Posts Tagged With: best horse riding holidays in Europe

Backward Glance – The Sierra Nevada; an original ride

In this blog entry, we take a look at Dallas Love’s rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, which are celebrating a very special anniversary in 2017.

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Here at In The Saddle we’ve featured Dallas Love and her fabulous rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains from the very beginning. After have a rummage around the back office, we found our very first brochure. There on the third page, are details about the Contraviesa and Alpujarra rides…both of which are still running today.

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The top brochure is from 1997, and only has 22 pages. Quite a difference to the 2017 version, with a whopping 171 pages!

We’ve worked with Dallas for over 20 years, but she has actually been guiding in the Sierra Nevada mountains since 1987. 2017 is her 30th anniversary year.

Dallas has an incredible amount of experience and knows the routes and her horses inside out. Dallas first began guiding back in the 1980’s in order to share with others what she most enjoyed doing; riding a good horse through the mountains.

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On Dallas’s rides you’ll experience fit, forward-going, well-schooled horses

Having 23 horses and offering top-quality riding trips is more of a way of life than a job. But Dallas says it is all worth it. One of the highlights for Dallas is meeting so many interesting and different people from around the world.

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We at In The Saddle heartily agree! That’s the great thing about joining a riding holiday, even if you’re travelling by yourself. By joining a group, you can meet people from all over the world – different professions, interests, cultures and ages. But no matter what the differences are, from the very start you’ll all have at least one thing in common – a love of horses!

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One unique quality of riding in the Sierra Nevada is the vastness of the mountains and the diversity of the terrain. Dallas loves this part of Spain and feels it is a privilege to be able to ride for days on end through unspoilt countryside without fences, roads, gates, and only the occasional person.

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One thing Dallas urges her guests not to leave home without, is good footwear. When riding in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, at some points you’ll have to dismount and lead the horses. So sturdy boots with a good sole are imperative.

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After a long day in the saddle what’s the best way to relax? Dallas says it’s with a long shower and a cold beer….cheers!

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If you’d like to join one of Dallas’ adventures in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, then please contact us for a chat about your requirements on +44 1299 272 997 or via email Lucy@inthesaddle.com

As well as our classic Contraviesa and Alpujarra rides, we now offer short breaks for those who may be short of time or a little rusty in the saddle. Also on offer are our Buena Vista and El Marquesado routes, which are more challenging options perfect for fit and experienced riders.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, in the saddle, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Pedro Alarcão from Ecotura, Portugal

One of our new rides for 2016 being launched at The Riding Holiday Show is in the Peneda-Gerês National Park in the extreme north of Portugal. This is a beautiful yet wild landscape, home to the Iberian Wolf and a rare breed of horse called Garrano. The Wolf is not easily seen although you might see their footprint or hear their howl at night. The wild Garrano horses are much easier spotted and you frequently ride past herds of horses. Pedro Alarcão is the owner and riding guide on this exciting new holiday which we call Wolves and Wild Horses and you can meet Pedro, along  with his wife Anabela (who is also a guide) at the Riding Holiday Show.

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1.  How long have you been a riding guide?

I’ve been guiding for 10 years.

2.   Did you do any guiding before setting up at Ecotura? 

Both of my parents love horses so I started to ride when I was 3 or 4 years old. I learnt under two great teachers but like most of the young riders in Portugal I trained for the classical disciplines. For many years I did show jumping, with an olympic rider as a teacher, and later studied dressage. Then, in 2005,  when my wife Anabela and I decided to create the horse riding company I started to guide.

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

To be honest it was not a person that inspired me but my own dream to be close to horses and the nature. I always tried to organise my life in a such a way that every change that I made brought me closer to this dream. When I met my wife I discovered someone else with the same goal and so everything started to be possible. We were both born in Lisbon and now, 48 years later, we have a trail riding company in the north of Portugal inside Peneda Gerês National Park, the most beautiful and wild region in the country.

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

Before we had this company I was a wildlife photographer and filmmaker and my wife an environment journalist. We made books and wildlife documentaries so I imagine we would still be doing the same.

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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?

The great thing is to work in something that I love a lot. To discover great people from all over the world, learn with everybody, and ride every day. If you are good, guiding is not only a job. It is the way you live. If a person see guiding as a job I think he will not do it for long because sometimes it is very hard. When the riders are resting I’m preparing my horses. Every day there are other horses that need to be ridden or looked after.

