Horseback Travel Guide This guide is an invitation to ride around the world and an illustration of some of the different trips that are possible. On the Equus Journeys website you will find all of our rides, together with the detailed up-to-date itineraries; and a host of interesting information and articles about the different breeds of horses and riding traditions you might encounter.
Horseback Travel Guide Tel: +44 (0) 1905 388977
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ÒIn riding a horse we borrow freedom.Ó H
HORSEBACK TRAVEL & EQUESTRIAN TRADITION
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n 2005, whilst completing the first Atacama Crossing ride in Chile, the French adventurer Anne Mariage handed Christophe the reins to Cheval d’Aventure, which she had founded in 1972. Riding beside her along this ancient Incan path, he became aware of the spirit and values that are at the heart of Cheval d’Aventure. These values can be encapsulated by a few simple ideas: respect, fellowship, curiosity, exploration, open-mindedness, and the importance of the relationship between riders and their horses the world over. Nine years later, Equus Journeys was created in the United Kingdom, a limited company with the same Cheval spirit and so named to evoke everything we stand for: Equus - Latin for horse, and Journeys – travel and the exploration of beautiful destinations. At Equus Journeys, we are passionate horse owners and riders with a long and successful history in the horseback riding travel industry. It is our first-hand knowledge that allows us to help you experience the riding holiday of your dreams. From the Team at Equus Journeys
HORSEBACK TRAVEL & TRAILS 1
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In England Fingerpost Cottage Hopton Wafers Shropshire Dy14 0NA UNITED KINGDOM Tel: +44 (0) 1905 388977 firstname.lastname@example.org Equus Journeys Embassy in Scandinavia Tel: +46 70 191 73 62 email@example.com
www.equus-journeys.com Meet the Equus Journeys team throughout the year at Badminton, Burghley, Blenheim where we oftenly exhibit. If you wish to be kept up-to-date with news of our events, new destinations and special journeys, you can subscribe to our email newsletter on our website: www.equus-journeys.com
Our sister company in France
Tel: +33 (0) 4 82 53 99 89 Infos@cheval-daventure.com
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Equus Journeys Team
Christophe Leservoisier firstname.lastname@example.org
For almost 30 years, Christophe, a French traveler and rider, has created, guided and organized unusual travel all over the world. The creator of the Ethical Charter of Travelers in 1997 and co-founder of ATR (Responsible Tourism Association), he has always been defending the worth of sustainable tourism. After creating and developing several specialized tour operator companies, he now devotes himself to Equus Journeys, which is centred on his passion for equestrian traditions, nomadic people and Africa. 4
Isabelle is living in Stockholm with her Swedish husband, their 6 children, 2 cats and her polo horse. She has been riding all around the globe from Mongolia to Montana, via Jordanien, India, Botswana or Europe. At home she plays horse polo and rides dressage. She will be more than happy to share her riding experience with you to help you choosing the perfect riding holidays for you and/or your family. She is our “ambassador” for Sweden.
Joanne has worked in the equine travel industry for many years and ridden in India, Botswana, North America, France… and she has traveled far and wide during her life as the wife of an airline pilot! She left the 'cut and thrust' world of advertising behind to follow her dreams and work with horses before joining Equus Journeys. She owns four horses and four dogs and loves meeting new people and learning about their cultures and traditions.
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Why Book with Equus Journeys? ◗ Specialist horse travel
◗ All holidays cost no more
◗ Completely honest advice
consultants, who have a wide and varied knowledge of the rides and have travelled extensively, including the team members of our sister company Cheval d’Aventure which was created in 1972. ◗ Your holiday is 100% financially protected under the ATOL and ABTOT bonding schemes.
than booking direct. If you see one of the holidays advertised cheaper somewhere else, prices can usually be matched. ◗ All our travel consultants are horse riders and owners who understand what is important to you on your riding holiday ◗ We are contactable on a 24 hour emergency telephone number so that you can reach us when you are on holiday if you need to.
-telling you of the possible negative points as well as the highlights. ◗ Holidays and honeymoons can be tailor-made to your requirements. ◗ You can follow your holiday plans on line in your Equus journeys private space including secure online payment facilities.
Usa – Colorado, Joanne as a wrangler
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Mongolia â€“ Gobi Steppes
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Kenya â€“ Amboseli
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Equestrian Traditions Worldwide the horse is revered - ridden, worked, respected and cared for - and riding horses is central to all of our holidays. Equus Journeys believes that it is important to inject local equestrian traditions into the heart of our travels. In each meeting with local horsemen, you will gain insight into the long history of man and horse.
A horse of conquest Man became a rider, a centaur, when he left for war. In Europe, as elsewhere, riding was born in the battlefields. The Egyptians were maybe the first to demonstrate this, during the famous battle of Qadesh in 1274 BC, where the Egyptian chariots of Ramses II opposed the Hittite chariots. Two thousand years later, we find equestrian warriors in all corners of the globe. The SamouraĂŻ warriors managed feudal Japan for almost 700 years. The riders of Gengis Khan poured into the borders of Europe and destroyed civilizations which were thought superior from a technical point of view. In the 16th century, the expeditions of conquistadors into the New World introduced the horses which were going to Benin â€“ Traditional war horse
populate America. It was again on horseback that the Bedouins of Arabia started their raids, and more
recently, the Khampas riders who organized the resistance in Oriental Tibet.
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France â€“ Camargue â€“ Doma Vaquera
The history of breeds During the conquests, man transported horses, spread his equestrian technique and created new horse breeds. The most symbolic is perhaps the Barb, which alone has influenced the equestrian world in three continents. Originating in the East, riders from Arabian tribes in the Atlas mountains preferred the local horses barbarian or Barb - the breed which brought Hannibal and his armies to the doors of Rome in 218 BC. From Maghreb to western Africa, this war horse became the vehicle of Muslim civilization. Later, after the Arabian conquest of Spain, the Barb horses were crossed with local Spanish
horses to create the Andalusian horse, which, led by the conquistadors into the New World, became the ancestor of the horses which populated America. So, from the Barb blood originates almost all of the breeds of the Americas, from Criollo to Mustang. Another example and a change of scenery: in the 9th century AD in the Northern seas, the long boats (Drakkars) of Vikings sailed to the West, transporting their horses into Iceland. More than a thousand years of isolation have preserved this special breed which has two unique paces - the tĂślt and the
flying pace, which have been lost by other breeds. Another curiosity of equine history are the stories of horses introduced by conquerors and then abandoned in the wild. We have all heard of the American mustang, but less well-known are the forgotten horses of the Namib desert which were left behind by the army during the great wars of 1914. These horses adapted to survive in the desert and their genes changed progressively over several years. Today they are a smaller, unique and hardy horse.
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Rider equipment Boots:
For the majority of situations: light hybrid riding/hiking boots with a decent sole and heel, worn with short chaps. Dressage lessons: short boots with chaps (or long boots if you prefer). Horseback safari: light hybrid riding/hiking boots with short chaps. Long boots can get very hot. Full chaps can be useful because they protect from thorns. Don’t take your best leather boots as they could be damaged. If visiting the Okavango Delta during high flood waters then it may be worth taking two pairs. Ranches and cattle drives: short boots with chaps or cowboy boots.
We always recommend that you take your own hard hat to ensure a good fit. On some rides hard hats are compulsory. Nowadays there are many manufacturers of lightweight helmets, such as Troxel, which are ventilated and more comfortable in hot climates. There are also products available which fit over your helmet to make them look more like Western hats or to provide a brim for shade.
Whatever you usually ride in and are most comfortable in - make sure you have worn them before travelling so you know they don’t rub. Breeches, jodhpurs or a pair of jeans (without inside seams) are the most common. On ranches your guides will likely wear jeans or thick canvas trousers.
Environment: If travelling in remote locations, then take a pocket torch with a dynamo which doesn’t require batteries, choose biologically friendly liquid soap for washing in rivers and take a hybrid solar charger for charging your batteries. 10
Rainwear: Can be essential dependent on your destination. Waterproof over trousers and jackets such as Barbour or Goretex protect against persistent rain. Avoid ponchos or flapping capes as they do not protect well and can frighten the horses. Always dismount your horse when adding waterproof layers.
Saddle bags: Are often, but not always provided for you - they are fixed behind or in front of the saddle and allow you to bring small items with you, such as water bottles and suncream. If you need to buy your own then choose flexible materials which are light and waterproof, but bear in mind that not all horses are happy to carry one. Leather or nylon laces are a cheap alternative for tying extra layers/jackets to the back of your saddle.
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Botswana – Okavango, Macatoo camp
Top ten tips for good photographs ◗ The best pictures are taken on foot! With the agreement of the guide, ride ahead of the group, dismount your horse, choose the sport mode and take photos of the group approaching you. ◗ For pictures taken on horseback, try to ride slightly to one side of the group, keep hold of your reins and talk to your horse. ◗ Take pictures of the horses and their riders in motion. Focus on a section of the group - odd numbers of riders seems to work well. ◗ To frame your subject well, move him out of the centre and respect the proportion of 1/3 sky, 2/3 earth or vice versa, and ensure there is something of interest in all four corners of the picture.
