Archive for April, 2010

Romance in Italy

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I fell in love on a horse riding holiday… I went alone, needing to get away from my work, and just to give myself a break. I decided on Italy, the country of love! Beautiful valleys sweeping away into the distance, the sound of running water from my Juliet-style balcony, the warmth of the sun on my face, and a waiter at my door with a large bottle of Dom Perignon (courtesy of the man in room 42).

Not to far from the castle at all

A beautiful Italian afternoon

I am not normally in the habit of accepting champagne from random men, but what the hell, I was on holiday, alone, and I wanted to let my hair down. The telephone on the side table started ringing and stopped as I gingerly picked up the receiver. “Hello?” Something swept over me as I heard this deep and husky voice from the other end of the line and butterflies flitted in my stomach. My breath quickened. I put down the phone slowly, all the while smiling to myself. The man from room 42… Hector, we arranged to meet just before sundown to ride out to the large lake at the bottom of the valley. He assured me the view would be breathtaking, and he would organise a picnic supper together by the lake. It all sounded very romantic! I decided that such an occasion meant a hair wash and tore into the bathroom to explore the soaps and other perfumed goods that you find in swanky hotel bathrooms.

Slightly tiddled from the champagne that I had managed to consume single handed, and nervous about my appearance as I made my way down to the stables. A little early, there was no one about apart from the grooms and I helped to tack up the dark mare that I was to ride. Over my shoulder came a dark shadow and I spun around to find myself gazing into deep hazel eyes, with gentle crow’s feet framing his lashes. I was shocked, stunned, and knew I should have shaved my legs! A basket picnic hamper, as promised, was saddled up with us, as well as deep red tartan rugs and some oats for the horses.

Hector was right, the scenery was spectacular and even to this day I remember every minute detail as we trotted down to the vast grey lake. The sun was setting, but the air was light with a slight breeze that played with my fringe. He commented on it, and carefully swept my hair back and behind my ears. I thanked him, but still he lingered close to me. At that moment, both of us astride gleaming dark mares, we shared a moment that will stay with me forever. And for our twentieth wedding anniversary next year, we are going back to Italy, back to the country of love, back to the many sweeping forests, back to the vast grey lake, back to the gleaming horses, and back to where I fell in love with my Hector.

Man’s best friend

Monday, April 26th, 2010
This is a picture of Angel Eyes that my mother took

Notice the white star on the forehead

If ever you feel weary, and all alone, look not to the dog but to the horse for comfort. Horses are good listeners, and will stand beside you in perfect harmony if you run your hands gently down their back, and speak with a very gentle tone. 

When I was a little boy I used to climb up to the hay barn above the stables, and perch on one of the beams above my Mother’s favourite mare.  She didn’t seem to mind, as she munched away on the hay I dropped down to her and I spilled out my thoughts, and even made up stories aloud.  This became a ritual whenever I came home from school for the holidays, and my old friend would always be there to greet me with her long black fluttery lashes and open face with a white star fixed squarely on her forehead.

At the start of the Christmas holidays I came home with so much excitement as Christmas was coming, and that meant presents!  We also had recently arranged to catch some rays on a horse riding holiday to the coast of Spain. But that night, as usual, I snuck out to the stables. I remember vividly the large wooden ladder-type staircase up to the hayloft, with slippery mould growing off it.  I treaded carefully and opened up the stiff hatch.  From there I could see the lit stable, and my special beam.  I carefully balanced along the beam and gently lowered myself into a sort of sitting position, only to look down and find the stable bare.  I couldn’t understand it and looked in the paddocks.  She wasn’t there.  In the darkness I could see no white star, and no open face.  Walking slowly back to the house I went to my Mother.  Sadly, the mare had been found lame in the paddock and had had to leave us.  I couldn’t believe it, wouldn’t!  My best friend and listener had gone and left me and Christmas was forgotten. The horse riding holiday to Jerez came and passed and before I knew it the stunning scenery and beautiful landscapes had passed me by.

