Okay, so you’ve been riding since you were a tot, you consider yourself an intermediate to advanced rider, and you’re desperate to sign up for a horse riding holiday. Except you have ONE problem: your partner either doesn’t ride or is a beginner rider who can barely post to the trot.
You have three options here. You can…
a) leave your partner at home, sign up for your dream riding holiday by yourself and meet up with similar, like-minded people on the ride
b) contact your horse riding friends and organise a trip together, rather than with your partner
c) if your partner is keen to brush up on his/her riding skills, you can bring them along on a riding holiday that caters for everyone from beginners to experienced riders.
‘Is that possible?’ I hear you ask. ‘A riding holiday where I can still enjoy a canter and my partner won’t feel like they’re holding me back? A riding holiday where my partner can also improve their riding ability in a safe environment?’
I’m pleased to say, yes! We have quite a few riding holidays that fit the bill.
How it works
On our rides that cater for all abilities, when the terrain and landscape is suitable for riding faster or perhaps jumping, your guide will spilt the group. The experienced riders will go ahead with one guide while the beginner or not-so-confident riders stay with another guide, sticking to a pace that everyone’s comfortable with. Once the beginner group catches up to the advanced group, the ride continues.
Benefits for beginner riders
If you have a partner who lacks confidence or ability in the saddle, a riding holiday is the ultimate training ground to fast-track their skills. Unlike ad-hoc one-hour riding lessons in an arena or the odd trail ride, a riding holiday is a complete immersion course where you’re with your horse for several hours a day, for the entire duration of the holiday.
I’ve seen first hand how a beginner rider’s ability and confidence skyrocket from the first day to the last. It’s absolutely mind-blowing and so rewarding to see.
The horse and rider relationship
It’s super important that your partner has a caring and experienced horse (or horses) for the entire riding holiday. If they bond with their mount, the sky is the limit and they’re likely to be full-on horse lovers by the time you get home. And that, my friend, is a win-win situation for you, as you’ll be able to go on many more horse riding holidays together!
The riding holidays that we recommend all have safe, careful safari horses for beginner riders. Trust me, I’ve seen these wonderful equines caring for novice riders without putting a hoof wrong!
Below is a list of riding holidays that will suit both you and your partner:
Craig’s Hut & High Country Ride, Australia
This ride is the DREAM for anyone who grew up watching ‘The Man from Snowy River’ movie and has since harboured fantasies of of traversing this country on a plucky mountain horse. Even if you’re not familiar with the legends surrounding the spectacular Victorian High Country, you’ll find yourself utterly transported by the spirit of this wild place. But instead of eating rabbit stew like the mountain men of days gone by, you’ll be treated to gourmet regional cuisine every night – not a bad perk, hey?
For the experienced rider: you’ll love that you get to canter, duck and weave along narrow bush tracks that snake through the hills and valleys.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love that you can hone your bush riding skills on safe trails that your horse has been traversing for years.
Tassie Tiger Trail, Australia
This ride is the duck’s nuts and we believe it’s the absolute BEST way to explore the Apple Isle. The five day, four night itinerary is a brilliant combination of all your favourite things: riding horses, exploring secluded beaches and pristine rainforest, and savouring amazing regional food and wine. You’ll fall in love with your cheery and knowledgeable guides, Jen and Jeremy, and their beautiful, naturally trained endurance horses.
For the experienced rider: you’ll love how soft and responsive your horse is, riding bitless and barefoot with connection, confidence and control.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love the natural horsemanship skills that Jen and Jeremy will teach you, allowing you to bond with your horse and improve your connection.
Khovsgol & Arhangay Rides, Mongolia
If you’re looking for an adventurous overseas destination for you and your partner, Mongolia is the perfect place to cut your teeth. It’s the steadiness of the horses and the open steppe that makes this riding destination a perfect environment for a beginner rider. Be warned: regardless of ability, you will need to be riding fit, as some days require long hours in the (rather rustic) saddle that can leave even the most experienced rider saddle sore. But if you’re a modern-day explorer, clocking up some riding hours in Mongolia is a surefire way to leap from beginner status to intermediate, with 13 and 19 day itineraries available.
For the experienced rider: you’ll love that this entire country lives and breathes horses, not to mention the incredible feeling of freedom when you’re cantering across the open steppe, and the chance to ‘eat, sleep, ride, repeat’.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love the consistent hours in the saddle, with long stretches of trotting where you can learn to sit or stand to the trot, and the occasional tricky terrain that will really boost your confidence as your Mongol horse confidently picks out a path.
Shell, Wyoming, USA
Grab your Stetson and stampede string and get your YEE-HA on. This ride takes you to a high-end guest ranch in the heart of Big Sky Country: Wyoming. Rest assured, this is NOT a nose to tail, dude ranch, no siree! No matter what level of riding you’re at, you’re going to benefit from this holiday where every day is tailored to your riding desires. You can choose to poke cows, take a riding lesson, summit a mountain and enjoy a saddle-bag packed lunch, or have a half-day ride and then enjoy some trap shooting or fly fishing in the afternoon.
