horse riding

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

Looking back at my Cowgirl Adventure

In this edition of ggjourneys, In The Saddle’s Becky Clarke tells of her stay at Hidden Hollow Hideaway in June 2016.

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It’s been a while now since I visited Montana and still most days I find myself day-dreaming of the wide open spaces, beautiful horses and the immense sense of freedom that comes with having the wind fly through your hair!

I have been to a fair few places in my life and yet whenever anyone asks me about my favourite, my mind skips back to the days I spent chasing calves and watching the sun rise over the Rockies.

When I first arrived at Hidden Hollow Hideaway Ranch, I was beyond excited to be joining one of their  cattle drives! My childhood summers as far back as I can remember would consist of my cousins, my sister and I riding off from the farm, across the fields in search of some cattle to round-up (much to my grandfather’s annoyance)!

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is owned and run by the Flynn family whose roots can be traced back to the 1860s when Kelly’s ancestors followed the gold rush to Diamond City. Kelly, Jill and Siobhan Flynn were at the ranch whilst I was there and after welcoming the group and showing us to our rooms, it was time to ride.

First though, we got to meet our steeds and it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the beautiful ‘Cub’ – and what an absolute gentleman he was too.

As it happened our first full day of the week was the cattle drive itself. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it was everything I hoped it would be!

To start with we had to scour a huge pasture for a couple of hundred head of cattle! This was a slow and careful process, making sure to get all of the calves and not split them from their mothers. Getting the bulls to move sometimes also proved difficult……

The bulls were sometimes more interested in each other than moving on.

After we had brought the whole herd together and crossed the river, we proceeded to drive the cattle up towards the mountains.

Kelly explained to us all that it was really important to keep the calves up in the middle of the herd. This was because once the herd is moving and they separate from their mothers, they try to go back to where they last fed. In this case it would be several miles back down the mountain and so we all worked hard driving the herd from the back and sides.

Once we had navigated up through forest paths, down ditches and over streams, it was time for what Kelly called the ‘stampede’! I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…….

About a mile along from where we were, the track became narrow and twisted downhill through a section of forest. This is where the cattle would start to run due to the downhill momentum. At the bottom they needed to be turned 90° right so that they didn’t head straight into a deep gully….. and guess who got taken along with Kelly…. yep it was me!

I’ll be honest – it was exhilarating! We sped around and ahead of the cattle before dropping down and through the forest. Before we’d even gotten to the bottom of the track, we could hear the herd picking up the pace, the sound of their hooves echoing through the trees.

I’m glad I didn’t try to take any pictures during the stampede but here is a nice one at the bottom of the hill once the herd had settled again. My angel Cub stood like a rock the entire time.

Although it was a hard 7 hours in the saddle, it was the cattle drive I have always dreamed of! And the view from the top was just …..WOW…..

Becky on the beautiful Cub

The riding during the rest of the week was an array of trails across the beautiful countryside. Siobhan told us stories as we rode which made the hours slip by far too quickly for my liking! In the afternoons when we weren’t riding, there was the chance for gold panning, rifle shooting or even fishing if we didn’t want to relax.

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is a working ranch and so every week is different depending on what needs to be done. However something that always needs doing is changing the irrigation pipes.

One morning I volunteered to meet Kelly at 5:30 and help him. It was great to hear all about how he set up the pipes to run water uphill and how each of the different systems work. It really put into perspective how much work is done behind the scenes – and also helped work up an appetite for breakfast!

Working at sunrise on the irrigation pipes.

Jill’s cooking throughout the week was another highlight for me. The family style, help yourself approach worked really well and we would all sit around the table together each meal time. There was a different desert each evening which was brilliant but I was slightly worried I wouldn’t fit back into my jeans by the time I left!

The main lodge at Hidden Hollow Hideaway

Each evening there was the option to go with Kelly on a wildlife drive. I remember finding these drives really interesting and learned to identify several different dear types as well as being lucky enough to see mountain goats!

There is no wi-fi at the ranch which is really nice. It allows you to just get away from everything and really get immersed into rural Montana life. With the big belt mountains behind you and the brilliant horses you get to ride, you can just forget about everything else and enjoy your surroundings.

If I had the opportunity,  I’d be back out there in a heartbeat.

And the last picture has to be of Cub.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Left my Heart in the Namib Desert

In this blog entry Abbie from In The Saddle tells us about her trip to Namibia earlier this year.

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A blog is something I do when I return from a trip, to summarise and recount amazing horsey adventures in far off lands. But I’ve been putting off writing this one. Why? Because writing a blog means the trip is over, as if stamping the experience with a definitive “The End”, and if I’m honest I don’t really want to do that.

The Namib Desert Ride is more than a riding holiday, more than the sum of its parts – fast riding, camping and long days in the saddle – it is an experience like no other. I’ll tell you all about it, and although I am sad it is over, I’m sure I will enjoy reliving the most incredible adventure I’ve ever had.