As most horse lovers will already know, this is both a sad fact of life… and riding, but with riding, more acutely. The average horse lives to between 20-30 years; there are records of up to 51 years old according to many sources. So throughout a life-long riding affair it is most likely that you will suffer a loss more than once.

When Christmas day finally rolled around the corner my mum gave me a massive hug and told me how sorry she was. She knew deep down I wasn’t interested in opening presents this year but still she told me she had something for me to remember our mare by, and it was perched on the beam in the hay loft. I reluctantly walked outside into the cold and made my way over. The cold bit my arms and I hugged my T-shirt for warmth. I walked up the wooden stairs and climbed through the hatch only to see nothing on the beam. It was the first time I had been here since… So I sat down and pondered, staring dead ahead at the opposite wall. I could practically hear Angel Eyes below me. All of the memories came rushing back and as I looked below I could see her with her blotchy coat of brown and white. Except… no star on her forehead? I dropped down gently and put my hand on her cheek as I examined her closely. This wasn’t Angel Eyes! Mum opened the door to the stables and smiled. I wrapped my arms around her and my Christmas was saved.

Equestrian Horse Riding Holiday

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

These four words are absolutely vital to our philosophy here at Equestrian Escapes. When we consider a new package, or putting a new destination onto our list of “To be scouted…” we ask ourselves a few questions to help determine whether it is suitable for our style. Our style of course being linked closely into our desired impact on the customer and the overall quality and delivery of the Equestrian Escapes product range.

Question number one.

Is is fit to be an Equestrian Escapes Horse Riding Holiday? Now by fit I mean does it tick those oh so necessary boxes that we know our customers need. Have we got those vital three C’s? Comfort, Culture and Climate. I heard you laugh! I’ll admit, we let our various England, Wales and Ireland venues slip under the bar with the weather reviews but this is for two very good reasons. One; we know our own land. Two; we have seen living testament over the past few decades to the amount of dedicated riders and horse lovers who are completely willing to brave gale force 27 winds and an icey bout of rain in England. And do you know why they do it? Simple. These people love their animals and these conditions only make you enjoy the good weather more. So needless to say, we launched our domestic range and it still is a smash hit. People love a good UK riding holiday. That’s the kind of holiday they want more often than not, given the current economical climate.

Question two.

When are we getting out to this new possible destination to have a thorough look at the available accommodation, riding centers and restaurants? We refuse to reccommed something to our customers unless we know it’s good. First hand sampling of all you will encounter, bar the unpredictable… for instance, no we did not test the air for possible traces of volcanic ash. Within reason, but with dedicated dilligance. That is how we always aim to operate when considering new destinations for your next horse riding holiday.

Question three. If we have aquired good answers to our first two questions then…

How soon can it be up on the website and available to you? How soon can it be ready? We want it sooner. The way we see this near final stage of the riding holiday process is that you could be going on your single holiday of the year in three weeks time. That’s right you, the customer. So what if you’d like to go to Madrid with your family of four this year on a riding holiday, you have already seen the standard we work at and would rather find yourself a new location than a different tour operator. That is customer loyalty, and that is what we strive to achieve. We want our relationships to strengthen over time with our customers. You should feel both confident and excited about your trip just knowing that Equestrian Escapes are the people who have been with you each step of the way. It is an Equestrian Escapes horse riding holiday and you should expect no less.

The Equestrian Escapes Logo

In the future, this will be further recognised as a symbol of honesty

Dear Sarah

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write to thank you for organising the most fabulous holiday for my husband, Ben and son, Oli.  It was a total and complete all-round success!  They both just loved it – I really can’t be sufficiently effusive or grateful. 

Of course, as you predicted, the highlight was Alfonso.  He was clearly charming – attentive, kind, enthusiastic and an expert with his horses.  Both boys raved about the riding and Alfonso’s skills.  He clearly looked after them well beyond what was expected. 

