While it may seem almost impossible not to fall in love with horses, not everyone’s always eager to book a horse riding holiday or tour.
If you’re an avid equestrian looking to combine your love of horses and travel but find you’re having a bit of difficulty convincing your partner or best friend to tag along, there are thankfully a number of options for planning a horse riding trip that will appeal to even non-horse enthusiasts.
There are many reasons why people may not be eager to get in a saddle. Some may have a fear of horses or at least falling off one, had a bad experience in the past, or simply have never been around horses and are unsure of what is all involved with horseback riding.
Thankfully, there are a number of thrilling horse experiences available all around the world that can cater to a wide range of personalities and interests. Whether your partner is into sports, history, wildlife, or simply spending time in awe-inspiring landscapes, there is guaranteed to be a horse riding experienced that will appeal to even the fussiest of travelers.
If you’re ready to get back in the saddle and encourage your partner to as well, here are some ideas for planning a horse riding holiday that may turn you both into avid globe “trotters”.
How to Plan a Horse-Riding Holiday that’s Fun for Non-Equestrian Partners
Reasons to Book a Horse Riding Holiday
Horse riding holidays force you to take things at a slower, pace, take the road (or trail) less travelled, and see destinations in a whole new light.
They are also often a great way to reconnect with your partner since a lot of distractions are often removed when riding in the backcountry.
Horseback riding is also a great option for travelers whose older age, low fitness level, or disability prevents or deters them from planning an exciting trekking holiday, much like how hiring an electric bike with a small motor can allow people who struggle on manually-powered pedal bikes to enjoy biking again.
There has been a large increase in both horseback riding and more recently e-bike riding in national parks thanks to new legislation in the US, as both allow people to travel further with less effort and are environmentally-friendly ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Choosing a Horse Riding Activity and Destination
The first step to choosing a horse riding holiday that will appeal to you and your traveling partner is to select a destination that you’re both interested in seeing. Because horse riding experiences can be found in nearly every country, it should be easy to find a destination that the two of you agree on.
Horse riding tour operators regularly craft experiences that cater to riders of all abilities, from the beginner to advanced equestrians. You can start out small with a simple short half-day ride or look into truly adventurous multi-day horse riding tours.
Many horseback riding tours, whether they’re half-day or multi-day, often allow both partners to ride at a level that suits their individual abilities.
You may spend part of the day riding together with your partner and then be led by a separate guide along a more challenging trail or terrain while your less-skilled partner take things at a slower pace with another guide and on calmer horses which will hopefully build their confidence in riding horses and help improve their riding ability.
If your partner has never ridden a horse before, it may be wise to give them a taster before booking a horse riding holiday.
Help teach them the ropes and maybe work on building strength in their core and legs as well as improving their balance which will collectively help them get ready for your planned trip.
Types of Horse Riding Holidays
Horse Riding on the Beach
There’s probably no better introduction to horse riding than riding along a beach, since generally spending time at the beach is something that appeals to just about anyone.
Some beach horse riding experiences involve just a simple sunset ride while others may see you take a day-long journey on a remote stretch of deserted coastline.
One highlight of many beach horse rides is the opportunity to ride your horse bareback into the sea. Many places also offer up full moon night-time rides.
Some of the top beach destinations to check out for horse riding include the beaches of Bahia in Brazil, Essaouira and Taghazout in Morocco atop Arabian horses, and Guanacaste in Costa Rica along beaches like Playa Carillo, Playa Barrigona, and Playa Buena Vista.
Living in Australia, I am fortunate to have destinations like Cape Tribulation within the UNESCO-listed Daintree Rainforest as well as Magnetic Island and Noosa, all places where you can ride horses along the beach.
If your partner is into sports, maybe playing polo would entice them to saddle up for a horse riding holiday. Once a sport solely reserved for the rich and elite, never has it been cheaper or more accessible to play polo.
There are a number of polo clubs across the world that are opening up their stable doors to common folk, offering up polo lessons and the opportunity to enjoy practice matches at affordable rates.
The number of polo clubs in the UK alone has roughly doubled in recent years, and there are also polo holiday experiences widely available in the US and Australia. While the “sport of kings” may have its roots in Ancient Persia, one of the best places to book a polo holiday is in Argentina which many regard as being the “capital of polo” today.
