Try something new in 2019 — take your horse on holiday

If you’re looking for something new to try with your horse this year, then we’re here to help. Sara Walker talks us through taking your horse on holiday...

If you’ve ever struggled to find holiday cover for your horse while you’re away, have you thought about taking him with you? Taking your own horse on holiday has become increasingly popular, with equine B&Bs and holiday camps available across the UK.

Holidays can be roughly divided into two types:

Equestrian escapes

With a group of friends, you can take your horses and stay in a venue with access to the type of countryside you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to explore. For example, if your dream has always been to ride on the beach, over open moorland or across the Welsh mountains, then taking your own horse to an equine B&B is a fantastic way to make that a reality.

If you’re looking for an equine B&B, a good place to start is with the BHS Horses Welcome scheme. Started in Scotland in 2006, this has now expanded to cover the whole of the UK and lists premises that have been inspected by the BHS. There are also a lot of fantastic venues that don’t belong to the scheme, though, so word of mouth recommendation is always useful.

To find your perfect holiday, think about exactly what your requirements are. If you want to go for lots of long rides in an area you don’t know, can the venue provide a guide or will you be responsible for your own map reading? If your aim is specifically to ride on the beach, is there easy hacking access from the B&B or will you need to box? Do you need a stable, 24-hour turnout or separate paddocks for each horse? If your horse isn’t a particularly keen traveller, it might be better to choose a venue that’s not too far away. The clearer you are about your requirements, the better your chance of finding a perfect match.

When packing for your holiday, team up with a friend so you can share the number of spare items you have to take between you. If you’re planning longer rides than usual, a saddlebag is useful to hold drinks and lunch. Check if the venue will provide forage and bedding, or if you’ll need to supply your own. Most venues will require you to have your own public liability insurance such as BHS Gold Membership, and may also ask to see your horse’s passport and vaccination certificate.

Cheshire-based leisure rider Debbie Robinson says: “I’ve been taking my horse on holiday for about eight years now, to destinations such as Wales and Lambourn. I do it for a variety of reasons, but mostly for the social aspect of being with friends and riding in new places with more off-road tracks available. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, as these days there are holidays available for all tastes and budgets.”

Riding camps

The other option is to take your horse away for a few days to a camp. These are an ideal choice if you want to bond with a new horse, train for a competition, try new challenges, meet like-minded people or get a new perspective from a different trainer.

Jane Walker started off running Horsecamp, the pony camp experience for adults, over 25 years ago and now runs her Active Rider camps for a wide variety of riders.

“I’ve run many types of camp over the years, including jumping, dressage and confidence clinics,” she says. “The more general camps attract two types of rider — those who are coming for a lot of social activity with a bit of training thrown in, and those who are coming more for the training. I also run specific camps aimed at novice riders, to give them the confidence to move forward. I love running those camps — I’m always very proud of what the attendees can achieve which is often far more than they thought they could!”

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The vast majority of her business now comes from word of mouth and camps sell out quickly.

“One of our riders has come to over 30 of our camps and many others have at least 20 visits under their belts, so people are obviously keen!” she laughs.

Find out about camps and clinics via social media, your BHS regional events page or via advertisements in tack shops.

If you’ve never been away with your horse before, then why not take the plunge in 2019? With so much choice available, you’re sure to find an option that suits you and your horse.

For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday