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My Magical Mongolian Adventure!

Claire Douglas from In The Saddle tells us about her recent trip to Mongolia. Here, she highlights the best bits of her trip from the tiny horses to amazing vistas.

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I was so excited when I was offered the chance to visit Mongolia as it has been a lifelong dream of mine to go there!  I think this is because of its strong connection to horses and how horses are still central to the country’s culture.  I set off to my epic trip half way across the world, landing in Ulaanbaatar, the capital.  I was joining a special agent trip combining the current rides we offer, so that I could experience the two very different locations, the Orkhon valley and the Bayan Gobi desert.

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The view of the Orkhon valley

Shortly after arriving, we were whisked off to the Hustai National Park for a late lunch followed by a jeep safari to spot the wild Przewalski horses (the Mongolian word is ‘takhi’) that have been re-introduced into the park in 1992.  Due to their great camouflage they were very difficult to spot!  Eventually we had a sighting and rushed over in the jeep to see them, parking nearby.  After a short walk up hill we spied the herd and their babies.  It was a great sight to see the closest link to prehistoric horses that exists nowadays.

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Tahki horses in Hustai National Park

After this we drove a further four hours towards to the Orkhon valley arriving at night at our next ger camp.  Ger is the Mongolian word for yurt.  We also met the horses and the herdsmen to be accompanying us the next day.

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A traditional ‘ger’ tent

I was paired with a small chestnut horse (around 12hh) with a small white marking on his forehead.  He was incredibly sweet and very responsive to neck reining (which is how they have trained the horses to steer).  It does take some time to adjust to these tiny horses (I’m 5’ 8’’) with their short strides and flattish gaits.  Mongolians traditionally ride in wooden framed saddles (see below) luckily for us they have adapted more comfortable saddles for the guest riders (although less colourful).  The adapted saddles consist of a cushioned frame with metal handles to the front and back which is comfortable for long hours in the saddle.  It is a different riding style compared with traditional English riding as Mongolians stand in the stirrups during anything faster than a walk for long periods at a time.  I found the stamina of these horses to be incredible, they just keep going and going! We completed 40 km the first day and due to their size and flattish gait, the overall experience was quite smooth and not too tiring.

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A Mongolian horse with traditional saddle

Another highlight was staying with a traditional Mongolian family.  It was fascinating to see how they live without many of the modern day conveniences that we take for granted such as running water and electricity.  Family life is very busy with the men herding the animals and tending to them whilst the women milk the mares and yaks as well as cooking for the family.  We were invited to bring the yaks down from the mountains which was a magical experience during a golden sunset.

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Milking of the yaks! Always done by the women.

Then next day we rode to Orkhon Falls, a beautiful waterfall appearing out of nowhere.  As we were out of season there was no one else there and it was great to have the view to ourselves. After lunch we jumped back into the cars and headed towards our next location, the Bayan Gobi desert.

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Orkhon Falls

We were paired up with new mounts (another little chestnut for me) and I found riding in the desert was really fun, especially up and down the dunes. However it is slower paced than the riding on the steppe as the sand is hard work for the horses.

Once we reached our lunch spot we were surprised by a caravan of camels heading in our direction, what a sight to behold!  We had the opportunity of riding these majestic beasts!  What a different sensation to riding a horse, much slower and much further off the ground.  We set off around the dunes finishing off with a race (mine decided not to enter and went no faster than a walk!)

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Bactrian camels

My trip ended with a visit to Gandan monastery and a traditional Mongolian show.  It was an amazing experience to see traditional musicians, throat singers and even a contortionist.  The show was really a first class experience.

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Traditional mask to ward away enemies

This is a country unlike any other I had visited before, the big blue skies and endless scenery have really made a lasting impression on me.  Riding these little horses alongside generations of horsemen is an experience I will never forget.

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A local herdsman

In The Saddle covers a range of adventurous rides in Mongolia:

For those adventurous souls who enjoy camping we have:

Camping trail, 12 nights, staying in 2 person tent, you explore remote areas of the Orkhon valley.  On three days you ride into the Naiman Nuur Park with pack yaks. You spend one night spent with a Mongolian family and another at a semi-permanent ger camp.

