Saddle up for the ride of your life
You don’t need to be an expert in the stirrups to enjoy a magical holiday on horseback - from a very stately ride at Blenheim Palace to bushrides in South Africa - you are bound to have the time of your life.
A stately ride at Blenheim Palace:
Spend two days and nights in the private apartments of the magnificent Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, as guests of the Marlborough family.
Enjoy a three-course candlelit dinner and a tour of the state rooms (including the bedroom where Winston Churchill was born) before mounting up on to safe, smart horses for escorted rides over the 2,000 acres of historic park. Ride among ancient oak woods, lakes and bridges — all landscaped by Capability Brown — with a picturesque lunch break and, of course, arrive back in time for afternoon tea.
DETAILS: Prices on application, depending on numbers, statelyrides.co.uk, 07590 456714.
A taste for adventure
Starting and ending in the historic mountain town of Kolašin, this is eight days riding Montenegro’s spectacular national parks, canyons and mountain passes on sure-footed and fit horses, led by former champion jockey and Grand National winner Richard Dunwoody.
Lodging with farmers on remote homesteads and in eco-cabins, as well as camping, you’ll be in the saddle for four or five hours a day and should be canter-confident, in groups no bigger than 12.
DETAILS: £1,895 (R35 000) per person, wildfrontiers travel.com, 020 8741 7390.
A Therapeutic escape
Pinetrees Riding is a prestigious equestrian centre, open year-round, thanks to being in the Algarve. Disabled and able-bodied riders of all levels and ages are well catered for, with riding kit, mounting ramps and a Riding for the Disabled Association qualified instructor with decades of experience in the therapeutic value of riding.
The horses, from Welsh ponies to Lusitanos, are all chosen for their temperament. There’s direct access into the forest of the Ria Formosa nature reserve, too.
DETAILS: Three nights’ full-board including five hours’ riding, from £514, (R10 000) farandride.com, 01462 701110.
Help injured animals
The 40 horses — mainly Percherons and Boerperds — kept on the South African family-run Newhampshire Farm, in the Eastern Cape, were all rescued from neglect, injury or abuse and are in serious need of TLC.
There’s so much satisfaction in helping with daily feeding, grooming and assessing each horse’s condition that it won’t feel like work.
There’s plenty of time to ride and assist on the bush and beach trails, too (the magnificent Indian Ocean coastline is a few miles away), and all levels of experience are welcome.
DETAILS: £895 (R16 000) per person, excluding flights, responsibletravel.com, 01273 823700.
Swimming with horses
Many of the horses at the equestrian centre of the luxurious Half Moon resort on Jamaica’s Montego Bay are former racehorses.
Used to swimming as part of their former fitness and therapy regimen, all the animals have been trained to enjoy a dip in the sea. So, after an island ride (‘turf’), you can swim with them in the warm seas (‘surf’).
Stable owner Trina says: ‘Learning to trust your horse, seeing how much the horses enjoy the swim and looking back at the shore is an experience that you will never forget.’
DETAILS: Rooms from £351 (R6 500) per night B&B (excluding tax), Turf and Surf £109 (R2 000), halfmoon.com, +1 876-953-2211.
New routes at the ranch
The Fox family has run Bitterroot, a largely self-sufficient working cattle ranch in Wyoming, in the U.S., for more than 40 years. Plenty of the horses are homebred and you’ll ride in small groups of matched ability across peaceful country so vast, you’ll never ride the same route twice.
Sleeping in cosy log cabins, you’ll have the chance to go full cowboy with an end-of-week team competition sorting yearlings. It’s so authentic, you’ll even see Butch Cassidy’s canyon hideout.
DETAILS: From £1,650 (R30 000) for four nights, bitterrootranch.com, +1 800-545-0019.
In the foothills of the Cretan Dikti mountains, the family-run Country Hotel Veláni has its own stables, with sure-footed Arab, Andalusian and warmblood horses, all chosen for their temperament and stamina.
Children as young as four can try their hand with ten-minute lessons and there is a programme for eight to 12-year-olds. Older kids can join the adults for up to five-hour trail rides through the Langada valley. And everyone can still be back in time to reconvene with non-riding family members by the pool.
DETAILS: Children’s Programme with six hours’ riding and full-board, £364 (R6 700) for seven nights. Adults’ Programme with 22 hours’ riding and full-board, £848 (R15 000) for seven nights, inthesaddle.com, 01299 272997.
© Daily Mail