I’m not sure a riding holiday would be my first choice of holiday. I think laying on a beach somewhere hot and sunny with a cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other is probably quite high on most peoples’ list of ‘Dream Holidays’; but then again, I hadn’t really looked into riding holidays UNTIL now…
Infinity pools, cultural outings, four-star hotels? Well, the equestrian holiday market has certainly moved into the 21st century, and with a growing band of companies offering holidays in locations ranging from Wales to Africa, it seems you really can find a holiday to keep both you and your non-horsey holiday partner/friend happy in the process.
But what should you look for when planning a horsey holiday?
Firstly I would recommend that the company is ATOL and ABTA protected to ensure that your hard earned cash is safe.
I would also advise calling the company, even if they just operate as an online travel company. Speaking to a human being gives you a much better feel for the company and also gives you the chance to ask direct questions and quiz them over the particular holiday you are interested in.
If you are not particularly knowledgeable about horses or an experienced rider, I would ask an informed friend to call them on your behalf. They will be a better judge of whether the company is giving good or bad direction and advice. The person selling you the horsey holiday should be horsey, otherwise how can they really understand what you want or are capable of as a rider?
Check out the online reviews. Not just the ones on the holiday companies websites, but also on forums and ask around for suggestions. Social media can also be a great place to ask for suggestions and experiences, to help you make an informed decision.
Be realistic about your own fitness and ability. If you suffer from a bad back or can’t walk up a flight of stairs without being out of puff, then a Ranch riding holiday where you are in the saddle for hours each day won’t suit you!
You will also probably need to bring your own kit, and I would definitely recommend that you bring your own riding hat. Riding on a beach with the wind in your hair might look glamorous, but in reality if you fall, you carry a very high risk of a serious head injury. Hats can deteriorate over time with temperature changes, being dropped or knocked, so don’t leave your head in someone else’s hands! Packing your own helmet also ensures that it fits you correctly, and if you purchase it here in the UK, you know it’s of a decent safety standard.
Also, have the representatives of the company been on the holiday they are selling you? You need to make sure that they have visited the venue, stayed in the accommodation, eaten the food and ridden the horses. After all, it’s like me writing a press release on a product and never having seen or used it in the flesh – you can’t really ‘sell’ something with confidence if you have never experienced it yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to check your travel insurance policy before booking your holiday – it’s important whether you are ambling around Tuscany or on an expedition over rugged terrain in Argentina, but standard insurance may not include sporting activities. Riding, however slow or fast, is still a sport, and needs to be covered by the adequate insurance policy.
Happy Horsey Holidays!