◗ Use the automatic mode because horses rarely stay still for long adjustments! ◗ Early morning light or late afternoon light is preferred. ◗ Favour a compact camera which has a built-in stabilizer and UV protection filter. Bulky cameras are not sensible on horseback. ◗ Take enough spare batteries with you and save your battery life by avoiding using the screen and not letting the batteries get cold. ◗ Protect your camera from dust, bad weather and falls by keeping it in your jacket, bumbag or in a bag attached to your belt and put the lanyard over your head. ◗ Ask the consent of people you meet on the trail before taking their photographs. 11
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Extracts from the Ethical Charter for riders These extracts are part of the equestrian extension from the Ethical Charter of the Traveller in relation to respect, nature, men and horses. We invite you to read it before your holiday. Respect is the basis of a better experience
Striking up a conversation with a pedestrian whilst you are mounted could be interpreted as a sign of superiority over the walker. Dismount, stay between your horse and the person you are talking to - your conversation and the quality of your meeting will then be on an equal footing.
Watering places are precious and essential to human, animal and farming life. Ask permission before letting horses drink from wells and do not soil the water and the surrounding area.
Equestrian cultures are varied and all are good if they are done right. The urge to discover, your humility and respect are a reflection of your curiosity.
The horse - the heart of your travel
In ethology, anthropomorphism signifies the projection of human motivations and feelings onto an animal. Avoid this practice with your horse and treat him with humility and respect. Letting your horse trot to catch up whenever it pleases him is a bad habit which is very hard to correct. All horses should be able to walk on at a decent pace.
Local guides, who know their horses, are the best placed to advise you on girthing, adjusting the tack, drinking, tethering etc.
Whilst riding, we have to remember to respect the other horses and riders who share our ride and perpetuate the tradition of good manners. We should always be conscious of our actions. We advise you to always wear a hard hat/helmet, even if your guides and other riders do not wear one - it is your head! There are many lightweight, ventilated helmets available nowadays.
Be courteous to your fellow riders - point out possible dangers such as holes and low branches, and pass back messages from the guide.
Complete version on www.equus-journeys.com
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Estancia Los Potreros Argentina by Astrid Harrisson angel bit
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Finally completely free, connected only to the earth and sky, all senses are stimulated for a complete immersion in his powerful and generous nature. I made a pact with my horse, actor and accomplice, he guides me to an unknown world and to real meetings; each day I become a little more, a piece of the Universe. I am a nomad, my expedition companions are my family, the camp fire brings us together, time does not exist anymore. Anne Mariage, founder of Cheval d’Aventure
Canada – Yukon, Ibex Mountain
Real horseback adventures and journeys! Long trail rides where your belongings are often transported by pack animals enable you to reach isolated areas, forgotten high valleys and meet local people and learn about their traditions.
Expeditions & pack trips
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India – Ladakh, Little Tibet
“The history of our sister company, Cheval d’Aventure, is linked to the pack trip. Since 1972, the soul of Cheval d’Aventure has carried on thanks to bold and curious riders all over the world, who have opened and guided new trails which are more accessible on horseback than in a vehicle. Mountains, high plateaus, snowy passes, isolated valleys, high altitude lakes and rivers… Life can be hard in these environments in which you will ride, but the inhabitants are warm hearted.”
To join an equestrian pack trip requires an open mind and to be physically fit because it is often necessary to walk on foot, leading your horse on steep paths. The riding experience required is intermediate because the principal pace is walk, however you do need to be balanced in the saddle. You also need experience of handling horses as you are usually required to prepare your own horse each day - grooming, tacking up etc. Accommodation is basic as you have to carry everything with you: luggage, tents, cooking facilities and supplies. Most expeditions use pack animals such as horses, yaks or camels; occasionally a vehicle. Lunchtime picnics are carried in saddle bags; the campsites and tents are simple; the washing facilities are in the river and the participation of all is required around camp. A pack trip is a true initiation into the world of riding expeditions and those with previous experience of trail riding will find the transition easier.
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Did you know
Tajikistan â€“ Pamir Mountains Chile â€“ Atacama Desert
The Long Riders Guild is an international association of equestrian explorers. The invitation-only organisation was formed in 1994 to represent riders from all nations who have ridden more than 1,000 continuous miles on a single equestrian journey. With members in forty-five countries, every major equestrian explorer alive today belongs to the guild, including Hadji Shamsuddin of Afghanistan who rode a thousand miles through the war-zone and Claudia Gottet of Switzerland who rode 8,000 miles from Arabia to the Alps. Their website www.thelongridersguild.com is full of stories, legends and knowledge.
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Did you know Among the equestrian games of Kyrgyzstan, the Kyz-kumaï “Catch the girl”, matches the fair sex and the male sex in an attempt to flirt: the boy chases the young girl on horseback to try to kiss her. If she wins, then on her turn, she chases him to try and hit him with her whip!
The horses ridden during an expedition trip are born in the areas crossed and are adapted to their environment. They belong to our local teams and have been selected for their robustness and toughness. They are surefooted and can carry you safely down dizzyingly high paths. Their mentality is excellent - even though their training is not to the standards you may be used to, they are careful over tricky terrain. Your belongings are usually transferred by pack-saddle on
either yaks, mules, camels or horses - sometimes a vehicle may provide the expedition with fresh supplies. The pack animals may travel with you, but often they go by a different route with the camp team and chef so that camp is settled before you arrive. The saddlery is very local too although it has been improved to provide comfort for long hours in the saddle: western saddles, local English-type saddles, Cossack saddles or cavalry saddles.
Some breeds: The Mongolian Horse is a small horse, standing between 1.22 m and 1.42 m (12hh - 14hh), compact and very strong. He possesses a resistance to inclement weather conditions
because he was born in the open, with an aptitude to grow fat quickly during the short summers in order to survive the long, cold winters. The Kyrgyz Horse is a crossbreed of “celestial horses” which received much praise in ancient texts, and is a mixture of different Russian breeds with the Thoroughbred. This breed of horse, which contributed to the Kyrgyz identity, was almost an endangered species, but the obstinacy of one of our guides, Jacqueline Ripart, assisted its rehabilitation.
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The Qarabair is a Tadjik horse which is fit and spirited, of medium size and well-known for its toughness and tenacity. The Tibetan Horse of Khampas is small, energetic and tough, perfectly adapted to the altitude and to difficult terrain.
The Abyssin Pony, is thought to have derived from different crossbreeds with a mixture of Arabian or Barb horses. He is distinguished by his thick coat, dishevelled mane and incredible resistance.
Did you know Tajikistan – Qarabair
Peru – Peruvian Paso
In 138 BC Chang Ch’ien journeyed for 13 years through Central Asia and was particularly impressed with the fine horses of Kokand which sweated blood - he named them Celestial Horses and bred them as war horses for their size, stamina and strength. Celestial horses became status symbols for rich men and officials and were immortalised as bronze statues. The phenomenon of "sweating blood" was actually caused by a parasite which burrowed under the skin in the back and shoulders of the horse, which caused little swellings which burst and bled.
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Some ideas Argentina – Salta trail From Salta, where the colonial atmosphere and Indian traditions have remained high, you join a great Inca trail, reaching heights of 3,000 m amongst the peaks of the Puna Cerro Bayo - the kingdom of the condor. Stunning landscapes of the Andes mountains, deserted valleys, pampas, cacti and tropical forest coupled with interactions with local gauchos make this an emotive expedition.
Tibet – The Kham Riders Kham is a historical region of Oriental Tibet and homeland of the proud Khampas warriors. This rugged landscape is the theatre for a pack-trip using yaks to carry your supplies across the grassy high plateaus where nomadic families live. This ride normally begins at one of the spectacular festivals such as Tagong, where Khampas riders dress up in their most beautiful finery to perform equestrian acrobatics at the gallop.
France – Pyrenees Mountain Pass A circuit of around 300 km on horseback in the High Pyrenees mountains around the Massif du Carlit. Throughout the ride you pass beautiful lakes, streams and small villages perched vertiginously within this border area with Andorra and Spain. The second half of the route is very remote and you are supported by a mule train for a true equestrian journey!
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
Peru - High Inca Trail This incredible riding trail on Criollo horses journeys through the mighty Vilcanota mountain range. Vast wild pampas with grazing llamas and alpacas; starkly blue mountain lagoons; high passes of 5,000 m and the snowy peak of Ausangate, draped in a magnificent glacier. This riding trail offers the splendour of the Andes and the Inca empire in one jaw-dropping trip.
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Argentina to Chile – Andes Grand Traverse A spectacular journey which starts in Argentina and ends in Chile. After 5 days riding through the mountains and pampas of Argentine Patagonia you cross into Chile by boat across a lake before spending 6 days riding in the dramatic Lake District. You cross areas so remote that even the locals travel all day by horseback in order to buy supplies!
India – Ladakh, the little Tibet An expedition on horseback to meet a Tibetan population who are free to live by their traditions. From the valley of Markha to the nomadic grounds of Rupshu, you will cross the grandiose landscape of the Himalayas: a chaos of colourful rocks, jagged crests and the snow-topped peaks of Kang Yatse (6,400 m). Each departure is linked to a Buddhist festival at either Lamayuru, Phyang or Taktok.