The hotel worked well and they both enjoyed being in Jerez and seeing the horses.

Thank you Sarah – it was a wonderful experience that I know Oli will remember all his life.

I’m just hoping to find an excuse to go myself as I’m hugely jealous!!

All the best,

Lucy”

That testimonial was recieved just today (21/4/10). It is an unprompted thankyou from yet another happy customer about the horse riding holiday she bought for her husband and son.

Lets get started on your tailor made trip, contact us.
Alternatively seek some riding holiday advice from our qualified staff.

Or just ring us at your leisure on: 01829 781 123

The volcano effect

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Do you suffer from volcano aversion? Then treat youself with our riding holiday offer.

The volcano's ash cloud billowing

As the vast majority of the world is all too aware… last Wednesday by the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier (a volcano 70miles east of Iceland’s capitol Reykjavik) erupted and tore a kilometre long fissure in the ice, spouting lava one hundred metres into the sky. This eruption caused over six hundred residents of Southern Iceland to be evacuated from their homes, but the knock on effects went on to be an extremely pricey affair.

This happend last Wednesday and today is the 20th of Apirl, Tuesday 2010. It is about to be one week since the blast that put Europe on hold first appeared on the global radar, but flights are still halted in England and a few other countries mainly residing on the continent. It is estimated that this eruption has cost the British economy alone £1.5 billion pounds. This will put a heafty strain on Gordon’s economic recovery plan during his final days as Prime Minister in addition to the minisucle chances he wouldn’t be further damaging the country in the first place.

So all in all we are not in tip-top shape. But the grass is always greener on the other side…

What can I do to help? I often ask myself the same question as I just put forward. The answer will set your eyes rolling but well, here we are… on the Official Blog of Equestrian Escapes. With flights indefinitly postponed and the economy sufferering every minute of the way the most positive solution would be to treat this period of time as a little time-out for England. Mother natures way of saying, you haven’t been behaving yourselves recently England. You’ve been a naughty country, so learn to get on and help each other out. So lets spend some money within the British Isles. Get out, go to the butcher, buy some fine meat. Go to the shops, buy some nice wine and have a good meal with the family. Rent a movie, better yet go to the cinema. Can’t make orange Wednesdays? Pay an extra three pounds for a standard ticket. No drama. And now to the crucible of the article… why not go on a Horse Riding Holiday?

Really though, why not? I take by the fact you’re reading this that you have an interest in a horse riding holiday, the news, or at the very least, horses. If you don’t have that much spare cash… fear not once more! We offer great little getaways throughout England, Wales and Ireland. Experience a riding holiday in UK. Wherever you are, you aren’t to far to go riding in the sun and kick back for a good meal and eighty pages of your latest novel. Treat yourself, better yet treat your wife and kids, or mum and daughter. Whoever, wherever a riding holiday is for someone you’re close to so get them on the case.

Summer Shudders

Monday, April 19th, 2010

What is it about the English as soon as the sun comes out?  They slap on their factor fifty, roll up their sleeves to reveal pale and pasty bingo wings, and get all excited about the countryside!

Well, that was me, except I got REALLY excited.  On a whim I took my wife’s laptop into the garden and started surfing the internet for horse riding holidays.  The web pages were endless and I didn’t know where to begin!  Being almost computer illiterate I looked for something respectable, easy and accommodating – and there it was; Equestrian Escapes.  As I navigated my way through their clearly thought out website looking at the endless opportunities I could embark on, imagining myself in these beautiful pictures, I breathed a sigh of relief as my face began to spread into a grin.

There was Andalucía.  And Seville it would be!  The idea of a horse-drawn carriage showing off the city of Seville to me was the real clincher.  But, the Spanish country home, the inviting olive groves, the Spanish food as well as beautiful beaches needed little persuasion.

