Tuesday 6 December 2016

10 best: Horsey holidays

In the Saddle

Published 20/02/2010 | 05:00

Riding safari in Kenya
Riding safari in Kenya
Castle Leslie in Monaghan
Namibia Naukluft Park
Saddle up in through Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in South America.

The latest edition of ‘In The Saddle’ – the bible for trekking travellers – is hot off the press. We’ve dipped inside to discover the ultimate equestrian adventures.

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Riding safari in Kenya

Explore the vast open plains beneath Mount Kilimanjaro from the comfort of your own saddle. Home to some of Africa's most magnificent widlife, this landscape is loved by the highly schooled local horses. From the vast savannah plains of the lowlands, you ride up through thick acacia forests to the Chyulu Hills. At night, stay in luxurious tented camps, with fine linen, en suite bathrooms and exquisite food and drink.

Details: A six-night stay including full-board and riding costs €2,860 per person. Runs from December to April and June to October.

Magical Monaghan mounts

Spanning 1,000 acres, Castle Leslie in Glaslough, Monaghan is the perfect place to explore the countryside on horseback.

With 20 miles of bridleways and 300 jumps that can test the most experienced horseman or woman, there is also a huge indoor arena and all-weather gallops, so bad weather is no barrier.

That is, of course, providing you can pull yourself away from the plush rooms in the castle or the cosy, self-catering cottages perfect for families or friends looking for a fun-filled riding break.

Details: A three-night stay in the lodge (B&B) with riding costs €597 per person. Open all year.

Flatwork in France

Les Juliannes is a popular riding centre in a beautiful setting near Toulouse, ideal for groups of all riding abilities.

Take advantage of the instruction in flatwork, jumping or hacking out, or just sit back and enjoy the glorious views and the outdoor pool.

There's plenty to see when you're not on four legs, from medieval villages and the scenic Tarn Valley to Albi's impressive cathedral.

Details: A seven-night stay with half-board and riding costs €558 per person. Open March to November.

The fast track in Iceland

Icelandic horses are famous for their fifth gait, the tolt -- a four- beat stride like the walk which can be performed at a variety of speeds as fast as a canter. Riding this small ancient breed is tremendous fun, and the fabulous treks along the beaches of Snæfellsnes will leave you breathless.

This route takes you over lava fields, along green valleys and wide-open sandy beaches to the multi-coloured mountains of Hítardalur. You stay overnight in simple mountain cabins. Fitness is as important as riding ability.

Details: An eight-night stay with full-board and riding costs €1,356 per person. Runs from June to August.

Polo practice in Argentina

Learn from leading instructors on the speediest polo ponies in the world. Sessions are held daily, either morning or afternoon, consisting of tuition, stick and ball practice and chukkas.

The week culminates with an in-house tournament, where guests are often joined by regular players from the local area. Polo virgins are welcome but should still be confident riders. Guests stay in the lovingly restored estancia of Los Potreros, a working cattle ranch. Take an overnight ride into the hills or try your hand at lassoing.

Details: A seven-night stay with full-board and riding costs €1,941 per person. Open all year.

Mongol Horse Trail in Mongolia

Joining a Mongolian ride means choosing to experience the life of the nomad and glimpsing a culture so different from our own.

The Mongolian people are famous for their hospitality, and to spend some time with them on horseback is a great privilege.

The route takes you through the Khan Khentii Special Protected Area, north-east of the capital Ulaanbaatar, towards the northern wilderness. You ride through land which has no fences, no tracks and no telegraph poles.

The only signs of life are the nomadic herders you meet along the way. The simple tented camp is moved on each day by horse or yak carts.

Details: An 11-night stay with full-board and riding costs €1,373 per person. Runs between June and September.

Novices in Namibia

Desert Homestead Lodge in The Namib-Naukluft Park is the perfect base for roaming the dramatic wind-sculpted landscapes of the desert on horseback.

This is one of the largest parks in Africa, covering almost 50,000sq km, and home to some of the rarest and most unusual species in the world, such as the Welwitschia mirabilis plant which can live for more than 2,000 years. Accommodation is in comfortable rock-and-thatch-built en suite chalets, or you can choose to spend nights under the stars at a simple tented camp in the desert.

Details: A seven-night stay with full-board and riding costs from €1,600 per person. Open between February and November.

Saddle up in South America

This trip through the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

You ride over a high plateau through open pasture which is suddenly interrupted by canyons up to 900m deep. From the edge of the escarpments, you can see for miles.

The land is criss-crossed with rivers which form sparkling rapids and then disappear off the cliffs in dramatic waterfalls.

Besides having a good head for heights, you must be confident on a horse at all paces. Accommodation is in comfortable mountain lodges.

Details: Runs between March and November.

Portuguese Paces

The circular ride takes you through vineyards and forests from Grandola to Santo André, exploring the long Atlantic coastal area of the Alentejo, south of Lisbon. Your trusty steeds are the beautiful and calm Lusitano.

They are well schooled and gentle to ride with an enthusiastic walk and easy collected canter.

The week includes a boat trip to see the dolphin community which lives permanently in the estuary. You overnight in guesthouses and country hotels with your luggage moved on each night for you.

Details: A seven-night stay with full-board and riding costs from €1,310 per person. Runs between April and November.

Ranching with cowboys in Montana

With just a few guests staying each week, the riding at Hidden Hollow

Hideaway ranch is tailored to your group, with short half-day or longer treks through golden meadows and forest-covered mountains.

This is riding with a purpose. There is cattle work every week, including driving herds between pastures, checking stock and mending fences. Current owner Kelly Flynn is your host and guide to this mountain wilderness.

Perfect for families or singles, there's also fishing, archery and gold-panning for non-riders, as well as visits to Yellowstone National Park.

Details: A six-night stay with full-board and riding costs €1,100 per person. Open from May to August.

Irish Independent

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