Saddle Up! The world's best horseriding holidays
What’s On celebrates the Dubai World Cup by hailing the best horseriding holidays in the world, including New Forest, Patagonia, Tibet, Galway and Namibia.
Squeeze into some leather boots, pop on a Stetson and gallop across the open plains while swinging a lasso as you experience the real cowboy lifestyle on a working ranch in Montana. Guests at Sweet Grass Ranch have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges and joys of caring for a grass-fed cattle herd and moving them to new grazing grounds as water and grass vitality dictates. A holiday here gives guests a real taste of the traditional Wild West.
THE NEW FOREST, ENGLAND
The natural and most exciting way to see the New Forest in the south of England is on horseback. The New Forest pony is one of the UK’s recognised breeds of mountain and moorland ponies and is noted for its intelligence, strength and easygoing temperament. Of all the native British pony breeds, New Foresters are the least afraid of man and are therefore the ideal companion for relaxing trots through countryside and along the beach. Chewton Glen is a luxury country house hotel and spa set in 130 acres of Hampshire countryside on the edge of the New Forest National Park, and just a few minutes’ walk from the sea. It works closely with local stables to offer riding and relaxation for saddle sore riders.
Estancia Huechahue (pronounced ‘way-cha-way’) is a working cattle ranch in Argentine Patagonia. Four generations of the Wood family have worked on the 15,000 acres of Patagonian Steppe to produce a self-sufficient oasis and thriving cattle operation. Patagonia is incredibly abundant, rugged and wild, so life here is never dull, whether you are out on the hills on horseback or by the river with a fishing rod in hand. Huechahue maintains traditional values and customs while welcoming visitors into a unique world where horses and cattle still roam free and food is home-grown. You’ll feel like a local in days.
Hatchers Creek Ranch is nestled in the foothills of eastern Kentucky in one of the most scenic areas of The Bluegrass state, a place famous for hosting the Derby (the fastest two minutes in sport) each May and for having the world’s finest horse farms and fairs. Even the Queen of England keeps horses here. This working horse ranch is spread out over 400 acres of beautiful terrain, with private woodland cabins featuring hot tubs, fireplaces and BBQs to rent. Hatchers Creek breed and train horses and offer visitors an insight into all aspects of equestrianism.
This wilderness trip gives you the opportunity to experience the untouched nomadic culture of eastern Tibet and to visit some remote Buddhist monasteries on horseback. Your base is the purpose-built High Plateau Riding Centre in the small town of Amchok, which allows you to fully explore the surrounding areas and return to a comfortable bed in the evenings. The snowcapped peaks of the Min Shan and Anye Machin mountains frame the rolling hills of the high plateau. Part of the thrill of this ride is spending time with the local people you meet along the way. Your lead guide is Amchok Choetar, a Tibetan who grew up in this part of the country and whose family still live here.
The uniquely beautiful Celtic trails through Burren National Park offer history, adventure and the dazzling beauty spots Ireland is famous for. Get a touch of the true Irish spirit by taking a horse as your meandering partner. Sibin Riding Centre Horse Riding is nestled in the rolling hills of the Slieve Aughty Mountains, which stand proud and tall through the purple-blue haze down to the majestic River Shannon. You and your pony will wander peaceful forest lanes. The only noises you’ll hear will be a babbling brook or a hooting owl as time moves slowly and life regains some much-needed simplicity.
NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
A stay on Bay Island enables you to experience New Zealand’s beautiful coastal scenery of sandy surf beaches, dunes, glades and native bush on horseback. Learn the workings of authentic Antipodean farm life with your friendly hosts – descendants of the area’s first Maori chiefs – on lands that have been handed down for generations. Pakiri Beach, a private 15-km-long strip of white sand, where wild dolphins can be seen playing from time to time, is the perfect spot for a sunset ride. Alternatively, ride the trails through exotic pine forests and rolling green farmland to fresh water lakes, where you can have a swim.
This African country creates some of the most stunning visual scenes imaginable. At the heart of its vast majesty, the Namib Desert trail is the flagship ride for any experienced rider. Not for the fainthearted, this route is described as the toughest ride in the world, a challenging 400km, 12-day trek, sweeping from deep orange sand dunes the height of mountains to camping under a blanket of stars. The other worldly Skeleton Coast, home of the desert elephant, offers another wonderful horseback adventure, as does Etosha game reserve.
This destination is suited to adventurous types who want to ride off the beaten track. On the Gauchos And Glacier Ride you’ll have the company of Chilean horsemen as well as your English-speaking guide as you ride into remote areas where the only access is on foot or horseback. One day sees you galloping across open pampas, and the next trotting along wild glaciers and iceberg-filled lakes. The Criollo horses used in Chile are fairly small by European standards but are hardy and friendly. You’ll fall in love with them as they carry you forward.