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The tents used on the Orkhon Valley Camping trail and Mongolia Express rides.

This is a a truly, ‘into the wild’ experience as on part of this trail your kit is carried by pack yaks as the area is inaccessible to vehicles.

The pace on these days will be dictated by the terrain and the pack yaks

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The pack yaks, leading the way!

For those who like the idea of a two destination camping holiday exploring both the desert and steppe, we have:

Dunes and Steppes of Mongolia, 12 nights, this combines riding in the Orkhon valley with riding in the Bayan Gobi Desert.  You stay in 2 person tents, spend one night in a ger next to a Nomadic family and one night at a semi-permanent ger camp.

The variety of scenery is amazing, riding in the desert is a fun experience.

The desert is tends to be slower paced than riding in the steppe due to the sand being hard work for the horses.

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Bayan Gobi Desert

If you don’t wish to camp but still want to experience this great country, the following trail would be suitable as you stay in comfortable gers along the way:

Ger trail, 12 nights, you stay at semi-permanent ger camps along the Orkhon valley and spend one night close to a Nomadic family.

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Semi-permanet ger camp at Hustai National Park

Mongolia Express, 7 nights, for those short on time this camping trail offers 5 days riding through Central Mongolia. You spend one night camping close to a Mongolian family.

For more information on the Mongolian rides or to book your place please call Claire on +44 1299 272 243 or email claire@inthesaddle.com.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Travel news | Tags:

New Rides for 2017 – Costa Rica

In this mini-series of blogs we learn about some of the new In The Saddle rides for 2017. From cantering along sun-drenched beaches in Greece, to viewing big game in Swaziland, we hope one of our new adventures will be right up your street.

First up is our exciting exploratory ride in Costa Rica.

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Our new Wilderness Ride takes you from the pristine rainforest of Carara National Park into the high coastal mountains of Turrubares.

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Go off the beaten track to experience rural Costa Rica at its best.

You’ll journey along mountain trails and forest paths far off the beaten track. Your guide will be on hand to help you identify flora and fauna along the way. You might spot species like macaws, toucans, coatimundis, sloths, pecaries and perhaps even the elusive jaguarondi.

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You might spot toucans along the way.

During the first part of the ride you explore Carara National Park, one of the last significant portions of primary rain forest in the Central Pacific region and a destination popular amongst wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

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Keep looking skywards and you could see sloths in the canopy above.

The park is a great spot for seeing scarlet macaws, boat-billed herons, fiery-billed aracari and American egrets.

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Scarlet macaws are often spotted in Carara National Park.

Later on in the week you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views as you climb into the coastal mountain ranges. As you ascend you will notice the forest changing in constitution and characteristics; the lower temperatures encourage the growth of ferns, moss and bromeliads.

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There are wonderful views as you approach the coastal mountain ranges.

Your first and last nights are spent at a comfortable hotel in San Jose, but during the ride itself you stay at more authentic accommodation which reflects the style of rural Costa Rica.

You’ll spend two nights at Rio Carara Lodge, nestled in a secluded part of Carara National Park. There are no near neighbours, so you are assured a tranquil atmosphere to make the most of the rainforest.

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Spend two nights at the peaceful Rio Carara Lodge.

For the next three nights you stay at Finca Galán, an ecological farm in the Turrubares Mountains. Here you can relax and unwind in peaceful surroundings. Be woken by birdsong as the first rays of light creep into your room. At night the sounds of the tropical forest will lull you to sleep.

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Experience the delights of rural Costa Rica whilst you stay at Finca Galan.

You could be riding for up to 6 or 7 hours a day and so you’ll need to be riding fit to undertake this challenge.

This is an exploratory ride, so you will be the first intrepid guests to undertake the ride. It is sure to be a wonderful adventure. Numbers are strictly limited, with only 2 places remaining. The ride will run from Saturday 25th November to Saturday 2nd December 2017.

