Posts Tagged ‘Warm Holiday’

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.

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.

Our cyber horse world

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Equestrian Escapes has duely noted the absolute need for businesses today to play the 21st century game. Cyber space.  The optimal goal is not what you may think… money, money, money. But to deliver a great service or product, and using the web in its different ways is most vital in finding your perfect customers. Because they are out there, and they are looking for a product that will make them happy. So is the nature of our capitalist, consumer ruled soceity.

So how is Equestrian Escapes using the web today? And how can you be involved?

1. www.Equestrian-Escapes.com

This is the headquarters of Equestrian Escapes on the web, if you will. It was the first website we launched and has managed, over time to help us build a loyal following of happy customers who can easily browse our itineraries at their lesiure whenever they want. EquestrianEscapes.com has been up and running for three years now. Click on the link above to read about our extensive list of horse riding holidays.

This photo appears on the E.E. website

Equestrian Escapes to Bournemouth

2. www.EquestrianVacations.co.uk

This is the blog you are currently reading. We have written over fifty full length articles describing our itineraries and a wide vareity of other things. Our blogs are written mostly by our staff but we have included articles that have been volunteered by customers and friends of Equestrian Escapes. For example we have had a number of talented writers take us through each step of their holiday and kindly let us post it as an article, with links, onto our blog. EquestrianVacations.co.uk has proved to be an invaluable source when it comes to letting people know what we’re up to both on the scene, and behind it.

3. Horse Riding Holidays Equestrian Escapes on Facebook

This Fan-page on Facebook is a little base that we have recently been using to let our friends, family, colleagues and fans gather in one convenient address to hear about recent news and events. We have been using facebook to alert people to our newest of holidays and we upload our favourite photos of horses that we have taken in the UK and abroad. At the time of writing this article, our facebook page has 157 fans.

4. Equestrian Hols on Twitter Twitter Bird

This is our most recent cyber venture. Twitter, brought into the limelight by the likes of Stephen Fry, is an extremely popular internet communication site and a massive forum on which people can write short notes to the Twitter world and their own accumulated “followers”. Followers are people who have selected your account, for example Equestrianhols and decided that they want to be alerted whenever you post something new. We only began Tweeting here at Equestrian Escapes a few days ago but already have double figures of followers! Click on the link above to visit our Twitter page and start following now.

Beach walking

A great day to enjoy the sandy coast

5. Folkd.com

Folkd is an article sharing site on which a long standing friend of Equestrian Escapes has been taking his own time to write occasionally. Eduardo a friend of Sarah Caplan has been contributing to Folkd under the amusing alias of EduardoHorseExpert. Click above to browse his short descriptions and links.

6. Hot Frog

This is a directory of UK based businesses. Each registered business has a page on which it can sumbit articles about their product allowing the reader to have an incredibly close look at what it is they are interested in. Most sites do not offer this attention to detail and this is why Equestrian Escapes has laboured to put a few very select holidays onto our page within its listings.

7. Ezine Articles

Ezine is another article shraing website. Our correspondant on this one is none other than Richard Mark who has occasionally dipped in a dropped a line on a recent holiday or travel experience. He regularly travels with Equestrian Escapes. Click above to go directly to Ezine and read his articles.

Check out Equestrian Escapes’ Horse World on our main site. It has all sorts of horsey information and some great photos.

Frequently asked questions:

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

If you have a question you would like us to answer but rather than phone us (on 01829 781 123) you think that others would also find the answer to your question useful, then please just leave a comment at the bottom of this post and we will give you a detailed answer as soon as we next log in.

Here are some questions that we frequently answer to customers enquiring about our horse riding holidays;

Q:“How experienced do I need to be to go on this ride?”
A: For the vast majority of our holidays, not at all. We deal with all levels of rider on a daily basis. All the way from riders who have never rode a horse, to members of Trooping the Colour and army riding instructors (aka the rather experienced!). All of our holidays will be tailored to suit your requirements and where ever possible we will alter the itineraries to fit your desires. For example, if you chose The Magic of Andalucia which contains a fair amount of riding (including some much longer hacks out) and then you rang one of our experts and told them you are a complete novice or had spent little time on a horse beforehand, or even that you used to ride but haven’t in years! Our experts will have a good chat with you, obtain an understanding of your abilities and then help work out the right riding plan for you, with the ideal amount of time on horseback.

Q:“What do you think I should bring with me?”
A: Bring with you the things you usually like to ride with. Wether this is general kit or just a comfortable outfit. There will be riding hats available from the various equestrian centres that will be managing your riding. Also take into consideration how necessary the item is when thinking about lugging it through a possibly hot and busy airport. Do bring some smart/causual wear for a nice meal out in the local village but for the rest of the holiday comfort is key.

