Fancy a horsey mini-break this autumn? Whether you want to escape the wind and cold for sunnier climes, or enjoy breathtaking UK hacks through falling red leaves, there are plenty of horse riding holidays that will take your fancy…
If the British countryside in autumn leaves you tingly, or you don’t have the time or inclination to venture abroad, Equestrian Escapes is running a special offer on their Wiltshire package. Ride through stunning red beech avenues, past ancient Saxon burial mounds, and watch the deer grazing in the park as you hack through Cranbourne Chase, the former home of Guy Richie and Madonna. It’s also the former hunting estate of King John (yes, he of Robin Hood fame), and with an excellent local pub that allows you to tie up outside, offers the perfect relaxing horsey break. You can stay in a beautiful estate cottage or a cosy log cabin, and the package for two nights full board accommodation plus seven hours of riding is just £295pp. There is a single room supplement of £15 per night for solo travellers.
Fancy trying out some cowboy/girl skills — but don’t want to fly all the way to the USA? How about Hungary instead? Kiskunsagi Ranch specialises in breeding and training Appaloosas and Quarter Horses, so you can learn or hone Western skills on a real Western horse, with the help of expert staff. With 60 acres of their own, and situated within a beautiful national park, there’s plenty of great hacking and lovely long canters available. If it rains, you’re sorted because they have an enormous indoor arena — not to mention an indoor jacuzzi, several different types of sauna, a cosy indoor bar and a masseuse on site, for some off-horse pick-me-ups. Available through Far & Ride, it costs £299 per person for the Western weekend from 1November to the end of the year, which includes three nights of twin/double room accommodation (no single supplement for single travellers willing to share), all meals, bottled water and approximately 10 hours riding. Flights are not included, but there are lots of cheap flights to Budapest.
A Portuguese horse fair
Home to some of Portugal’s most famous stud farms, Golega is known as the ‘Capital of Horses,’ and for 10 days in November, the town hosts the world famous Golega Horse Fair. Spend your days watching top competition in all disciplines, or wander round the town filled with horses and riders in traditional Portugese riding dress. It’s said that everyone in Portugal with a horse brings it here for the festival. In The Saddle is offering a special overnight stay on 9-10 November. The package includes transfers from Alcainça to Golegã, one night’s stay in a hotel with breakfast (double room), transfers to and from the Horse Fair, a visit to meet a Lusitano breeder, and guide assistance. It costs £284 based on two people sharing.
Dressage divas ahoy
If you’d like to sharpen up your dressage skills while enjoying a relaxing break in some spectacular countryside, In The Saddle also offers a two night/three day break to Monte Velho Stud Farm in the Alentejo, Portugal. Run by Diogo Lima Mayer, an award-winning breeder of Lusitanos, many of which have gone on to perform outstandingly in dressage in Portugal and the rest of Europe, this holiday offers the opportunity to observe the breeding and training programme of competition horses, and to experience some top level dressage training. An understanding of lateral movements as well as basic walk, trot, canter will help you get the most from your tuition. Or you can simply enjoy trail rides through beautiful, tranquil countryside, and relax by watching the instructors training the competition horses. The climate is pretty good too and you should catch a few rays. From £360 per person for full board.
Go for a gallop
Squeeze in a long, gorgeous gallop down the beach by taking a trip to Catalonia, Spain, courtesy of Unicorn Trails. Their ‘Catalan Two Beach’ holiday offers five nights, four days and three days of riding — taking in, as the name pretty much gives away, two beaches. You need to be a competent rider, as you’ll be spending four to six hours in the saddle each day, riding across varied terrain, from the snow-capped Pyrenees to glassy lagoons to ancient hilltop villages, returning to the guesthouse each evening for dinner and a well-deserved sleep. It’s low season now, and prices start at £439 per person, for accommodation, riding, meals — and wine. Flights and transfers from Barcelona/Girona are not included.
Hunting in Ireland
Ireland is famous — or perhaps infamous — for the fearlessness of its riders out hunting, and Zara’s Planet offers you the chance to experience its legendary hunting country for yourself. Head over to County Galway for two meets in one weekend, with the Roscommon and the Ormond. You’ll find dry stone walls, ditches and hedges to jump. On the first day, you will be matched to the right horse (all Irish hunters from reputable yards) and you can also try your hand at whipping-in. There are lots of opportunities for socialising, too. Needless to say, this four night break is not for the faint-hearted; you’ll need a secure seat and it’s recommended for intermediate to advanced riders only. Prices from £495 per person including B&B and hirelings.