Archive for November, 2008

Learning to Ride – Why Bother?

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

When faced with the daunting task of learning to ride, it is sometimes easy to forget why you wanted to get into it in the first place, because despite the enjoyment factor, it can sometimes seem like a lot of hard work, but believe me, it’s worth it! Horse riding is not just a delightful pastime for people of all ages, it’s also hugely beneficial to many aspects of life, so sit back, relax and allow me to tempt you in to saddling up and joining the fabulous world of equine.

Fitness
Horse riding is an excellent way of exercising, so whether you’re going out for a long strenuous day of trail riding, or just taking your horse for a trot around the block, you’re doing your body some good! Not only is horse riding good aerobic, fat burning exercise, it’s also excellent for improving a persons flexibility and helps with suppleness, which can prevent problems such as arthritis from occurring. Horse riding is also excellent for toning the muscles in your legs, torso and arms, so this summer why not pack in the beach body diet and instead enjoy some riding!

Emotional well being
It is proven that doing some sort of exercise on a regular basis, combined with finding time to relax is excellent for a persons emotional well being, so why not combine both factors by riding! Horse riding is a unique sport in the sense that it offers both strenuous exercise as well as relaxation at the same time, so next time you’re feeling stressed from work, put down that bottle of Shiraz and go for a gentle hack with your equine companion!

See new places
There’s no view on earth quite like a view from a horses back, especially when you are in the heart of the countryside with not a care in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget that there’s probably a whole world of adventure and beauty just around the corner from your house, so get out the house, take full advantage of our fantastic outdoors and book yourself a horse riding holiday!

Make new friends
It’s hard enough to make new friends when you’re younger, let alone when you reach the daunting stage of Mid-life, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put yourself out there and meet lots of like minded fun loving people, and horse riding is the perfect place to start! All it takes is a trip down to your local stables and you can begin to meet lots of friendly, interesting people, who all share one thing in common, a love of all things equine!

Career prospects
Allowing yourself to become part of the horse riding community not only opens up hundreds of social and leisure opportunities, it also unlocks many employment prospects. From being a young stable hand to being a fully qualified full time riding instructor, the equestrian community holds an exciting job prospect for all lovers of horses alike.

So whether it is your ambition to gallop across a sandy beach as the sun sets on a horse riding holiday in Spain or just to stroll down a peaceful bridleway close to your house on a riding holiday in the UK, get out of that comfy chair and start searching for your local stables!

Top Ten Tips for a Perfect Horse Riding Holiday

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Top Ten Tips for a Perfect Horse Riding Holiday

When confronted by the daunting task of booking yourself a holiday, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information that you are presented with on the internet. But have no fear, as long as you follow these ten guidelines then a wonderful, relaxing break is practically guaranteed!

1) Remember to book your holiday through a trustworthy and established equestrian tour operator.

This will ensure that your holiday flows as smoothly as possible, as you know that your holiday of choice has been tried and tested by the experts. Although it can be tempting to save some money by booking on line, a tour operator offers financial security, so if the hotel or stables that you have selected goes bust, you won’t lose all of your hard earned money!

2) Check that the stables where you are going have fully qualified, professional staff.

There is nothing worse than going for a riding lesson or expedition with an instructor or guide that isn’t properly qualified, and in other words just doesn’t know their stuff. Not only is it dangerous to entrust your wellbeing to a person that has little experience, it will also detract from your holiday experience.

3) Choose a holiday that is suitable for your standard of riding.

This is a very important one, as despite the fact that it can be both embarrassing and difficult to swallow your pride and admit that perhaps you’re not quite as good at riding as you had thought you were, it is essential when planning a successful trip. No one will judge you as a person on how good at riding you are, you are on holiday to enjoy yourself, not to prove yourself as a rider. Only book rides and lessons that you feel confident taking part in, and if it seems like it might be a little bit too intense, the chances are it will be, and you are risking both your safety and your enjoyment.