Canada – Yukon, Into the wild This equestrian expedition journeys through Canada’s last frontier before Alaska, through wild landscapes of great beauty: glacial valleys, volcanoes, rivers and lakes, forests and tundra. Ride down remote trails once used by trappers and today only traversed by the wildlife - caribou, moose or even wolves. If you are lucky you may see them, as well as grizzly bears, lynx, beavers and osprey. An unforgettable trip for small groups of adventurous riders.
Chile – Expedition across Atacama desert On a horse riding expedition in Chile, in the great northern regions, ride from the oasis of Chiu Chiu to San Pedro where one of the highest and driest deserts on the planet, the Atacama, opens out. Ride up to an altitude of 4000m, sheltered by the Cordillera mountain range, to discover the Altiplano on horseback and explore this vast fragrant plateau with its giant cacti, deep canyons and miraculous lush oases.
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His hoof knocks a stone, creating glittering sparks. His powerful quarters hoist us along the mountain path which smells of herbs. Flat on his neck, wet with sweat and with long reins, I bury my head in his mane to avoid the dry branches which whip us as we pass. Our guide tells us we are at the topâ€Ś almost. The path ends. The panorama is huge. The blue water shines in the distance and the breeze brings with it the fragrance of the sea. A tortured pine shares its shadow with us, for the most beautiful picnic lunch in front of an endless vista. Rider feelings.
Spain â€“ Bardenas
A mobile trail ride where you move on every day. Depending on the type of journey you prefer, you could spend your nights camping or in comfortable accommodation.
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Horseback trails Going on a trail is to leave behind the indoor arena and the outdoor school, and to follow a path for a mobile route of several days. To immerse yourself in the rhythm of a trail, whilst at the same time remaining reasonable, the ideal stay is somewhere between 5 and 15 days on horseback… but there is no true limit! The accommodation on a trail ride generally changes every night and there are trails to suit all tastes: wild camping or charming guesthouses. Each morning, the luggage is loaded onto a vehicle and taken to the next stop. Only what you require for the day (water bottle, USA – Utah
rainwear) finds a place in your saddle bag. You travel light so as not to clutter up your mount remember that it is he who will travel the 20-45 km each day. For this reason, the pace is often walking, but when the ground permits it, you should expect long trots and wonderful canters! Depending on the country and its equestrian traditions, you may be expected to take care of your horse during the trail. A riding hat/helmet is always compulsory for the under 18’s and we strongly recommend them for all, even if your guide doesn’t wear one.
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India – Rajasthan – Pushkar fair
France – Aquitaine, Atlantic Coast
Did you know The fair of Pushkar During the month of Kartika, the lunar eighth month of the Hindu calendar, breeders throughout the whole of Rajasthan bring their horses and camels to Pushkar for the kartik purima (the full moon). Each year some 200,000 people converge here, bringing 50,000 camels and horses. The city is transformed into a whirlwind of sound and colours.
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A multipurpose horse A good trail horse is not simply a “nice and easy” horse. He has to combine numerous qualities: be calm and serene, but with an energetic walk; he should be used to all the surprises which can occur on the path, either natural or manmade (tractors, bikes, deer etc). Used to being ridden within a group, he is generally sociable and should listen to his rider. Finally, the trail horse is an overall good athlete, with a sure foot and a strong constitution, capable of walking for several hours on difficult ground, to sleep tethered to a line and to tolerate all weathers. In order to satisfy all these requirements a lot of the guides will breed their own horses, using their best trail horses. Some of these “field cocktails” do not look very special but they can turn out to be generous companions.
Ecuador – Chagras
Local breeds, long adapted to the climate and ground are a very good option for the trail. Like the incredible Icelandic Horse who lives outdoors in a herd all year round. The local mounts offer the gift of a unique equestrian experience on a horse which often has an atypical morphology: small, stocky Merens raised in the Pyrenees; the nice Finnish horse, round and hairy; the fit Marwari of Rajasthan with his high head carriage and curved ears.
On the whole, the horses which have been carefully selected to be effective “work tools” are also excellent mounts for trail riding. Depending on the destination, you frequently find Quarter-horse, Criollo, Camargue and Andalucian horse crosses. The Arabian, and its numerous crossings, is also very popular and known for being physically tough.
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Iceland â€“ The unique Icelandic Horse
Mongolia â€“ The Gengis Khan's Horses heritage
Did you know In Iceland, where the horses do not measure over 14.2hh, it is customary for the riders to change horses 2-3 times each day. As your riding group is likely to consist of 14 to 20 riders, you could be following a herd of 50 to 60 loose horses! A show in itself! Regular stops are planned to change horses and therefore the pace can remain fairly steady throughout.
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Choosing the right trail The right choice of horseback trail depends on numerous parameters, such as atmosphere and landscape, duration, time of year, budget, accommodation and riding ability. Here are some important points you should take into account:
France – Aquitaine, Atlantic rides
It is better to join a trail which is suited to your riding level. Knowing how to evaluate yourself can be difficult, but making a mistake can ruin your holiday… and that of your trail companions! Ask yourself the following questions: what is your riding level? What are your trail experiences? Do you ride regularly, and if not, do you have the possibility to ride several times before your departure? The staff at Equus Journeys are happy to discuss all this with you to find you a trail that suits you. Camping or rustic huts permit you to make the most of the wilderness, to travel on remote paths and see remarkable sunsets. But a good bed and a hot shower can help you to recover from the tiredness of the day and so
a camping trip may not suit you. A horseback trail can also be a luxurious experience, with exceptional accommodation and grand meals. Be sure to tell us of your wishes! The pace of trail rides varies considerably depending on the horses and the ground. If you want energetic gallops, choose trails on soft, flat, open ground with lively horses. Conversely, mountainous itineraries offer spectacular views, but slower rides over uneven ground, which requires a good horse. Mountain Trails often require you to dismount and walk on foot during steep climbs or descents. You have to be physically fit and wear appropriate shoes!
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Some ideas France – Armagnac Trail A comfortable trail between Perigord and the forests of Landes, on excellent Selle Francais/Arab crosses. Ride through the terraces of the renowned vineyards of Buzet and past Armagnac orchards on the hillsides of the Lot valley. The shadow of Henry of Navarre (Henry IV of France) still hangs over the city of Nerac and its chateau. Each night you will experience the wonderful local cuisine.
France – Brittany, the Arree Mountains Trails On horseback in the Highlands of Brittany, explore the peaks of the Arrée Mountains. From the dense and mysterious Huelgoat forest to the Noce de Pierres, ride trails through Brittany; along the Rivière d’Argent up to the Finistère summits in the heart of a rocky rugged countryside with seemingly infinite moorland. Throughout this challenging Breton horse riding holiday, you will experience a dramatic change in scenery and pace as you delve into this region steeped in ancient, yet surviving, mythology.
Spain – Sierra de Gredos
Spain – Sierra Nevada trail A trail on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Follow old mule trails past flowering oleander shrubs and through white villages with clear water fountains. You will climb on horseback to Mulhacen (3,478 metres), the highest peak on the Iberian peninsula. The scenery is spectacular but the pace can be slow due to the terrain.
Romania – The riders of Transylvania This horseback trail invites you into the mysterious landscape of Transylvania - a world of counts and countesses, medieval villages and the aristocratic houses. A Romanian team will guide you amongst the spectacular scenery of the Carpathian mountains, where hay is still cut by hand, ox still pull the carts, and the horse is omnipresent.
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Some ideas Iceland – The Landmannalaugar tour A new equestrian trail between volcanoes and glaciers, through the desert of Oraefi and into the heart of Landmannalaugar, one of the most spectacular and isolated areas of Iceland. On your Icelandic horse with its magical paces, head out for an adventure from Hekla volcano to the glaciers of Myrdalsjökul and Eyjallajökull, and discover lava fields and hot springs.
Iceland – Kjolur trail A pacey horse riding trail which crosses Iceland on historical tracks linking the North to the South. You ride amongst a herd of loose horses and swap your mount at least twice a day. Ride through the highlands, past glaciers, volcanoes and raging rivers. This ride includes visits to some of the sights of the famous Golden Circle including Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir lake.
Mongolia – Kentii - riding the Steppes Iceland – Kjölur Trail
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
Mongolia is one of the original trail destinations, and the area of Kentii is favoured amongst Mongolians for its lush forests and grassy steppes. A herd of loose horses accompanies you so that you can swap onto a fresh horse for endless canters across the wild landscapes. Spend your nights camping whilst your meals are prepared in a traditional yurt. There are always rides scheduled around the Naadam games for those who wish to combine their riding holiday with this annual festival.
Mongolia – Lake Khuvsgul A trail ride on the borders of Siberia, from northern Tsaagan Nuur in Tsaatans to the shores of Lake Khövsgöl. This linear route through dense forests opens the door to one of the wildest regions of Mongolia, where the locals still practice shamanism. Immerse yourself in the lifestyle of local, nomadic, reindeer herding families and their traditions.
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Did you know
Ecuador â€“ Wild Andes
Chagras clothing The poncho is believed to have originated in Castille and was taken to South America by the early explorers- it keeps riders both warm and dry. The traditional over-trousers are made from the skins of goats, lambs, bear, wolf or deer and are often worn with the furry side outermost rather than inside. The chagras lasso is formed from twisted leather and is the worlds longest, measuring 25 45m. The wooden stirrups protect the feet from when riding along rocky paths.
