There is almost nowhere on the planet that doesn’t offer fabulous riding holidays these days. Your choice of destination is only limited by two things, your imagination and your pocket.
Riding in a foreign country is an amazing experience but most riding holidays do have some things in common so if you have never experienced the wonder of riding in a different country then learn from our top travel tips.
Always take your own riding hat, you know it is safe and you know it fits. Don’t be tempted to hire or borrow a poorer substitute when you get to your holiday destination or even, to go hatless. There may be other riders there who might scoff at this precaution but you shouldn’t ever ride without a hat and even more so on unfamiliar horses in unfamiliar terrain. Make sure your hat is up to date with the latest safety standards and put it in your hand luggage so it doesn’t become damaged in the hold
A sheepskin seatsaver can help weary bones and aching muscles during long days in the saddle but bear in mind, the design you have in the UK may not fit the type of saddle you will be riding in
If you want to take your own riding boots then, dependent on the style, consider wearing them during the flight to cut down on your baggage weight
Don’t take new kit that you haven’t worn, it may be uncomfortable and rub
Research carefully the climate at the time of year you are due to travel by looking online and asking the holiday company and even past guests. Riding comfort is essential depending on the conditions and layers are usually the way to go as they can accommodate temperature changes more easily
Cotton clothing is the best option for hot climates and you can also buy breathable, cotton underwear which is seamless keeping you comfortable for hours at a time
Be realistic about your riding ability and your riding fitness. Eight hours a day in the saddle could very quickly become uncomfortable if you are not fit for the challenge. Some holidays ring the changes and riding is not daily allowing visitors to see the sights and do other things – this might suit the less fit and ambitious
If you pick a location where the terrain is challenging, make sure you are happy with your own riding ability, there is nothing worse than being overfaced by terrain that is difficult or rides that are too fast
Check out the style of tack before you go and, if you can, try it out in the UK, for instance, if you are going on a ranching holiday, there are plenty of riding centres which offer western riding tuition and will allow you to get the feel of the saddle and the different aids used to communicate with the horse
Don’t choose a location where either the environment or the climate (or both) are not going to be suitable for you. Avoid hot and humid locations if you struggle in these temperatures or have a condition which may be exacerbated by the weather such as asthma. Locations like the Andes have altitude problems which can cause unpleasant bouts of vertigo and some of the trails are next to sheer vertical drops – not for the faint-hearted. There are also very steep climbs and vertical scree slopes that the horses scramble down. The horses are familiar with the terrain but it wouldn’t perhaps suit a novice rider
Make sure you take out travel insurance and check it covers rider accident as not all policies do
Either book through a reputable agency or via a personal recommendation, don’t just stick a pin in the map and book something because it looks nice. There are a huge amount of companies which act as travel agents for this industry and you can search either by the type of holiday – ranch, safari or tuition-based – or by location
Check out your choice of tour operator on specialist review sites like ‘In the saddle’ before you finally commit
Carry your own first aid kit, treatment for blisters, sun protection and insect bite relief are some essentials. Talcum powder is great for soaking up sweat and anti-bacterial gel is always useful. Most of these can be bought in a handy travel size so the kit shouldn’t take up too much room
If you have never been on a riding holiday before, it might just be worth staying in the UK as a first venture and considerably cheaper on your pocket too. There are lots of riding holiday centres dotted around the British Isles and its easy to verify their credentials through organisations like the British Horse Society.
If you have your own horse and fancy a change of scene then why not consider holidaying with your horse. It’s great fun if you go with a couple of friends and you can choose a centre which offers a mix of hacking and trail riding plus tuition. Make sure you choose a location which you think your horse will cope with. Some of the mountainous and very hilly regions of the UK can offer a really different riding experience if you are based in somewhere like the south of England. Accommodation can be as simple and as economic as a tent in the field right through to pods, shepherd huts and Bed and Breakfast depending on your preference and budget. It’s a great way to explore a different part of the UK and your horse will love the change of scene as well.