4) Make sure that you choose which time of year that you go on holiday very carefully.

The fantastic thing about equestrian holidays is that they are not bound by seasons as is common with many other types of holiday, so there is no pressure to pay ludicrous prices for flights and accommodation during the peak summer months. A hot, sweaty ride is not always pleasant, so remember to take into account the fact that a cool spring hack may be much more appealing than roasting both yourself and your horse, just because it’s the summer holidays!

5) Be sure to pack the correct equipment and clothing

With the frantic, panicky experience that it last minute packing, it can be very easy to forget the bare essentials, and even though you would never think of going for a ride without a hat, boots or gloves when at home, it may slip your mind abroad. Just remember to bring a suitable pair of shoes with a solid heel, a properly fitted riding hat, comfortable trousers and some lightweight gloves and you’ll be ready for anything!

6) Make sure that you find suitable holiday insurance

It may seem obvious now, but when you’re actually in the process of organising the fine details of your holiday such as insurance, it’s easy to become distracted by various bargains and savings, causing you to neglect the most apparent of things. Check carefully that the insurance that you have selected covers accidents and mishaps when riding horses, as if the worst happens and you become injured in any way then the last thing that you want is for your insurance to fail you and to be confronted with a large medical bill as well as a ruined holiday!

7) Be aware of your personal fitness

This one’s another slightly embarrassing guideline, as horse riding may not seem like the most strenuous of activities, but if you aren’t up to it physically then it can be a daunting and gruelling task. You must be honest with yourself, and if you feel that you are not in the best shape, then don’t cancel the holiday, just exercise a little, until you feel confident in both your riding ability and your fitness.

8) If you’re not travelling alone, choose a holiday that suits your family as well as it suiting you.

Even though it can be nice to get away from your life at home and have a break in relative solitude (at least as far as your family are concerned!) if you choose to go away as a group, then make sure that the holiday suits everyone. It is very easy to find beginner riding courses for those of you who are less confident in your riding ability and if riding doesn’t suit one of your loved ones, then many equestrian holidays offer alternative activities.

9) Take your safety very seriously!

When travelling abroad it is sometimes very easy to forget that the dangers that you encounter at home are still apparent, and just because you’re there to have fun doesn’t mean that you’re invincible! Ride carefully at all times and do not be tempted to show off to fellow holiday makers or family members, and enjoy yourself responsibly.

10) Put plenty of time aside for relaxation

This may seem like a very obvious point, but it’s much easier than you would think to book yourself too many activities and put too little time aside for relaxation. Although it is enjoyable, horse riding can also be strenuous, so don’t feel pressured to spend every minute of every day on a horse. Just because you are on an active holiday, don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for sitting by the pool or enjoying a long lunch followed by a siesta!

