As a mother to three young globetrotters (Finn, Birdie and Poppy), nothing gives me more joy and pride than bundling up our wanderlust-filled family and taking them globetrotting. From a young age, our girls have been plonked on my reliable and dependable polo ponies or our two beautiful little ponies, Charlie Bubbles and Minty Magic. I believe horse riding is a life skill that needs to be learned, like swimming, and is part of our working life as globetrotters. As I’m sure you’ll agree, horses can teach us so much from a young age – persistence, patience, courage, responsibility – and give us the freedom to explore nature’s spoils. Generally on a weekend, we pack saddle bags and head out on local trails teeming with nature, wilderness and silence. Birdie is still pony-led on Charlie Bubbles, while Finn can ride independently on Minty Magic. We’re always shadowed by our beautiful rescue dog, Clifford. The girls will sing nonsense songs, we’ll pick wildflowers and adorn the horses’ bridles with them, and then we’ll stop by a nearby creek to eat our saddle bag-packed delights and share some with the ponies. These mini adventures make me smile and I believe they’re the perfect foundation to set the girls up for a lifelong love affair with horses.
Granted, not every family has access to a team of trustworthy horses, riding trails on their doorstep, and horse transport. But you can replicate this beautiful riding experience for your family on plenty of our Globetrotting holidays. We have a selection of rides that will suit the entire family, no matter your riding ability, from Australia to Mongolia depending on your budget, time and preferences. So whether it’s your entire family or a mother/daughter or father/son trip, below is a list of family-friendly horse riding holidays.
The Bushveld, South Africa
You asked, globetrotters, so we’ve delivered: a flexible, exhilarating African riding safari with options to suit ALL riding abilities!
There’s the All-levels Lodge Ride for beginner to advanced riders, set on a private, 21,000 acre wildlife reserve and conservancy in the vast South African Bushveld. It’s perfect for families and groups with non-riders thanks to the tailor-made itinerary and numerous off-the-horse activities. Plus, you can ride among Africa’s famous wildlife without worrying about elephants or lions!
For strong intermediate and advanced riders, the African Explorer is a MUST, covering two vastly different and equally breathtaking ecosystems. Starting with four days’ riding in the South African reserve, you’ll then travel across the border to Botswana for three incredible days in Mashatu Game Reserve, with its huge herds of elephants and iconic baobab trees. Then there’s the Signature Safari, for intermediate to advanced riders, which combines the ease of a whole week in South Africa with the excitement of riding point-to-point across the Bushveld, from one secluded lodge to another. Packed with an astounding variety of wild game and all the bells and whistles of a luxury safari, South Africa offers incredible value for money and an experience you’ll never forget.
The Margaret River Ride, Australia
The Margaret River Ride is on the top of my list of family-friendly riding experiences. The age limit is 12, and if you have children in their teens you literally can’t go wrong with this riding holiday. Your hosts, Paul and Fiona, have been making equine enthusiasts grin from ear to ear for the past ten years with their rides out of their Margaret River property, which is also a boutique vineyard. They have a mob of horses that will accommodate everyone from nervous riders to experienced riders. Paul and Fiona are all about having fun, and the globetrotters who have completed this ride never want to leave the beautiful property, and more importantly their horse, behind.
As a family, you’ll enjoy never-ending beach canters, trying your hand at polocrosse and mounted games, riding along secluded bush tracks and discovering wide open pastures alive with native wildlife including large mobs of kangaroos, emus and red-tailed black cockatoos. Oh, and you get to try ‘glamping’, too!
Glenorchy Back Country Ride, New Zealand
If the land of the long white cloud has always been on your bucket list then you can’t go wrong with our Glenorchy Back Country Ride in the South Island of New Zealand. If your kids are avid cinephiles, they’ll get a kick out of riding through emerald green landscapes and ancient beech forests that were the backdrop to blockbuster films like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But to be honest, this ride is so much more than movie scenes. It’s so popular with our globetrotters that it sells out on reputation alone. Keep in mind, there is an age limit of 12 and the ride is only available to intermediate to experienced riders. If you have a son or daughter who is handy in the saddle, you’ll love that this ride is a point-to-point ride, where you ride to a new destination each day.
It’s a five-day, four night itinerary and is extremely good value – sitting under $3000 NZD for five days of blissful riding.
Khovsgol & Arhangay Rides, Mongolia
I can’t wait to visit Mongolia with my tribe! Ever since we rode across the steppe together, Steven and I have made a pledge to return with our girls once they’ve all passed the 12 year milestone. It’s the culture shock that excites me: you’ll see how the Mongolians live, staying in smoky gers, galloping across the steppe, and being spectators at a rural Naadam Festival. The Mongolians are the most hospitable, warm and welcoming people I’ve ever met, which is why this ride is so special.