I am booked to go in a couple of weeks, and cannot wait!  Equestrian Escapes made a holiday made just for me, and I was able to choose from their many luxurious choices in order to make a holiday perfect for me.  I’ll let you know how the tapas tasted!

Ron Howarth

A long baking road

Yet another stunning day in Seville, Andalucia

Ron kindly gave us this article after becoming aware of our blog here at Equestrian Vacations for Equestrian Escapes. Soon after he wrote this and emailed it to our staff (know how you can find on our Contact Us page) he phoned up and arranged a holiday, within two weeks he was sat in Andalucia eating tapas for lunch after a great mornings riding. Now that is a good example of what we at Equestrian Escapes aim to achieve when delivering fantastic landscapes and scenery to our beloved customers. We’re here for you.

Equestrian Charity

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The Brooke horse and donkey charity works to save hardworking animals, and the communities that depend on them.  First launched in Cairo, the Brooke charity has grown, and now prevents the suffering of over 700,000 animals a year.  Such a charity needs all the support available, and relies on people like you to give generously to this very special cause. 

Why is this charity so special?

Their commitment.  Brooke charity realise the relevance of these animals to those who cannot afford other modes of transport, and need these animals to support their own families.  They are used in the transportation of water and building materials, much of which is done over harsh terrain.  These communities clearly love these animals and rely on them entirely, but simply cannot afford them the care that they need.  With very little money for their families, the horses come a close second on their list of priorities.  At Brooke, the horses come first, to provide them with the care that these communities cannot give them. 

What extent of care is given to the animals, AND the communities?

Through the charity, communities are educated in general care of their horses.  For example, in remote areas people believe in painful myths to cure the animals, which do more damage than good.  The Brooke charity work to stop these ‘cures’, and teach simple methods of avoiding lameness and other everyday problems such as exhaustion, malnutrition and dehydration.  Taking care of the horse means taking care of the community.  Extensive training is given to the animal’s owners, for example farriers, saddlers and feed sellers.  What the Brooke charity have also taken into consideration is that through helping these animals, and teaching people about them, one can bring communities together through their work.

Where will my money end up?

The money goes where it is needed, and it shows.  Today, the Brooke charity reaches communities in Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Israel and the West Bank, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan and Guatemala. Indirectly, the money goes to these poor communities who rely on these donkeys, horses and mules for their living.  A healthy animal results in a healthy income, whereby the community can then take care of both the people and the animals

Who are the people working for Brooke?

These people recognise the importance of these animals for communities.  They also strongly believe in the animal’s rights, and its value.  These people are well trained vets, ambulance teams, blacksmiths, community workers, but most importantly animal lovers!  Each horse, mule or donkey is treated with individual care to meet its needs.  These people then help to raise awareness and the level of welfare within communities, but we need your help too.

How do I donate?

You can visit The Brooke via the Equestrian Charity link below.  The Brooke charity is a prestigious and valuable society that has been recognised for its dedication.  That is why, at Equestrian Escapes we ask you to donate one pound to the Brooke charity, and for every pound we will match it.  Like many animal lovers out there, we value these animals and feel that they are entitled to a better way of life, and for the communities that rely on them, a better standard of living.  Go to Equestrian Charity to donate now, alternatively just contact us.  Thank you!

 “Working to help horses, donkeys and mules – and the poor families who depend on them”

Donkey trouble

The girls hear how this donkey was involved in a road accident but is now making a full recovery thanks to the Brooke

Searching, far and wide…

Friday, April 16th, 2010

A gentle walk through Cheshire

As a girl, I was always one for fairytales.  At a young age it was the dream of living in a castle, locks of blonde hair down to my waist, the perfect complexion with no freckles, pretty pink flowing dresses, and a Cinderella-style horse and carriage as my favoured mode of transport

I soon grew up.  But with this, the dream never really went away.

My mother was born and brought up in Africa, and upon moving to England at an early age, soon became obsessed with the horse.  She used to spend hours showing me how to check their feet; ways of running ones hand down their legs to feel for any lingering trouble, and always to avoid ragwort!  These have stuck with me, somehow, and by puberty my interest was huge, among other aspects.

