the water’s edge where we really saw what our horses could do. The hard wet sand makes for a fabulous surface and I couldn’t have thought of a better way I wanted to start my morning.

Cantering down the beach on my favourite horse of the week, Hercules.

The last thing that I think makes Los Alamos special is the food. Whether you love Spanish food or you would prefer something else, Rhiannon has a brilliant way to meet all dietary requirements. Lunches are all at local bars with simple but tasty food, with Spanish omelettes, fish, chicken, pork and a variety of vegetarian dishes. Home cooked dinners courtesy of Rhiannon ranged from spaghetti and meatballs, homemade chicken kebabs and freshly cooks langoustine.

Tasty Spanish seafood for our last dinner at Los Alamos.

There are many reasons that this is our best-selling European destination and after just a week there I now understand why so many people rebook for the following year upon their return and why they are so fully booked so quickly. With friendly people, brilliant horses and fabulous riding it’s hard not to fall in love with Los Alamos.

A group of very happy riders after a canter down the beach.

 

For more information on Los Alamos or to book your place please call Imogen on +44 1299 272 242 or email Imogen@inthesaddle.com.

Categories: Andalusian, beach riding, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, horse riding in Spain, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding in Spain | Leave a comment

Romania’s Wide Open Spaces

Becky Clarke from In The Saddle tells us about her trip to Romania in October 2017. Here, she highlights the best bits of her trip from the beautiful scenery to the sure-footed horses.

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Romania, and particularly Transylvania, was somewhere that’s been on my ever-growing list for some time. The thought of wide open spaces, no fences and a willing horse made me eager to visit Equus Silvania, the home of Barbara and Christoph Promberger.

Equus Silvania Lodge

I actually arrived mid-way through a Centre- Based week where riders go out for c. 4 – 5 hours a day and then overnight at Equus Silvania. I then joined the first few nights of the Transylvania Trail ride which starts and finishes at Equus Silvania but throughout the week you move on to various villages as you journey through the countryside.

The accommodation in the lodge is in lovely ‘cabin’ style rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom. Downstairs there is a lovely long dining room where everyone sits together for breakfast and dinner.

On the Transylvania Trail ride, the accommodation is more basic because you are staying in local guesthouses and even sometimes people’s homes. I really enjoyed that feeling of being right out there in rural Romania and particularly the guesthouse in Corbor which is lovely.

The landscape that we rode through was amazing and I was lucky enough to experience the full splendour of the Autumn colours from so many different vantage points.

The riding itself was the most fantastic experience; the horses were truly a pleasure to ride. Their stamina was impressive and they were so willing to do what was asked of them.

One of my highlights both on the Transylvania Trail and also whilst on the the Centre-Based ride was un-tacking the horses at lunchtime and just letting them roll (if it wasn’t raining). They absolutely loved it!

Transylvania is a relatively unspoilt area, rich with history and culture. Whether you are on the Equus Silvania stay or the Transylvania Trail ride, there is an element of culture included.

Bran Castle

Something else I really enjoyed was visiting the bear hide. Deep in the woods, a short walk from a forest track is a bear hide where we had the opportunity to try and spot bear – it was very exciting and we were lucky enough to see eight!

The areas that we rode through were so diverse, from the forests with their bright beautiful canopies to the open and rolling farmland and the autumn colours just made everything so much more vibrant.

I think that for those who’d like as much riding as possible and don’t mind basic accommodation, the Transylvania Trail would be perfect; for those who would like to ride for  few hours a day but with the choice to be more flexible and come back to the same place each night, Equus Silvania is more ideally suited.

In my opinion, Romania is somewhere everyone should visit at least once. One day I’d love to go back and experience the Winter riding!

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For more information on the Romanian rides or to book your place please call Becky on +44 1299 272 244 or email rebecca@inthesaddle.com.

Categories: Carpathia, Equestrian Travel, Equus Silvania, horse riding, Horse riding in Romania, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Riding Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amazing Azores

Claire from In The Saddle visited the Azores in October and here is her report of her trip.

My arrival in the Azores was timed perfectly with Storm Ophelia.  The island had been issued with a red weather warning, the first in 10 years.  Despite the wind and lashing rain, we were greeted warmly by Rui, who was born on the island but speaks perfect English.  We had a short drive of 15 minutes or so to the Quinta da Terca, home of Christina and Claude de Laval.  It was too wet to meet the horses so we were shown our rooms and had time to unpack before dinner.