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

All the animals that we have on our farm are part of our family. Almost all the horses where bred and taught by me. I love all of them and I know them very well. All of them are special because at some time of their life they do something that leaves a memory that will never go. For example: We bred a horse that we call Átomo. He is a big cross bred of a Lusitano and an Arabian horse. When he was born, during his first week he couldn’t stand properly and so many times each day I had to help him stand so that he could drink from his mother. At that time I promised him that I would be the only person to ride him. 10 years later this is still true and now he is a powerful horse who really gives meaning to the phrase “riding with the wind”.

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

I couldn’t live without my close family, my animals and the green of nature

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride?

I have many stories and many great rides but maybe the biggest experience that “brand” me for life was a few years ago when I was guiding a group of four riders in a place that I like to call the “Wolf Valley”. In all the mountain this is my special place. It is beautiful and full of good energy. Almost everytime that I go there I experience something special.

Along the valley there is a small trail with soft curves and small water ditches. It’s the perfect place for a canter or a fast gallop jumping the water. These four riders were all experienced riders and we were doing it in a fast gallop with me at the front. Suddenly my horse started to be agitated and trying to turn to the left. When I turn my head in that direction what I saw was indescribable. A beautiful wild stallion was running 20 meters to my left in full gallop and stayed with us until we decided to slow down and stop. I think that I can speak for everybody – it was the experience of a life time.

Portugal Nationalpark Peneda-Geres 9. bis 16.9.2012 Wildpferde-Tour auf den Spuren der "Garranos" (Veranstalter Perlenfänger/Sabine Bengtsson) Foto: Julia Rau Am Schinnergraben 57 55129 Mainz Tel.: 06131-507751 Mobil: 0171-9517199 Rüsselsheimer Volksbank BLZ 500 930 00 Kto.: 6514006 Es gelten ausschliesslich meine Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen

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

Seated in my garden with a cold beer looking at the amazing mountain that I have in front of me.

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

Don’t work with horses that you don’t know. You need to be able to detect a different behavior of the horse in a few seconds; so when you start with a new group of horses just spend time looking at them. You are the boss but treat your horses like family. What you give is what you (and the riders that are with you) will get. Don’t work your horses too hard. They are not just meat and when they are tired they get grumpy which is not good for you or your guests.

Make sure you are physically fit yourself. On long riding days you need to always be the freshest rider. If you are tired you lose the capacity to judge and decide. When all the others are riding in a relaxed mode you should ride always in full attention to predict something that might happen. This will make you very tired.

Don’t look at this work “through rose tinted glasses”. The responsibility that you have with the riders in your group is huge. Learn how to read your new guests in the first few moments. The big secret of this profession is to make a perfect match between horse and rider.

Learn everything you can about your region. There is nothing worse than a guide that rides well but doesn’t know anything else. Be happy. Your energy will pass to the group. And finally, you should learn from all your guests. They are the link to the world and you are not the only one that knows something about horses.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

We make short holidays several times a year. We love to hike in the mountain for several days and we love rock climbing so we try to go in different destinations where we can do these two things.

Portugal Nationalpark Peneda-Geres 9. bis 16.9.2012 Wildpferde-Tour auf den Spuren der "Garranos" (Veranstalter Perlenfänger/Sabine Bengtsson) Foto: Julia Rau Am Schinnergraben 57 55129 Mainz Tel.: 06131-507751 Mobil: 0171-9517199 Rüsselsheimer Volksbank BLZ 500 930 00 Kto.: 6514006 Es gelten ausschliesslich meine Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen

Thank you Pedro for introducing yourself. We all look forward to learning more about the Wolves & Wild Horses holiday and meeting you 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, Lusitanos, Riding Garrano horses, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal | 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
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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 – Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland

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 written by Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland.

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1. How long have you been a riding guide?    

Since 1985.

2. Did you do any guiding before becoming involved with Hestasport?

No, I learned first to guide and lead horse tours from old friends, Björn Sveinsson and Ragnar Stefánsson. I grew up in the countryside of Skagafjörður, in north Iceland. Our valley is often called “The valley of the horses” because history and breeding of the Icelandic horse is very connected to this place, all the way back to the time of settlement. I studied to be a marine engineer and sailed between the harbours of the world for many years, but the countryside and horses were always on my mind.

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

Sveinn, the father of Björn was a very good friend of my father and we can say that he started long horse riding tours in Iceland in 1974 when he rode with a group of 13 riding guests from Switzerland across Iceland from North to South. Of course people have travelled on horseback all around the world for thousands of years, but this way Sveinn was the “founder of Hestasport”.