When it was time to leave home and ‘find myself’, and I decided to combine my Mother’s favourite things; Africa and horses.  I knew that I had to go to the Masai Mara, to experience that life, and to try to see what my mother loved.

It was booked, my mosquito repellent was packed, and I was away! 

What first struck me was the heat, and I marvelled how these beautiful, healthy horses could bear it as they whisked at the flies with their tails.  They moved so elegantly, and the sound of their hooves on the famously red African soil was enchanting.  As we rode over the Masai plains, dust flew up behind us, in a dream world that was such bliss and could not be further away from the world I lived. 

In the evenings, the Masai would dance to us as we sat around a large log fire, watching the embers crackle as their feet hit the ground to the rhythm of the beat.  The horses took no notice, and went about their grazing business nonchalantly.  

At sunrise we prepared our horses and set out at a gallop to watch the sun come up and slowly touch the landscape with her white light.  The beauty was utterly enthralling, and the sheen on my horse was breathtaking.

My Mother was right.  Her fairytale had come alive before me.

I became obsessed with my experience, and addicted to finding such beauty again.  I rode out in Peru, New Zealand, Ireland, Tuscany and even The Road of Bones in Far East Russia, but nothing met my expectations.

 It was not until I found Equestrian Escapes and their Cheshire Horse Riding Holidays that I was satisfied.  The horses gleamed, and their friendly faces shone out from the pristine stables that were their home.  Who would have thought I would find what I was looking for almost on my front door step? A UK riding holiday!  I was amazed, and entirely impressed.  Never had I seen such care given to these beautiful animals and from this a kind of mutual respect between the horse and the rider united us together.  The rolling green hills and wonderful sounds of the birds made me feel like I was in a bubble, like Africa, and so far away from everyday life.

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Posted in horse riding holiday Europe, Horse Riding Holidays, horse trekking holidays, questions, riding breaks, riding holiday, riding holidays Cheshire, riding holidays UK, riding horses, riding out, Ridng Holiday, short break riding holidays, Speciality Riding Holidays | Comments Off

Spring Horse Riding Holiday

Monday, April 12th, 2010

A horse riding holiday in the spring in the UK is a great way to start the year and to try to keep up new year resolutions to enjoy more fresh air and to take regular exercise. We are please to report record numbers of riders joining us for our Eater riding vacations and having received back most of the comment forms we are delighted to report that everyone had a great time. In fact one lady has already booked a repeat trip on her riding holiday in Berkshire! We thought we would like to share some of our customers comments with you:

As a lone traveller I was apprehensive.  I was made to feel welcome and put at ease both at the guest house and at the riding centre.  The riding was amazing.  They know their horses well and match them perfectly to your requirements.  I had an amazing time and I am sure I will be back!

This was our second visit to Berkshire and it was just as good as the first time.  My daughter found the riding excellent and the opportunity to help round the stables was much appreciated.  I don’t ride but enjoyed a relaxing time and the lovely country walks.  We will definitely be back!

Many thanks. We had a lovely time, now we appreciate how beautiful Cheshire is, there really are miles of riding oportunities!

If you are interest in joining us in May or June now is the time to book please contact us on 01829 781123

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Posted in Berkshire Riding, children's horse riding holidays, family riding holidays, horse riding, Horse Riding Berkshire, horse riding holiday Europe, horse riding holiday UK, Horse Riding Holidays UK, horse riding weekends, riding holidays Cheshire, riding horses, riding out, short break riding holidays, Speciality Riding Holidays | 1 Comment »

Equestrian Escapes Staff

Friday, April 9th, 2010

A question often asked is what experience do the Equestrian Escapes team have with horses?

