Riding holidays to keep your children happy

  • A trip to the museum, zoo or cinema spring to mind when you realise half-term is fast approaching and you need to rustle up some entertainment for your children.

    But for a half-term they won’t forget — or stop talking about — we’ve found three horse riding holidays tailored for kids, that will also let you wave goodbye to work and take a break.

    “The most important element for the child is a fun guide or instructor — one who can get down to their level and balance keeping everything super safe, but fun and exciting,” says Zara Stassin, a mother of 3 and managing director of equestrian travel company Zara’s Planet.

    “Sweet, safe and well schooled ponies that they can fall in love with are also a must,” she adds.

    Horse & Hound editor Lucy Higginson agrees. Having taken her two small children on a riding holiday, she says the key components are safe mounts, plenty of child-friendly activities to do around the riding and a willingness from the staff to be flexible.

    “There also needs to be imagination on the part of the organisers — booklets to complete or the occasional sugary hit for example,” she says.

    Zara recommends going somewhere where there will be other children.

    “It means the holiday will be centred around the kids and they’ll all have a blast with their new friends, while Mums and Dads can chat over a glass or 2.”

    3 child-friendly horse riding holidays

    1. Spot game in Botswana
    Upgrade on a visit to the zoo with a trip-of-a-lifetime to Botswana to catch a glimpse of the “Big 5” from horseback. On a “Ride and Walk Safari” you will stay in a luxury camp on the fringes of the Okavango Delta. From the moment you board your private plane in Maun, Botswana and make your way to the camp the action begins, flying below the clouds to spot herds of elephants. The ponies are well-schooled and forward going but in this big game country, riders need to be competent to cope with galloping across the open plains.

    Pony overload? The non-horsey contingent will be kept entertained with boat, jeep and walking safaris.

    Price: From £2,310 for a week per person (plus flights)
    Visit: www.zarasplanet.co.uk

    Botswana 2

    2. Stay closer to home in Devon
    Pack your bucket and spade and explore the comforting north Devon coastline with its sandy beaches, hidden rockpools and fishing villages. Staying in self-catering accommodation, you will set off for hacks through the sand dunes and follow the Tarka Trail along the cliff paths. Beginners will be catered for with lessons and gentler rides, while more experienced riders can go for a gallop along the beach. And if you’re craving a day alone, you can pack your children off with a picnic for an “own a pony day”.

    Pony overload? Go kayaking, surfing or cycling. And if all that sounds like too much hard work, you can opt out and tuck into a Devon cream tea.

    Price: From £410 for a week per person
    Visit: www.equestrian-escapes.com

    Carol N Devon 111

    3. Round up cattle in America
    The White Stallion Ranch is set in 5 square miles of desert adjacent to the Saguaro National Park. Slower rides into the national park cater for more nervous riders, while those with more experience can opt for something faster. Guests will be kept busy with a weekly penning event, and evening entertainments including rodeo and roping demos.

    Pony overload? Enjoy tennis, basketball, billiards, ping pong or dive into the outdoor pool or hot tub.

    Price: From £795 for a week per person (plus flights)
    Visit: www.unicorntrails.com

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