When I last visited Namibia in 2012 I fell in love with the wide open spaces, a nothingness which has to be seen to be believed. The vast plains and endless horizons seem to encourage you to take time out from everyday life and just stop, and breathe, and take it all in. What stayed with me particularly was being in the desert, the feeling of freedom above the deep red soil and below the bright blue skies. I simply couldn’t wait to get back to the Namib Desert, where mile upon mile of open space seems to call you – it has to be the ultimate place for limitless canters.

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Namibia – the perfect place for limitless canters

In August I travelled to Namibia to cross the oldest desert in the world on horseback. The Namib Desert route is one of In The Saddle’s more challenging rides, encompassing a journey on horseback of some 320km from close to the desert oasis of Solitaire to Swakopmund on the fierce Atlantic coast. Ever since I joined In The Saddle back in 2006 I’ve been dying to do this ride and when the opportunity came up I literally jumped (up and down) at the chance!

Our riding group meets for the first time at River Crossing, a comfortable guesthouse on the outskirts of Windhoek. We are twelve riders in total, from France, England, South Africa and Denmark. About half the group have their own horses, but everyone has ridden for many years and all are experienced in the saddle. Our guide Andrew Gillies meets us at 17:00 for the ride briefing. After a thorough run through of ride safety and the signals Andrew will use to chance pace, we begin to relax and look forward to the adventure ahead. Over a cool gin and tonic we introduce ourselves and Andrew asks us what sort of riders we are and what we look for in a horse. Requests vary from “fast and spirited” and “fun and forward-going” to “easy to stop”. It is this information along with the details from travel companies like In The Saddle that Andrew and Telane use to allocate horses. A delicious three course evening meal and plenty of wine awaits, before early to bed after a long day of travelling.

The next day we are up early for our transfer to our first campsite at Ababis. It is a journey of about four hours and we spot oryx, springbok, baboons and secretary bird along the way. We stop at a viewpoint on the way and Andrew points out where we are going to be riding in the days to come. The incredible view heightens our excitement as we imagine the journey ahead – think of the amazing views, the adventure, the endless canters – we cannot wait! The sheer open space and lack of people will take some getting used to…whether you come from busy London or rural Shropshire.

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The viewpoint – taking in the vast desert landscape

We reach camp around midday and are met by Phoebe, Telane and Kim. The team take it in turns as back-up guide, but on this particular trip we are in the very capable hands of Kim from Germany who is on her third stint as volunteer. Kim is great fun to ride with and clearly loves her forays into the wilderness of Namibia. Phoebe is a constant beacon of fun and positivity. Cheerfully waving us off each day and then racing against the clock with the back-up crew to set up the lunch spot or the next campsite whilst at the same time preparing mouth-watering meals – she accomplishes so much that we begin to wonder whether she has an identical twin!

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“Phoebe’s Food Truck” – always a welcome sight

Telane, biologist and wild horse researcher, is in charge of the horses’ welfare. During the trip Telane is more often found with the horses than the humans, as she carefully checks them for sore spots, lameness and other ailments. I was fascinated to hear that when she meets a guest for the first time Telane will often ‘see’ a horse. For example when she met Claire on our trip, Telane ‘saw’ Lavoca. This was a great match as throughout the week Claire rode her horse with great sensitivity and I loved seeing them at a speedy canter weaving in and out between other riders, eager to get to the front, a big smile on both their faces!

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Claire and Lavoca – a perfect match (image courtesy of Joe Davies)

Next we are given a run through of what to do when we reach camp each evening. The horses are un-tacked, allowed to roll and led to water. Then they are left to dry and are brushed off later (we usually do this whilst waiting in the shower queue). Then we can take a stretcher bed, bedroll and bag to a spot of our choice, be it beside a tree, next to the horses or close to the campfire. The bedroll (each one named after animal species such as rhino, bush pig and impala so they don’t get mixed up) is ours for the duration of the ride and encompasses a sleeping mat, feather duvet and two pillows all tucked inside a waterproof and windproof canvas swag. The duvets are incredibly warm even if the pesky east wind is blowing, although there are extra blankets to use if you feel the cold.

After a lunch of oryx skewers, stuffed peppers, salad and fresh bread it is back on the road again as we travel the 150km to the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei. Andrew tells us about the different types of dunes. These dunes at Sossusvlei differ from those in the Kalahari because they are dynamic, ever-shifting in the wind and taking on a variety of shapes. We kick off our shoes and climb Dune 45, a few of us happy to go part of the way up and then sit and take in the view, whilst others climb right to the top. It is just beautiful.

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Karien taking in the view at Sossusvlei

Returning to camp we have time to de-sand ourselves with a hot shower before dinner. We are spoilt this evening as we are eased into camp life, for tonight we have hot running water and flush loos. There is much giggling over the ‘mini-Sossusvlei’ left in the shower by a fellow rider – how on earth did she manage to get that much sand into her shoes and still walk?! Making my way back to my stretcher after a shower I make the mistake of hanging my towel to dry on a nearby tree…only the following morning do I realise I’ve used a camelthorn tree and it takes a while to extract my towel from its fierce spikes!