If you’d like to hear more about this exciting In The Saddle adventure, or book your place then please contact Sarah on +44 1299 272 997 or email Sarah@inthesaddle.com for more information.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Travel news | Leave a comment

Mad about Macatoo

Famous for its exciting riding and thrilling game viewing, In The Saddle guests continue to be ‘mad about Macatoo‘. Here are just a few recent comments;

“Exceeded the highest expectations. It will almost certainly remain the most memorable and enjoyable riding experience in 25 years of riding holidays abroad”. (Ingrid, UK).

“Another brilliant ‘holiday of a lifetime’! The highlight of the riding this time was cantering full speed with a group of about 20 giraffe so close we could almost hear their heart beats!” (Linda, UK).

“This was my fourth visit. The riding was excellent as ever. Saw so much game, the highlight being a big male leopard which was just magical”. (Karen, UK).

“The horses are amazing. I cannot think of a single thing to improve. It was absolutely incredible”. (Noga, Israel).

“A fantastic team on site, felt like part of a family or of a group of old friends. Knowledgeable guides with a passion for their country, all this in a very special bit of paradise – loved it !” (Amelie, France).

In other news…

You may already have heard about 23 year old Khwai’s retirement. He has been a firm favourite throughout his working life at Macatoo and many of you will have some wonderful memories of cantering across the Delta on this lovely boy. Khwai is off to Maun for a relaxing retirement. Happy retirement Kwai!

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Recently Macatoo has gone green with the addition of solar panels. Camp is now operating completely on solar power.

Macatoo goes green! We are now operating completely on solar power!

Showing off the new solar panels

Earlier this month Macatoo was blessed with some much-needed rainfall. Now the bush is looking lovely, with bright green grass and foliage.

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Down at Hippo Lagoon this little one was spotted recently, making a balance-beam out of a fallen tree.

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

There have been some amazing sightings from the scenic helicopter flights. Why not plan one during your stay to see the Delta with a bird’s eye view?

Hippo pod from above

Hippo pod from above

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out this video from In The Saddle guest Kim Simkins: Cantering at Macatoo

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

News from Kujwana

Kujwana in the Okavango Delta is looking really amazing at the moment. Game is hiding around every corner and the landscape is vibrant shades of green after the rains.

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Kujwana main camp has seen many improvements over the last 12 months.

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A lovely new pool went in last year and there are now two gorgeous Riverside Suites for those who would like some added luxury.

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Some of the young horses have been out and about, getting used to their surroundings. These two homebreds, Bongo and Africa are doing really well with their training.

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There are many elements that make Kujwana special, but one of the things that really makes it stand out is that not only do guests stay at Kujwana main camp, but there is also the chance to go to Moklowane for a few nights as well. The long adventurous ride between camps with a sumptuous picnic lunch en route is an experience not to be missed. At Moklowane you stay in treehouse style accommodation with amazing views out over the Delta.

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Camp manager Duncan Over is working hard keeping things running smoothly. Many of you may have met Duncan at our Riding Holidays Show in December. You can read more about him here: Meet the Guides – Duncan Over.

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Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding kujwana, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Holiday to Estancia Los Potreros at The Riding Holiday Show

Come to the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December and enter a competition to win a riding holiday at the fabulous Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina. Sadly owners Kevin and Louisa Begg cannot join us at the event, but representing Los Potreros in their absence will be former guides Holly and Georgina.

Here, Kevin and Louisa tell us a little about life on the estancia.

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1. How long have you been at Los Potreros?

Kevin: This is my family home and so I have lived here all my life. We have been taking guests for 15 years this time round, although my grannie, Louie Begg, used to take home-stay guests between the late 1940´s and the 1960’s.

Louisa: I came here on holiday with In The Saddle 10 years ago and didn’t go home!

2. Where did you guide and/or ride before this?

Kevin: This is my first time guiding as such, but I have ridden all my life – it is an essential part of growing up on an estancia in Argentina as it is the only practical way to get around and work with cattle. As a young boy I remember my dad, Robert, who still lives on the estancia, making us get up early, go out and fetch the horses, groom them and saddle them up. In those days it felt a bit more like a chore than a pleasure!