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Our lesson in the arena

The next morning we had beautiful sunshine!  We had an introductory lesson which was a lot of fun! Christina is a great teacher with a positive attitude and sense of humour. In the afternoon we headed out on our first trail ride and ended up with a spectacular view of both sides of the island.

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Some of the beautiful flowers that were still in bloom in October

The Azores is a really green place, naturally fertile due it being a volcanic island.  It was amazing to see flowers blooming in October and everywhere a vivid shade of green.  So it’s easy to see why we call it the Green Island Trail.  This Green Island Trail itinerary has the most riding hours out of the different itineraries available with a combination of full day and half day rides totally around 24 hours riding over 6 days.  The riding is quite diverse and you see different areas of the island on horseback as well as non riding excursions.

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Stunning scenery

We visited a tea plantation, hot springs and thermal baths at Furnas.  The thermal baths were perfect for relaxing the muscles after riding. There is also an amazing botanical garden to explore with avenues of ginkgo biloba trees, beds of camelias and the last of the hydrangeas (which the island is also famous for) as well as many more exotic flowers and plants.

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Botanical gardens at Furnas

Food is a very important feature of this holiday.  Breakfast is a vast buffet of different exotic fruits from the island.  You can try the pineapples that the island is famed for growing.  Lunch is often a hot option even when you are on the trail.  There is always plenty of salad and bread so it’s impossible to go hungry (poor horses!)  Dinner is a three course evening meal by Christina and each one was delicious and filling.  It’s a mixture of traditional Azorean cooking combined with Swedish (where Christina originally is from) which Christina has coined as ‘grandma style cooking’.

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The breakfast buffet

The thing that makes Quinta de Terca so unique is how relaxing a place it is.  I felt at home straight away and I can see how guests return again and again.  The communal dinner table is great for getting to know more about the other guests.

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Meal times were a highlight of this trip! That’s me in the pink jumper on the right

There are around 48 horses at the farm and what is amazing is that most are rescued.  They are lovingly cared for and re-schooled to become great trail horses.  Many of the horses are ex-farm horses and had worked quite hard in their previous lives.  They are now healthy, shiny and a joy to ride.  I found it fascinating to look through the book which details a bit about their past lives with some before and after pictures.

Claire at the lookout point over the Twin Lakes at Sete Cidades

It was interesting to ride a different horse each day.  Over the week I rode Ole (a retired dressage schoolmaster/ex-bullfighter horse Lusitano x Arab);  Estrella (normally a guide horse); Ultima (a chunky chestnut mare); Aurora (a bay mare); Imperado (grey Lusitano); and Chico (a bay gelding, who was one of the few horses that came to the farm overweight!).

We were given our pick of horses on the last day.  It was hard decision between Ultima and Chico but Ultima won in the end.  Our last ride was spectacular around the Sete Cidades to see the twin lakes.  The story is that a blue eyed princess fell in love with a green eyed shepherd but the king forbade their relationship.  Their tears of sorrow formed the two lakes. It does depend on the light but normally one looks distantly green and the other blue.

Ultima splash

Splashing around in the ‘green lake’

As well as the Green Island Trail there are three other itineraries available:

The Atlantis Trail is suitable for intermediate riders who are happy to walk, trot and canter in open countryside or for more experienced riders who prefer to ride for less hours.  This is also a combination of half and full day rides with about 17 hours riding in total and one completely non-riding day.

The Relaxed Ride  is for people who wish for a more flexible itinerary and to explore the island more. It includes 10 hours riding and you stay at the Quinta on a bed and breakfast basis.  For this option you really need your own rental car to explore on your own.

For complete beginners, or riders who wish to gain confidence there is also a ‘Learn to ride week‘.  This provides ten hours of riding lessons either in the riding arena or out on trails and also theory lessons. The aim is that by the end of the week you join the spectacular full day ride to Sete Cidades.

For more information or to book your place please contact In The Saddle +44 1299 272 997 or via email rides@inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, in the saddle, Riding Holidays, riding in the azores | Leave a comment

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