Today’s the day – we get to meet our horses and set off on our desert adventure. There is Marnie a sweet grey Arab mare, Xerox the ‘photocopier’ horse, speedy Sundown, the chestnut ‘pocket rocket’ whose speed has to be seen to be believed, Titan a handsome dun gelding, fast and spirited Raven, front-runner Zarron, well-mannered Coco and my own diminutive ‘black Philip’. He was in many ways exactly what I’d asked for (small and straightforward), but he was also so much more than this; I cherished his professionalism, sweet temper and polite enthusiasm from start to finish.

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Philip – the perfect gentleman

After a hearty breakfast it is time for a saddling demonstration. The horses are groomed and tacked-up with an incredible level of care, which is continued throughout the ride. After the usual first-day adjusting of stirrups and saddles we set off towards the oasis town of Solitaire about 15km away. The horses are keen, but controllable except perhaps Raven and Joe’s first horse, each having their own ideas about the speed we should be going at. At one point Joe disappears off in front at a purposeful but unintentional canter, only to double back at great speed heading straight for us. A swift bridle change makes little difference, so a horse change is quickly carried out instead – much better, and well ridden Joe. At Solitaire we enjoy a delicious lunch of quiche and salad, followed by the bakery’s famous apple crumble – yum. A further c. 15km ride in the afternoon takes us to the first of our beautiful wilderness camps, Koireb, nestled in a dry riverbed.

Over the next few days we settle into the wonderful rhythm of camp life. Literally we eat, sleep, ride and repeat. It is priceless, absolute bliss, as if you are in a little bubble where it is only your fellow riders, your guides, the back-up team and your horses and it feels almost as though your normal, everyday life doesn’t even exist.  The day begins with Zarron’s high-pitched whinny and the call of the French rooster. We wake up each morning and watch dawn creep onto the horizon, getting dressed as quickly as possible in the cool of the morning. That first cup of tea and a rusk has never been so delicious as you gather your riding gear and break down your little camping spot. Breakfast is taken around the fire, and then perhaps there is time to snatch a quiet moment with your horse before the adventures of the day begin.

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A quiet moment with Philip (image courtesy of Namibia Horse Safaris)

Each day we set off to journey through amazingly diverse desert scenery, cantering across the plains with oryx on one side and zebra on the other. We enjoy a cold Savannah cider and lunch in the shade, before setting off again for more incredible canters and gallops across the open terrain. We arrive in camp, un-tack and let the horses roll and drink, before sipping a cool G&T whilst grooming the horses. Then a quick bucket shower to wash away the red-brown dust of the desert.

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Ganab camp – Phoebe grooming the horses at sunset

Each evening Andrew gathers us around the fire saying ‘Dearly Beloved’ and outlines the plan for the following day. Each day is different and yet filled with the same magical ingredients of good company, incredible riding and thrilling gallops; the only thing that seems to remain the same is that “breakfast is at seven”! After a delicious two course meal we go to bed each night feeling nicely weary and drift off to sleep playing ‘join the dots’ with constellations or counting shooting stars in the amazing inky-black African sky.

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The Namib night sky (image courtesy of Tony Marshall)

One day we are doing some LSD (Long Slow Distance – Andrew’s term for a steady canter) and Andrew stops us all, saying he can see something unusual ahead. So we approach slowly and to our disbelief, there in the middle of the day is an aardvark! He is so intent on his quest for termites that he seems oblivious to our presence and we sit and watch him for ten minutes or so. We edge closer and closer until finally he spots us and darts away in confusion.

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An unusual sighting – an aardvark out in the daytime

Another day we are not far from camp and during a canter, our guide takes us on a winding route through bushes and low trees as the sun starts to fade. Before we know it we are out in open ground again and in front of us, as if by magic are three giraffe. What a wonderful sight to end another incredible day in the desert (although Coco is not a fan and is still snorting by the time we reach camp!).

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Spotting three giraffe – the perfect end to an incredible day

One day the group splits off into pairs and has ‘wacky races’ along vehicle tracks which make for perfect going. A day or so later we canter across grassy plains so vividly green after the calcrete plains we have just crossed and then we’re invited to let loose, whoop it up and let loose our inner cowboys as we set off at a roaring gallop. My horse Philip is wonderful and tries so hard, but he’s not the fastest horse in the world. We set off feeling good, galloping well, but are soon enveloped in a huge billow of dust as those with more impressive turns of speak streak past us. Quite literally streaking in the case of Ben, whose wardrobe seems to be in a permanent state of malfunction, shirt undone and chest showing!

On our longest riding day from Ganab to Marble Mountain, we ride 40km before lunch and our 20km afternoon ride is one of my most memorable. The entire late afternoon ride takes us along sandy plains of perfect going and we ride towards the sinking sun,  literally riding off into the sunset – magical. During a long canter, Joe who has been part of the ‘rear guard’ until now suddenly storms to the front of the group, taking most of the others with him and setting off an impromptu cavalry charge – whoops!

It is incredible to be cantering along in the remote Namib Desert hearing only your horse’s breathing and the beat of his canter. At one point the evening light and the dust begins playing tricks on me, making it look as though the horse in front is in fact cantering towards me – eerie.