Well, my name is Emma Shore and I own a horse called Wee Welsh Lady (Lady). I have been working at Equestrian Escapes for the past 3 years on a part time basis whilst studying at University. Lady is a Welsh Cob x Throughbred. I compete with Lady most weekends in BSJA showjumping competitions. To date I have won many prestigious competitions.

I got Lady 7 years ago and she had never done any show jumping before. She had previously competed in working hunter classes to a high level and qualified and competed at many of the top shows.

She was the perfect horse for me as I was only 13 when I got her so we could both start in British Novice classes and slowly progress together. Soon after this I had qualified for the British Novice and Discovery Championships in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately because I was still at school I couldn’t compete in the Discovery as it was during school time. However, I went and competed in the British Novice. I qualified for the final in which I came 2nd. I also won the under 21 qualifier but didn’t jump her in the final as we wanted to save her for the British Novice.

After this success I qualified for numerous other championships including the Scope 1.15 metre class. At Scope I qualified for the main ring in the 1.15 metre. This class was inside and there was a fountain in the ring and Lady hates water. I was slightly worried that there was a fence that looked like it was jumping straight into the fountain and I was correct to be worried. I fell off and ended up breaking my finger. However, after this I came 3rd in the Star of the Future class.

Additionally, she won a Welsh Master Championship as well as numerous 1.15, 1.20, 1.25 and 1.30 classes. In August 2009 I won 2 championships at Aintree Equestrian Centre.

Lady was having a rest during the winter of 2009 when she jumped put of her field onto the concrete yard. When she did this she slipped onto her hock and cut a large area of her hock down to the bone as well as cutting her coronary band on her front hoof. She was rushed to the vets and underwent an operation. She had to have her hock thoroughly washed to try to avoid infection and she had stitches in her front hoof. She then had to have 4 months box rest whilst the wound healed and all the time we didn’t know whether she would ever recover. About 2 months ago I started riding her again and getting her back to fitness. She has now been to 4 shows and she has been placed 3rd in 2 competitions and 1st in 2 competitions of which one was a 1.15m Amateur Championship qualifier. I am now aiming at building her up to larger competitions including the 1.20m HOYS qualifier and numerous championships.

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Posted in Equestrian Escapes, Equestrian Escapes Staff, equestrian holidays, horse riding, horse riding breaks, Horses, News, pony riding, questions, riding horses, riding out, riding ponies | 1 Comment »

Welcome the brand new Website!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

 

A horsey brown theme throughout

After much thought, designing and careful preperation Equestrian Escapes launched it’s new website on March the 31st 2010. Although there was nothing wrong with the old website, we had decided along with the views of our staff and PR team that it was very much so the time for change, and a little bit more spice. So the rustic old lime green Equestrian Escapes faded quietly into the night and a far more respectful, diligent Equestrian Escapes was born. Our new layout is founded on the corner stone of a lovely chestnut brown which has gently carried our horse theme, from page to page of the intricate network of web resources. We have more itineraries than ever before with a list of new holidays waiting patiently for their triumphant addition to our internet catalouge.

So what does this shiny new advertisement mean for the heart of Equestrian Escapes and the people working hard on a daily basis to keep it all running as smoothly as a busy tour operator can? More work. To place it into two simple words. With the easier to navigate web pages and clearer design our customers are finding exactly what they want much faster. No faffing around clicking on broken links or being led to irrelivant pages, just simple to the point information… with a horsey twist. We are afterall in this business for the horses! Sarah Caplan has been a horse lover all of her life and without a doubt wouldn’t be running the elaborate show behind the scenes here in the office headquarters of Equestrian Escapes if it had not been for her four legged pals. For further internet info

So without further adieu please click on the following link and be taken directly to the homepage of Equestrian Escapes. Horse Riding Holidays

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Posted in horse riding, horse riding adventure holidays Spain, horse riding holiday Europe, Horses, new riding holidays 2010, News, riding breaks, riding holiday, Riding Holidays, short break riding holidays, Speciality Riding Holidays | Comments Off

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