Some globetrotters want a horse riding holiday that will get them back to the fundamentals of life – they dream of starting the day with a campfire breakfast before saddling their own horse and heading out for an intrepid ride, then curling up in a tent beneath the stars.
BUT there are also globetrotters who want to experience the very definition of the word ‘holiday’: an escape from the everyday where they can truly unwind, knowing all their needs and desires will be met and their top-notch horse will be ready and waiting when they step into the stables.
Does that sound more like your cup of tea?
Great – then look no further! Here are our most deluxe, top-shelf horse riding holidays:
Castle & Estate Ride, Ireland
No, the name isn’t an exaggeration: this ride literally takes place on an estate with its own castle. And not just any estate, or any castle: we’re talking a thousand acres of pastures, forests, riding trails and cross country jumps (300, to be precise) on one of the last remaining Irish estates still owned by its founding family! You’ll be treated like royalty here, globetrotters, with sophisticated accommodation and catering, generous hosts who will wait on your beck and call, and a bounty of off-the-horse activities to satisfy all tastes and interests. Whether you’re a beginner rider looking to improve your equestrian skills under expert tutelage or a cross country addict ready to ride some absolutely thrilling courses, this ride will go above and beyond your expectations. Oh, and non-riders are more than welcome, too!
Cross Country in Tipperary, Ireland
We’re hard-pressed to choose between this and the Castle and Estate Ride, and to be honest, if you have the time and budget, these two rides would complement each other perfectly. Set in the beating heart of Ireland’s horse world, County Tipperary, this is the gold standard as far as cross country riding is concerned. You’ll be mounted on schoolmaster sport horses and coached by Mark Molloy and Noel Quinn, who have almost 50 years of cross country coaching, competing, breeding and training experience between them. And when you’re not at the equestrian centre or out exploring Tipperary, you’ll be living it up in Inch House, a Georgian mansion that will be your home away from home for the whole week. The Egan family will ensure that your stay here is unforgettable, from the fine dining to the beautifully appointed rooms to the incredibly filling, lavish breakfasts that are served up each morning. Be sure to pack your evening wear, as you’ll have more than one ‘lord and lady of the manor’ moment on this holiday!
The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland
This ride in the Scottish Borders combines history, drama, luxury, rugged wilderness and vibrant culture, AND it’s based out of a castle! Staying in 16th-century Thirlestane Castle and its magnificent grounds, you’ll be hosted by the Maitland family, who have lived there for over 400 years. The five-star apartments in the South Wing boast spectacular views, private kitchens and sitting rooms, and classic yet comtemporary furnishings. Over the week you’ll have chances to dine in the Victorian kitchen, the state dining room, the local pub and in the comfort of your apartment where, at your request, freshly-prepared, gourmet meals will be left waiting to pop in the oven. It goes without saying that the culture and history on this holiday is next level, and trust us – the riding is, too. The horses will blow you away with their athleticism and responsiveness as you ride through scenery that you’d swear was photoshopped. The best part is that ALL riding abilities – and non-riders – are welcome.
Shell, Wyoming, USA
Live large cowboy-style on this holiday at an upscale guest ranch backing onto the Big Horn Mountains. The horses are top quality Quarter Horses, Paints and Mustangs and the riding groups are small and intimate, with no more than four or five guests per wrangler. The landscapes range from blood-red canyons to pancake-flat prairies to dusty cattle yards, and they’re guaranteed to make your heart soar. Each evening, you’ll sip on a crisp drink while discussing plans for the next day with your wrangler, who will tailor your itinerary to your desires. And let’s not forget the ranch itself – you’ll have your own fully serviced log cabin, a hot tub to soak in after a day’s riding, and gourmet meals prepared with fresh ingredients from the ranch’s garden, served in the dining room overlooking the spectacular countryside. If you’re looking for an authentic ranch experience with all the bells and whistles, make a beeline for Wyoming.
The Sumba Ride, Indonesia
Want to ride in paradise? Set on the Indonesian island of Sumba, this is without a doubt the ULTIMATE top shelf horse riding holiday. Based at Nihi Sumba, which was recently named Best Resort in the World for two consecutive years, The Sumba Ride will treat you to every luxury imaginable, as well as some incredibly scenic, exciting horseback experiences. This holiday is all about discovery, and every day will bring new tropical landscapes, timeless traditions, and sumptuous feasts for the senses. Your private, air-conditioned, fully-serviced villa comes with its own pool, butler service, and in-villa dining. There is so much to do at Nihi Sumba that we actually recommend globetrotters tack on a few extra days’ stay either before or after their ride so they have time to fully appreciate the resort’s plethora of offerings. And let’s not forget the culture – inextricably linked to the horse, Sumbanese culture is alive and kicking, and you’ll be right amongst it as you ride through villages trailed by crowds of laughing children, stop to chew betel nut with the locals, and get to know your Sumbanese hosts.
