horse riding holidaysHorse riding holidays vary from those that cater for absolute beginners who have never sat on a horse before and typically want to combine horse riding with other experiences, to holidays for advanced riders such as driving cattle on a ranch and horse riding safaris, where you’ll be in the saddle for many hours at a time. There are also riding holidays where you can take your own horse for either hacking or intensive training to improve your performance as a partnership.

So how do you know what type of break to choose from the vast range of horse riding holidays that are available? Firstly, you need to be honest with yourself about your riding skills and fitness. If you’ve never ridden before, then don’t over face yourself or pretend you have more experience than you do when you book. This could lead to a nasty accident.

Our advice would be to underplay your current riding ability, rather than the other way around. Remember that you’ll be using different muscles to normal, which can result in you feeling very sore if you overdo it. So if you’re fairly new to riding, or have had a break from riding frequently, we’d recommend you choose horse riding holidays where you can spend some time in the saddle, but also have other activities to enjoy. If the holiday will be your first time riding, check out our useful guide to what to wear and check with your riding holiday provider whether safety equipment such as riding hats and body protectors are provided at the centre.

Secondly, where do you want to go? There are horse riding holidays in the UK which cater for all types of riders, and there is so much beautiful countryside to explore on horseback without leaving Blighty. However if you do fancy going abroad, the world really is your oyster, with safaris, ranching and horseback wine tours just a few of the options available. Also you could also combine visiting a major horse show or race meeting with a city break or similar.

It’s important that you make sure your holiday insurance will cover the sort of activities you will be undertaking. Standard holiday cover may not include horse riding holidays, and you may need a bespoke policy if you’re planning to undertake a more risky type of riding such as a safari or driving cattle on a ranch. At the end of the day anything involving horses does carry a certain level of risk, so make sure you are covered. Don’t assume that your normal horse or riding insurance will cover you while you are on holiday.

Finally you need to set your budget. If you are travelling aboard, don’t forget to factor in the cost of flights, transfers and any visas you may require. And make sure your passport is up to date.

There are a number of travel agents and tour operators that specialise in horse riding holidays, so its worth doing your research on specific destinations and holiday providers online. When using a travel agent, make sure that it is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which regulates travel agencies in Britain.

If possible it’s worth contacting the holiday or riding centre direct before you book. Ask how much riding you will do, what the horses are like, whether the regime for riding is flexible or to a strict timetable, what will happen if you don’t like a horse you are allocated, what qualifications the staff have (particularly important for instructional holidays), when meals are served, if will you be expected to help with stable management and so on. You are the customer and the proprietor should be more than happy to answer your questions.

If you are holidaying in Britain and plan to take your own horse with you, check what extra costs will be involved. Find out if you have to take your own bedding or food with you or if you have to muck out, water, hay and feed while you are there.

Wherever you decide to go, all horse riding holidays are sure to provide you with many special memories to look back on for years to come.