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How to Have a Horseback Riding Adventure

Horse at Sunset Cumbria

How to Have a Horseback Riding Adventure

Riding on holiday is a great way for a family to experience a destination together. It encourages you to slow down and use all your senses. Riding is also a great skill for life.  If you don’t have any experience, seek out horse riding holidays for beginners. Even a few days spent learning how to handle a horse will give you a good grounding. And then a natural progression is to go trekking with guides. We tackled part of the Chilean Andes with experienced guides and only very basic instruction. In this guest post, expert Nicky Ellis from Horses and Foals gives her tips on how and where you can have a family horseback riding adventure…

How to have a horseback riding adventure-image by Nicky Ellis

How to have a horseback riding adventure -image by Nicky Ellis

Go wild in nature

There are many adventures you can do with your family. One of the best and most unique is a riding adventure. It involves fun, spending time with nature, connecting with animals and also spending quality time with each other.

Meet the horses at St Mary's Riding Centre, Isles of Scilly

Meeting the horses at St Mary’s Riding Centre, Isles of Scilly

What’s the best trip for me and my family?

The best way to get started is to decide what kind of experiences you are looking for in a holiday. Is it a romantic getaway? Is it a family holiday? Are you looking for some thrilling adventure? Once you have zeroed in on what you are looking forward to on your holiday, let the expectations guide your choice. There are many locations that offer thrill and excitement.

Most of these activities are dependent on the weather. It would be a great idea to look up for the best time of the year to visit the particular location you’ve chosen. Knowing what weather to expect also guides you how and what to pack for the trip. Having a heads up on the weather will also help you decide how you would want to get around once you are at the destination. For instance, if you are expecting cold weather, then hiring a self-drive car or hailing a cab/taxi would make sense. If the place you are travelling to is warm, then you can rent a bike to explore. And of course, there’s always the option of a horse!

Mentioned below are three top places globally where you can include some fun activities such as horseback riding.

  • Kenyan Safari
  • Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Glenorchy, New Zealand

1 Go horse trekking with zebras on a Kenyan Safari

For decades Kenya has been known for its breathtaking scenery, beautiful wildlife, and its iconic safaris. These safaris are usually a seven to ten day package, which includes various activities. You can ride a horse in the midst of zebras, watch the wildlife, their behavior and activities from a close range. You can also indulge your inner thrill seeker with experiences such as mountain biking, rides in a buggy or quad bike in the Kenyan terrain.

If activities such as trekking appeal to you, you can climb Mount Kenya. As you scale the mountain, you can only look in awe as the landscape changes to jagged peaks from the rolling foothills where you started your climb. You can sleep under the stars, watch the night sky and marvel at the gorgeous Milky Way. Wake up to nature’s finest alarm clock – the rising sun, followed by a breakfast with Giraffes at Giraffe Manor.

Horse at Posestvo Trnulja

Get up close to horses and other animals on a wild adventure

2 Ride amongst chimneys and balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey

The ancient name of Cappadocia is Katpatuka. The meaning of Katpatuka is ‘The Land Of Horses’. True to its name, Cappadocia is best explored on a horse. There are many facilities where you can rent a horse. However, these can work out to be expensive and can upset your travel budget. You can consider renting a horse for a few hours instead of riding on horseback for a full day. The gorgeous landscape of Cappadocia with fairy chimneys around you and hot air balloons above you is a sight to watch. The fairy chimneys that change their color depending on how the sunlight falls on them are absolutely awe-inspiring. To get an aerial view of the town, you can take a hot air balloon ride. The trekking terrain in Cappadocia is rather dramatic owing to its landscape as well as historic settlements and is considered to be one among the best in the world.

Begin your horse riding adventure with a visit to Turkey...home of grand mosquese

Begin your horseback riding adventure in Turkey – head to Cappadocia after seeing the sights of Istanbul

3 Go hiking and horseback riding in Glenorchy, New Zealand

One cannot deny that the whole of New Zealand is breathtakingly beautiful and a great place for a horse riding vacation. Glenorchy in particular, in the southern region of New Zealand, is known for its rustic beauty. Its gigantic mountain ranges and native forests are sure to keep your inner thrill seeker wanting more. Owing to the natural beauty of this place, it is a prime location for film shooting. Activities here range from kayaking, jet boating to horseback riding or just taking a leisurely walk along the scenic trail. Some of the most renowned hiking trails are easily accessed from here. This place features a different than usual form of accommodation – huts. These are sure to provide you and your family with a unique experience.

Te Waiau Mahika Kai Trust at foot of Takitimu Mountains, Fjordla

The wild and rugged landscape of New Zealand makes it great for horse riding

Age criteria for a safe horseback riding adventure

Horseback riding is fun at any age. Though some training facilities allow toddlers around 3 years of age to learn, the same may not be the case at a horse riding facility. Most places (globally) will prefer that the child be a minimum of six to seven years old and above to engage in horseback riding. This is because a child of this age is usually tall enough to be safely and comfortably seated on a horse. Also, by age six and seven children are also aware of how to conduct themselves around an animal as large as a horse.

From six upwards your kids can go horse riding in many places globally.

Wondering whether to plan or play it by ear?

If you are someone who likes to go fully prepared for a holiday, then it would make sense to look up a few tour operators online and see who quotes the best rates for the adventure you are looking for. If you are looking to make a booking online, then it would make sense to do so about 3-4 months in advance. This way you are sure to get a reservation as well as a competitive quote. If you are traveling with kids, it makes sense to ensure you have a major part of the holiday planned well in advance so kids know what they are looking forward to and build their excitement.

Some vacationers like to play it by ear. Take each day as it comes without being bound by an itinerary. If you are one of these then it is best to ask the locals for the best places to visit. Such places may not be very popular or listed online as a ‘must visit’ place but might offer a more authentic experience. Approaching a tour operator once you reach the destination can give you a good chance to bargain for a competitive rate. However, it is best not to count on it. If you are traveling with kids with an unplanned itinerary, it would be advisable to rethink that as kids tend to get cranky when there is no surety and aimless wandering.

Getting a feel for ponies at the Three Valleys Riding School in Meribel, Le Coeur Equestre Des 3 Vallees

About the author

Guest Contributor

From time to time we invite selected contributions to the blog from other writers we know and trust. All are experienced writers, journalists and parents with first hand experience of travel and adventure with kids.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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