Posts Tagged With: horseback holidays

Los Potreros Lovin’

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

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Millie enjoying the view at Estancia Los Potreros

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

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The horses are fantastic on every level.

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

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Aspiring cowboys would love every moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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Estancia Los Potreros

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

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The annual Easter-Egg hunt is a real favourite!

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

 

 

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

Arriving in Delhi – day 1 of the Hola Mohalla Ride, Punjab – Olwen Law writes from the exploratory ride which starts today.

Olwen Law writes from Delhi on Day 1 of the new Hola Mohalla ride.

It has been over ten years since I’ve been to India and initial impressions are that a lot has changed. The airport was very efficient with about 50 desks open at immigration and so our queue was minimal apart from a slight problem when the machine scanning our finger prints wasn’t able to cope with ever so slighty sticky fingers.

But from landing to checking into our very lovely Jaypee Vasant Continental hotel was under an hour which cannot be bad by anyone’s books.

Of course roads around the airports are usually slightly better maintained and while there was litter around, there has clearly been a concerted effort to clean up.

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After a lovely lunch in the hotel café we set off for our afternoon city tour. Some of our group had been on the Christmas Ride 9 years ago and were thrilled to recognise our guide – the lovely Ruby (and I remember her from a trip even earlier than that).

Everyone says Delhi traffic is bad and it certainly was. We crawled along and took almost 1.5 hours to get to old Delhi. Noticeable were lots of new clean cars and not many of the ramshackle vehicles I remembered. There were still lots of people on mopeds and motor bikes seemingly with a death wish as they weave in and out of the traffic but now at least the majority were wearing helmets and I saw only a couple of the “whole family on a bike”.

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Lots and lots of noise. Our driver said that to drive in India it was essential to have “a good horn, good brakes, and good luck”.
Our destination was “old Delhi” where we were going to ride on rickshaws through the bustling narrow streets. It is a perfect vantage point because being slightly higher on the rickshaw you can see everything that is going on and the driver keeps us moving through the crowds.

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This is where people come to buy and the streets were organised by product.  Lots of fabric shops – apparently this is where you come to buy a wedding sari if you are the parents of the bride or to buy saris for all the family if that is part of the dowry.

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Then we moved onto shops selling all the trimmings, then to the jewellery stores although they were mostly closed because of a dispute over excise duty and finally to the stores selling gifts for the wedding couple.

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Look at these monkeys in amongst all the trailing cables. If someone’s power goes off I wonder how they could ever work out which cable was the problem?

We leave the markets just in front of Jama Masjid mosque, which is the largest mosque in India.

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Around 25,000 people can pray in this huge courtyard at any one time. We, as well as lots of Indian families and children were enjoying the sunshine but would have to leave just before 5pm when the call to prayer sounded.

We have to cover ourselves with these huge gowns and take off our shoes.

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Which does make us quite an attraction for some local girls who wanted to have their photo taken with us.

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A very exciting first day in India. The weather has been perfect. Some recent rain has removed all the dust, the bourgainvillea is blooming and this tree about to burst forth into bloom.

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Tomorrow we fly to Chandigarh in the Punjab and meet our guides for the riding section.

You can read the blogs from the rest of the Hola Mohalla trip by clicking on the links below:
From Delhi to Chandigarh

First day’s ride to Pinjore Gardens

From first camp to Siswan

From Siswan to Nalagarh

From Nalagarh to Bharatgarh

From Bharatgarh to Anandpur Sahib

At the Hola Mohalla festival

From Hola Mohalla to Shimla

We do hope to do it all again next year, with only a few modifications to the itinerary. For more information email olwen@inthesaddle.com or visit  www.inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, riding in india | Tags: , , , , , | 1 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

A riding adventure along the Queensland coast

Sandie Davis tells us about her adventure along the Sunshine Coast of Queensland with husband Simon in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

Such tales traditionally start with “Sunday 4th October dawned bright and clear”…..well dawn it certainly was, bright and clear I am not sure so sure, let’s just say that although we had been looking forward to our In the Saddle Bush and Beach Ride in Queensland for many months, it was not the lure of trail riding, cattle mustering and galloping along pristine shores that roused us from our bed at 05.00 but a sleepy shuffle to the television.  Not even the kookaburras and the butcher birds had roused yet. For those rugby fans out there, you know our sorry conclusion to that particular early start!