The Shoalhaven Ride, Australia
A hop, skip and a jump from Sydney lies The Shoalhaven, a remarkable region where the glittering blue sea meets bushland teeming with wildlife, where verdant farmland meets friendly country towns. Nestled amongst this natural cornucopia are some ridiculously gorgeous, irresistably gourmet wineries, cellar doors, restaurants and cafes. What could be better? Well, if you add a herd of bitless, barefoot Arabians, accommodation at a luxury farmhouse and a host who knows every nook and cranny of The Shoalhaven, things get pretty darn close to perfect! Each departure accommodates just four guests, so it’s perfect for families and groups of friends who want to enjoy quality time together. You won’t need to lift a finger – everything is taken care of and your only job is to sit back and enjoy the ride. The itinerary is flexible, but what’s guaranteed is that you’ll ride, dine, swill and sip your way through the very best that The Shoalhaven has to offer.
The Camargue Ride, France
If you’d like to combine lavish off-the-horse comforts with an authentic, salt-of-the-earth riding experience, The Camargue Ride might just be perfect for you. At the heart of this holiday are the ghostly white Camargue horses, known as the Horses of the Sea, who have roamed the marshes and wetlands of this region for thousands of years. To ride these horses is a true privilege, and to ride them alongside Le Gardians, the cowboy custodians of the traditional Camargue way of life, is absolutely unforgettable. And your insight into these traditions extends across your entire trip, as you’re hosted by the Bon family in their 17th century family farmhouse, now transformed into a five-star hotel and restaurant. The Bon family have been farming in the Camargue for generations and your guide and host, Frédéric, will give you an intimate, hands-on experience of his homeland. As for the food, ‘delicious’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. The chef, Grégory Brousse, selects products exclusively from the farm and surrounding region to create fresh and generous dishes imbued with the essence of the Camargue.
The Scottish Borders Ride, Scotland
Get ready to don your tweed jacket and be part of Scotland’s living history, globetrotters, because on this holiday you’ll be partaking in the oldest horse riding festival in the world! Common Ridings are an annual tradition in the Scottish Borders that commemorate past times when local men risked their lives in order to protect their town and people from invasion. Groups of up to 300 horses and riders gallop around the borderlands in a celebration of legend, history and tradition. It’s a roaring good time and you’ll definitely qualify as an honorary Scot by the end of this culture-drenched holiday! Off the horse, you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the local region both as a group and on your own (you’ll need to hire a car for this holiday). The accommodation is pretty jaw-dropping, too: Windlestraw House, a magnificent Edwardian manor where you’ll be hosted by the charming and hospitable owners, John and Sylvia. Here you’ll have your own private room and enjoy sumptuous meals, single-malt whisky and beautiful views over the Tweed Valley.
The Special Edition Kimberley Ride, Australia
A spin-off of The Kimberley Ride, this holiday swaps the swags for beautiful glamping tents on the first two nights and your own private suite at El Questro Homestead on the latter two. The Kimberley region is an untouched wilderness of truly extraordinary beauty, and El Questro Station is the ultimate base from which to explore it. Clinging to the edge of a gorge, the views over the river are magnificent and you’ll have more than a few chances to get out on the water, whether on horseback, by boat or in your swimsuit. The horses and guides will win your hearts while the bespoke luxury of the homestead will have you drooling. When you’re not riding responsive station-bred horses through the bush, you’ll make the most of El Questro’s infamous hospitality with tailored off-the-horse tours, gourmet cuisine, thermal springs, a tennis court, a swimming pool and more.
The Patagonia Trail, Argentina
This intrepid adventure takes you into parts of Argentina’s Patagonian mountains that are only accessible by horse. Your guide, Jakob von Plessen, has over 20 years’ experience guiding horse riding adventures, so between him and your surefooted Criollo horse you’ll be in very safe hands. Argentina has a thriving gaucho culture, with the Criollo horse at its heart. And you’ll be riding with the gauchos themselves, mounted in a traditional sheepskin saddle, protected from the elements by a richly woven poncho, drinking mate from a gourd and chowing down on sumptuous Argentine cuisine around a blazing fire. The accommodation varies throughout the trip; on some nights you’ll have comfortable safari-style tents with built-on bathrooms and a cosy hunting cabin serving as your living/dining room, and on other nights your accommodation will be a little more basic. So if you’re prepared to swap the five-star hotel rooms for comfortable but at-times-simple camping arrangements, this ride will reward you with the very best of Argentinian cuisine, culture, horses and hospitality, not to mention some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes imaginable.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Taking the contrast of luxury and wilderness one step further, the Okavango Delta ride sees you discovering some of Africa’s best game country by day and relaxing in beautifully appointed safari campsites of an evening. In the saddle, your expert guides will show you the marvels of the Delta, a giant seasonal flood plain where you’ll splash, gallop and tiptoe alongside an unbelievably diverse range of animals, from the Big Five to wild dogs, zebra, buffalo, hyenas and hippos. You’ll also get to enjoy other safari experiences such as taking to the water in a traditional dug-out canoe, day and night game drives, watching waterholes from camouflaged hides, and walking expeditions. Your mornings, lunchtimes and evenings will offer a chance to relax in total comfort, from al fresco silverware dinners to a night spent in open-air, platform treehouses, with a generous and detail-oriented team of staff and guides catering to your every need.
As you can see, if you’re after a horse riding holiday that will leave you feeling totally spoiled and reinvigorated, the world is your oyster! Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information about any of our rides.