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Riding into the sunset (image courtesy of Izzy Crane)

On Day 6 the landscape takes a dramatic change and ahead of us lies a real challenge; crossing the Kuiseb Canyon. It was here that geologists Hermann Korn and Henno Martin went into hiding during the Second Wold War, as told in the book ‘The Sheltering Desert’. We ride into the badlands where we have an amazing sighting of a magnificent lone zebra who is really intrigued by us. Then we make a technical descent down steep terraces leading our horses on foot.

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Descending into the Kuiseb (image courtesy of Namibia Horse Safaris)

After watering the horses and a quick picnic lunch, it is time to begin our climb out of the canyon. From the base of the canyon the climb looks impossible, but the horses, guides and back-up team are incredible as they clamber across sheer rock and make light work of the steep, rocky ascent.

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Karen & Sundown climbing out of the Kuiseb (image courtesy of Izzy Crane)

We make it to Aruvlei our next camp by mid-afternoon, in plenty of time for a fabulous sun downer in celebration of surviving the Kuiseb.

Pic 15 Celebratory Sundowners after surviving the Kuiseb

Mariette & Gill – sundowners at Aruvlei

As our adventure begins to come to a close we make our way up the Swakop River, the energy seems to change and the horses are on edge a little. Perhaps they can sense their journey is almost over? We have wonderful canters along the dry riverbed and gaze up at the rock formations on either side.

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The Swakop River – riding towards civilisation

On the way to our last stop on the trail we pause for a break under the shade of a tree and notice that the ground underfoot looks like huge fish scales, crunching underfoot.

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The Swakop riverbed looks like huge fish scales (image courtesy of Rebecca Hast)

Signs of civilisation begin to appear, a house, a fence, dogs barking; it seems so strange after having been isolated in the desert for ten days.

Our final ride is bittersweet, we’ve nearly done it, but we don’t want it to end. An idea circulates about heading north when we get to Swakopmund, riding up the coast to explore Damaraland and then on to Etosha, before turning south and heading back to Windhoek. Then having a little rest and doing some washing before riding south to see the Wild Horses and then on to explore the Fish River Canyon. What an adventure that would be…shall we start planning?!

As we ride towards Swakopmund we cross a railway and a few roads, before passing towering dunes and then we catch our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean. Our incredible Namibian adventure ends with a final thrilling gallop along the beach at Swakopmund, champagne corks popping as we reach the end of the beach.

It has been a wonderful ten days, full to the brim with adrenaline-fueled gallops, wonderful company, amazing food, ever-changing landscapes, dust, sunshine, and incredible game. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we’ve finally fulfilled our dream of crossing the Namib Desert. As Joe put it so eloquently in his thank you speech to Andrew and the team, “we’ve ridden like hell and eaten like horses”.

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We did it – arriving into Swakopmund

So there it is, I’ve finally faced it and written my blog. I now have to write “The End” and admit that my adventure is over. But what will keep me going is the hope that one day I’ll return to the wide open plains of Namibia, where friends are made, challenges are met and the memories last until the call of the wilderness becomes too strong to resist.

The End

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As well as this adventurous ride crossing the Namib Desert, In The Saddle also features other challenging trail rides in Namibia including the Damara Elephant Safari, Desert Canyons Safari and Wolwedans to Wild Horses.

If you’d like to find out more about our Namibian rides, please contact Abbie on +44 1299 272 239 or email abigail@inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding holidays namibia, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ecuador – “One of the Best”

In this edition of GG Journeys, In The Saddle guest Vivien Gwynne-Howell tells us about her recent adventure in Ecuador. Out of more than 23 riding holidays, Vivien rates our Colonial Haciendas ride as one of the best she’s done – high praise indeed for this wonderful country!

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Vivien says, “I decided to book a riding holiday (Colonial Haciendas ride) in Ecuador which was a country I initially knew little about. However, having returned from there, I think it was one of the best riding holidays I have ever been on. The two areas I visited are so beautiful (the northern and the central highlands) and the riding holiday itself was fab. The first few days were spent in the pastoral mountains and valleys of the northern highlands, riding along country tracks and across steep slopes used for a multitude of farming crops. We saw a condor soaring on the first day’s riding! Any rough patch of land between the fields was usually occupied by a cow, a pig or a horse, all looking really healthy and in good condition, calmly watching us passing by on horseback. The Ecuadorians working in the fields were friendly and looked amazing wearing their brightly coloured clothes, complete with trilbies, going about their day-to-day work.

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In the Northern Highlands you get a taste of what rural Ecuadorian life is like

The second part of the holiday was spent in Cotopaxi National park in the central highlands, riding around the volcanic terrain. This was my favourite region for riding. The scenery was absolutely stunning, surrounded by four volcanoes, rock faces, rivers, waterfalls, open plains, snow-capped Cotopaxi etc..etc..

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Cotopaxi National Park, where this conical peak dominates the skyline

As a Geography geek, I was in my element, immersed in a region marked by glacial and volcanic evidence, each of the four volcanoes seeming to generate its own weather system. Despite this, we had great weather and never got wet apart from a few drops of rain at the end of Day 5.