However, our disappointment at losing our World Cup pool match at Twickenham, to Australia, while in Australia, was soon forgotten as we concentrated on the real purpose of the day, meeting the rest of our ride at Noosa for the start of our long-anticipated 6 day riding holiday.  We were met at the Sunshine Coast airport by Rebecca, whose easy chat and open manner quickly put us at ease as we transferred to hers and Alex’s equestrian property at Verrierdale.  There we were introduced to Alex, our ex-Olympian host, guide and social secretary for the next few days and met the rest of our group, Vivian from Perth!

After a short introduction to our horses; Clint, a beautiful grey ex-racehorse for my husband Simon, Moose, a coloured Clydesdale/Pinto cross for me, and Scout, a chestnut stock horse with an eating habit for Vivian, we had a 45 minute ride in the arena to get comfortable with each other and then loaded onto the lorry to transfer to Kilkivan, home of the Great Horse Ride.

Kilkivan

Kilkivan

There  we had been promised pre-dinner drinks and supper hosted by Bruce and Rae in the dining room at the Left Bank B&B. Fortunately Alex had already tipped us off that for the first time in a very very long time, there were 2 Queensland teams in the NRL (National Rugby League) Final that very night. We were encouraged to choose our team, the Cowboys or the Broncos, and were joined by Mike Webb, the stockman, bush poet and raconteur for a TV supper, sweepstake and plenty of alcohol!  It was delicious and great fun, and I am pleased to report that our team’s win paid our bar bill. Who needs rugby union?! And it deflected any teasing about the losing whingeing Poms.

On Sunday morning we were up earlier than we needed to be, with the promise of a beautiful, clear Queensland day, and enjoyed tea on the veranda watching the finches, lorikeets and a rare red shouldered parrot on the bird feeder.

Hanging Rock Trail

Hanging Rock Trail

After Bruce’s delicious breakfast we collected the horses from the public corral and paddock (what a great idea!) and transferred to the start of the ride where we met Mike and his iridescent chestnut 17hh Roscoe.  Mike is a true local, having only really left the area to complete his National Service in South East Asia, what he doesn’t know about Kilkivan and the Widgee Valley is not worth knowing. And, as our ride leader for the day over the Hanging Rock Trail, he regaled us with stories of his childhood, local lore and shenanigans, as well as having an eagle eye for wildlife.

Widgee Valley

Widgee Valley

We enjoyed a stunning ride over the Blacksnake range, with Scout living up to expectation getting his head down at every point of interest and view, Clint posing at every given opportunity, Roscoe shimmering in the sun and Moose worming his way to the front given half a chance. Mike kept us very well informed, spotting goannas on the other side of trees (possibly as a result of childhood trauma, but to tell more would ruin the suspense!).

Blacksnake Range

Blacksnake Range

Having descended into the Widgee Valley we were met by Alex and his horse Mack, and escorted onto his stunningly beautiful property Edenview….can’t imagine how it was named. After hosing down the horses, we were transferred (a little adrenalin buzz!) by quad up to the property where the table was laid on the deck for a barbeque lunch provided by Bruce.

The horses relaxing at Edenview

The horses relaxing at Edenview

It was lovely to be left to relax for an hour or so at our own leisure in the shade, or to mooch around at will. We were amused to observe Alex moving 4 horses from the corral to their overnight paddock, leading them all at the same time from the quad bike. I wonder how our horses at home would cope with that?

We then transferred back to the Left Bank, had a little while to relax and have a walk around the town, and then reconvened for drinks on the veranda before dinner. Bruce treated us to champagne with wild hibiscus flowers in honour of our 25th wedding anniversary the next day, and the resident possum put in an appearance in the tree right by where we were sitting.  Over dinner Mike and Bruce regaled us with more stories, including the unforgettable quote “I felt like a long-tailed rat in a room full of rocking chairs!”

After another early start (by choice, that veranda was too good to ignore) and lively and sustaining breakfast, we made our farewells and transferred back to Edenview for a day’s riding on the property.

Edenview - not a bad spot for lunch!

Edenview – not a bad spot for lunch!