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Louisa: I have ridden since I was a small girl – my parents gave me the choice of riding lessons or piano lessons which at 6 years old was a relatively easy choice. Through my teenage years I spent every spare moment mucking out stables and cleaning tack in return for riding, and this led to me working for a couple of years in the racing world. Life took me in a different direction after that (although I always kept riding), coincidentally into the hospitality industry, which has stood me in very good stead in the ten years that I have been here. Kevin always says that he checked my CV before asking me to marry him!

3. How did you get into guiding/riding? Was there someone who inspired you?

Kevin: Actually, it was my brother Robin who originally had the idea of re-starting the estancia as a riding holiday business. I had been working in Spain but was posted back to Argentina with my work and when they decided to close their offices in Buenos Aires I decided to stay – I felt I had come home. Robin asked me to come up to the estancia to help out with a few rides and 12 years on I’m still here. Now Robin has gone on to other things and Lou and I have been running the guest and cattle business for over 10 years now.

Louisa: I had always dreamed that one day I would have some form of job that would base me mainly outdoors, but really again I blame In The Saddle! I had a week off between 2 jobs, had been on an amazing riding holiday with them in Chile some years before and they suggested Los Potreros. I came here for a week and mentioned to Kevin that if he ever wanted a manager for the guest/guiding business I would be interested; it combined my service industry experience with my passion for animals and riding. I never imagined my dream would become a reality.

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4. If you hadn’t stayed at Los Potreros, what was your Plan B?

Kevin: I had always thought that one day I would come back to the family farm. Aside from the riding holiday business, we have an extremely successful cattle business, each year winning prizes at auction for highest price and best animals. I am really keen to develop the herd further, based on the amazing foundation work that my father and grandmother did.

Louisa: I had worked in the service industry all my life in one form or another, and before I came to Los Potreros I had set my sights on another 5 years of a ‘proper’ job, before looking to buy a little B&B business possibly in Devon or Wales, with the idea that I would be able to spend more time riding and being outdoors. Nowadays, if I couldn’t guide I think Kev is resigned to the fact that I would turn the estancia into a rescue home for horses/dogs/cats and probably a few other animals besides. We have already collected a few of each along the way.

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5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

Kevin: For me it is such a privilege to have found a job that allows me to live on my family estancia. One of my passions is sharing with guests the history of my family and the area, the traditions and culture of the gaucho and some of the stories of Argentina. I also love taking guests out to visit the cattle on horseback as I am very proud of the herd. Although it is wonderful having so many horses, cattle and other animals unfortunately they don’t know when it is your day off, and so sometimes the main downside is that it really is a 24/7 job.

Louisa: There is just nothing better than being able to ride out in our beautiful scenery on the back of one of our lovely horses every day. I love a good gallop as much as the next person, but I particularly enjoy helping people build their confidence on horseback, or introducing people to riding or polo who never thought they could do it. This year we had a couple in their 70’s who had never ridden in their lives, and in their first ride I had them cantering over the hills as I can put my trust completely in the horses. In terms of downsides, I am a person who wears their emotions on their sleeve, and as a riding guide you can never have a ‘bad’ day. This is really hard, especially if for example one of the animals is poorly and you have to carry on as though nothing has happened.

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6.  What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

Kevin: I enjoy riding all of our horses but I have a special fondness for a homebred Peruvian Paso called Negro 11. He is in his early 20’s now so there is nothing he hasn’t seen or done. He has a very noble air about him, and carries himself beautifully, so he would probably be some sort of conqueror or hero – maybe Alexander the Great?

Louisa: I can honestly say that out of our 140 horses I don’t have a favourite – they are all wonderful and brilliant in their own way. I do however often chat with the back-up guides about if ‘this horse was a human what would they be’ and we have a supermodel, everyone’s favourite uncle, an investment banker, a princess, some Barbie girls and a ‘boy at school that all the girls wanted to be with and all the boys were jealous of’ to name but a few!

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7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

Kevin: Malbec and beef – I am Argentine after all!

Louisa: My border collies (currently I have 6) and horses in the garden. Both are guaranteed to bring a smile to my face every day.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

Kevin: A few years ago I took a long distance trail ride with 5 ladies of ‘a certain age’. We stopped at some beautiful pools for lunch and a swim, and the ladies decided to strip off completely and recreate a ‘calendar girls’ type photo. Not something I will forget in a hurry – nor will the gaucho!