Mongolia â€“ Gobi Steppes
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Some ideas Jordan – Wadi Rum Experience the thrill of riding Arabian horses, the pride of your Bedouin guides, amongst the red and ochre sands of the Wadi Rum desert. This horseback trail also includes a visit to the rose-red city of Petra and the Dead Sea. A real immersion in Bedouin culture - you will be welcomed by a warm and attentive local team
Morocco – The Desert Ride A horseback trail in the south of Morocco. Barb horses and riders make a path through the Moroccan desert, to magnificent oases. An energetic horseback trail amongst the sand dunes of the Sahara, where castles and citadels nestle in the parched earth, surrounded by green palm groves, where life is calm and tranquil, sheltered from the sun.
Morocco – High Atlas trail Namibia – Namib
An exciting horseback trail in the midst of the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Riding courageous stallions, cross the most mountainous landscapes of Morocco, discovering high plateaus and forgotten valleys. Immerse yourself in the heart of the Berber culture, riding through beautiful villages and observing their traditional farming methods.
Namibia – Namib desert trail A challenging and pacey ride across the oldest desert in the world, this horseback trail is one of the most challenging. Ride 400 km from the red dunes at Sossusvlei, through the Namib desert to the coast at Swakopmund. Sleep under the stars and marvel at the magic of this ever-changing landscape.
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
Chile – Torres del Paine The stunning Torres del Paine national park offers a magical combination of spectacular scenery, mountain paths and open pampas perfect for long canters. You can either choose a camping itinerary, which ventures into remote areas of the park, or opt for an estancia to estancia ride if you prefer a warm bed and hot shower at the end of the day!
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Peru – Sacred Valley Ride the fabled Peruvian Paso in its homeland, high in the sacred valley of the Incas. The trail goes past terraced landscapes and ancient Inca ruins and the itinerary includes a visit to Macchu Picchu and a free day in the city of Cusco. This ride is at high altitude and so the trail starts slowly to allow you time to adapt, but there are plenty of opportunities to experience the fifth gait of this cadillac of horses - the “paso llano”.
Ecuador – Wild Andes This exploratory ride is specifically designed for those looking for cultural immersion and adventure. You ride close to Illinizas, Quilotoa, Chimborazo, Carihuirazo and Tungurahua volcanoes in the avenue of volcanoes and discover isolated communities which still farm in traditional ways. This horseback trail allows you to ride in 3 ecosystems between 4,000m and 2,400m high going from the parano to the tropical forest.
Uruguay – Gauchos, pampas and oceans Join traditional Uruguayan gauchos on this trail ride through nature reserves near Rocha. Alternate days on cattle estancias with trails past emerald lagoons and onto deserted beaches for exhilarating canters. The area is home to more than 400 species of birds and you may be lucky enough to see sealions and dolphins as well.
India – Forts and Palaces of Rajasthan A wonderful horseback trail through Shekhawati where you can feel the glorious past of the traders on the Silk Road. Your guide, an heir from an important Rajput family, welcomes you into his ancestral fort. On horseback you discover the agricultural life of Rajasthan and visit the "havelis", rich residences which hold many secrets. Not to mention the chance to ride the beautiful Marwari horse of Rajasthan.
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How quickly our children learnt how to fly a kite or kick a football, to fetch water, play cards, milk cows, shear or sort sheep and wrestle. And the teenagers are initiated into handling the “uurga” on horseback (leather lasso on the end of a 4 metre pole, used for catching horses), learning to respect their mounts, to round-up the horses early in the morning… and the Mongolian children have learnt how to cheat at cards as well as our own children do! After a football game, a horse ride and lots of laughter, we shared the wind of freedom. In Mongolia the sky is huge everywhere. Two families in Mongolia
A selection of the most beautiful horseback rides to suit families. The pace of the riding, the accommodation and guiding are adapted to include children and nonriders are welcome.
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Travelling with families Did you know Greek Gods and horses Throughout Greek mythology, the horse was a pre-requisite for the hero and the gods. Remember the centaur? Pegasus, the horse of Troy, the carnivorous mare of Diomede, the mounts of Hermes and Heliosâ€Ś The horse - rare, noble warrior and companion, represented wealth and prosperity.
France â€“ Aquitaine, Atlantic Coast
Sharing the passion of horses and travelling with your family can be a headache, particularly if not all the family are riders. However, we have solutions to this problem! The best solution is a holiday in a place which is dedicated to riding: a ranch, guest house or equestrian home which offers active, fun and culturally interesting alternatives. Centre based stays are more easily able to adjust to families with young children. Mobile trail rides are better suited to older children, and some are also accessible to nonriders if it is possible to travel some sections on a camel, walking or on mountain bikes.
An equestrian family trip also offers the opportunity for nonriders to learn or to improve. A young rider will always be proud of her father if he has a go at riding on holiday and will be delighted to offer him some advice! Riding holidays can also be popular for a mother and her daughter (s) or a father and his sonsâ€Ś and if their equestrian ability is sufficient, then most of our rides become accessible. Holidaying with several families creates friendships between groups of children, each age group becoming independent from the other.
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South Africa – Waterberg Usa – Montana, father and son
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Horses for families
Riding hats/helmets are compulsory for all riders under 18. We recommend all riders wear a correctly fitted hard hat and take their own with them.
Usa â€“ Montana
The horses offered for family riding groups have to be very multi-purpose. Just as the age, weight, size and equestrian level of the riders are different, so are the horses. Mongolia and Iceland are the exception because these countries have only one breed available: the Mongolian Horse and the Icelandic Horse, but both are small. Beyond the breeds, even the size, disposition and temperament of the horses have to be suitable for different abilities. The qualities required in a horse suitable for children are kindness, softness, surefootedness and gentleness as well as being safe, energetic and patient for games on horseback.
The breeds Haflinger: coming from Tyrol (the Hafling village), the Haflinger, named Avelignese in Italy, is a mountainous breed which is small and light and used under saddle and as a draft horse. This small horse is robust, solid and endowed with a calm and pleasant nature and a docile and affectionate temperament. The Haflinger is easy to identify with its chestnut coat and flaxen mane. The Welsh pony: the Welsh Mountain pony is one of the oldest Welsh breeds and we can find evidence of it during the time when the Romans were present in Wales. In the 16th century, Henri VIII ordered his subjects to shoot all mares which were less than 13hh; a group of ponies took refuge in the Welsh mountains, where the ground, climate and influence of Arabian blood created the Welsh Mountain pony. Its intelligence combined with its natural kindness make it a pony which is fantastic for children. He is very surefooted and popular on trails.
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France – Aquitaine, Atlantic Coast South Africa – Waterberg plateau
Did you know The fifth pace of the Icelandic horse The tölt is a natural, extended walking pace clear, rhythmical and with four equal beats it can vary in speed from slow (walking pace) to fast (cantering pace). It has a spectacular appearance and looks staccato but in reality it is very comfortable, to the point that a rider can carry a glass of water without spilling a drop. It is a comfortable pace for children to learn on the trail.
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Choosing the right family ride The right choice for a family riding holiday is based on a mixture of length of stay, budget, riding ability, preferred accommodation, mobile trail or static ride, and whether you require options for non-riders.
• • • USA – Wyoming
In all scenarios, if you wish to get the family together then the speed of the ride is likely to be slower - the riding is always adapted to the skills of the weakest rider. For a family with children less than 8 years old, we recommend staying in either one or two lodges and riding out from there each day. For small children the days have to be kept very busy whilst still allowing time for them to rest (nap/read/play quiet games) either before or after their riding.
Plan some games for the quiet times - a football, a kite, drawing pencils etc. If your children are over 8 years old, then you may be able to join some mobile trails under canvas, for example
a ger camp in Mongolia, where it is possible to have a tent which sleeps four, so that the young feel safe and the adults can be reassured. The menus are adapted for children and there are some little treats provided (chips, Nutella, pancakes). Mealtimes are planned around the children or separate mealtimes are provided. From 12 years old and upwards, particularly if the children are active, independent and good riders, they can participate in many horseback trails which are not specifically aimed at “Families”. Under 18’s must always be accompanied by an adult. Non-riders are welcome and may be able to join the riders on a camel, walking, on a mountain bike or in a vehicle.
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USA – Montana
South Africa –
Did you know
Airag Even today, Mongolians traditionally use mares milk, which is essential to their nomadic lifestyle. It is possible for them to obtain 150 to 300 litres of milk per year, in addition to what the foal drinks! This represents an average of 3 to 4 litres per day which is collected during an average of five daily milking sessions. This mares milk is also used to prepare the traditional fermented milk called “airag” or “kumis”.
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Some ideas Botswana – Thamalakane River ride
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
A lodge based safari just outside of Maun, where you can ride through the wildlife on the reserve, explore the picturesque Thamalakane and Boteti rivers and ride past local cattle posts. There are signed walking trails through the reserve and the chance for boat trips on the river too. We recommend a stay of 3-4 days before heading to either a riding or non-riding camp in the Okavango Delta or Kalahari desert. All abilities and children are welcome. From 8 years old.