The horses were well rested after their night in the valley and we quickly brushed them down and tacked up ready for another stunning day in the saddle.  The first couple of hours were spent looking around the property and valley, with Alex proving to be a mine of information about the local flora, trees and bird life, as well as his neighbours, dead and alive!

Cooling off

Cooling off

Following a refreshing drink and splash in the creek (for the horses), we moved on to the business of the day, moving 20 odd cattle, including a bull to a new paddock. After one false start, when they decided that they preferred it on the old grazing, we really did have them all rounded up and pointing in the right direction, and with Alex and Vivian leading, and me and Simon pushing them along, we kept them moving to the new paddock without incident or mishap. Then the happy newly fledged Jackaroo and Jillaroos returned to the homestead for a cold beer and lunch, with a sense of a job well done!

Moving cattle

Moving cattle

Once again we had an hour or so leisure, which we spent poking around the old cattle pens and races, and original sheep dip which dated back over 100 years with original timbers. Fascinating. We thought we were done for the day, but before we knew it Alex was rounding us up, gave Simon a quick introduction to a second quad bike, and we were off in tandem across the bush, back to check on the cattle. Not quite Mad Max but it was great fun and very exhilarating! Sadly after that it really was the end of the day, so we loaded the horses onto the lorry, said our farewells and headed off – yes, into the sunset!

Home for the next 2 nights was Amamoor Lodge, and we were a little later than expected, so our hosts Malcolm and Christine were ready and waiting for us with coconut chicken satay cooking over the camp fire and a well-stocked fridge! Malcolm is a qualified chef and dinner was delicious, served out by the camp fire in view of his beautifully restored Cobb & Co mail coach. All in all it really was a day and anniversary to remember!

The next morning we had breakfast on the veranda, overlooking the swimming pool and a view to the hills. Unfortunately Simon’s horse Clint had grazed his leg in the creek the previous day, so it was decided to rest him and Simon had the opportunity to ride Mike’s gorgeous 17hh stock horse Roscoe for the day through the Amamoor State Forest. Alex was able to point out many different varieties of tree and also proved to have an eagle eye for a goanna! We stopped for a short break at the Skyring Lookout with stunning views to the ocean and distinctive volcanic “mountains”.
Alex had thoughtfully provided energy snacks, liquorice for the horses and jelly frogs for us!
Lunch was provided and delivered by Malcolm to the Amama Park, a delightful picnic spot next to the river, where we listened to the whip birds and tried without success to spot the elusive duck-billed platypus.

Would I make it as a Jackaroo?

Would I make it as a Jackaroo?

Returning to the lorry, Roscoe showed his true mettle as a stock horse. In spite of being totally used to dealing with “toey” Brahmann cows and bulls, he absolutely could not handle a tiny lamb that stuck its head through a fence to say g’day!

On return to the Lodge, and having settled the horses, we were served tea and cake on the veranda and then made use of the swimming pool, before we climbed back into the lorry to sample the unique experience that was the Kandanga Pub and its colourful clientele.  Alex told us the story of one particular local who had built him a dog proof fence around his property, only for the dog to promptly escape…when challenged the response came back “I didn’t expect him to go UNDER it!!” Lo and behold, said character appeared in the bar and stood us a beer!

Such was the generosity of our hosts, when we got back we were served champagne and canapes in honour of our anniversary the day before, and subsequently drifted on to a delicious dinner on the veranda and long and lively evening. Once again we slept well!

Simon was up early the next morning, making the most of the opportunity to watch the sunrise and the amazing variety of birds visiting the gardens.

Vivian and I had a more leisurely start, but never the less we were all packed and ready to go at the appointed hour. Today’s ride took us onto the Noosa Trail Network, henceforth immortalised as the NTN. Alex had chosen Trail 5 for us, starting at Cooran and heading to Pomona, taking in views of Mounts Cooran and Cooroora.

Thankfully, after a heavy shower early on which we avoided by sheltering under a tree, the rest of the day remained dry, if somewhat overcast. We were able to enjoy several lengthy canters along the forest tracks, and the day as a whole was irreverent with Alex inciting mischief and mayhem by instigating sniper attacks with the peanut-sized she oak cones plucked from branches overhanging the trail.  Lunch was also light-hearted, taken at the chintzy Taste of the Past café in Pomona, but which had an unlikely selection of very raunchy literature scattered around the tables.