A beautiful day in Almeria

The pool available for your lesiure

Q:“What time of year is best to travel?”
A: From an economical point of view you should aim to make your travel plans as early as possible. This is particularly necessary in terms of flights. The sooner your flights are booked, preferably months in advance, the less it will cost you. As for the seasons you should travel in, the same applies again (book in advance!). Between March and July chiefly, even into late August you will have a massive chance of good weather and in some of our destinations this is near guarenteed! Obviously Equestrian Escapes can take absolutely no responsibility for the outcome of the weather, we are a tour operator, not God. For instance Portugal and Spain will be very hot during this period. But as we all know, better weather means more demand, and more demand means a higher price. So there will be higher prices for our holidays (and everyone elses) during the peak months and key holidays.

Q:“Have you any riding experience?”
A: Our staff are all horse involved and have been for much of their lives. Sarah Caplan our managing director has been riding ever since her early childhood and can often be heard recounting her words upon her first sighting of a horse, “That’s for me, that’s what I want to do!” And it was. Sarah maintained her passion throughout her teenage years and even during uni (where many horse lovers can’t find time) in Manchester where she studied Zoology. Now the proud owner of six cherished horses, three of which are foals of varying maturity, Sarah has made the entrepreneurial leap on top of her stable duties (and giving her friends enough attention) to running her own quality riding holiday business. And with that the deal was sealed and it is now what Sarah “does”!

Trail and Train in Spain

Riding in the water, Spain

Q:” How do you test your holidays?”
A: Our BHS qualified director Sarah Caplan has personally been on each of the holidays that we offer. Now, that sounds like a luxurious job at first glance but the reality of going to over sixty destinations whilst running a fledgling company and playing mother to two growing teenagers is something different all together. But the starter years are over and Equestrian Escapes is no longer a fledgling business. Sarah also sees the horses when she is considering adding a new location to our ever growing list of itineraries and rides the available routes to establish whether it is worth paying your hard earned cash for.

The story so far…

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Two thousand and ten brings nothing but positive thoughts for the hard workers here at Equestrian Escapes. Behind the scenes we have been chipping away at a long list of tasks all working towards bringing new holidays to the table. Whilst at the same time, balancing our efforts to keep the customer service high and managing the business as it rapidly expands. The last of these points being the most crucial.

Riding Holidays throughout Europe

 

Equestrian Escapes started providing quality, tailor made horse riding holidays only three and a half short years ago and is now the proud partner of a significant portion of the wide market share of horse riding holidays in Europe. This proves Equestrian Escapes is here to stay as a healthy competitor doing its vital part to help drive down holiday prices and keep the bigger horse holiday businesses on their tippy toes.

With the UK finally completing that long climb out of the recession we are all so eager to forget about, it definitely is time to enjoy our compliments and rewards made possible by you, the customer. Not in the sense of a massive profit margin (because our holidays are designed to compete with the best) but rather, our horsey experts are in this business because of one thing – they love riding. If our Managing Director Sarah Caplan had not followed her unfaltering passion for riding and continued to sustain her excellent skills and knowledge up to this point then there really is no doubt that Equestrian Escapes would not be standing this tall.

Our success in this business comes down to one of our main key points of practise. That is taking the sweet time and effort to scout these holidays and scrutinise their every detail for you. Now that sounds like a luxurious job doesn’t it? Not as much as you would think. These horse riding holidays all have various options and can be tweaked and tailored to suit your party at any point. So if there are many variables then that means one thing… we have been there and tested them. So when Sarah goes for instance to Barcelona or Madrid, she visits the hotels, goes on all of the rides and meets the people who will be dealing directly with you. Whilst all the time assessing the quality of what she is seeing and how it is going to help you make the best of your holiday.

But despite the hard work it pays off. Every day we get more testimonials from happy customers just wanting to drop a line, or little note to say thank you or a full account of their holiday and how truly great it was. Usually ending with how they don’t want to wait until next year to travel with us again.

It certainly is a positive time at the moment, everything is coming together and the hard work is paying off. So not for the last time, thank you.

An equestrian escape to Barcelona

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Relaxing on the grass in Barcelona

Bacelona is the capitol of Catalonia, Spain

On day one of this four night riding holiday package, you will arrive into Spain via Girona Airport, for your Barcelona Riding Holiday. Having already made your choice of accommodation between a beautiful rural country home, or a stunning four star Bed & Breakfast Spa Hotel, you will arrive at your new headquarters for the ensuing days of riding. If time permits, you could start your riding today! If however it is too late, fear not… riding will start in the morning.