My partner and I were fortunate to spend time at the Puesto Viejo Estancia and Polo Club about an hour outside Buenos Aires. It’s hailed as one of the best estancias to learn polo at in the country and offers many experiences that include free transfers from the city.
You’ll learn how to properly ride horses when playing polo as well as techniques for using the mallet effectively. There so-named special Polo Days give tourists the ability to see what the sport is all about as they get taught the history and rules of the game, enjoy lessons, and partake in practice matches. You may also get the chance to see professionals take to the field during your stay.
The best part about booking an estancia stay in Argentina is that there are usually a number of other activities on offer. While I really immersed myself in the polo experience, my photographer husband spent some of his time enjoying the extensive grounds which was a birding hotspot home to Chimango caracaras, burrowing owls, parakeets, and more.
Horse Riding in Search of Wildlife
While I’m on the topic of wildlife, a number of horse riding holidays are especially suited to wildlife lovers. For instance, you can swap a jeep for a unique horseback safari in the Serengeti.
I had wished I had heard about Tanzania horseback adventures out of Arusha after I had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although my jeep safari experience was incredible, I can only imagine what more of an immersive experience it would have been on a horse.
Seeing iconic African animals on the back of a horse is said to make you feel an even stronger connection with nature. Some of the African horse riding safaris offer up a week long experience complete with a mobile camp, where you can spot lions, zebras, hyenas, wildebeest, and more.
Another great spot to go horseback riding in Africa is Botswana’s Okavango Delta which sees you staying in luxury camps in-between spotting elephants, giraffes, and hippos.
Other great horseback riding destinations for wildlife lovers include Brazil’s Pantanal region where you can observe jaguars, giant anteaters, colorful hyacinth macaws and toco toucans, capybaras, anacondas, and caiman.
Heading to North America, horseback tours operate in Yellowstone National Park where you can track down bears, bison, pronghorn, coyotes, and wolves. A bit further north into Canada, British Colombia is another great destination for spotting large animals like bear and moose.
History Horse Riding Tours
There are also countless horse riding tours designed for history lovers, especially throughout Europe. Many multi-day rides take in various important landmarks and places where significant historical events took place.
A ride through France’s Loire Valley will see you get more than your fill of castles including Villesavin Castle, Fougères sur Bièvre, Cheverny Castle, and Château de Beauregard.
Fans of the TV Series Outlander can book a horseback adventure through Scotland’s legendary countryside to see the castles and landscapes showcased by the popular series.
See where legendary Scottish battles took place or ride the trails around Loch Ness to possibly spot famous Nessie, which is more likely after a bit of Scotch I’m told. Some riding tours even see you spend your nights at famous castles like the 16th-century Thirlestane Castle in-between days spent riding through the countryside.
There are also horse riding tours that focus on WWI and WWII battles sites such as those found in Normandy. Italian horse riding tours out of Rome will see you pass by old Roman ruins and monuments as you trod along routes like the Appian Way as the Romans did on their horses thousands of years ago.
You can also book horse riding tours in Peru that focus on seeking out famous ancient sites of the Inca.
Horseback Holidays for the Adventurer
While many of the horse riding holidays I’ve already mentioned could fall under the adventure category, there are some destinations that take things to the next level.
No destination screams adventure quite like Iceland. While the Nordic island country may have seen a surge in tourism is recent years, most travelers choose bus tours or rent a vehicle to circle the island and see all its sites.
The true adventure seeker can saddle up on an Icelandic horse and head off into the highlands from Reykjavik to Akureyri. You’ll take in mountain passes, volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers, and hot springs.
Another rugged and pristine landscape that is best appreciated on the back of a horse is New Zealand’s South Island. Horse riding tours leave from Queenstown and will see you sleep in back country huts and shearers quarters in-between days of riding through landscapes like Mount Aspiring National Park, Rees Valley, and Paradise Valley which are straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Agile horses with great stamina can also take intrepid horse riders through the Dolomites of northern Italy. You can also look into saddling up beside one of the last remaining nomadic horse cultures on the planet in Mongolia.
These are just a few of the incredible horse riding adventures that will entice travelers regardless of their level of love for horses.
So if you’re a passionate equestrian looking to share your love of horses with your partner, these horse riding holidays may just be the answer.