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Riding up into the paramo (high Andes)

There were also several herds of wild horses on the plains that were curious about us and would inspect us from a distance – there was one magical moment where we were able to canter along beside them which was absolutely beautiful and I will never forget the experience.

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Curious wild horses in Cotopaxi National Park

Before I left home, I was initially a bit apprehensive about the high altitude and whether I would struggle with it. However I need not have worried. Sally, my guide, managed the ride very professionally. It was planned with slowly increasing altitude, giving enough time to acclimatise and with regular reminders to keep sipping water and having small meals and regular snacks (so as not to overload the digestive system with big meals). It worked, and I was not affected at all apart from occasional mild breathlessness at the highest points.

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This ride is high in parts, but designed so that you can acclimatise to the altitude gradually

The horses we rode were superb. All very healthy and happy, well-schooled and much loved. I rode a selection that were all responsive and behaved beautifully. Difficult to choose but my favourite was Capuli who gave me some wonderful smooth canters across the Cotopaxi plains (I could have spent weeks there). The saddles were incredibly comfortable, covered in sheepskins and I had no aches at all to contend with.

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The handsome and smooth-gaited Capuli

The food was delicious and so full of flavour, a testament to the fertile volcanic soil that the crops grew in. It was a relatively simple fare but tasted amazing (especially the tomatoes and avocados).

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Locro de papa soup – delicious

Outside of riding, we had a trip to Otavalo market and also visited some traditional weavers that created some beautiful scarves, blankets etc using a completely manual method. Absolutely fascinating, and I came away with a brightly coloured scarf (they have a small shop where you can buy their creations).

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During the ride we visited a weaver’s workshop

The haciendas we stayed in were wonderful. Most were very traditional with lots of history, my favourite of these being La Merced in the Zuleta valley which is a working dairy farm, plus the owners breed Andalucians and their herd and stallions were lovely to watch (such a beautiful breed).

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The very lovely La Merced, home to gorgeous Andalucian horses

The hacienda I stayed at in Cotopaxi (Los Mortinos) was modern but built very tastefully and in a fab location with stunning views of Cotopaxi (my second favourite hacienda!).

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Los Mortinos, with Cotopaxi behind

Sally is a great guide. With immense knowledge of Ecuador and its history, I learnt so much from her. Sally’s horses are a real credit to her and the ride itself was organised very well. I also enjoyed the company of the two volunteers Marie and Josh who were very nice to ride with.

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Guide Sally, aboard her horse Annemeike (photo credit: Tony Marshall)

All in all, it was a great holiday. Ecuador was absolutely beautiful and amazing to see from the back of a horse. I would massively recommend it as a place to ride.

Thanks very much to In The Saddle for organising the holiday….now have to start thinking where to go next!

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Many thanks to Vivien for this super insight into riding in Ecuador. We are so glad you enjoyed your trip. If you’d like to find out more about our Colonial Haciendas, Andean Adventure and Volcanoes & Vistas rides please contact Abbie on +44 1299 272 239 or email abigail@inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding in ecuador, Riding in the Andes | Leave a comment

Big Adventures on the Big Rivers Ride

In this blog post we hear from In The Saddle guest Sarah Grant, who was part of an intrepid group of riders who undertook the adventurous Big Rivers ride in June 2017.

This exploratory ride journeyed into the Caprivi strip, Namibia’s tropical paradise whose borders are determined by several big rivers. The charm of this area is that it is a corridor for game moving between Botswana, Zambia and Angola. This extraordinary area of biodiversity is in contrast to Namibia’s normally arid landscape. In summer the floodwaters spill out over the riverbanks onto the wide open plains of Linyanti and Liambezi, much like the Okavango does in Botswana.

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“We are riding alongside a wide stretch of water somewhere in the Caprivi, North Eastern Namibia, shortly before sunset. It’s the first day of the 2017 Exploratory Ride, an annual ride that Andrew Gillies of the Namibia Horse Safari Company runs each year, to explore somewhere new in the vast nothingness that is Namibia. It’s a chance to go somewhere that no one has gone before on a horse, but be prepared for the unexpected…

Back to the first day. Setting off from our first camp on the Kwando River, we’ve had a happy day getting used to our horses (mine, Big Red, is an honest, friendly red chestnut gelding, quite powerful and a bit cheeky), getting used to each other (a group of 11 riders from 6 different countries, all of whom have ridden with Andrew at least once and in some cases many times), and getting used to two constant features of the ride – the many herds of cattle herded by the local ethnic groups, with their rather fearsome horns, and the crowds of excited children, who follow us shouting with excitement at seeing 15 riders and 19 horses suddenly appear in their village.

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Who’s herding who?

Now, with the sun slipping close to the horizon, I am secretly thinking: shouldn’t we be at camp by now? Time for sundowners perhaps? “No problem,” says our guide, Andrew, consulting the GPS, “it’s only 5km away.” Until we find a wide water channel, inconveniently placed between the camp and us. With virtually no daylight left, and no way round, the order is issued: “Swim the horses across! Bring the old campaigners first!” I’ll be the first to admit, swimming a horse I don’t know across a channel that may or may not have crocs in virtual darkness is not my perfect idea of an end to the first day, but there was nothing to do except point Big Red at the river, and hope for the best.