As a family, you have the option of choosing between a 13-day or 19-day riding itinerary with the ride season running from June to July, which fits in perfectly with school holidays. These rides aren’t for the faint-hearted and involve training prior to departure, not so much for the kids but for the adults who aren’t saddle fit. It’s suitable for everyone from beginner to experienced riders, as long as you’re fit, happy to rough it and have a good sense of humour. It’s also very reasonably priced – the 13-day ride is less than $2700 USD per person.
If you’re looking for a riding experience that will expand your children’s perception of the world – then this is the ride for you.
Castle & Estate Ride, Ireland
Give your family the royal treatment on this luxurious horse riding holiday in County Monaghan, Ireland. Your kids won’t be the only ones whose jaws drop onto the plush carpet when you set eyes on the castle, lodge and estate in which you’ll lose yourself for the next few days. And that’s the other great thing – we can organise custom, private departures year round, ranging from three to seven days in length. The minimum age is seven, and there’s a reduced rate for children aged seven to 11. Oh, and did I mention there are over 300 cross country jumps scattered across the postcard-worthy estate grounds?! #winning!
This ride is prefect for families with mixed abilities, as the riding itinerary can be tailored especially to your riding experience, interests, and goals. You’ll be able to choose from a combination of instruction, dressage, show jumping, cross country and estate rides, with a beautiful fleet of well educated, trustworthy horses and world class instructors at your disposal. And for the non-riders, there is a smorgasbord of off-the-horse activities on offer!
Dressage in Spain
This ride is set in Carmona, one of the famous ‘white villages’ of Andalusia, and is perfect for lovers of dressage, Andalusian horses, Spanish equitation, cultural immersion and history. Like the Castle & Estate Ride in Ireland, the itinerary on this holiday is tailored to your abilities and desires, with three programs to choose from and the option of booking a two-day, three-day, or seven-day stay at any time of year. The minimum age is 12, but this is flexible depending on the child’s ability and confidence. The magic of this ride is learning to dance to the rhythm of the revered Andalusian horse, honing your riding aids and position until you and your horse feel completely in-sync: a spine-tingling moment! Off the horse, you’ll get to experience the very best of Andalusia, including a Flamenco show, a legendary horse show in the town of Jerez, and the joys of discovering Carmona at your own pace, finding a taverna in which to dig into the local tapas or stumbling upon a laneway marketplace. Be warned: you might have trouble leaving once you’ve all found the rhythm of Spanish life!
Giddy up, globetrotters! America is an easy family holiday destination that doesn’t involve too much thinking. I firmly believe that a ranch riding experience has to be #1 on your to-do list if you’re travelling to the States. It’s a rite of passage to swing your leg over a cow horse in the prairie lands of Wyoming and chase after some cattle – don’t you think? This family-run cattle ranch near Cody in Wyoming has a minimum age of eight, and caters for all experience levels. We fell in love with this ranch when we road-tested this ride and believe it’s the perfect family riding locale.
Rest assured, it’s not a dude ranch where you’ll ride nose to tail on a dead-to-the-leg trail horse. The horses are top quality and the riding groups are small and intimate, with no more than four or five guests per wrangler. Plus there’s a huge range of different landscapes to explore, from blood-red canyons to pancake-flat prairies to the dusty cattle yards.
Oh, and if you have a family member who is a non-rider, there are plenty of activities to keep them happy, such as trap shooting, kayaking, hiking, four wheel driving, fly fishing – the list goes on.
This boutique, family-run guest ranch is nestled in the central mountains of Big Sky Country, Montana, where the hats are big and the personalities even bigger. It’s a Western paradise where horses and humans connect on a deep level, with crafty cows to work, endless countryside to explore and warm, welcoming, knowledgeable hosts to show you the ropes. But the real X factor is the horses. The 80-strong herd is made up of many breeds, but what they all have in common is absolutely impeccable training. Parelli-style natural horsemanship is used at every stage of the horses’ (and riders’) education to develop mutual connection, trust and partnership. Once you’ve done the groundwork (literally), your horse will willingly go where you want, when you want, at the pace you want – no questions asked.
Each day you’ll head out with 4 or 5 other riders for your chosen adventure, whether that be a full day’s ride over the mountains or a morning working cattle followed by an afternoon playing horseback soccer. The options are endless and the wranglers will bend over backwards to fulfill all your equestrian desires. There’s even a dedicated children’s riding program, so parents can enjoy longer, more adventurous rides while the wranglers take the youngsters under their wing. Non-riders’ days are filled with fishing, hiking, archery, shooting, and of course basking in the hot tub!
If you’ve been yearning to try natural horsemanship under the steady guidance of experienced horsepeople, or if you’re already in LOVE with this method and want a holiday where it’s part of every ride, every moment – then make a beeline for Helena, Montana.