Aldon and Norton Disney horse trials this weekend (24-27 October) will wrap up the 2013 eventing season. After months of sleeping in lorries, braving portaloos, waking up at the crack of dawn and going to bed at a similar time, November is a traditional time for eventers to ditch the horses, pick up their passports and take a break.
We asked 5 top riders what their destination of choice is, what happens to the horses while they’re away, if they’d fancy a riding holiday and whether they ever manage to relax…
Georgie Spence, Wiltshire
“November is often the best month to go away. When I’m on holiday the horses are usually just in the field, or they go on the walker. I’m fortunate to either have a groom at home, or my Mum will check them in the fields daily.
“Luckily I find it easy to relax when I’m on holiday — whereas if I have nothing to do at home I can’t relax at all.
“I have had 2 great holidays in Egypt with Laura Collett. And then a few years ago, lots of eventers all went travelling in Thailand for 5 weeks — that was an amazing experience.
“We were backpacking and all managed to cope reasonably well, despite staying in some rooms which were 75p a night and not very nice at all!
“I have never been on a riding holiday, but would love to go on a horseback safari — the only thing that has stopped me is that they are all very expensive.
“A holiday I wouldn’t choose to go on would be a sightseeing or walking holiday. When I’m away I like to have nothing to do, lie on a beach and eat and drink.”
Paul Tapner, Wiltshire
“In November I tend to head to Australia — where I’m from — and my very capable staff makes sure all the horses are kept happy, whether they’re still in work or on a holiday themselves.
“The only way I can relax is if I’m not anywhere near my yard. I’m still very active on holiday though — so my kind of relaxing is not the same as it is for most people.
“I have great memories from most holidays I take. Anything that included natural disaster-type weather or near-death illness would be a nightmare holiday — but apart from that I’m game for most experiences the world has to offer.”
Gemma Tattersall, West Sussex
“I try to have a couple of weeks away somewhere hot in November.
“The horses are either on holiday or my team at home keep them ticking over for me.
“A long time ago I visited Kenya and went on safari which was a pretty spectacular experience. Seeing all the wildlife in their natural environment was incredible.
“I haven’t done a riding holiday before, but I would quite like to go on a horseback safari or maybe a ranching holiday — both of which sound quite fun and different enough from the day job.
“My idea of a nightmare holiday is somewhere that is cold, raining and with bad food. I like the opposite of those things!”
Oliver Townend, Shropshire
“I try to take a holiday in November when I can and I tend to go somewhere warm and discover different places each time. I’ve been lucky to go to a lot of nice places — including Barbados and the Maldives — but I think my best holiday was when I went to Las Vegas for Geoff Billington’s stag party.
“While I’m away the horses are kept ticking over or they are turned out in the field. I definitely can’t relax straight away — but eventually it happens.
“My worst holiday was definitely when I went to Tenerife with Piggy French a long time ago and we were both seriously ill from the water!”
Jeanette Brakewell, Staffordshire
“It’s great to get away in Novemeber, relax and recharge the batteries.
“At home I have very good staff that I trust to take care of everything and at the end of the day I have my phone with me should there be a disaster.
“Once I’m away I do manage to relax — there is no point worrying about things you have no control of at home and I am a very good sleeper which helps.
“I once had a really good riding holiday in Kenya across the Masai Mara with Tristan Voorspuy who runs Offbeat Safaris. The food was excellent, the company was great and the scenery and wildlife was outstanding.
“On the other hand, my idea of a nightmare holiday would be somewhere busy and full of screaming children!”
In need of a break yourself? Take a look at all our latest riding holiday ideas