Italy – Agro-tourism in Tuscany This family of riders awaits you in Tuscany. The lessons and horseback trails are done in a convivial manner, in the heart of vineyards and rolling hills. The charming accommodation, swimming pools, Chianti food and wines, cultural wealth, beautiful landscapes of Tuscany and personalised equestrian programmes are the ingredients for a successful family holiday. From 8 years old.
South Africa – Endalweni safari A lovely mix of riding amongst plains game, heading inland to the Transkei to discover Xhosa traditions and canters along the beautiful beaches of the Wild Coast, all whilst spending your nights in the comfort of Endalweni Lodge. Ponies are available for children and many of the horses are sensible enough for complete beginners - we can tailor-make the week to suit your wishes. From 6 years old.
Iceland – Saga of the South One of the Icelandic trails which is suitable for children, thanks to its short stages, progressive paces and nights in farmhouses. On horseback, in the south of Iceland, follow the deep canyons, crystalline rivers and mountains covered with wild flowers, where the views stretch as far as the glaciers. Discover the fun of the tölt as a family. From 12 years old. 42
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South Africa – Horizon ranch The ultimate family holiday for those who love horses and riding. Based on one of the oldest family farms in this area of outstanding beauty, you can join trail rides, search for plains game, play polocrosse or swim with your horse. You can view the Big Five in a nearby reserve, but there is no dangerous game to ride through. Children are welcome and there are suitable ponies available whatever their ability. You can even spend a night or two in their tented Camp Davidson for a real African adventure. From 4 years old.
USA – Wyoming Bitterroot Ranch In the atmosphere of "Little House on the Prairie" this is one of the finest ranches in the West. An authentic family atmosphere and refined hospitality, coupled with riding trails on Quarter Horses or Arab/Thoroughbred crosses. There are attentive and professional equestrian coaches for all levels, making it an ideal ranch for families or less experienced riders. There are also beautiful rivers for fly fishing and the opportunity to try your hand at working cattle. From 6 years old.
Mongolia – Ger camps Take your family to Mongolia to experience life in a traditional ger camp. Ride horses or go walking through the dramatic landscape, and take a step back in time. Experience life without the usual accompaniments - computers, televisions etc. Stays are tailor-made and there are ger camps in different areas of the country so that you can experience the Gobi desert, the steppes, the mountains and rivers - or combine a few nights at different camps. From 8 years old.
Italy – Tuscany farmhouse A traditional Italian riding holiday based at a 17th century farmhouse offering a high standard of riding tuition and hacking in Tuscany's beautiful countryside. Take riding and classical dressage lessons from passionate and experienced instructors and enjoy rides through the surrounding sun-soaked Tuscan vineyards and olive groves. Out of the saddle, you can relax by the pool, taking in the panoramic views, before enjoying traditional four-course Tuscan dinners and quality Chianti wine. From 5 years old. 43
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Galloping in the dust amongst zebra, I am half a man, half a horse, for a thrilling and amazing race, half aware of this unique sensation. Being on horseback in the bush is to be as a centaur in an infinite original landscape; it is to feel the strength and brutality of wildlife; it is to marvel at the harmony of the early morning; it is a primitive relation to nature. It has to be known once in a riders life. Chris Leservoisier, Rider.
Botswana â€“ Kalahari, Makgadikgadi Pan
Encounter wild African animals in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia, where a horseback safari usually also offers a high standard of comfort! Whether in lodges or fly camps, you will feel the atmosphere of â€œOut of Africaâ€?.
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A Horseback Safari A horseback safari is either mobile with fly camps such as in â€œOut of Africaâ€? which move each day or every other day; or daily rides from very nice lodges or comfortable static bush camps. Whichever kind of safari you choose, the daily pace is usually the same. You are woken early in the morning with tea or coffee brought to your tent. Then, after a light breakfast, you ride for 3 4 hours, alternating canters with walking whilst viewing the game. After lunch there is time for a rest and siesta until teatime, when you head out for a shorter ride during the subtle evening light. Safaris in open spaces with lions and elephants are usually
limited to groups of 8 or 10 riders and are always accompanied by an armed lead guide. The second guide (back up guide) brings up the rear and becomes the head guide in case of danger, such as an elephant charge. You will be impressed by the skills of your guides - they are very good riders and have a large knowledge of the fauna, the flora and the environment around you. Most of them are English speakers and first aid trained. Your horses are prepared by the local team so you can completely relax. Riding helmets are usually compulsory and we recommend taking your own.
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Kenya – Maasaï Mara
Tanzania – Enduilmet corridor
Did you know One of the main differences between a predator and its prey, apart from the diet, is the placement of its eyes. The predator has its eyes in front of its head, watching his prey, ready to hunt. The eyes of the prey are on each side of its head, watching behind or in front, alert to a potential danger. It is a privilege that the horse, as a prey animal, allows a predator (a human) to ride upon his back.
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Safari Horse Did you know The wild horse of Namibia is a breed originating from the horses (Kap-Boerperds, Hackneys and Trakehners) of Germanic and South African forces, which were abandoned during the First World War. Some 200 horses survived in the area of Garub - almost desert, listed as a nature reserve and with access strictly forbidden after the discovery of diamonds close to Lüderitz in 1908. They are able to endure extreme temperatures (as much as 70°c in December down to -5°c in June), and tolerate frequent strong winds up to 140 km/h. Their size reduced to assist them in this harsh environment. The history of these horses is mentioned in the book and film “Running free”.
Namibia – Damaraland
A good safari horse has very particular skills because it lives and moves in an environment where it can be prey. In the bush, its relationship with man protects him from predators, in particular lions. He has to be tough, calm and very energetic, balanced, resilient and used to meeting the large wild animals: elephants, giraffes, cats etc. Most of these horses originate from numerous cross breeds between horses imported from different European Countries and more recently from Argentina or USA with local horses such as Basuto, Abyssinien, Somalian and Boerperds. Their resiliance in the bush is bred into them and they develop resistances to local diseases.
The Breeds: In East Africa, the horses originate from Arabia-Somalia, English thoroughbreds, Boerperds, Somalian ponies and Namibian Warmbloods often crossed with Spanish blood and Trakehner. Often used to play Polo, they are easy to handle and tough. In Southern Africa, horses are mainly Namibian, Hanoverian, Trakehner, Haflinger, AngloArab, Barb-Arab, English Thoroughbred, Appaloosa, Shire, Boerperds and Warmbloods - all very energetic, tough and surefooted. There are even two Percherons in the Okavango Delta. In general, these horses can carry riders of 85-90kg maximum, but this depends on the ability of the rider. On some safaris there are horses which can carry heavier riders.
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Namibia â€“ Garub desert, wild horses Tanzania â€“ Mount Meru to Kilimanjaro
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Choosing the right horseback safari The right choice for a safari is based on a mix between: budget, riding experience, required comfort, duration, mobile or static, open to non-riders/family and prior safari experience.
• • South Africa – Wild Coast
The average duration of a safari is generally 6 to 7 days on horseback, so a total of 9 to 10 travelling days. It is possible to extend your holiday to Mozambique, Zanzibar, Victoria Falls, Cape Town etc. A horseback safari budget varies from £1,100 to £5,200 excluding international flights. The requested riding experience is often linked to the wildlife present. Therefore, the presence of
• • •
lions and elephants requires a high standard of riding in order to react quickly. Conversely, a horseback safari from a lodge on a private fenced reserve without predators, is open to all equestrian levels. A mobile safari is usually limited to competent riders. Non-riders are welcome on many safaris. They will participate in the unique experience of a safari on foot, by boat, mountain bike or vehicle. Riding and walking safaris suit those who wish to learn about the different fauna and ecosystems they will encounter - game drives are usually possible as well. Some riding safaris have horses which are suitable for different levels and are also accessible for riding families. See also our chapter for Families.
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South Africa – Waterberg plateau
Botswana – Tuli Block
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Some ideas South Africa – Waterberg – Ants lodges In a private reserve in the middle of the Waterberg plateau in South Africa, are nestled two luxurious lodges with a charming African feel and beautifully situated. Each one has its own stables and guiding team. The welcome is warm and adapted to your level and your needs. You may have the chance to observe rhino on horseback. This magical place is perfect for “honeymooners” and families with riders of all abilities.
Botswana – Kalahari In the heart of an amazing environment, there is a 5 day horse-riding safari in the Makgadikgadi salt pans which are set within the Kalahari desert. A unique safari which follows in the footsteps of the first Botswanan explorers to meet local Bushmen.
South Africa & Botswana – African Explorer Botswana – Macatoo
A horseback safari which offers 4 riding days in South Africa which gives you the ideal introduction to Africa with plenty of plains game to view in the Waterberg mountains, followed by 4 riding days in Botswana which offers a vast, unfenced wilderness and the chance to ride with big game.
South Africa – Surf and Turf Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
A beautiful equestrian adventure for small groups, in a wild area of South Africa which combines game viewing on a private reserve for 3 nights, venturing through the Transkei, visiting Xhosa villages and a mini trail along the Wild Coast, discovering endless beaches and breathtaking views from the cliff tops.