For the experienced rider: you’ll love the nifty cow horse that you’ll be teamed up with and the chance to live out your wild west riding fantasies in the vast, diverse scenery of the ranch.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love the flexibility of this working ranch where you can choose from a huge range of riding activities, from structured lessons in the sand arena to rustling cattle.
Big Horn Cattle Drive, USA
If you’ve always yearned to don on a cowboy hat and a pair of shotgun chaps and swing a rope after a runaway beast, then your perfect match is the Big Horn Cattle Drive. You couldn’t find a better point-to-point ride set up for both experienced and beginner riders. You’ll bond with your fellow riders and your horse as you push the Kerns family’s herd of over 600 cattle through Big Horn National Park. This cattle drive has no bells and whistles – it’s as legitimate as the tipi tents you’ll sleep in, the classic camp cooking dished up of an evening, and the western saddle that you’ll swing over your big-bottomed Quarter Horse every morning. You’ll ride alongside wranglers who were born in the saddle – they make herding cattle while giving a diverse group of riding guests the time of their lives look like a piece of cake!
For the experienced rider: you’ll love that you can put your cattle skills to the test and learn new tricks in real life situations, and the chance to experience an authentic slice of 1880s-style ranch life.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love that after an intense horsemanship clinic at the start of the itinerary, the riding is straightforward and purposeful. There will be long hours in the saddle, but afterwards you’ll be able to call yourself a cowboy/cowgirl without hesitation.
Margaret River Ride, Australia
This ride excels in every facet: quality horses, fun-loving and knowledgeable guides, Indigenous culture, dramatic and changing scenery, beautiful ‘glamping’ accommodation and top notch food and wine. This is the ultimate way to familiarise yourself with this iconic Australian wine region, and a fantastic choice for guests with varied riding abilities. Your delightful hosts, Paul and Fiona, are experts at creating unforgettable riding experiences and will ensure that each day’s adventures bring enormous smiles to the faces of novice and advanced riders alike.
For the experienced rider: you’ll fall in love with the string of home bred and educated Australian Stock Horses, who are all finely attuned to your aids. You’ll also get to try your hand at polocrosse on horses that LOVE playing the game.
For the beginner rider: you’ll love the variety or riding on offer and the chance to build your confidence and ability in a safe and fun environment. You can ride in the morning, the afternoon, or both – the choice is yours!
The Grape Horse Adventure, Australia
Once a year, Jen and Jeremy from the ever-popular Tassie Tiger Trail take their string of barefoot and bitless endurance horses across to South Australia to explore the iconic Barossa Valley wine region. Although you’ll ride to new places every day on this holiday, you’ll be accommodated at the same beautiful homestead each night, so the riding hours are less taxing than on many of our point-to-point rides. The Grape Horse Adventure is all about pleasure: gourmet food, world class wine, beautifully educated horses and picturesque countryside. What’s not to love?
For the experienced rider: you’ll love your responsive and well-balanced Arabian or Arabian-cross horse, who will be in tune with your every aid as you journey across the valley.
For the beginner rider: you get to sample the world of natural horsemanship, and try your hand at an obstacle course with your trusty steed: the perfect way to develop a trusting relationship.
Castle & Estate Ride, Ireland
Set on a 1,000-acre estate that oozes history and promises a wonderland of cross country jumps and trails, this ride is one of our most customisable. Whether you want to learn the basics of riding in an arena with patient and knowledgeable instructors or race your horse across a cross country course, you’ll be one happy globetrotter by the time you retire to the castle of an evening. And with just three hours in the saddle each day (and the option to book more hours at an additional cost), there’s plenty of time to enjoy the estate’s many non-equestrian offerings, as well.
For the experienced rider: you’ll be able to improve your jumping technique with talented, well trained horses and professional instructors, and take full advantage of the estate’s 300+ cross country jumps and endless riding trails.
For the beginner rider: you will benefit from reliable, schoolmaster horses and expert coaching tailored to your ability and interests. A mechanical horse will enable you to improve your position and technique in a safe environment before transferring your skills to the real deal.
Goomboorian Campdraft Ride, Australia
This is a true blue cattle ride, globetrotters. If you get ridiculously excited by the idea of working cattle on a sturdy Quarter Horse and getting down and dirty in the yards, then this ride is calling your name. This holiday is conducted as a hands-on experience where you’ll get a glimpse into everyday life as a grazier, spending half the ride mustering cattle and the other half mastering the art of campdrafting. It’s all worth it for the deep satisfaction you feel sitting around a blazing campfire under a canopy of stars, beer in hand and hearty food in your belly, after a day spent working cattle.
For the experienced rider: you will revel in the thrill of the chase at the two day campdrafting clinic, where you’ll learn the tricks of the trade and enjoy some high-speed cattle chasing.
For the beginner rider: you’ll be able to develop your riding ability under the watchful eye of your host, Andrew McCarthy, during the first three days, then take things to the next level in a controlled environment with expert tutelage at the campdrafting clinic.
So there we have it: a round-up of riding holidays that are perfectly suited to both beginner riders and their more advanced partners.
Which one tickles your fancy?