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Louisa: So many, so very hard to pick one out, but possibly the first time I rode out on my little Peruvian Paso mare, Aurora. There is just nothing like a home-bred horse – following the foal through his or her early years, and training, and probably a few dramas and heartaches in between, until they are ‘ride ready’. She has a very exaggerated front leg action and is as pretty as a picture, so being honest I probably was enjoying the chance to show off a bit!

9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Kevin: A glass of Malbec – did I mention I am Argentine?

Louisa: My favourite de-stresser would be either spending time with the foals, or more recently we bought a pair of Nigerian pygmy goats. They are just the cutest things, incredibly cheeky, and very funny. Sometimes we take a glass of wine down and sit with them – guaranteed to make you laugh.

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10. What advice would you give a 21 year old who wants to train for your job?

Kevin: Work hard at whatever you do – it will stand you in good stead for a guiding job. The riding itself is wonderful, but never forget there is a lot of hard work that goes in before the ride, after the ride and behind the scenes, and so developing a good work ethic is vital.

Louisa: Coming from a background in the hospitality industry I would definitely remind people that guiding is a service business, so any experience they can gain in terms of working with people will be time valuably spent. Sometimes you may have to manage people in difficult situations, handle group dynamics, be sensitive to individual guests needs or just be able to chat along happily on the ride. In terms of riding and horses, get as much experience of different horses, environments, riding styles as you can. Your dream may be to ride dressage in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a season as a polo groom. Never stop learning and soak up information from as many different people as possible. And definitely keep an open mind – there is never just one way of doing something and you, your horses and your guests will ultimately benefit the more open your mindset is.

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11. Where do you go on holiday?

Kevin: We have one month off a year but have no fixed destination. In recent years we have been to Brazil, Spain, Mexico and the United States. I do like to spend at least part of our holidays somewhere where we get great service – it is very nice to be looked after, when you spend 11 months of the year looking after other people.

Louisa: I always go back to the UK once a year to visit family and friends, but other than that we tend to go somewhere different every year. We do like to be active so often do some driving and of course I always like to ride, although Kevin sometimes takes some persuading. We have ridden with In The Saddle guides Shane and Laura at Horizon in South Africa, John Sobey at Macatoo in Botswana and Paulo in Brazil. This year we are hoping to visit Eddy in Peru to try out some of his fabulous Peruvian Pasos.

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Many thanks to Kevin and Louisa for sharing an insight into life at Los Potreros.

You can meet former Los Potreros guides Holly and Georgina at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding Holidays, Riding in Argentina, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Christina from the Azores

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December is sure to be an event to remember, with riding guides and owners from all over the world. This article is written by Christina de Laval, owner of Quinta da Terca in the Azores.

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1. How long have you been guiding at Quinta da Terca?

14 years.

2. Where did you guide before this?

In my younger years I was a guide on tourist coaches going all over Europe with Swedish tourists. As a riding guide I have also worked in Stockholm and the middle part of Sweden.

3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

Many years ago I went on a riding trip to Poland and the guide for the weekend was very knowledgeable about almost everything and also lots of fun, so this episode helped to inspire me to become a guide.

4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

No plan B.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

It is the ideal job – meeting people from all corners of the world with the same interests – horses and nature. Showing the beauty of Sao Miguel from horseback. The downside is sometimes you want to teach guests more during their stay and a week passes very fast.

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6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Nikita, who if she were human would be a top model. She has a perfect body, great movements, is very feminine and has a lot of confidence.

7. What can you not live without (when guiding)?

A mobile phone.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

I was riding on the south crater rim of Sete Cidades with a German princess (74 years old) enjoying the spectacular view and taking lots of pictures. When I turn around to take another photo of my guest I see a loose bull standing in the middle of the road about 50 metres from us. My heart stopped! I calmly ask my guest to stop her horse and please be so kind and hold the reins of my horse so I could get the cattle away from the road. With the help of a long bamboo stick and some heifers in pasture close by, I managed to get Mr. Bull interested in the heifers and could close him in on the field with the “girls”!! The rest of the ride went perfect without any more exciting incidents.