On day two you will see the equestrian centre for the first time. We reccommend that you take an assessment lesson to assure the right horse is chosen for you. After your assessment you can choose from a range of riding activities from riding lessons, jumping lessons, all the way to your own hand picked itinerary of pathways and tracks through the counrtyside of Barcelona. You can enjoy a full days ride and picnic or a hack in the morning and lesson in the afternoon. It is your riding holiday, and should fit your wishes accordingly.

Today, day three, is a great chance to mix it up a little and do something you didn’t cover on day one. For example, take advantage of the breath taking scenery composed of Barcelona’s own countryside and go for a picnic in a scenic spot. Your transport to and from the equestrian centre each day depends on wether you decided to rent a car for your holiday or not. If not, then lifts can be arranged for you but this must be made clear earlier on in the planning stages of the holiday to save your inconveniance. Also, please mention if you would like a transfer from the airport to your accommodation and back again at the end of the holiday.

Day four. More riding catered to your desires, give us a ring and we can plan the perfect holiday for you! If you don’t fancy some more fabulous riding in the local area then pay a visit to the town of Besalu. It is the proud owner of a 12th century Roman bridge, a local landmark. And the restaurants in this region are a gastronomic delight of Spanish, and local dishes.

Day five is the day of departure. And by this time you will have grown very fond of Barcelona. If there is time before your flight this morning, you can go out for one last ride.

Our riding holidays are for you and aim to be the best riding holidays that you could hope to enjoy. If this sounds good to you but you would like more nights in Barcelona, or to fly over to Andalucia, Spain’s most Southern Region, and spend a few days there. Or just add something you wanted to do. It is your holiday and we are here to help! Contact us on our website Equestrian Escapes Riding Holidays.

Memories of a warm Tuscany, prompted by the big chill…

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Seven days in the sun seems like a far and distant time from our little frozen island. However, the trip left such a firm imprint on me that I can recall it clear as day. A Medieval Castle Tour of Tuscany! I remember stepping off the plane into the warm nostalgic atmosphere of Tuscany. This same relaxing ambience is responsible for that special place where I hold Tuscany in my heart. A trip I shan’t forget soon, nor willingly.

The Adventure Begins

On the first day we were transferred to the magnificant castle in which we were due to stay for the start of our holiday adventure. The food there was sublime, and accompanied by a fine red wine which complemented the meat well. As we had spent the majority of the day travelling I was extremely tired and retired early, keen to be well rested to make the most of the next day.

After a hearty breakfast we set out on our first ride, destination Lake Bolsena! Having heard about the lake’s particular beauty, the way it rests in the heat of the land, a hub of life and ripples, I was keen to get going and arrive already! But the wait was far from lenghty and my impatience soon quashed. They say time flies when you’re having fun, but I don’t believe the heat permits this rule in Tuscany. Everything’s a little slower and you have time to really soak in your surroundings. We trotted along some ancient tracks trodden by many a steed and these old routes led us to the lake… and it was not a disappointment. To the extent that I acutally stripped down to just my shorts and swam for a while. What a nice change it was from my life at home. Drifting in a lake in Tuscany!

Time Flys By Once Your Settled In

The very next day we visited another lake, this one formed inside a volcanic crater with traces of human settlements from the pre-etruscan era. Having passed the lake we cantered up a tree lined path which later revealed some stunning views over the land. Having completed another great day of riding we returned to the castle for some serious chow.

Over the next three days we toured Sorano, every moment viewing scenery that stands as a testament to the sheer age of the land. For instance the paths weaving their way through the towering ancient rock. Cut by ancient man in a time long forgotton.

The path less trodden

All this was broken into perspective by a few healty picnics and the occasional rest stop. Each night staying in an ancient castle or fortress. The castles were really a highlight of the trip, their architecture was astounding. I couldn’t help but think back to my first trip to Portugal, an expertly planned venture organised for me by Equestrian Escapes who later became my standard go to tour operator whenever I wanted a mixture of relaxation and riding.

All Good Things…

Having departed Sorano, we moved down and up the other side of the Stridolone Valley, past an ex-convent and into the heart of the Tuscany countryside where we spotted pheasent, deer and the occasional wild boar! With that we returned to our proud castle for a final meal and good nights sleep. Departing in the morning was ever so painful and I’ve felt a longing to return ever since. Truely a favourite of Castle Riding Holidays, a unique and timeless trip.

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