Namibia – Damaraland expedition An equestrian trail within the mountainous and mineral rich landscapes of Damaraland, where oryx, elephant and black rhino still live in their natural habitat. This horseback trail finishes on the spectacular Skeleton Coast. More than a holiday, this is a real-life adventure.
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Botswana – Okavango Delta - Macatoo Camp A horseback safari from Macatoo camp, in the heart of the Okavango Delta, is a unique experience. Luxurious camps in 200,000 hectares of bush, superb game viewing, canters through the water, quality horses, a flight over the delta in a light aircraft and the remoteness of the location make this a must-do safari! Non-riders welcome.
Botswana – Motswiri camp This luxurious camp on the northern fringes of the Okavango Delta, near the Selinda Spillway is ideal for mixed groups and can offer families the chance to view big game. There is a large family tent so that children can sleep near their parents and there are lots of activities on offer - horse-riding through the bush (competent riders only), fishing on the spillway, game viewing on foot, in a boat or on a 4WD vehicle as well as mokoros and kayaks for viewing smaller species from the water, such as the beautiful reed frogs.
Tanzania – Enduimet Wildlife Corridor Ride A mobile riding safari in a big game area of Tanzania, surrounded by four giants - Nount Longido, Namanga, Mt Meru, and the greatest of them all, Mount Kilimanjaro. Ride through Maasai villages and interact with the locals, before cantering across the pans of Lake Amboseli. A unique chance to experience the life of the Masai whilst on a horseback safari.
Botswana – Tuli Trail A classic and very popular mobile safari on beautifully schooled horses, ending each riding day in comfortable walk-in tents. Mashatu game reserve is home to large herds of elephants, giraffe, lion, leopard and numerous antelope within the vast, unfenced wilderness of eastern Botswana. Afternoon game walks and vehicle drives allow you to view species difficult to approach on horseback, such as lion. This trail is also open to non-riders.
Did you know Back in the 1970’s, Tony Church, the son of a white Kenyan farmer, who was in love with his country, came to knock on the door of Cheval d’Aventure with a plan in his head: to encourage riding travellers to discover big game on horseback in the Maasaï Mara reserve. He convinced Anne Mariage, a French adventurer and the founder of Cheval d’Aventure, to participate with her riders and the rest, as they say, is history!
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Be a cowboy of the four seasons, on a saddle behind the back of cows, in the dust, the mud, the snow, the wind and under the sun with an unlimited horizon. Gallop, relax and trust your horse, an old working companionâ€Ś and at night by the fire, a shooting star, a horse snort and a touch of melancholy. Joanne Verth, apprentice cow-girl.
A well trained working horse; a herd of cows, sheep or horses; a wild immense landscape and a way of life - all combine to offer the chance to become a gaucho, cowboy, wrangler, charro, guardian, chagra, vaqueroâ€Ś There is a world full of equestrian ranching traditions to experience.
Ranch & Cattle Drive
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Cattle drives and working a herd In Iceland, North America or Patagoniaâ€Ś everywhere the horse is necessary for farmers, we propose a selection of holidays which centre around the work of ranchers and cattle drives. These holidays speak to riders who are looking for real and authentic experiences and wish to be completely involved in the work of a ranch with a herd of horses, cows or sheep. It is about rounding up and moving on a herd to another pasture, to sort through the stock and work with lasso to brand, castrate or vaccinate. The daily activities are determined by the needs of the farmer and the season.
For these livestock farms, which have often been owned by the same family for several generations, the welcoming of riders is a complementary economic activity. Do not wait for a tourist guide but set out to discover true locals: sometimes reserved, even unassuming, or authoritarian, gruff or impertinent, and with strong accents, they are always passionate! Go to meet them peacefully, to talk about their horses and their herds, to learn the lightness of a hand or the anticipation of herd reactions - it will open the door to an old world for you. The rancher will also help you with the choice of your horse they have an intuitive perception which almost immediately assesses your abilities and finds you the perfect companion.
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USA – Colorado, Zapata Ranch
USA – Montana
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Working horse Ranching and the necessities of extensive cattle farming, such as locating large herds on huge territories in order to look after, treat, select, round up and move on is intense work and requires tough, multipurpose horses,
which have to be trustworthy companions for their riders. Patient training leads to a perfect understanding between the rider and his mount, who work together as one. The working horse often has a natural "flair for cattle" and during the cattle cutting or lassoing, he will know how best to place himself so as to help the cowboy with his task. He will know how to move slowly in a herd to isolate a cow and its calf, listening to his rider who guides him with his seat, legs or hands; and then to burst forth in a furious gallop to retrieve the calf that has strayed from the herd. These horses are famous for their exceptional disposition, which combines good agility with spirit and being easy to handle, making them unique working partners. Even though they are tough, the requirements of the work can mean that you ride 2 to 3 different horses each day.
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The Breeds: The Icelandic horse is a unique breed which has been isolated for 930 years and still demonstrates two extra paces the tölt and flying pace. His energy, toughness and surefootedness make him a "catch-all" horse, ideal for rounding up sheep. The Camargue is inseparable from his “gardian” for looking after and sorting a herd of bulls. The “Camarguais” is a lively, agile, robust and very tough horse. Gifted with infallible instinct and large feet, he is perfectly adapted to his subaquatic environment.
The South American Criollos are renowned for being particularly frugal, healthy, robust and tough. Capable of carrying very heavy weights for long distances and over all kinds of ground, they have an autonomous and independent nature. The North American Quarter Horse is used for all ranch work and is therefore very good at, and of course he is also presented for, Western riding disciplines: reining, western pleasure, cattle cutting etc. His agility, balance and speed are much appreciated.
Did you know A quarter of a mile The origin of the Quarter Horse breed goes back to the colonization of North America, when colonists were looking for a horse which was fast over short distances, because the town races did not exceed one quarter of a mile. They crossed their horses from England with the descendants of Spanish horses, to breed an explosively fast horse over short distances. More than 150 years later, a Virginian breeder, John Randolph, imported a Thoroughbred to improve the capacity of the breed to run long distances. At this time, with the conquest of the American West, he introduced Mississippi Mustangs to the mix, which gave him vigour and toughness, creating the Quarter Horse we know today.
Argentina – gauchos at work
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Choosing the right holiday The right choice is based on a mix between: budget; riding experience; required comfort; duration; mobile or static and prior experiences.
The average duration of ranching holidays is generally 6 to 8 days on horseback, so a total of 10 to 11 travelling days, depending on the destination. In the USA there are many options to extend your trip to include Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park or to visit rodeos etc. For this kind of trip the budget varies from £800 to £3000 excluding flights. Non-riders are welcomed by some ranches, where it is possible to learn to ride or to go fly fishing, walking, mountain biking, sailing, canoeing etc.
The different possibilities include:
USA – Wyoming
The driving of horses, sheep or cow herds in order to move pasture, are recommended for competent riders only, who are physically fit. They run on only a few dates each year and you need to book in advance. Working ranches which are devoted to working with cattle, generally offers accommodation which is quite simple - from a local house to a prospectors tent. These ranches are recommended for good riders who are motivated to work with their horse (6-10 hours riding each day). Ranch stays which are more multipurpose and open to everyone: learn to ride, take part in non-riding activities and spend time with your family. The accommodation can range from simple bed and breakfast in an estancia to a cozy log cabin. Specific dates around an equestrian festival or a training course: ethology, reining, cutting, barrel racing… See also our chapter about Instruction.
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USA – Idaho
Did you know Usa – Wyoming – Hide Out
Wrangler? Wranglers are cowboys who take care of the spare horses waiting at the back during large cattle drives. Some drives with c. 3,000 head of cattle required 10 to 15 cowboys, riding 12 hours per day and regularly changing horses, therefore a herd of 50 to 70 horses were needed. The “wranglers” kept the herd together and assured their protection against thieves, because no cattle drive was possible without the horse or its cowboy!!
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Some ideas USA – Zapata Ranch In the heart of this amazing ranch, discover cattle work with their herd of 2,000 buffalo, and ride over the amazing landscapes of southern Colorado. This ranch is perfect for those wanting to experience the life of old Westerns, and is suitable for riders and nonriders. There are special weeks when calves are born and again when they are branded.
USA – Cattle Drive In Arizona or in Montana, each spring and autumn, 1,200 cows and more than 100 horses are driven over several weeks between their winter ranch and the large pastures at Pryor Mountains and Big Horn Canyon. Long days in the saddle and an intense experience for the devoted admirer of the American Western.
USA – Wyoming, The Hide Out
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
This guest ranch, located very close to the Yellowstone National Park and bordering miles of untouched nature paradise, is the ideal place for those who want to experience the dramatic scenery of the west, with the reassurance of great horses, excellent hospitality and simply a wonderful ranch holiday to suit all. A small ranch holiday with 15 25 guests per week to keep guests' experience personal and offering, in addition to riding, working cattle and fly-fishing, an array of non riders/family activities and adventure.