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A river crossing at dusk – on an exploratory ride you have to expect the unexpected

We did all make it across, and we made it to our camp, tired, soaking wet but high on the adventure of it. Red usually crosses the Namib Desert, but he swam across that channel like it was second nature, and earned my respect and gratitude. We spent the evening futilely trying to dry boots and blankets around the fire, and cheerfully recounting the adventure.

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The handsome Big Red

This is my first Exploratory Ride with renowned guide Andrew Gillies. I went on the Namib Desert ride last October, which was an incredible, unforgettable experience. Only a few months later I’m back for more.

This is what life on safari should be all about, wonderful company, living close to the earth and time for those quiet moments alone, just you and your horse. Big River Safari, Caprivi,

What life on safari is all about…those quiet moments alone with your horse

The Exploratory Ride goes to a new area each year, although there is a recce trip some months before by vehicle. So when the ride heads off the road, it really is across open country, navigating by landmarks and GPS. You do need to be prepared for things to not go according to plan. When Andrew and Phoebe did the recce trip in November 2016, they found the Linyanti floodplains full of buffalo. When we got there on the fifth day of our trip, the floodplains were covered in three metre high reeds, towering over our and the horses’ heads. We spent hours pushing through them. Andrew had to resort to the simple navigation technique of standing on his horse’s saddle to try and see where we should be going.

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Who needs GPS anyway? (Thanks to Clare and Jenn Lawson for the image)

Andrew & co are fantastic at these rides. They have an amazing back-up team that bring food and water (for horses and humans) plus tents and bed-rolls and loos and showers and many other comforts for life in the bush. On most of the Namibian rides you sleep under the stars, but on this ride we had tents due to riding through areas populated with large predators. The horses were guarded by night, with their picket line surrounded by the rest of the camp and fires which were kept going through the night in lion areas.

This is what life on safari should be all about, wonderful company, living close to the earth and time for those quiet moments alone, just you and your horse. Big River Safari, Caprivi,

Savouring the simple routine of camp life, with great company

Camp life is refreshing in its simplicity. I wake each dawn to the sound of the horses on the picket line calling for their breakfast. My first thought is to get coffee (I’m addicted), which never tastes better than from a metal mug with a rusk as the sun rises. Breakfast is in the circle of camp chairs around the fire before grooming my horse and taking it to where the tack is stored on a long tarpaulin, secretly hoping to get some help from our guides, Andrew and Telane, as I find the saddles so heavy.

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Beautiful Namibia at daybreak

We are riding about 30km a day, from the start at the Kwando River to the final camp at Mutoya on the Zambezi. The going varies, between long stretches of open bush (or ‘veldt’), small areas cultivated by the locals, scrub, floodplains and woodlands. There are many shouts of ‘holes!’ (belonging to aardvarks) and ‘thorns!’ (the ‘wait a little bit’ bush). Where we can, we make up distance by doing some of Andrew’s famous LSD – Long Slow Distance – at a steady canter along the road shoulder. There can be anything from elephants or zebras crossing, to villagers greeting you, to lorries sounding their horn right by your horse (thank you Red for only shying a bit).

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One of the many river crossings

When we reach camp, the first thing is to see to the horses. They are un-tacked, allowed to roll and taken for water. Then they are put on their allocated place on the picket line and fed.

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Walking the horses the final few hundred metres into camp at the end of the day

Later they will be groomed and fed again, and Andrew and Telane, will do the ‘ward round’ to check for any sore backs or other ailments. Once they are seen to, the bar will be open – G&Ts (with ice, even here) and Windhoek beers all round. Then find your tent, have a shower, have some delicious food that is incredible considering where we are, and chew the fat until bed.

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The horses enjoying a roll and a drink at the end of the day

The joy of these rides is the freedom. It’s hard to put into words the immense nothingness of Namibia. It’s beautiful. Seeing it from a horse you have time to take in the huge mackerel skies, the vivid greens and yellows of grasslands and bush, the belts of trees on the skylines, the blue of the water channels. You have time to talk and bond with your fellow riders, and time to think and let the city life of home recede.

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Beautiful mackerel skies

There was also the local life to see. In the Caprivi, life is harsh on this unyielding land, with the challenges of living with elephants and lions, and the clash of old and new cultures. We had a talk from Lisse Hannsen of the Caprivi Carnivore Project about how to ensure conservation and humans can co-exist.

Horses are a rare sight here and the leader of one village begged us to stop until the whole village could see the horses (he got a ride on Andrew’s horse).

Although hard to believe in the 21st century these locals have never seen a horse

Many of these villagers had never seen a horse before

There are many other tales from this trip I could write about – galloping through water (someone got a ducking), trucking the horses home one day with the riders sitting on top because we couldn’t make the full distance before dark, the time Big Red decided a short cut through a thorn bush was a good idea – but perhaps the best thing to do is go to see for yourself the immense nothingness that is Namibia. The best way to see it? From the back of a horse, of course”.