I was fascinated with everything connected to these tours. The horses were beautiful and in great shape, the adventurous riding trails surrounded by the untouched highlands of Iceland were breath taking.  To me horse riding is like a dance between two different worlds. Therefore it was especially great to see how much horse people from other countries enjoyed exactly this feeling, when riding the unique gated horses in the Icelandic nature. The Icelandic horse is the only breed in Iceland and as far as we know, the only naturally five gaited horse breed in the world.  So for a long time Icelanders didn’t realise how unique this breed had developed on the island, since the first settlers brought it here.

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

I liked to be a sailor, but I have always been a nature “lover”. I was interested in the idea of sharing nature experience with other people by building up tourism in Iceland and especially in my area, the Skagafjord, where so many possibilities were not yet discovered.

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?

To open possibilities for other people to experience the same exciting and fun things that I love so much. To enjoy the horses in the wild Icelandic nature and create some unforgettable memories.

Guiding and organising horse tours is a huge physical and mental effort. But of course it is also fulfilling and lots of fun and that’s also where the energy comes from that I need!

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

After so many years of guiding horse tours it is a bit hard to make a difference between many unforgettable good horses that were my favourites. Every single one of them had it’s own unique characteristics. I adore horses that are courageous, soft, strong, willing to work and know where to put down their feet. Many of them are gone but I am happy to mention: Taktur, Búi, Gimsteinn, Jarpur and . . . and . . . what about comparing them to . . .  Rolando! 😉

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

I need to be alone every once in a while.

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

A lot of years ago we were riding the Kjölur route across the country on a six day tour, with 13 guests who were all men from the Faroe Islands that were all relatives and friends. This tour was memorable for a lot of reasons. I will gladly tell you the stories of this trip when we meet in Iceland.

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

After a long horse trip I like to go for a walk and then relax in the hot tub.

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

Use those good years and gain some more knowledge and experience from lots of places.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I love to visit warm countries with a lot of sunshine. Last year I was in Nepal to visit good friends.

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

You can meet Magnus from Iceland 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 expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Iceland, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rudi from Catalonia in Spain

Here is another popular guide Rudi Stolz from Spain. You can meet Rudi at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Catalonia?

It’s been 21 years now!

2. Where did you guide before this?

Before I came to Spain, I used to work as a mountain guide in the Alps.

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

I always loved working with the horses and had the idea of doing this work in Spain. I decided to move to Spain and build up my own business with trail riding –  and that’s how I got into guiding. I came here with an inspiration and did everything to make my idea become true.

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

There was no Plan B for me. I knew I wanted to offer trail riding in Spain and did all that it needed to make this plan work – and it has worked.

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?

Actually, to me this job is truly perfect. Being outside, being with horses and with people is a perfect combination for me. I cannot imagine any other job that could be as satisfying as mine!
The downsides? That’s the paperwork that unfortunately also needs to be done!

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

My favourite horse is Tornado. If he were a human, he would be a very important friend of mine. Someone to whom I have a special bond, a very trustful relationship. I know that he would do anything for me and the teamwork is simply perfect. That’s how it is with Tornado – he is as powerful, reliable friend who has my full confidence.

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

Horses! As a guide I cannot live without a very good lead horse. And generally, I just can’t imagine a life without these animals around me.

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

Once I had a very special guest; a blind man contacted me with the wish to come on a trail with me. I invited him to come to Mas Alba for two days to see if it worked. I took him out on rides  and we tried out the different situations that you deal with on a trail. The result was that he did the Mediterranean Trail – and it was amazing, how he managed everything! He totally fitted into the group and he did everything the others did; he brushed his horse, he put the saddle and the bridle on by himself, he always knew where his things were and where he had to go. It really was a miracle and to me the most memorable ride with guests I ever had!

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

To me, the question should be how I relax after a day that I do NOT spend in the saddle…really, being in the saddle is nothing I have to relax from! The moment I get on my horse, I feel like being on a holiday!

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

Of course it is important that working with horses is the thing you really want to do and the thing you’re good at. Then, you also have to be sensitive to the people whom you guide. But the art of being a really good guide is to create a unity out of these two beings. Having a sense for bringing horses and people together and make them harmonize is a challenge – and it is a great thing when you see it work! Another important thing is that you keep in mind the time you spend away from home. Being a riding guide is wonderful, but you should really think about if this part of the job is something you can – and want to – handle.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

Actually I don’t really need to go on holiday, as my job gives me the feeling of being on holiday. But when the season is over, I have time to see other places. I travelled to Europe, North and South America – wherever I go, I spend my holiday there on horseback!