Horse Riding Holiday in the Spanish Mountains

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

When presented with the offer of horse riding in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Andalucia, I thought that I would have been foolish to turn down such a unique and generous offer, and in no way was I wrong. We spent the day time travelling from village to village aboard magnificent Andalucian horses and the evenings sipping wine on the terraces of charming rural hotels, as we watched the sun set and the moon rise in this heavenly mountain paradise. Every small village or town that we visited seemed to sum up the wonders of Spain in its own unique way. I have chosen to focus on one of the more memorable rides into the hills, as it was an experience that will never leave me….
We tacked up our horses as the sun rose, gently warming our backs, seemingly beckoning us to embark on our adventure through the beautiful and picturesque Alpujarra Mountains. The start of our trail was a steep rocky path, but despite the difficult terrain our horses seemed totally unfazed, and even though the path gradually became steeper and steeper, and the ground beneath us became less and less stable, our mounts remained tirelessly surefooted. The morning sun was strong in the sky, and after about half an hour of riding the heat seemed to become more intense, but as if it had been placed there for our very convenience, the path lead us into a lush mountain forest, that was home to an array of wonderful sights, sounds and smells. Great Spanish trees sheltered us from the heat and for the first time that day I was able to take in all that nature had to offer, without worrying about controlling my horse. I felt tempted to dismount my steed and spend the day sitting quietly in the wood, absorbing the peace and quiet that a city boy like myself relishes so much, but this was just a fantasy, and before I knew it the forest had cleared and our path lead us onto verdant meadows and sunlit pastures. The lush grass beneath my horses’ hooves was obviously a welcome break from the rocky trail that had led us there, and as we pressed our horses to canter the sheer exhilaration of the moment caught my breath. The sky was so clear that when I glanced out towards the sea I could make out the outline of Morocco, a majestic land that seemed to be floating carelessly on the glistening waters. When we eventually dismounted to enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch, every member of our group totally captivated by the beauty of the mountains, we chatted carelessly about trivialities as I imagine a tribe of nomadic wanderers might do, at one with nature and with ourselves.After lunch it was time to begin our descent, which was perhaps even more breathtaking than the way up. Our horses seemed to be relieved by the fact that they no longer had to climb up hill, and they seemed to gain an excited spring in their step. By now it was afternoon, and the sun had lost some of its intensity, and with some help from a cool summer’s breeze I was able to forget all of my worldly troubles and totally unwind. This experience was unlike any other that I have had the privilege to take part in, as not only was the view awe inspiring, but it made me feel very spiritual, and at one with my horse and nature. The deep peace of the mountains filled my soul, and I began to see why so many people are tempted to leave the pressures of the city and start a new life in relative solitude. By this point I was lost in a deep train of thought, allowing my horse to steadily stride along without a care in the world, and I didn’t notice that the path had once again become steep and unstable. This was the point where the group dismounted, and we spent the next half hour leading the horses into the quaint town of Berchules, where the horses were stabled and we were to spend the night in a wonderfully authentic family run hotel. This day had taught me an awful lot about both myself and nature, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Many thanks to Equestrian Escapes who made this trip possible.

Horse Riding on the Beach in Spain

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

My initial thoughts on  a Spanish beach riding holiday were mixed, as despite the fact that it sounded pleasant, I couldn’t shake the image of riding a flea bitten mule along a dirty beach, as can be found in any seaside resort in Britain. What I found however was altogether different. We saddled up our horses at the stables next to our hotel; I had selected a large, elegant horse named Don, who was nothing like the old donkey that I had pictured. We mounted our steeds and before I knew it we were off on our hour long adventure across the picturesque Spanish beach. We began by splashing through the waves at a very gentle trot, just so we could get used to the horses. I sank back into my thick Spanish saddle, which was really more like a soft, warm armchair, and let Don take charge, as he pranced around the shore. After a while we decided as a group that it was time to take things up a notch, and starting with our guide, we each in turn squeezed our horses into a canter and we were away. The wind rushing through my hair and the taste of salty air on my tongue we raced across the beach to the amazement of our fellow holiday makers, busy sunning themselves below us. Despite the pace that we were travelling at, I felt totally at ease, as I was confident in Dons ability and good nature, so I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride! It felt more like a Western cowboy adventure than an evening ride along the beach, and I had to prevent myself from letting out a “yee hah” on several occasions. Before I knew it we had reached our half way point and it was time to head in towards the stables. Needless to say the ride back was just as entertaining, and Don had an even bigger spring in his step as he knew that his dinner was waiting for him back in his stable at home. As we allowed the horses to rest on the final stretch back to the stables and reached utter relaxation and focused on enjoying the moment, as I knew that this was not something that I was going to do every day. When we arrived back at the stables I hopped down from Dons towering back and gave him a large congratulatory pat, as he had carried me as if I was his life long master and companion, not just another annoying tourist. I handed him over to one of the stable hands and headed off to my room for a nice cool shower.
Perhaps the best thing about the way that this horse riding holiday activity is organised is that the riding guides cater to your every need, so whether you’re an adrenaline junkie with a need for speed like me, or a more relaxed individual that just wants to take in the sea air, they will adapt the ride to suit you. I booked my holiday using Equestrian Escapes and they were incredibly helpful, and in my opinion offer a unique and special riding experience, that is a crime to miss out on.