9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

A shower and a good book.

10. What advice would you give a 21 year old who wants to train for your job?

You need to be a good rider who loves the outdoors, have an outgoing personality, be adaptable, flexible and reliable, have leadership skills, be energetic, cooperative and have interpersonal skills.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I go to Sweden to meet up with my family.

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Thank you Christina for another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Christina from the Azores at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Georges Malleroni from Alcainça

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented instructors and riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article by Georges Malleroni, the inspirational technical director at Alcainça in Portugal.

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1. How long has Alcainça been taking riding holiday guests? How did it all begin?     

I started to work with António Duarte, owner of the Alcainça Classical Dressage training barn in 1982. In 1985 we began to work with Silva Freich, owner of Equitours in Switzerland. A dressage rider herself, she was looking for good well-trained Lusitano horses to offer riding holidays to her riders. Since then we have been hosting more riders every year from all over the world who want to discover our wonderful Lusitano schoolmasters.

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2. What has been your biggest achievement to date?

To have trained Portuguese riders who have become excellent professionals (a rider from the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art and World Champions in working equitation). Also to have trained  many horses to High School in order to use them in our program. Some of these school masters once sold, have had honorable performances in competitions worldwide.

3. How did you get in to riding? Was there someone who inspired you?

It was when I saw the black and white pictures of Master Nuno Oliveira in his book ‘Reflection sur l’art equestre’ that I thought to myself, “this is it; this is where I need to go!”. And when I finally started working with Master Nuno Oliveira in Portugal, it was a dream come true.

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4. If you hadn’t become involved in teaching classical dressage, what was your Plan B?

To become a airplane pilot.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?   

My job is a joy everyday of my life. Downsides: one life is not enough.

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6. What is the name of your favourite horse?

I cannot name one favourite horse, but many of them have been my best friends during our life together.

7. What can you not live without (when teaching, riding or just generally)?

I cannot live without riding and I cannot teach without riding.

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8. What has been your most memorable ride, lesson or time at Alcainça ?

Often the perfect harmony with the horses I have been training during some of the lessons is as rewarding as riding; the joy of my students when succeeding to make them achieve that harmony during the lesson.

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9. How do you relax after a day teaching guests?

Being with my family, reading, being aware of world events  and watching the soccer games of my favourite team, Sporting Club of Lisbon.

10. What advice would you give a 21 year old who wants to train for your job?

Do you really love it? Because it has to become your number one priority in life as Master Nuno Oliveira.

11. Where do you like to go on holiday?

On the Atlantic Coast.

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Thank you Georges for another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Georges from Alcainça at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Susan Wirth from Turkey

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article by Susan from Akhal-Teke Horse Center in Turkey.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Turkey?

6 years

2. Where did you guide and ride before this?

I grew up in southern Africa where I learned how to ride on retired race horses and polo ponies. We had a lot of wild places at our disposal and as children we would spend all our spare time exploring the bushveldt on horse-back. Even though I later bought a horse in the US and decided I needed to learn how to ride ‘properly’ I was always happiest thinking about where I could actually go on a horse.

3. How did you get into guiding and riding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I had gotten away from riding as I was living in New York city and working in the publishing field. Occasionally in a fit of nostalgia, I would rent a horse and ride in Central Park but the ‘fire cracker’ went off again when I took a 6 month sabbatical and did my first multi-day trek with David and Robyn Foot on the Nyika Plateau in Malawi.

After that I was hooked and started to ride all over the world from India to all over South America, Europe and Africa until I eventually found my way to Turkey and met Ercihan Dilari, the owner of the riding outfit. We became firm friends and as we rode, talked of riding Akhal Teke horses from Turkmenistan to Turkey. It was a crazy dream but I realized that we were both a bit obsessed with long distance horse travel. We stayed friends over the years and I would return to ride and got to know his family and the outfit quite well. It was however in 2009 when we rode the Evliya Celebi Way that we really came together as a couple and I started helping him with the rides. It has been an incredible journey.

4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide and owner, what was your Plan B?