Having returned to the lorry and hosed and rested the horses in another public grazing area, we loaded up for the transfer back to Noosa, and checked into the luxury RACV Noosa Resort. Our accommodation was a massive self-contained apartment with a plunge pool and a roof top patio. Alex took the horses back home to Verrierdale, and we had the evening free at our own leisure to enjoy the resort and explore Noosa. We had a bite to eat in the bar and an early night!

In the morning, Alex picked us up bright and early with the horses and we took the cable ferry over the river to Noosa North Shore for the eponymous Bush and Beach Ride!

Fantastic beach riding

Fantastic beach riding

We were not disappointed (except that it didn’t feel nearly long enough!)! Who wouldn’t enjoy splashing in the sea and a gallop along a wide, empty sandy beach with the surf rolling in?

What a view!

What a view!

Too soon it was all over, and it was time to say goodbye to Moose, Clint, Scout and Roscoe. Sadly we loaded them onto the lorry, and settled back for the transfer back to the resort…or so we thought… A grinding of gears and spinning of wheels later and we were well and truly stuck in the sand!  Luckily for Alex, Equathon had another vehicle at the beach that morning and having unloaded the slightly confused horses, with the help of Simon and a tow rope, we were eventually able to pull it free and continue on our way. Alex delivered us safely back to the resort and we were free to have lunch and explore Noosa at our leisure – which we did this time!

It must have been one of those days…on return to the apartment after a moderately steep walk up to the lookout over Noosa we decided to try out the plunge pool. Unfortunately we only discovered that the door onto the terrace only opened from the inside after it had clicked firmly shut …and due to the lay-out of the apartment blocks there was no other escape!  Vivian was dozing on the top floor, behind a balcony…we spent an interesting half hour looking for stones and finally hit on the extendable pool pole and eventually she came to explore the strange knocking noises!

That evening Alex and Rebecca collected us, not in the lorry this time(!) and we went out for a delicious meal at Rasa’s Restaurant on Gympie Terrace. I chose Moreton Bay Bugs, a local speciality that I had heard about on many previous occasions but never sampled. They were strange looking but delicious! And I think Alex has forgiven me for throwing a glass of red wine over his favourite white shirt! I suppose that there had to be a third incident to round off the day.

And that, reader, was that. Rebecca picked us up in the morning and delivered us to Eumundi for the markets, and to meet up with our friend Claire and continue our Aussie adventure. And Alex moved on to another group of jolly cavaliers – well, we are from Worcester!

For more detail on the Equathon rides visit https://www.inthesaddle.com/rides/view/9_bushbeach_sunshine-coast_australia

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in Australia | 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 – Anna Wirth-Snell from Montana

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides for you to meet from around the world. Here, we have an article by a guide who needs little introduction, Anna Wirth-Snell from Rocking Z in Montana.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Rocking Z?    

I have grown up on the Rocking Z Guest Ranch.

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

From the age of 10 I have been helping where able, and teaching what was valuable to our guests.

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

Now, at 27 with a Masters degree from Durham University, I will be able to write on the history of Horsemanship as well as teach Horsemanship in person.

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4.    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 feel proud when I’ve swept the barn, and when the dishes are finished, and especially when I’ve caused a horse to become more relaxed or helped a guest do their first canter.  Without feeling proud of the accomplishments, it could be very difficult to remain happy with the hours of close contact with guests and limited privacy inherent to working on a guest facility.

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

My best (and favourite) horses are a Quarter Horse named Cougar, for her colour, a Connemara cross Andalusian named Dante for how much he challenges me to improve, and a Tennessee Walking horse cross Connemara named Sizzle.

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

Sizzle is my hangover horse – an absolute necessity in this industry, for no matter how unwell I feel he will take care of me and my guests and has perfect walk-canter, canter-walk transitions for taking care of a headache! I believe that every guide needs a horse they can rely on no matter what, like Sizzle is for me.

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

When I was only 12 I received such gratitude for the way I taught the rising trot that I was hooked! I love teaching and could never be fully content with any other work.

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

After a long day I love to relax by working with a young horse, often in front of an audience, because the youngsters have such an openness to learning that it inspires me for the following day as well as giving me the sense of accomplishment that allows me to have a good night’s sleep.