USA – Montana Ranch An old-fashioned ranching experience in scenic and remote openrange country. Daily activities are determined by what needs to be done, so you could be rounding up and moving cattle, or sorting and cutting them ready for branding or castrating. You can do as much or as little as you like and all abilities are welcome. Overnight in pioneer camps and take a step back in time…
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USA – South Dakota, Kara Creek Ranch Spend a week on an authentic working ranch in the American state of Wyoming, spending up to 8 hours a day in the saddle. Riding in the company of cowboys, you will learn how to move and sort cattle, lasso and brand and canter after the odd escapee ! Experience the practices of a modern cattle ranch and spend a week as a real Wyoming cowboy. A wonderful ranch holiday in vast and diverse landscape on the South Dakota border.
Ecuador – The Chagras You will cross the Ecuadorian Andes on horseback, at heights over 3,500 m, under the towering Cotopaxi volcano, to participate in a cattle drive with Chagras - the cowboys of Ecuador. During a beautiful horseback trail, you will share the life of these farmers: rounding up the herds in the mountains and driving them to the corrals. A unique immersion in the heart of the Chagras tradition with the comfort of haciendas.
Argentina – Estancia Los Potreros This comfortable estancia in Argentina offers a more relaxing holiday and is a year-round destination. Ride out daily on the rolling Cordoba hills and return to the estancia for informal wine-tastings; or rise early and help to round-up the horses and bring them in for the days' activities.
Iceland – Sheep Round Up Before the first snows cover the plateaus of Landmannalaugar, you meet up with the local farmers to assist with rounding up thousands of sheep. Working as a team, from the black ash of Hekla volcano to the plains, this is an exclusive immersion into the very elusive circle of Icelandic breeders.
France – Transhumance of Merens Traditionally, the breeders of Merens drive their horse and cattle herds into the Pyrenean mountains for the summer. This occasion leads to numerous meetings and festivities. After driving c. a thousand mares and their colts, you then continue the trail on horseback (4 days) on the magnificent Campuls circuit. 63
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Between Borana Lodge and Sosian lies the Laikipia plateau, at the foot of Mount Kenya. In this elegant environment we were welcomed and offered the liberty of choice: horseback safari, walking safaris, following the herds in a vehicle, strolling, spending a night in the bushâ€Ś everything was possible and real. We lived our dreamâ€Ś Honeymoon couple, one of whom was a rider.
A riding holiday based at a centralised accommodation, with rides in different directions each day which can be adapted to differing riding levels and to your wishes. You can unpack and relax, knowing you return to the same place each night and even sit out a day and rest if you prefer.
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Spirit of the holiday
Botswana – Okavango Delta – Macatoo Camp
A centre based riding holiday offers comfort, a variety of activities for riders and nonriders, flexibility on length of stay and options for different riding abilities. It is an opportunity to share a horseback holiday with your family, as a couple or amongst friends, without worrying whether the non-riders will get bored. Wherever in the world you choose, a centre-based riding holiday is the ideal solution for a personalized trip because it allows you the possibility to combine several lodges which can offer quality horses and guides. These riding holidays are initially selected according to the quality of available horses, the quality of the guiding and
the “riding” mind of the owners. If the owner of a hotel which proposes horseback trails is not a rider himself, then he will not understand the needs of the riders. So it is the selection of the guide and his horses first and then the accommodation. In most cases, the lodges selected have a small guest capacity; the meals are good and generous and there is a family atmosphere. Often nestled in areas of beautiful scenery which is favourable for long trails on horseback, they permit many different routes to keep you interested for several days. And when there are only a few good rides from each lodge, then your itinerary can include two to three different lodges in the area.
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Did you know
Canada – Quebec
Portugal – Azores
Descendants of the Magyar warriors of Hungary, the Csikos (literally “horse herd keepers”) are the last representatives of the historical riding tribes of Central Europe. To move the herds of horses, they use a whip which is 6 meters long and their saddle has no girth - just a surcingle!
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Choosing the right holiday The right choice depends on a mixture between the length of stay, your budget, riding level and the standard of comfort you prefer. Also, if you have non-riders in your group or wish to relax and the number and type of alternative activities on offer.
Horses The stable of horses are often varied to cater for different riding levels and also so that they can be suitable for riding families. See also our section on Families.
Hungary – Magyar rider
The Hungarian warmblood, was first developed at the Mezohegyes State Stud in Hungary. The stud crossed native Hungarian horses such as Nonius, Kisber Felver, Gidran and Furioso to produce the warmblood; these native breeds are also present in the Holsteiner, Hanoverian and Dutch warmblood. The Hungarian warmblood stands 16 - 17hh and is lighter and more elegant than some of its heavier warmblood predecessors.
The Barb, or Berber horse, is a pure breed and native from the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia etc). Historically it was used for parades, work and, of course, war. Over 2000 years ago the Romans called him the “Horse of Barbarity”. An Arabian song proudly describes him with this concise speech: “he can be hungry, he can be thirsty, he can be cold, he can be hot, but never is he tired”. His exceptional qualities made him the preferred mount for dressage in numerous European royal courts from the 14th century onwards. The Napoleonic army also used this horse and the French regiment of Spahis consisted entirely of Barb horses. Of medium size, calm, sweet, balanced, courageous and tireless, he is the perfect trail horse.
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Did you know
Hungary – Puszta Plains Trail
Stallion or mare? In North African and Middle Eastern countries such as Morocco, it is traditional to ride only stallions, and the mares are devoted to breeding. Stallions are rarely castrated. Though the Islamic teachings and the Qur’an are ambiguous on this topic, the prophet Muhammad was said to “prefer mares, because their belly is a treasure and their back honours your seat”.
Morocco – Atlas, Barb Horse
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Some ideas Kenya – Borana Lodge Relax at the luxurious Borana Lodge, with views over the Samangua Valley and Lewa Plains, riding out each day in search of game including elephant, giraffe, zebra or even lion. Non-riders are offered game drives or walks and novice riders can ride Rose Dyers Somalian x Ethiopian bush ponies, which are even suitable for children.
Croatia – Farm Life Experience a riding holiday in central Croatia suitable for all abilities. Each day the program is adapted to suit your requirements and goals – from gentle rides and lessons for beginners, to longer rides for experienced riders wishing to canter and gallop. On horseback discover central Croatia’s idyllic countryside and rich heritage and the magnificent Plikvice National Park’s intricate lake formations and thousands of cascading waterfalls. Ideal for families starting from 12 years.
Hungary – Magyar Rides A centre based ride for the competent rider, with plenty of speed as you ride through the Puszta steppes. From your comfortable hotel, you ride in the national park of Kiskunsag, a huge territory of forests and meadows full of flowers. Here horses are part of the local cultural heritage and the Csikos (mounted horse herdsmen) still work on traditional livestock farms.
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
Morocco – Moroccan Ranch Not far from Marrakech, this riding holiday in the Atlas mountains offers you charm and changing scenery. The ranch blends in with its landscape and the area covered on horseback is wild and magnificent. Discover Berber culture whilst riding well cared for Barb Arabian horses. A perfect escape from the European winter!
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Argentina – Estancia Huechahue This estancia in northern Patagonia is almost completely selfsufficient. Ride out each day across pampas lands, with Lanin volcano evident on the horizon on clear days. As well as trail rides, you can help with the Hereford cattle or simply relax at the estancia. Nonriders will find the fishing excellent or can go hiking.
Portugal – Azores Explore Azores' Blue Island on horseback. Faial Island or as it’s often known, Blue Island, so named for the abundant growth of hydrangeas which bloom in early summer, is a remote and tranquil escape. Spend 6 days on horseback heading out from your lodge each day to explore lush green meadows, coastal cliffs, tropical forests and beaches, before riding trails through the volcanic, often lunar, landscapes. Ride varied trails and canter under a clear blue sky in the iridescent spray of the Atlantic Ocean.
Mozambique – African Paradise Mozambique is the hidden treasure of southern Africa with its large beaches of white sand and blue coral lagoons. Experience this tropical paradise from horseback where the water temperature never drops below 23°c and the horses go swimming voluntarily! Ideal for non-riders with numerous activities possible: scuba diving, snorkelling, sea kayaking, fishing, sailing etc.
South Africa – Cape Winelands
The book "104 Horses" tells the story of Pat and Mandy Retzlaff and how they fled war-torn Zimbabwe with the horses they refused to leave behind. The horses they rescued are available for you to ride in Mozambique.
Ideal for wine lovers! This ride in the famous Winelands area just outside of Cape Town offers horse-riding trails through vineyards and forests, interspersed with wine tastings and ending with delicious meals in well chosen restaurants. Non-riders can travel with the grooms to meet the riders for the wine tastings or hire a car and explore the area themselves. For more suggestions you may wish to consult our chapters on Horseback Safaris p. 52 and Instruction p. 78. 71
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Just for a moment, it all comes together you find the right buttons and everything falls into place. You and your horse are as one, in harmony, dancing to a symphony only you can hear. To start with it’s fleeting; one stride, two strides; then lost. But once you feel it, you’re hooked and a lifetime’s passion has begun…
Learn, listen, understand, feel and tirelessly follow in search of lightness and discretion of the aids.
