Taking you horse on holiday takes a bit more planning than jumping on a plane to the sun, but it is well worth it.
Firstly look at the ‘how to find your local riding’ page on this site. This will give you some tips on following a map and getting you and your horse confident when hacking out. There are some articles we wrote for the horsey press to whet your appetite in this ‘taking your horse on holiday’ section too as well as a checklist to run through before you go.
There are many bases that advertise in the equestrian press and on line. Some of them offer escorted rides or training rides such as http://www.redlandsequestrian.com/
You can save a lot of money by planning it all yourself but it is worth paying for a pre-organised route so you know that the bridleways you want to ride are passable and the bases a good standard.
Your choice of location will be determined not only by how fit you both are but also by terrain: steep hills, trackless moors or the endless gates in livestock rearing country can be very tiring for you and your horse. For your first trip you could stay near to home. This will be cheaper not only in transport costs but you might not need to stay overnight before or after you ride. We’ve had holidays with our horses in the Cotswolds, Peak District, Shropshire and Wiltshire.
Before setting out, make sure your horse is fit for long rides-and you too! Don’t expect your horse to cope with a rider who isn’t fit enough to ride in balance or help out on these steep slopes by walking. There may be a lot of gates to make you get off too! Besides, you don’t want to be too stiff to ride after the first day.
For safety it is best to ride in company. Many organisers won’t accept solo riders, although a friend on a mountain bike is a good substitute. If you are alone, take particular care to keep hold of your horse when you dismount; it’s a long walk back, even if you both know the way! A headcollar and binder twine are useful to tie the horse up when handling awkward gates or at the lunch stop.
Wear comfortable clothes and take wet weather gear-Murphy’s law says it will rain if you leave it at home. Comfortable means the right underwear too. A tip- if you get this wrong have some ‘animal wool’ from the chemist. This is great for rubs in places you really wouldn’t want to use a sticking plaster! Don’t forget your glasses if you need them to read the map.
Have your horse shod before you go. Your venue should have details of local farriers but take a ‘shoof’ for emergencies. Endurance riding suppliers such as Performance Equestrian stock them http://www.performance-equestrian.com/
They should be able to give you details of vets too.
Practice map reading with your horse; I had one that bolted when I tried to unfold a map without dismounting. A clear plastic map case is easy to handle and keeps the map from disintegrating in the rain; again the endurance riding suppliers stock these.
If this has whetted your appetite, then click on the following links for lots more information and useful tips!