There is no finer way to enjoy the world’s most stunning regions than on horseback. Riding also enables you to cover more ground and to access areas that may be too far away to reach on foot. Happily, it is usually possible to find a stables offering a range of trail rides in popular tourist destinations. But if the success of your holiday is going to depend on your equestrian activities then do your research before you set off. Riding in holiday hot spots isn’t without its problems.
The Lowest Common Denominator
For the safety of all participants, trail rides will always progress at the rate of the weakest rider and this can be problematic if you are an experienced equestrian. Many stables will designate certain trips as suitable only for experienced riders. But people have a tendency to exaggerate their ability and this can easily ruin your adventure.
If some of your fellow riders are not up to the demands of the trip or come to grief on the trail, your ride may be curtailed. This means you might not get to see everything that you had hoped. It is best to book private tours if they are available. These can be tailored to your ability and not that of other travellers. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your own ability!
The quality of the horses available to ride can vary dramatically and you will rarely have the opportunity to choose your mount. The stables will keep taking bookings until they have a rider for every horse. If the trip is fully booked, someone is going to draw the short straw and it could be you. The most experienced riders are likely to be allocated the most troublesome horses.
Some stables will have riding hats which you can rent or borrow but smaller operations may not offer this service. It is best to take your riding hat with you, although this is an inconvenience as it will take up valuable space in your suitcase. However, even if hats are available, you will not know their history. So it is much safer to wear your own.
If you are used to riding with an English saddle and reins, riding Western can come as bit of a shock. In the USA and Canada you are unlikely to have a choice. The Western set-up is very comfortable but less refined. That can leave you feeling that you don’t have the same level of control. Your confidence could be dented and this will impact your enjoyment of the riding.
There are riding stables in the UK that offer Western riding. So it might be worth having a go at home before you travel.
Riding in popular tourist destinations can be costly. It is always worth asking the stables if they could offer you a better deal if you book more than one ride. If there are several operations to choose from, examine what each stables offers in detail. Some rides might appear to be cheap but they may not represent great value overall if they are shorter or in less interesting locations.
You can never have too much information so research the region and the stables before you make your choice.