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

You can meet Rudi from Spain 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 expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Diogo from Monte Velho

Read here about Diogo Lima Mayer, manager of the wonderful Monte Velho in Portugal. You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been taking riding guests at Monte Velho? How did it all begin?

The ‘Monte Velho’ Stud Farm was established in 1994, when my parents bought the property in an unpredictable move. My father’s passion for horses came after a medical prescription, following a stress diagnosis caused by overworking. At that time, he bought his first horse named ‘Embaixador’ and started having riding lessons in Quinta do Pombal in Sintra, very close to our family home. Things got more serious when he joined two friends and bought the first mares in the Alter Real auction in 1992, which are still the pillars of our stud-farm.

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Since I was a child, I remember coming almost every weekend to Monte Velho with our family, where my enthusiasm for our breeding and genetics has born. Our property was exclusively dedicated to the family and the Lusitano breeding until 2013, when we’ve decided it was time to share our treasure with other people. Almost all riding infrastructures were already built to support the stud-farm, so with the construction of the rooms we were ready to start the project.

2. What has been your biggest achievement to date? This could be in riding, or anything related to Monte Velho.

The Monte Velho’s horses have won several national and international awards, both in Dressage contests and also model/gaits shows. I would perhaps highlight the 4 Champion of Champions awards that we have won, with three of our horses, in the most important Lusitano horse Competition – The International Festival of the Lusitano Horse.

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Queixosa MVL won the Festival in 2000 and 2005, Vexada MVL won in 2007 and Dihamante MVL in 2011. Queixosa MVL is still the best scoring mare within the Lusitano breed among more than 5000 mares spread worldwide. For the future we aim to have a MVL horse competing in the Olympic Games. We’re working consistently on that direction, and within our young squad of competition horses there is a lot of talent!

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

My father was the one who has sowed the seed and the passion for horses in me, since I was 7 years old. I have always been the riding travelling companion of my dad, and his fellow on the equestrian activities in Monte Velho. He’s still without any doubt my biggest inspiration.

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4.    If you hadn’t become involved in equestrian tourism, what was your Plan B? Or perhaps you have another job too?

Prior to join the Monte Velho Equo-Resort project, I had a managerial career with L’Oréal Paris, where I was a brand manager in DPGP – Mass Market. My marketing and managerial experience background has been very helpful in my new experience as Hotel Director.

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?

This is absolutely true. Actually this job has surpassed all my initial expectations, working with nice people, good horses in a beautiful place, you can’t get any better. But it can also be extremely stressful some days, guaranteeing that every day all our guests have their horses in impeccable condition and prepared in time, it’s always a challenge!

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

My favorite horse in Monte Velho is called GIRALDO MVL (Rubi AR x Vexada MVL). Giraldo is a 4 year-old stallion with the best genetics we can possibly find within the Lusitano breed. His father competed in the London Olympic Games 2012 (placed 14th in the Final) and his mother was a Champion of Champions with 86 points.

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I call Giraldo the ‘Mustang’ because of all his power, his daring character that makes no one indifferent. I believe he can be The One. If he was a human? Perhaps he would be Mohammad Ali. Let’s hope that Giraldo can win as much as Ali did!

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

My mobile phone! Managing a team of 12 people and knowing we have daily changes to our schedules and some unforeseen events, means your phone rings almost every minute. Much of my job is co-ordinating my team duties and activities, and assuring that our guest comments are processed in-time to everyone, to change whatever is necessary.

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride or time at Monte Velho?

I’ve had many memorable rides in Monte Velho, but I think the most memorable one was during last week. The group was composed of very experienced riders used to hacking with a lot of speed in their countries. I asked the group if they wanted a long canter. The answer was yes, and I had the same feeling of skiing from the top of the mountain down to village! It was a 15 minute canter, where we passed by three different properties, with moments of collected canter and faster canter as well. The 5 horses were always together, and it was rewarding to her one of them saying to me it has been the best hacking of his life.

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

A long hot shower is the best you can get after a busy day! At least for me!

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

I think managing an equestrian tourism business requires a set of different skills, from Business, Economics, Hotel Management, leadership and obviously Equestrian experience. I think my equestrian background gained from my childhood has helped a lot in this experience, but I would say the relationship and the experience we provide to our guests is the most important at the end of the day. The advice would be to have a consistent preparation, as this job requires a set of multi-task management and strong relationship insights to provide unique moments to the riders.

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I spend all the year thinking about my skiing vacations! I’m fortunate to travel to a ski resort in Switzerland every year, normally in February.

Thank you Diogo for an insight into life at Monte Velho. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho 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: Dressage, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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