I have always been involved in photo journalism and photography in general so I also work as a photo editor for a news magazine when I am not guiding. It is  fun being engaged in different activities, specially in the off-season.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I think it is one of the most wonderful jobs, sharing one’s environment on horseback. I love the fact that I can meet people from all over the world  and that many of these contacts turn into friendships. I also love the bonds that are formed with our horses and with our staff as we embark on a journey together with our guests. It is an extraordinary and exhilarating experience and you don’t want to be doing anything else. The only real downside is that I can’t control the weather!

Riders along the Evliya Celebi Route in Turkey

6. What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favorite horse is Juno, a small, unassuming Arabian/Anatolian mare who was a gift from Ercihan. We believe that she might have started life as a wild horse, living with a herd at the base of Mt. Erciyes, one of the volcanoes responsible for the Cappadocian landscape. Juno has a huge heart and has generously carried me over this often challenging landscape for several years now. A clever, tough and resourceful mountain horse. She is like that  ‘little engine that could…”.

Despite her daintiness and to the dismay of others, she has competed with me very successfully in endurance competitions and last year, she helped me fulfill my dream of riding 1,000 km from Cappadocia to Istanbul. I think that travelling with your horse over great distances creates the most extraordinary of bonds. You are adventuring together.

7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I can’t unfortunately live without my cell phone anymore. There are so many things to organize and ‘double-check’ as you go. It is annoying but necessary if you want a smooth
operation.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

There are of course so many stories but one memorable guest was an ‘Iron Woman’ finalist from America. She signed up for a camping trip ride and we had long days in the saddle. Every morning at dawn, before we had even stuck our noses out of our tents she was just returning from a 10km run. We would then ride about 35km and then after untacking our horses after an exhausting day, collapse with a cold beer. This lady would not be seen because she would head back to her tent to get into her exercise gear and proceed to scale the next highest mountain. We were in awe.

9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I like nothing more than going to the Turkish Baths in Ürgüp, one of the villages in the area. I would be happy to go every night and I always take guests with me. After a cleaning and a massage you feel like new. It is a fun way of connecting with guests away from the horses and the dinner table.

10. What advice would you give a 21 year old who wants to train for your job?

Make sure that as you train, that you also develop your interests beside the riding, and that you always remain curious and enjoy engaging with people. One of the finest young guides I met once was a young man who could share so much about the history and culture of his country. It was enthralling. Be fascinated yourself and this will make the whole experience so much more meaningful for you and for your guests.  Also don’t be frightened about living in remote places and be content living a disciplined and simple life. It is not for the faint-hearted.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I am really addicted to travelling on horseback so I always find an interesting new places to ride in, usually very much off the beaten-track. As a guide I also find it really helpful to see how other outfits manage their treks and also see things from a guest’s perspective.  I hope that it has made me more sensitive to the needs and concerns of our guests.

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Thank you Susan for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Susan from Turkey at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rodrigo Ferreira from the Azores

We would like to introduce another popular guide, Rodrigo Ferreira from Quinta da Terca in the Azores. You can meet Rodrigo and Christina (owner of Quinta da Terca) at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Quinta da Terca?

4 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I was a guide at a Quinta Turistica called Brancelhe in Vigira do Minao, Portugal.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

When I did my studies at Escola National de Equitacao in Golega, my biggest interest already was trekking and I wrote my final project about Turismo Equestre. My passion has always been and is horses and nature, therefore being a guide suits me perfectly.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

To become a competition rider.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I really enjoy showing guests the beautiful and fascinating Azorean nature from horseback. I love to meet people from all corners of the world and learn and talk about other cultures. I try to be a riding “ambassador” for the Azores. For the downsides, to get caught in extremely heavy rainfall or a storm when you are far away from home is not the best!

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Olé. Olé is brave, curious, alert, smart and gentle – he would be a true gentlemen if he was a human.

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

When guiding I always want to have a mobile phone and my saddlebag.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

I can not name any specific ride but what I can say is my absolute favorite ride is the full day route to Sete Cidades (the twin lakes) this area for me is the most perfect place in the world, it is like riding in the book “Lord of the Rings” and all my rides here have given me good memories.