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

I can’t imagine not having done this job, but I think it is not suited to a person who doesn’t gain pride from all the small jobs.

10.    Where do you go on holiday?

When winter does come, I vacation by being alone at the ranch with only the horses for company.  After a few months of solitude, the next year comes along with me having honed more teaching skills and possessing more tuned and athletic horses for our guests to ride!

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Thank you Anna 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 Anna from Rocking Z 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, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice | 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.

Queizosa MVL

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

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Yair Sharet from Israel

Here is another very talented guide Yair Sharet from Israel. Meet Yair at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding in Israel?

I established Sirin Riders in 2010 and I have guided all the rides ever since then.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I never guided rides before. I used to organize trail rides for group of friends all over Israel, but it was not until I started Sirin Riders that I began to guide in a professional way.

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

Horses for me are not a hobby, they are a way of life, from the day that I remember myself  I am with horses. As a boy that was born in Kibbutz at the Jordan valley, I use to spend most of my time with my horses exploring the beautiful places of the Jordan valley. At a later stage I bought purebred Arabians mares that I used for breeding and trail riding.
In 2010, I left my position as EVP global marketing & sales for multinational company. I wanted to open my own business. The combination of horses & tourism attracted me. I surfed the net and there I saw some web sites offering international riding holidays. I read some of these web pages, and then I said “Israel should be in this industry, and I will be the one that will make it happen”…and the rest is history.

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

I would have stayed in the multinational business management arena.

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 love what I am doing. In some cases I find myself riding on a Saturday morning, while I know that on Sunday I am about to start Tour Israel ride of 7 riding days, then I realize that in my free day (in Israel Saturday is our free day) I do exactly what I am doing in my working day!

I like the way that group of strangers that I meet at the airport at the beginning of the ride, transform within few days to a team of riders and friends. I love to see how the landscape changes every time, although we ride on the same trails. I enjoy watching the change in the perception in my guests’ minds toward Israel when they learn how beautiful and welcoming Israel is.

On the other hand sometime I miss the economical benefits of being top manager in multinational company.

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

My favorite horse is my purebred stallion Velaskes. He is a retired racing horse, I imported him from Russia in 2014.

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It’s a pure joy to ride on him. He is a very special combination of a top athlete and a very responsive horse. As a breeding stallion he has some “issues” with mares so I use him for our trail rides just as my lead horse and on very special occasions. He reminds me of Alex the lion, from the movie “Madagascar” – Beautiful, strong, and full of self esteem!

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

A “must have” when I am on a ride is my coffee saddle bag. It gives me the option to prepare coffee wherever we stop for a break and whenever it’s needed. I carry on my saddle bag everything that I need in order to solve most of the problems that may happen during a ride.

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

The Exploratory Ride with In The Saddle in April 2011 is a week I will never forget. So much rain, every possible problem that could happen happened, and lot of nice ideas from my side that didn’t really work. At the end of this week I was so exhausted and depressed, and I was sure that that’s the end of my relation with In The Saddle. But then I had a feedback meeting with Tracy, who explained how impressed she had been with the horses, guiding and our ability to overcome the obstacles we encountered during the week. I can say that we improved dramatically from this 2011 ride.

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

I relax during the ride, because when I come home after the ride I cannot relax – not with 5 children aged 9 to 22!

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

Go for it! It is the best thing that you can do for a living. A word of caution – don’t make any promoises that you can’t fulfill, just surprise them when you can do more.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Skiing with the family at Monte Genevre in France.

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Thank you Yair for some fantastic images and another amazing article. We all look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Yair from Israel 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 Israel, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paradise in Mozambique – Africa, but not as you know it

In this feature, Kim Simkins tells us about her recent trip and why we should all be adding Mozambique to our bucket list.

Where are you going? Where is that and why on earth would you want to go there?

Those are the two questions I was most frequently asked when I merrily told everyone I had booked a riding holiday in Mozambique!

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I was desperate for sunshine and some serious relaxation before the worst of the Christmas and winter blues set in. Limited time and dates restricted my options somewhat. In The Saddle talked me through various options and I bit the bullet and booked ‘African Paradise’. I thought it unsuitable for my usual holiday partner in crime, as she had been ‘beached out’ on previous riding trips. However, she was feeling about as desperate as I was for a break and decided that she would join me anyway.

