Going on holiday isn’t easily done when you have horses, but there’s no reason why you can’t combine the two and enjoy a short break together. These days, trail and trekking holidays are increasingly popular as they offer ample opportunity for adventure in an unexplored part of the country and allow you to experience all this with your horse, meaning double the fun and even greater memories!
No matter how many times you have been on this type of holiday before or whether you want to stay close to home or go further afield, it is important to be prepared and do your research beforehand. It really could mean the difference between a blissful holiday or a nightmare break, so take a minute to read our ‘horse holiday top tips’ below:
- Before embarking on your holiday, ensure your horse is in peak health and fitness. Depending on where you go and the type of trekking you enjoy, a lot will be expected of your horse and challenges will arise along the way, no matter how prepared you are. If your horse is sluggish or has an ongoing complaint, wait until it is resolved before planning a trip away. Injuries are more likely to occur if your horse is struggling with fitness.
- Plan your trip with your capabilities (and your horse’s!) in mind. Don’t be over-ambitious and sign up for a 7-day trek through the treacherous Scottish Highlands just because it looks picturesque, without having any lessons or doing any preparation. You won't thank yourself and neither will your horse!
- Make a checklist of everything you need to take with you. Find out what, if anything, is provided in your holiday, and decide whether you’d rather take your own. Packing saddles, bridles and other items of tack is a given, but it is easy to forget things like grooming tools, turnout rugs, supplements and calming aids. Travelling can cause serious anxiety in horses, so nip it in the bud before you make your journey. VioVet stocks a great range of equine calming supplements, including Confidence EQ – a pheromone-based gel for horses susceptible to stress.
- As we are coming towards the end of summer, whilst it is still a great time to be out exploring, it won’t be long before the nights draw in fast and the days begin a lot darker. This means it is important to take your high-visibility clothing and accessories with you on your trek, both for your horse and yourself, as well as head torches and whatever else you might need to illuminate a dark trail.
- Perfect your map reading skills before you set off, even if you’ll be riding out with a guide. On some of the UK’s more remote bridleways like Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales, it is easy to take a wrong turn and get lost. Pack a map of the area and get to grips with local landmarks and road names, as well as where you’re staying, so you can navigate your way back without too much difficulty.
- If you’re going to be riding for most of the day, take a saddle bag and pack your essential supplies and mobile phone. Have a look at the weather and go prepared. Take an energy drink and snacks, as well as provisions for your horse i.e. electrolytes and water, and maybe even a change of clothes. Make sure your mobile is fully-charged before setting off and, if you do happen to ride into serious difficulty, call 112 for emergency help.
Once all the boring (but essential!) stuff has been taken care of, you can get set for the adventure of a lifetime! Whether you're going alone or with friends, have a great time on your horse holiday and stay safe! If you have any advice or tips of your own, please share it with our other readers :) Feel free to comment below or email me directly with any questions: [email protected]
Written by: Hannah Dyball