Top 5 Horse Riding Holiday Destinations

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

5. Riding Holidays Cheshire
What with the so called “Credit Crunch” and our nation’s economic instability, people feel as if they have to look after all the money that they have, and even the notion of going on a luxury holiday may seem ridiculous, but have no fear, Equestrian Escapes has the perfect remedy to this irritating problem. Some of the world’s finest riding opportunities can be found right here at home in the UK, so whether you’re an experienced rider or you just think that it looks like fun, there is always a fantastic holiday available, at a very reasonable price. Cheshire is home to beautiful woodlands and scenic riding trails that run through some of the most picturesque scenery that the UK has to offer, and if that’s not enough, Equestrian Escapes even offers a “Horses and Chocolate” package, in which you can ride to your hearts content and then indulge in heavenly home made truffles!
4. Riding Holidays Spain
Epona Equestrian Centre, located just 20 minute from Seville airport, is based within the walls of a stunning 16th century Hacienda. Here you will find over 65 horses and ponies, a vast array of stables and horse arenas, as well as an outdoor swimming pool, comfortable bed rooms with all the modern facilities and an enormous scenic garden. The fantastic thing about this holiday is that it contains a huge variety of activities to take part in, such as hacking through wonderful olive groves and eucalyptus trees, watching fantastic riding demonstrations at The Royal Riding School in Jerez, as well as benefiting from the professional lessons that are available from the Epona staff. The difference between Epona and many other holiday resorts that offer horse riding is that Epona is designed for genuine equestrian enthusiast, not just tourists who fancy a bit of riding in the sun.
3. Ride Lusitano Horses in Portugal
If your idea of a perfect holiday is to sit back, relax and just enjoy the sun, then this holiday probably isn’t for you, but if you get your kicks from partaking in wonderful riding opportunities, in an area of extreme natural beauty, surrounded by likeminded people then you’ve found your perfect holiday! The equestrian centre is home to Nuno Baptista, a national horse riding judge, member of the Portugal national dressage team and head instructor at the centre, who will be available to give you pointers on your riding, and for the more adventurous of you, he can even teach you how to drive a traditional Portuguese horse carriage. If fast paced thrills aren’t your idea of a good time, then various scenic hacks through the beautiful Portuguese cork and olive trees that surround the equestrian centre are available. All of the horses here are pure bred Lusitanos, which means that they are bred and trained to the highest standard for your riding pleasure. The equestrian centre is also home to many fantastic facilities, including an indoor arena and an Olympic sized outdoor arena, so if you take your horse riding as seriously as you take your relaxing, then this is the perfect holiday for you!

2. Beach Ride Spain
Needless to say, riding a beautiful horse across a sunlit Spanish beach, sitting in a hugely comfortable traditional Spanish saddle is an experience that is very hard to top. Galloping across a beautiful, deserted Tarifa beach, with the salty air flowing through my horses’ mane is definitely an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Tarifa is a lovely little town, which is made wonderfully accessible by being located close to Malaga, Jerez and Gibraltar, and it is home to some of the finest riding and dining that Spain has to offer. The fact that large areas of Tarifa are designated as National Park means that the scenery and wildlife are largely unspoiled, as if they have been saved there especially for your pleasure. Tarifa is also home to some of the most unique riding experiences available in Spain, such as a fantastic ride across sand dunes and through cork forests to reach the hidden town of Paloma Baja, an area almost completely unknown to tourists. If that hasn’t convinced you enough, then you will be pleased to learn that there are many other activities available in this wonderful area of Andalucia, such as windsurfing lessons, kite surfing lessons, whale watching and even a day trip to Africa!
1. Riding Holidays Italy
What could be better than fabulous riding opportunities, good food, fine wine and the fantastic surroundings of a 16 century castle? In my opinion there isn’t an equestrian holiday available that sounds more appealing than equestrian-escapes “Italian castle hideaway break”. As you may have already guessed, your lodgings for the duration of your stay are not a bog standard hotel in the middle of a busy town; you will be staying at a breathtaking Italian castle, located in a wonderful area of the Italian countryside an hour and a half from Rome. The riding trails that are chosen are both hugely scenic and historic, and they take you through beautiful old farming areas, alongside amazing volcanic lakes and through stunning towns, such as the fortified village of Orano. If staying in a castle doesn’t quench your thirst for historical masterpieces, then you can also take up the opportunity of exploring the remains of an ancient Etruscan village in the nearby vicinity. Despite this busy schedule, you will still have plenty of time to relax by the pool, and indulge in the local delicacies, such as fine cheeses and wines, which in my opinion makes this holiday the perfect equestrian getaway for any rider, young or old!