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Quality time with my family and a nice dinner.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

You need to be very responsible, a leader, a problem solver, and a very good rider! I would recommend getting a trekking/trail guide education before applying for a job.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Mainland Portugal to meet relatives and friends.

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Thank you Rodrigo for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Rodrigo and Christina from the Azores at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Ingeborg from Namibia

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article by a talented and popular guide who is well know for her love of Arabian horses – Ingeborg from Okapuka in Namibia.

0821.How long have you been guiding at Okapuka?

I’ve been guiding since 2000 when my ex-partner and I set up the riding safari operation at Okapuka.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I used to be an HR manager before I decided that Namibia would be my home. I started riding when I was a youngster. My first pony was a white Shetland mare, called Walda who was most probably not bigger 11hh; later I had a chestnut gelding, a New Forest pony called (believe it or not), Quicky! During my riding years in the Netherlands I saw one of my competitors in the dressage ring riding a white purebred Arabian and I was completely in awe. That’s how my fascination and love for the breed started and I promised myself one day that one day, one day I would be the owner of such a magnificent creature. I stopped riding when I turned 18 and only started again just before coming to Namibia on a holiday (not a riding holiday), not knowing riding would become my profession. When we started the horse safaris there was doubt that the Arabian horse would become our partner. In a way I’m still an HR manager, but now it’s Horse Resource Manager.

Almost in tears

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

When my ex-partner and I set up the company there was no question in my mind that I would do the guiding as well. It wasn’t a person, but the country inspired me; wide open spaces, abundance of wildlife, 360 days of sunshine and the smell of the earth after the first rain (if Chanel, Dior, or whoever could put that smell in a bottle I would be the biggest user). I love horses, especially purebred Arabians, horse riding and what better way to do that than in Africa.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I would either have stayed an HR Manager or just mucked out stables, I guess. I have never thought about it. I don’t think there ever was a plan B!

Rider & giraffe 03

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

What is it there not love about the job? Being outside, enjoying beautiful scenery, having gorgeous Arabian horses around me and seeing smiles on the faces of my guests. The downside? Well I could say there is none, but then I would be telling a lie. The most horrible thing is to have to say goodbye to a much-loved horse. That is something I cannot and do not want to get used to.

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

I have a few favourites, but the one who always makes my heart beat faster is my Monster as I affectionately call him. His official name is ‘Nabilah the Makers Masterpiece’, a straight Egyptian Arabian grey gelding who is turning 20 in December. He has a wicked sense of humour, is a drinker of the wind and I trust him with my life. If he would be human, most probably he would be my husband!

Masterpiece & Ingeborg

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

When guiding I couldn’t do without a good lead horse. In general it’s difficult for me to live without sunshine, white wine, my horses, dog and cats and my family – and not in this particular order.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

My most memorable endurance ride was the competition where my guests and I all came first in our different weight categories and distances, and won some Best Conditioned Horse Awards. My most embarrassing competition was where I fell off my horse in front of my guest rider and ended up in hospital. Thank goodness, the guest rider continued and finished the ride!

Jacoza on Dune 7

Finding my most memorable safari week or ride is very difficult; there have been so many memorable riders and rides, and situations. My most memorable rider is a Belgian lady, saying that even though she loved the place, horses and rides she would not return as there were so many more beautiful riding places that she were on her bucket list. But then she came back every single year, once or twice until the year she passed away. My most memorable ride was earlier this year when taking guest riders on their first ride and meeting 2 male leopards having a springbok breakfast, followed by a rhino sighting, followed by being enclosed by giraffe, followed by ….. I had to explain to them that this was exceptional and to please don’t expect this every single day! My most memorable situation was when we were having a good canter and suddenly 2 rhino came thundering out of the thickets deciding to join us for a short while; our tempo increased slightly and so did our adrenaline level!!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I sit on my stoop with a good book, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc being greeted by Doggos, my dog and being surrounded by purring cats.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Look, listen and learn, be aware of your surroundings, horses and guests and the interaction between those 3.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

To Europe to visit family.

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Thank you Ingeborg for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Ingeborg from Okapuka at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding holidays namibia, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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