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In the saddle: Where to go horse riding

Gear up and take in the world on horseback, from Wild West adventures to tricks and flicks

In the saddle: Where to go horse riding
Horse riding in Camargue, France. Image: Getty

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If you’re new to riding and tempted to see the world from the saddle, you’re not alone. Specialist operator Unicorn Trails reports a 30% growth in equestrian adventures, including adult beginners looking to discover destinations as diverse as Ethiopia and Bhutan. And while classic favourites such as Spain and Greece are popular, there’s a crop of new destinations for more experienced riders, too. In The Saddle has introduced Lesotho and eSwatini (Swaziland), while Ride World Wide is set to offer trail riding in Colombia for the first time, calling at coffee plantations and highland haçiendas.

Tricks and flicks

What: Dressage
Where: Portugal
How: Olympic dressage rider Gonçalo Carvalho offers classical dressage lessons on Lusitanos in the town of Cascais. Other top trainers, including Rui Barroso and Nuno Velloso, also offer lessons at Quinta da Marinha Centro Hípico from €70 (£62).

See them in the wild

Camargue, France: Admire herds of white horses galloping over the saline wetlands.
Gower Peninsula, Wales: Hike among hardy ponies grazing on the brambles and gorse.
McCullough Peaks, Yellowstone National Park: Marvel at magnificent mustangs, believed to be descendants of Buffalo Bill’s horses.

Jump to it

What: Show jumping
Where: France
How: Ex-international show jumper Johnny Harris and his wife have been coaching riders for over 30 years. An intensive week of show-jumping training at their yard near Bordeaux starts at £1,150 per person, half-board, including 10 lessons. harrishorses.com

Equestrian matchmaker

Beginner: Try… an Icelandic farm stay, with ample chances to saddle up and enjoy the countryside at a more gentle pace. unicorntrails.com
Novice: Try… grabbing a Stetson for a ranching holiday amid Wyoming’s big-sky landscapes — a true taste of the Wild West. americanroundup.com
Intermediate: Try… saddling up for a thrilling trail ride in eSwatini (Swaziland), taking in the wildlife from the back of a horse. inthesaddle.com
Experienced: Try… a fast-paced horseback safari through the spectacular plains and wetlands of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. rideworldwide.com

Published in the the November 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)