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Training & clinic events Occasionally, we propose training and “clinic events” with instructors or specialists recognized within their discipline. If you wish to be kept regularly informed of these special dates, please contact Joanne Verth and point out your interest: joanne.verth@equus -journeys.com
In riding, we are eternal apprentices and always learning… Whichever style of riding you choose, every progression you make reveals another set of skills to learn and so you go tirelessly back to work. In one week, a good instructor and well-schooled horse can help you to improve. Some of our instructors, such as Rafael Sotto, possess a very high equestrian level and the talent to impart that knowledge. Together with schoolmaster horses you can learn to feel if the movements you have requested are right and then take that feeling home. The horses themselves are our greatest teachers!
Classical dressage The equestrian schools are chosen first for the quality of their horses and of their instruction. Then follows the factors of comfort and the charm of the accommodation and the accessibility. For instruction in Portugal and Spain, the highly trained horses are PRE Andalucian or Lusitano. The Lusitano is the result of selecting for cattle work and arena work, whereas the PRE Andalucian was bred for cavalry and bull fighting. In Italy, your horse choice is more varied with breeds including Thoroughbreds and Arabs.
Endurance To succeed in this discipline is to respect the equestrian adage: “fair and softly goes far in a day”. For this reason, the rider has to “feel” his horse, how to adapt his pace to the ground, how to be light in the saddle… And of course, listen to his horse and look after it. It is difficult to determine a specific model of endurance horse even if the Arabian breed gathers the most number of necessary qualities. We also find a lot of the talents of the Arabian in the crossbreeds: Anglo-Arabs and Barb Arabs.
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Italy – Tuscany
did you know
Portugal – Alcainca
Nuño Oliveira (1925-1989), was a Portuguese riding instructor, considered as the most important master of equestrian art in the 20th century. Fuelled by a love of equestrian culture and opera music, he approached riding as a true art and devoted his time to learning and teaching lightness and the love of the horse through his clinics and writing. Hypersensitive, quicktempered, generous, independent and a genius he is still revered amongst lovers of Classical Dressage.
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Western riding Recently recognized by the international authorities, Western riding is represented at the World Equestrian Games through reining. For reining, the rider has to control his horse with accurate precision to perform circles, pirouettes and stops, all while keeping his reins in one hand. This riding developed through the skills required by the daily work of cowboys and the necessity for perfectly trained horses. The cowboys, after finishing their
work, liked to measure their equestrian ability and the quality of their horses and so they invented numerous events inspired by their daily life, such as barrel racing, roping (capturing a calf with a lasso) and, of course, the rodeo. The horses used most frequently for western riding are the working breeds - the Quarter Horse dominates the discipline, but also the Appaloosa, Paint, Mustang and Criollo.
Natural Horsemanship Natural Horsemanship is a method of training horses based on equine ethology, and aims to interact with the horse in a way which takes the psychology and natural instincts of the animal into account. Its North American origins are most probably linked to western riding, which requires absolute control over the horse, with the condition that the rider
must consider his horse as a partner and an obedient collaborator, basing the relationship exclusively on trust. This relationship leads to complete harmony between the rider and his mount. Natural horsemanship is practiced on all breeds of horse and its theories are recommended to all riders.
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Did you know
Argentina – Los Potreros
The oldest team sport in the world! The first evidence of the game of Polo appeared in Persia some 2,500 years ago. The sport spread to Constantinople and from there to Turkmenistan, Tibet, China and Japan. In the 12th century, Gengis Khan conquered Iran and Afghanistan and brought Polo back with him to practice with his warriors. The game became an essential teaching tool: it tests the merit of a man and reinforces his personality. Polo teaches him agility on horseback, an appreciation of speed, of the intensity of battle and a decisive mind.
USA – Montana – Rocking Z
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Some ideas USA – Montana, Parelli methods In the heart of Montana, the Wirth family supports the method of the famous horse whisperer Pat Parelli. You will learn to develop a unique relationship with your horse who started as a stranger to you: pass your ideas on to your horse, influence him and build an invisible connection between you both, ending the week as partners.
Ride details on www.equusjourneys.com
Argentina – Learn to Play Polo At Estancia Los Potreros there is the chance to try your hand at Polo during all normal estancia stays, however, on set dates throughout the year it is also possible to join a specific Learn to play Polo week. With instruction, stick and ball practice and the chance to play some chukkas, this is the ideal starter course for anyone interested in experiencing this national sport!
USA – Wyoming Ranch Learn to ride Western whilst out on the trail, and on two days during your week you can have lessons in the arena to improve your position, balance and confidence. You will find that your riding improves without even thinking about it as you are focused on herding cattle or appreciating the beautiful landscape you ride through.
Namibia – Okapuka Endurance At this game reserve just north of Windhoek, you ride Arabian horses which have been trained and competed by your hosts. On special endurance weeks you will help to train your endurance horse before travelling to an event and competing at a distance agreed by your guides. The races are competitive and guests have been known to win!
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USA – California Redwood Coast On the Mendocino coast north of San Francisco, ride trails through Redwood Forests on beautifully schooled endurance horses. Your host is a world renowned endurance rider and instruction in equine sports conditioning is provided on each trek. Learn to measure your horse’s heart rate and test him for a dozen signs of metabolic function. A mock endurance ride is undertaken towards the end of the week.
Portugal – Alcainca, Dressage School One of our bestselling dressage training centres based to the north of Lisbon, not far from the ocean. The voice of the Master Nuno Oliveira still rings out amongst the team of instructors, led by one of his old students: Georges Malleroni. Most of the horses are schoolmaster stallions who will help you achieve your riding dreams: lightness, impulsion and harmony.
Spain – Andalusia, Dressage School Close to Seville, this traditional 16th century hacienda offers dressage training with lessons comprising of 2 to 4 riders, supervised by a team of competent instructors, one of whom is Rafaël Soto, winner of an Olympic silver medal at Athens. If your non-riding companion is a golfer then one of the best courses in Europe is only 20 minutes from the hacienda.
Portugal – Dressage & Showjumping An equestrian centre in northern Portugal which offers either pure dressage lessons (up to three a day) or a mixture of dressage lessons with show-jumping lessons. Inexperienced riders can learn on the lunge and progress to group lessons, whilst experienced riders can benefit from the high level of training in the indoor arena.
Italy – Dressage and Dolce Vita In the middle of Tuscany, in a 17th century house, this dressage centre offers you a yard full of well-schooled horses. Your instructors have trained with some of the best riders of the Portuguese equestrian school: Pedro de Almeida and Luis Valença. An ideal mix of riding with Italian food and wine! 79
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Chili – Atacama Desert, after the ride… siesta!
Artwork: Marc Chilliet. Thanks to the photographers: Christophe Leservoisier (1, 2, 6, 9, 11, 16, 28, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42, 43, 49, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 63, 69, 80, 3e couv.), Anne Mariage (21, 24, 29), Line Turin (17, 19), Laure Marandet (77, 78), Annie Vorac (couv 1), Christophe Raylat (27), Frédéric Gomez (31), John Sobey (45, 49, 52, 67), Louise Carelsen (47, 49), Sarah Jane (48), Betty Garcia (56), Kevin Begg (57, 70, 77), Mandy Retzlaff (65, 67, 69), M. Balsiger (66), Yolande Seguin (67), Fransisco Mayer (72), M. Binnendick (75), Slawik (75), Ant Barber (35, 39, 41, 51), Laura Dowinton (37), Astrid Harrisson (13), Eduardo Finkel (59), Emilie Chaix (8, 18), Joanna Westermark (51), Fulvio Cinquini (couv 2 & 4), Bayard Fox (61), Céline Frers (2, 15), Marie Allègre (6), François Bourne (17), Dominique Porato (33), Céline Decoster (39), Family Wirth (39, 77), David Foot (44), Franck Molina (25, 28, 36, 39), Christophe Migeon (57, 62, 63), Sophie de Seynes (25), Joanna Westermark (7, 4e couv.), Fulvio Cinquini(1re et 2e couv.). This horseback travel guide is purely indicative and does not guarantee the availability of rides or services. It is accurate at the time of going to print, but for up-to-date information please check our website www.equus-journeys.com or call our office.
The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 for Equus Journeys and in the event of their insolvency, protection is provided for the following: 1. non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK; 2. non-flight packages commencing and returning to a country other than the UK; and 3. flight inclusive packages that commence outside of the UK, which are sold to customers outside of the UK. 1, 2 and 3 provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled. 1 and 3 provides for repatriation. Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with Equus Journeys. Equus Journeys limited is registered in the United Kingdom under n°8954859 Registered address: 14a Forest Gate, Pewsham, Chippenham, SN15 3RS Trading address: Fingerpost Cottage, Hopton Wafers, Shropshire, Dy14 0NA VAT number: 186732475
ÒIn riding a horse we borrow freedom.Ó H
HORSEBACK TRAVEL & EQUESTRIAN TRADITION
Horseback Travel Guide This guide is an invitation to ride around the world and an illustration of some of the different trips that are possible. On the Equus Journeys website you will find all of our rides, together with the detailed up-to-date itineraries; and a host of interesting information and articles about the different breeds of horses and riding traditions you might encounter.
Horseback Travel Guide Tel: +44 (0) 1905 388977
www.equus-journeys.com EJ2016_couv.indd 2
Published on Feb 6, 2017
This guide, edited by Equus Journeys, the horseback riding holidays specialist, is an invitation to ride around the world and an illustratio...