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The wide open spaces are unforgettable.

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A huge thank you to Sarah for writing this wonderful account of her adventures in Big River country. What an incredible experience and a huge well done to you and fellow In The Saddle guests Clare Anderton, Nicole Appert, Clare Lawson and Jenn Lawson for completing this challenging ride.

If you’d like to experience some more of their epic adventure, then check out Namibia Horse Safaris’ video from the ride here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbCR4xTuI7w

As well as the annual exploratory ride, In The Saddle offers a range of adventurous trail rides in Namibia guided by Andrew Gillies:

Namib Desert: A challenging 300km journey across the oldest desert in the world to Swakopmund on the coast.
Damara Elephant Safari: Fast riding through the vast and spectacular landscapes of Damaraland, tracking elephant and rhino along the way.
Desert Canyons Safari: Explore the open plains of the Southern Namib and see the famous Fish River Canyon.
Wolwedans to Wild Horses: A breath-taking journey taking you from the great dune sea of the central Namib to Klein Aus Vista near the home of the Wild Horses of the Namib.

For more information or to book your place please contact Abbie on +44 1299 272 239 or via email abigail@inthesaddle.com

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding holidays namibia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Los Potreros Lovin’

In The Saddle guest Millie recently returned from Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina. Millie writes that her holiday was far beyond her expectations.

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Millie enjoying the view at Estancia Los Potreros

A real highlight were the horses. Millie says, “on every level the horses are fantastic, they look after the guests judging who they have riding them. The horses really know their job as working animals, but also enjoy a good few gallops on the trails”.

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The horses are fantastic on every level.

One feature at Los Potreros that guests really enjoy is that each day is different. Millie says, “the gauchos take you somewhere new on the estancia every day and get you working from day one….anyone who has an inner cowboy would love every second!”.

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Aspiring cowboys would love every moment.

Los Potreros is a long-standing favourite with In The Saddle guests. Check out this additional feedback from recent guests:

Orla from London loved both the riding and the hosting. She says, “The riding was superb. The horses seemed to be beautifully matched to the ability of each rider in the group. They were forward going and responsive but I felt safe at all times”.

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Superb riding and responsive horses are a feature of this holiday.

Orla said, “I had a wonderful time during my week at Estancia Los Potreros. I was a lone traveller but I never felt like I was holidaying alone. My hosts Kevin and Lou made guests feel like friends. The staff were delightful. The riding was everything I could have dreamed. Even the weather was perfect (in defiance of all the forecasts)”.

Jackie from Essex agrees. She said, “everything was wonderful – expectations were exceeded. Hosting and riding could not be faulted – Louisa and Kevin, management, guides, gauchos, cooks and housekeeping”.

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Estancia Los Potreros

This trip over Easter even represented two new activities for Jackie, “my first Easter-Egg Hunt on horseback and my first introduction to Polo!”.

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The annual Easter-Egg hunt is a real favourite!

If you’d like more information about Los Potreros or wish to book your stay please contact Abbie on +44 1299 272 239 or via email abigail@inthesaddle.com

 

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in Argentina | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morocco – Sun, Sand and Arabian Stallions

In this blog entry, Lucy Downes from In The Saddle tells us about her recent trip to join the Essaouira Coastal Trail in Morocco. Here, she highlights the best bits of this ride, from the first-class horses to the delicious food.

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If you feel in need of nice weather and a gallop on beautiful horses, but don’t want a long flight from the UK, then our rides in Morocco are ideal. We have a number of itineraries from riding along the coast or camping in the desert to trekking in the mountains.

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Welcome to Morocco

I jumped on a flight from Stansted and arrived in Marrakesh less than 3 hours later. I couldn’t believe the difference in culture and way of life just a short journey away. It was fascinating wondering around the medinas and little shops of Marrakesh and Essaouira. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not get hassled and it was fun haggling with the locals.

I bought a lovely sheep leather handbag and there were lots of wooden carved jewellery boxes and ceramic pots to buy, as well as beautiful rugs – it’s just a shame I couldn’t fit more into my suitcase!

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One of the back streets in the medina at Essaouira

I met the group in Marrakesh where we all got to know each other over dinner. The following day we all headed off to be introduced to the beautiful Arabian horses that would be our steeds for the week; most were stallions but there were also a couple of geldings.

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The horses are ridden in GP saddles and snaffle bridles

Abdel, our knowledgeable guide and experienced horseman, talked about each horse with passion and a lot of love. We were then shown how to tack up and handle the stallions with a firm but very fair approach.

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Lucy and Tissia meeting for the first time

All of the horses are forward going, well behaved, sure footed and great fun to ride. When on the beaches, it was such a thrill to be able to let the horses go – and they can certainly shift!

My horse, Tissia, was around 15.1hh. This was the average height of all the horse, although one or two were slightly taller. When cantering on the beach there were some horses that had an extra gear, but all were easy to stop and everyone had big grins on their faces at the end of the beach! The beach canters were incredible and were a real highlight for me.

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Splashing through the waves just before some faster riding

The days were a mixture of fast beach rides, scenic mountain tacks and riding through little country villages. On the way we would see people fishing, donkeys, camels and goats.