Horse Riding Holidays in the UK

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Horses and chocolate! What more could you want? I certainly wouldn’t want anything else. As a keen rider and chocolate fanatic when I saw this horse riding holiday on the Equestrian Escapes website I knew it would be the perfect break for me.
I could hardly contain my excitement leading up to the holiday and when I arrived I was not disappointed. The Georgian village of Tarporley where the hotel is located was beautiful and caters for your ever need from high quality pubs and restaurants to beautiful boutique style shopping.
Next stop, the stables. The journey to the stables was along picturesque country lanes through the most beautiful of Cheshire countryside. Once I arrived at the stables I was made to feel extremely welcome and I was shown around and introduced to the most beautiful horse, Puzzle, who was going to be my companion and guide for the duration of my stay. The stables were truly first class and the staff and instructors were extremely helpful and very patient with me considering I lack a lot of experience in the saddle.
One day we hacked up to Delamere Forest apparently it is Cheshire’s largest woodland, I was certainly impressed. We stopped at a horse-friendly café along the route where we were able to give the horses a well earned rest and we enjoyed a coffee and a cake whilst admiring the views!
After riding, I spent my afternoon in chocolate heaven. The Old Fire Station Chocolate Shop was just next door to the hotel and here I indulged in my second greatest love, chocolate…. I even chose a selection of handmade truffles to take home with me (you can NEVER have too many in your chocolate stash).
I didn’t realise how much there was to do in this beautiful area of Cheshire. There was so much I didn’t get time to do. At least that gives me an excuse to go back again and indulge myself a little further.
I had the most fabulous time in Cheshire and would recommend this holiday to everyone.
Thank you to Equestrian Escapes in Cheshire who organised the trip for me, I have written you a great testimonial, I will remember the trip for a long time.

Horse riding holiday company launches ride to Machu Picchu

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Horse riding enthusiasts can now follow in the footsteps of Spanish Conquistadors in Machu Picchu riding high in the mountains of Peru.
Sarah Caplan, who owns Equestrian Escapes which specialises in horse riding holidays throughout the UK and abroad, recently returned from a dream trip to the spectacular former Inca settlement near Cusco, Peru.
During her 10-day holiday she explored beauty spots in the Sacred Valley and enjoyed the luxury of passing backpackers on horseback on the lung busting Andes trail.
She said: ‘I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and the chance to visit the heart of the Inca Empire on horseback, who could have written me a better script?’
‘We journeyed to the ranch where the horses live close to the small town of Moyapata, after visiting the cosmopolitan city of Lima and the cultural capital of Cusco.
‘The owner of the horses and of the lodges where we would be staying during our trip was accompanying us throughout the ride.
‘With his signal to proceed, we set out on what was to be the most memorable journey I have ever made.’
Horse trailing experiences is a new project to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most sought-after adventure holiday hotspots.
Sarah believes the popular combination of horse trailing and lodge accommodation coupled with the panorama of Machu Picchu will take off among UK holidaymakers and has launched the holiday offer on her website under Riding Holidays Peru.

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