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So the two musketeers set off into the complete unknown without too many expectations, third world after all?! We tucked away the bottle of duty free gin in our bags, praying that just maybe they might have heard of tonic in such a far flung and remote place!

We laughed as the pilot announced the weather was warm but raining. We decided that it really didn’t matter and we were going to enjoy ourselves regardless! The tiny airport at Vilanculos gave us our first insight into African philosophy, i.e.  how many men and how long it takes to stamp a passport! It was great to eventually get through somewhat dishevelled and exhausted and to be met by a warm and friendly whirlwind in the form of Mandy Retzlaff!

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We were whisked away and driven to a lovely lunch at Archipelago Lodge, a wonderful setting, overlooking the beach, palm trees and azure blue sea. We felt a little guilty that we had eaten the awful airline sandwich, and didn’t feel we could do lunch justice! A lovely cool drink and a refreshing sea breeze suddenly made us feel human again. We were swiftly  taken to our wonderful lodge to freshen up before meeting the horses, the stars of the show.

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Rachel had read  Mandy’s book ‘104 Horses’, the incredible story of how Mandy and Pat Retzlaff had been forced out from their farm in Zimbabwe and had rescued their horses and set up a new life as a safari business but with countless hardships and disasters along the way. It was humbling to meet such wonderful people who had been through such awful experiences and yet maintained their boundless enthusiasm for people, horses and life in general!

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The yard was buzzing with activity, horses tied up, beautifully groomed, and saddles lined up at the ready. We were the only residential guests for the week and we were introduced to various horses who Pat thought would fit our requirements. He explained their characters and we were given the choice of who we wanted to try. ‘If you don’t like one, we can try another, and what sort of saddle and reins do you like?!’ Really, now that’s new on us, and we have done a lot of these trips!

So we climbed aboard the skylarks, I got a very cheeky and characterful little horse called Brutus who thought he would just test me out for size and then decided that as I could ride, he would agree to my demands – and proved to be an absolute gem through the week! Rachel settled on Black Magic and we tested out our steering and brakes in the school before setting off on our first ride to the beach, accompanied by Pat and Donna (one of the volunteers).

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The tide was high but there was still enough beach to follow the edge of the tide line and admire the lovely white sand, countless small fishing boats and lots of birds. We had a leisurely test ride enjoying the wonderful sound of the waves lapping on the shore, and feeling the wind in our faces as the light gently faded and we splashed along the waters edge in the dark. The long flight now seemed forever ago and we were caught completely in the moment.

After a good night’s sleep, I was woken by the dawn chorus of the kingfisher in the tree outside. I watched a fantastic sunrise and the parade of local women balancing baskets on theirs heads as they walked along the beach; the men setting off on their fishing trips out to the sand banks on their dhows. The sound of people singing drifted up as they pulled in their nets and paddled their boats past the bottom of the garden.

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After a sumptuous breakfast, we set off in high spirits under blue skies and African sun on our first adventure riding to the Red Dune. The  tide was out and a glorious beach stretched out in an endless expanse all the way to the horizon. The horses were full of enthusiasm but not at all silly and the hard sand was perfect for some fabulous extended gallops along the beach, side by side. There was such a wonderful sense of space, emptiness and freedom, more than I have experienced anywhere else (and I have ridden all round the world). Our only instructions were to stick to the hard sand for the sake of the horses legs and to avoid ropes and anchors in the areas with boats. ‘Stop when you reach the blue boat you can just see in the distance and I will catch you up’, said Pat. Fishermen were dotted at intervals along the beaches, painting and maintaining their boats which were high and dry until the next tide, they glanced up and waved as we went by.

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The bird life was amazing, especially busy at the waters edge. Flocks of sandpipers, whimbrels, egrets and cormorants took off en masse as we splashed through the puddles of water left amongst the wave rippled sand. The colour of the sky and the clouds was reflected like a mirror in the pools and the mud crabs scurried for cover into their holes as hooves thundered by.

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We were met at lunch by our ground crew and the horses were given a well earned break whilst Mandy refreshed us with re-hydrating coconut water and then force-fed us more amazing seafood than we could ever have dreamt of eating in one sitting, all washed down with the wonderful Casal Garcia, a semi-sparkling white wine. Wondering how we would ever manage to get back on a horse after such a large lunch, we were helped back into the saddle and galloped on to the amazing orange Red Dune! A steep canter up the shifting sand dune was rewarded with a stupendous view of the whole area, sea and sand banks. The colour of the water and sand spits was amazing and gave you a whole new perspective than that down at sea level. It was almost a disappointment to have to leave the viewpoint to ride back along the beach.