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The local donkeys would wander over and finish any food the horses had left after dinner!

After an exciting morning ride, we would ride on to our lunch spot. The back-up team would already have arrived and set up a large tent with the sides rolled up to provide some shade. Lunch would be served and the horses would be watered. The food was so tasty and there was always plenty to go around.

For breakfast there was a range of cereals, toast with jam and fruit. Lunch would be a buffet of pasta or rice with fresh salad and fish – it was lovely have a lighter lunch as we would remount after an hour of relaxing.

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Relaxing at the end of the day

When we had finished riding for the day and un-tacked the horses, we would help ourselves to biscuits and nuts. Dinner would be served after everyone had showered (or washed off with a very appreciated hot bucket of water!) and then the tents were pitched.

For dinner we helped ourselves to vegetables and there was always a meat dish – lamb, chicken etc. All our meals were always served with classic Moroccan tea.

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It was lovely having a canter at the end of the day when the sun was setting

At the end of the day, we would let the horses roll and pitch up our tents. Then we’d look over the map to see where we had been and where we would be heading the following day.

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It was such a pleasure to ride fit and sure footed horses

By the end of the week I’d had a blast on sun-drenched beaches, enjoyed Moroccan cuisine, had an insight into the local culture and loved riding my little Arabian stallion.

If you are looking for some fast, exciting riding on lovely horses that you are forward going each with their own character, then our rides in Morocco are perfect. You will need to be willing to get stuck in with tacking-up, grooming the horses and pitching tents, but for me this just added to the overall experience. It was nice to be able to bond with the horses off and on the ground.

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Many thanks to Lucy for this insight into what makes Morocco brilliantly unique.

Whether you want to join a desert, mountain or beach ride, we still have availability for  this season. For more information on our rides in Morocco, please call the office on +44 1299 272 997 or contact Lucy via email on lucy@inthesaddle.com

Categories: beach riding, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Riding Holidays, riding holidays in morocco | 1 Comment

Incredible Andalucians

In this blog entry, Lucy revisits her trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain back in July 2015. Using a mixture of her own appraisal of the ride and In The Saddle guest feedback, she explains just what makes these rides so appealing.

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Our rides in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are special for so many reasons; from the spectacular scenery to the excellent guiding by Dallas Love. What stood out for me and for many of our guests, were the fantastic horses.

During my visit back in July 2015, I fell madly in love with my mount for the week – Laurel. He was the veteran of the group at 17 years old and Dallas’s former lead horse. He was such a pleasure to ride, forward going and sure footed.

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Lucy & Laurel

Let’s also hear from some In The Saddle guests:

Mary from Mid Glamorgan said her mount was “one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden!”.

Helen from Devon said, “this is a fantastic ride; great views and varied riding on very sure-footed, forward-going horses who are very well-mannered. I only wish I could have taken “Mora” my horse home!”

During our trail we were joined by Mordecai, Dallas’s brother. Mordecai is an exceptional horseman and helps Dallas school and prepare the horses for the trail.

The care given to the preparation of the horses is often echoed in guest feedback. For example, Caroline from Northumberland said, “the horses are extremely well-schooled and well-mannered. I’d highly recommend this ride.”

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Mordecai helping with the school work

I thought the pace might feel a bit slow, with one or two canters a day, but not once was I bored. The terrain varied daily, which kept the riding interesting and exciting. Leading the horses down steep rocky paths was never a problem. And of course, you are riding wonderful quality horses, which is always enjoyable.

Jane from Somerset agreed and says that “the horses were amazing – fit, sure-footed and well-schooled while still being their own ‘characters’. I liked the fact that every day we had times when we had to get off and lead because of the steep terrain – good for preventing rider stiffness!”

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All of the horses are trained to walk a polite distance behind you when leading. I never felt rushed or pushed by Laurel and there was never a fear of being stood on. I was so impressed with these horses, I have now taught my own horse at home to lead this way.

Cathrine from Manchester also noticed how polite the horses are, saying, “these horses are a pure delight to lead. They walk behind you, at your pace, never interfering with you.”

Dallas has 22 horses at her stables in Bubion. Some she rescued from around Spain and some are now retired, living the luxury life with a stunning view from their mountain pasture.

The love and care that Dallas puts into her horses is really appreciated by guests. For example, Gill from Cumbria says, “all Dallas’s horses are extremely well cared for and well-schooled – a joy to ride.”

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Having only a small number of horses over a long period of time, means that Dallas knows each one individually. It is clear to see the love Dallas has for each horse with each pat and cuddle she gives.

It was an honour to ride with her on such beautiful Spanish horses in the equally beautiful Spanish countryside.

Sue Donovan from Lancashire agrees. She says, “Dallas and her team know their horses well and certainly matched the right horse with the right person”.

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Many thanks to Lucy for this insight into what makes Dallas’s rides so special.

We still have some availability for week-long and short-break rides this season. For more information on our rides in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, please call the office on +44 1299 272 997 or email Lucy on lucy@inthesaddle.com

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

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