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Time for a swim in the pool in the afternoon and a swift gin and tonic (yes Mandy had found us tonic!) before dinner and an amazing and sociable evening dining with Mandy, Pat, their friends and volunteer. A great board game afterwards, lots of laughter and swapping of stories and talk of the rest of the weeks plans, finished off by a glass of wine on our verandah and a bar of Dairy Milk (Mandy, you really are amazing, you think of everything!) What a wonderful end to a perfect day!

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The rest of the week was a delightful series of varied beach and inland rides, visits to the local markets and fishing villages. Mandy and Pat are walking encyclopedias, so knowledgeable about the history, culture, flora and fauna of the region. We had a lovely authentic lunch cooked in the fishing village with its thatched huts and bright red flamboyant tree. Then we watched the children sing and dance for us before giving out pens, pencils and books. Their excited faces and smiles were so worth the ride out there. The horses were also very happy as they love the fresh coconut pieces and refuse to leave until they have all gone,  Brutus was in seventh heaven, his ears were so pricked, it was untrue and I was mugged until my pocket was empty!

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Visiting the other islands in the archipelago was amazing, stunning empty white sandy beaches reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Pink shore crabs patrolling the surf, wonderful snorkelling with multi coloured fish and beautiful sand dunes towering above a thousand shades of blue water. The view from the top of the dune on Bazaruto was a breathtaking 360 degree panorama and well worth the climb. The ride on Benguerra was quite different from the mainland, although Tequila didn’t quite manage to steal my heart like Brutus had!

The canoe trip along the river was wonderful, sitting back and being paddled amongst the purple water lilies on flat calm water, the peace broken only by the flapping of herons and other waterfowl that we disturbed! A lovely glass of chilled white wine whilst watching the setting of the sun, was amazing but the paddle home in the dark with the fireflies flitting overhead and glowing like little fairy lights actually made me cry! It was magical and emotional and a memory that will stay with me forever.

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Mandy and Pat are some of the most gracious and wonderful hosts we have ever come across, nothing was too much trouble. Their passion and enthusiasm despite the hardship is inspiring and they showed us an Africa that we never new existed, beautiful in its own way but real (warts and all). Food and accommodation could not be faulted, third world it most certainly was not. However you need to go with an open mind, a sense of humour and a willingness to let go of our obsession with time. Love it for what it is!

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The horses are the key to the whole story here, they were wonderful and gave us everything we asked for and so much more. The Retzlaff’s made us so welcome, we came home completely relaxed and rested. Mozambique was the perfect remedy and we have vowed to return! Anyone who doubts the merits of this wonderful country should think again and give it a go, I am sure Mandy and Pat would love to share it with you and I am sure you will be as captivated as we were!

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

Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound, at Macatoo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

In February 2015, In The Saddle organised Lucy Higginson’s holiday to Macatoo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. In her former position as editor of Horse & Hound, Lucy has been fortunate enough to ride in many countries (although she does rank Africa as her favourite destination) and as a guest on many hunts all over the UK.  We have picked this small selection of lovely images.

Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Throughout her stay she had some amazing elephant sightings.

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February in the Okavango Delta is known as the Green Season and you can see why from these next couple of images. When the flood waters come in April they flood across much of these plains creating palm tree islands.

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But there are some incredibly dry areas which haven’t seen much flood waters or rain the last few months. And then, in summer months of January to February, there is the possibility of bush fires which run through the dead and dry bush.

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After the fires it can look a bit blackened, but this will only be for a short time and after a shower of rain there will be lots of green shoots which the animals will love. So game sightings over the next couple of months are predicted to be amazing.

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Did you spot the hyaena in the picture above? Here he is a bit closer.

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This cheeky fellow (below) is a reminder of why you should always zip up your tent when you go to lunch or to ride.

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But the highlight of the week was this amazing sighting of the rare wild dog.

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If you would like more information on how to book an In The Saddle horse safari at Macatoo camp, please click here.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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